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Convention Coverage

AWCI’s Expo: Construction Directions Is a Success!
The Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industries—International’s annual convention and trade show at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel in April drew a crowd of more than 3,200 attendees (last year’s New Orleans show saw about 2,400 attendees). AWCI’s Expo: Construction Directions in Las Vegas also featured 190 exhibiting companies showing their products, tools, and services.



Detailed information about the AWCI convention, trade show and award winners is published in the pages that follow. Then, on page 62, we honor the achievements bestowed by other industry organizations.


Leonard Liddle, president of Liddle Bros. Contractors, Inc. in Nashville, Tenn., won the 2004 Pinnacle Award, AWCI’s highest honor.



Liddle’s company has been a member of AWCI since 1949 and is currently an AWCI Lifetime Member.


A fixture at AWCI’s convention for decades, Liddle served as a member of AWCI’s board of directors for three years, until his term expired in June 1980. Liddle also has participated on a number of committees, including technical, education and membership committees. He has served as secretary, vice chairman and then chairman, in 1980–1981, of the Southeast Conference. In 1989, he won AWCI’s Outstanding Regional Chairman Award for his work with that conference. He has also been president of the Foundation of the Wall and Ceiling Industry. In addition, he has served as president of the Southeast Lathing and Plastering Bureau and the Nashville Plastering Contractors’ Association. Outside of the industry, he’s a long-time sponsor of the local Little League baseball team, and for many years he was involved with the Kiwanis club.


At a very young age, Liddle worked with his father, a plasterer. It seemed to come naturally to him. He worked summers and then weekends. He worked with his father in the business as soon as he got out of school for the day.


After high school, Liddle joined the Marines. Within months of enlisting, Sgt. Liddle was shipped overseas.


Upon returning to Nashville, Liddle completed his remaining years of apprenticeship training and became a jack-of-all trades in the family company.


On June 27, 1959, he married Barbara, a gal he met at a high school party. Eventually, their family included David, Darlene and Dwight. Despite his long hours, Liddle was determined that his wife and children would get the best of him.


His daughter said, “with my father, it was always important to him that he was home every night, and he was home every weekend, and everything that was ever important to me that I needed him there for, he was there.”


When his father retired in 1973, Leonard bought the business from his dad. With wife by his side, they grew from a lath and plaster firm to adding drywall and various finishes, including exterior insulation and finish systems.


Barbara Liddle says their company has been in business longer than any other plastering company in Nashville.


Two awards for safety excellence were presented this year: One award is for a company that logs more than 100,000 annual man-hours, and the other is for a company that has fewer than 100,000 man-hours in a year.


The winner in the 100,000+ man-hours category is E&K of Omaha, in Omaha, Neb. Murray Drywall & Insulation of Texas, Inc., also located in Omaha, Neb., was the winner in the category with fewer than 100,000 man-hours in a year.


E&K of Omaha has been in business for 49 years and had a written safety program for the last 15 years. When it comes to safety, E&K has spent a lot to save a lot—the company has spent thousands annually for safety, yet the savings due to his safety initiatives is in the millions since the program began.


All 40 of the company’s supervisory staff attended competent person training, and OSHA’s construction outreach program.


In the first year of reporting to OSHA, the company reported 21 accidents; last year E&K reported only seven. In turn, the Experience Modification Rate dropped from 1.23 to 0.66 in 2003. Of the 200,666 man-hours worked last year, there were only three disabling injuries.


This contractor believes there are three keys to a successful safety program:

  • Management commitment to the safety program.
  • Employee involvement in running the program.
  • Training is continuous, it never stops.



Murray Drywall & Insulation of Texas, Inc. has been in business for 30 years and had a written safety program for the last 20 years. The company has spent $10,000 annually for safety, and saved $1.4 million due to the safety initiatives in place since the program began.


Murray Drywall & Insulation had four of the company’s 20 foremen and supervisors attend competent person training, and OSHA’s construction outreach program.


In the first year of reporting the company reported no accidents, and last year they also reported no accidents. In turn, the Experience Modification Rate has dropped from 1.16 to 0.93 in 2003. Of the 81,120 man-hours worked in 2003, there were no disabling injuries.


