John Westerfield, CrystaLite, Foresees Advancement in Glass Technology
Could you describe your role at your company?
We are a relatively small company, several of us wear many hats. I create and manage our product literature and continually further the development of our websites to fit our needs as they grow. I am responsible for our products testing and certifications; and assist our sales staff with technical product knowledge inquiries. I represent the company in our active participation in outside organizations such as AAMA.
What products does your company manufacture?
CrystaLite, Inc. is a Northwest Washington manufacturer of skylights, sunrooms, and railing systems; as well as smoke vents and roof hatches. Solar Smart is a sub-division, which is a solar charged electric operator for windows and skylights available to the OEM market.
Give me a brief history of your professional background and how you originally became involved in the industry.
My college years had several paths, but in the end the degree says ‘Art – New Media’ which now would be called ‘Front-End Web Development’, a hybrid of graphic design and coding; but at that time I thought I was going to have a career building interactive Flash websites. After a brief stent doing design for a sign shop, I fell into the job at CrystaLite, taking the place of a friend as he was moving on. A decade later, I’m still with CrystaLite and have morphed into a position where every day is different. Being the one to author our literature and web, and the one testing and certifying our products – I have a unique vantage of product knowledge for us that widens my level of involvement within the company.
What accomplishment are you most proud of in regards to your work as an AAMA member?
A change I initiated that has helped many of us skylight manufacturers is incorporating the 100 psf max. safety factor on the design load into the NAFS document. This was previously stated in AAMA 1600, a well vetted document but one that is not referenced by code. Prior to this, to meet a 350 lbs. snow load (which is more common than many think) with a 200% safety factor; we had to test to 700 lbs. – that was very extreme. Now we ‘only’ have to test to 450 lbs. - which is more reasonable.
Where do you see the fenestration industry in the next 10 years?
I predict that somebody will figure a way to blend photovoltaics and dynamic glass such that it would both darken and provide energy during the brightest parts of the day and revert to clear during dark hours. The cost of these separate product types are high at the moment, but so was Low-E initially. In 10 years… why not?
How can the industry work together to be more successful?
We need more skylight manufacturer participation at AAMA (and NFRC). We are a small segment of the fenestration industry, but there are a lot of manufacturers that could join us at the table.
Who has been most influential for you in your professional life?
Steve Richter, company co-founder and former president (recently retired), relished in not simply giving me the easy and short answer. Instead he insisted on directing me where to begin the rabbit hole search through codes and reference documents; followed by discussion and sometimes friendly debate (depending on the topic). This ultimately is the foundation of my professional education, familiarity with the documents that dictate so much of what we do, and predict the impact of future code development.
Would you like to add anything else?
My life is good. Much of that is because I work for and with genuinely good people. CrystaLite has been very accommodating to me as my life has changed over the last 10 years. So while I have the mic, I’ll finish by making a rare statement, ‘I like my job and the company I work for.’