Nothing showcases a new building or renovation like artistic, thoughtful glass elements. And no one knows that better than Giroux Glass Inc., ENR California and Northwest’s 2020 Specialty Contractor of the Year. The company’s recent projects include LAX Southwest Airlines Terminal 1, SoFi Stadium, renovation of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Grand Canyon Skywalk.
Founded in Los Angeles in 1946, Giroux is a glass, glazing and architectural metals contracting company with branches in Los Angeles, Fresno, San Bernardino, Orange County as well as in Las Vegas and Phoenix. The firm employs 243 workers and caters to commercial, residential and retail sectors. It applies the latest cutting-edge technologies and best practices in its work, which includes a variety of CAD and repair services, large commercial projects and panel fabrication.
“Specializing in service and repair work, tenant improvements, luxury homes as well as large commercial projects has allowed us to attract and retain a broader range of talent,” says Nataline Lomedico, the firm’s CEO and president. “It also enables us to collaborate across departments to bring the highest level of service and expertise for our clients.”
In the past year, the firm was part of at least five project teams awarded honors as part of ENR California’s annual regional Best Projects competition, including Giroux’s work on Marion Anderson Hall at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.
That work, completed in January, earned a Southern California 2020 Best Project award in the higher education/research category, an $80-million effort led by Gensler, along with Pei Cobb Freed & Partners and built by PCL Construction Services Inc. Giroux Glass was subcontracted to provide and install the four-story, 64,000-sq-ft building’s highly specialized window systems, including its show-stopping central atrium.
Matt Leavitt, PCL project manager, says Giroux is proactive in identifying and solving field issues and “self-sufficient in managing critical processes such as schedule and procurement.” He says when a last-minute water leak was discovered in the exterior enclosure, Giroux immediately took an active role in finding its source.
“The team quickly identified that the source of the water intrusion was not the fault of a Giroux system, but Giroux’s field and office personnel remained engaged with PCL and the other subcontractors to resolve the problem,” says Leavitt. “This is typical of how Giroux approaches problems.”
On the 24-story 10880 Wilshire Boulevard mixed-use office project in Los Angeles, completed in March, Giroux helped the team overcome delays with an important glass shipment.
“The project had a 16-foot-tall frameless glazing system with glass fins that surrounded a high-end lobby that entailed glass procurement from China,” says Mark Bommarito, superintendent for Swinerton. “The challenge was ensuring the glass arrived at the project in a timely manner without schedule delays and was being fabricated properly. Although delays were incurred outside of Giroux’s control, Giroux closely tracked the fabrication process and pushed to make sure other trades were complete with the framed rough openings for the glazing system so that field measurements could be taken and ensure a proper fit.”
Michael Hoge, senior superintendent for Walsh Construction, says Giroux’s patience and knowledge helped artists create their glass art pieces on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project in Los Angeles, which is currently under construction. “They are able to take an artist’s opinion and transfer that into a production and installation mindset on a construction site,” he says.
One way that Giroux helps bring ideas to life is its extensive experience with innovative computer software.
“Our CAD team is trained and working with programs such and Revit and Navisworks to meet the needs of the projects,” says Michelle Fainberg, Giroux’s CAD manager. “We’re also starting to use programs such as Inventor, along with the industry standards like AutoCAD and Bluebeam. We have noticed that our experience and capabilities with these programs helps us go after larger projects with more complicated designs.”
Besides utilizing the latest software, Giroux also is being asked to get involved in the design-build for various projects. “We are seeing a huge uptick in such projects, and it is a process which gives us the opportunity, fortunately, to outshine our competitors,” says James Bramlett, Giroux’s estimator, who sees this trend not only in new construction, but also in the remodel of existing projects. “Our customers benefit from our breadth of knowledge and collective experience under our roof, so that when we engage in a design-build project, it usually leads to a project that runs smoothly through to completion.”
But Giroux is dedicated to more than keeping up with trends; the firm is committed to applying leadership in a specialization that is both traditional and cutting edge. That is best expressed by Lomedico, who was named CEO and president of Giroux in 2015. With more than 20 years of construction industry experience in finance, accounting and executive management roles, she previously served as controller for large corporations and has run her own small business. As a female CEO in a male-dominated industry, Lomedico says she believes in the philosophy of the “best person” getting the job.
“Construction happened to be the first industry I joined while in college, so I never had time to notice that I was one of the few women,” she says. “It wasn’t until I became more active in the industry that I really felt it. I remember going to my first Beaver Gala and looking across the room at over 1,500 tuxedoed men and only about 40 women, and that included industry wives.”
She says that “stark and visible inequity” immediately struck her, but she always saw herself as just “one of the guys and that perception shielded me from feeling that I didn’t fit in.” As Giroux’s CEO, Lomedico was the driving force behind transitioning the company to full employee ownership in October 2017 and has helped it stay competitive during the pandemic.
“Giroux is doing well now,” says Lomedico. “Many of our jobs that were put either on hold or delayed due to COVID-19 are currently starting up again. Closing sales is definitely a lengthier process, especially with larger projects, but the diversity of our project types continues to effectively sustain us through the economy’s highs and lows.”
She says Giroux continues to hire talent from other glazing contractors whose work has slowed down and is “benefiting from increased use of virtual meetings to continue with focused staff training and collaboration across state lines and between each of our offices.”