This contractor believes these factors are key to their successful safety program:

  • You have to sell you safety program to your workers. They must believe in it.
  • Communication is key. Safety must be discussed on all aspects of the job. Daily/Weekly meetings are mandatory.
  • The financial impact of injuries on the bottom line is discussed with supervisors and it affects their bonus.



Like the safety award the Excellence in Construction Quality award also has two categories: one for AWCI member contractors whose contract for the project is less than $1 million, and the other for the AWCI member contractors whose contract is more than $1 million. But this year, because there were so many excellent nominations from which to choose, and Honorable Mention Award for quality was also named.


The project that won in the $1 million-plus category is the International Center for Possibility Thinking at the Crystal Cathedral Campus in Garden Grove, Calif. It is a breathtaking work of architecture. This unique structure has a stainless steel, glass and plaster exterior. The interior is very open and spacious with many signature features including an indoor/outdoor café, a feature stairway, bookstore, a chapel and three skylights that are 90 feet high.


Raymond Interior Systems of Orange, Calif., was the metal stud framing, fireproofing, drywall, and lath and plaster contractor. Behind all the stainless steel panels is metal stud framing and sheathing. The exterior framing was challenging because of the many curved angled surfaces and transitions. Most of the steel panels were pre-made into consistent squares, so the tolerances for error was very small. To construct the interior skylights and the high café atrium ceiling, Raymond had to supply platform scaffolding reaching 90 feet high.


The schedule called for a six month duration, but due to design changes, tenant improvements and water damage, it lasted 12 months. The last 25 percent of the project was on an accelerated schedule, working 10-hour days six days a week. Despite the rush, Raymond Interior Systems was able to achieve top quality workmanship and delivered its portion of work on time.


The AWCI member manufacturers that contributed to this job are Georgia-Pacific, W.R. Grace and USG.


The AWCI member suppliers that contributed are CalPly and Westside Building Materials.


The project that won in the less than $1 million-contract category is the Miami Children’s Museum.


B&B Interior Systems, Inc. of Miami received a contract to build the Sand Castle at the new Miami Children’s Museum on Watson Island in Miami. The project was a design nightmare.


The drawings for the castle were of the “This is what I envision” category, not the “This is how to build it” variety. B&B worked with the structural engineer after being shown a model of the castle to produce structural plans from which it was constructed. B&B was selected for the framing, drywall/plywood and finishing of the exhibit based on how fast they provided a solution to the construction of the sand castle.


An example of the challenges in this small building can be seen in the ramp area on the second floor that leads up to the Port of Miami’s exhibit and then transitions to the deck of the Cruise Ship.


In the end, B&B Interior Systems, Inc. was able to finish the project in a four-month period, as requested, in time for the Grand Opening in September 2003.


The AWCI member manufacturers that contributed to this job are Allsteel & Gypsum, Grabber Southeast, Hilti, G. Proulx and Radius Track Corp.


The AWCI member suppliers that contributed are Allsteel, Dale Incor, Dietrich Metal Framing, Grabber Construction Products, Hilti, Lafarge North America, National Gypsum and
Radius Track Corp.


Finally, the honorable mention for quality went to Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland.


When GQ Contracting Co. of Wickliffe, Ohio, was hired to provide the framing and drywall construction for Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, little did they know the extent of the ground breaking light gauge framing methods in conjunction with drywall work that had never before been attempted.


The design architects believed that large portions of the work would have to be plastered. GQ decided that the entire interior could be drywall and finished in a manner that would satisfy the design professionals and in the process create a new standard for excellence in framing and drywall construction. This would be the most difficult work ever attempted by a construction contractor using drywall.


The atrium area of the building required a full scaffold that was as high as 100 feet in some areas. Crisp lines and undulating surfaces were created by superior tradespeople who had never dreamed of performing work like this. With the atrium being washed in natural light from above, the drywall work had to be perfect—and it was.


Most of the framing was 12- to 16-gauge material. Some of the light gauge metal had to be configured into special shapes, which, in some instances, were compound curves. The material was purchased from non-standard suppliers who had the capacity to roll material that could be assembled to frame the required shapes. Drywall material likewise had to be able to be shaped as required. Special knives and darbys formed out of aluminum and Plexiglas-some as long as 4 feet-were used to create a smooth, taped surface. The results speak for themselves.


The AWCI member manufacturers that contributed to this job are Armstrong, Dietrich Metal Framing, Georgia-Pacific, W.R. Grace and USG.

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