Member Spotlight: Corey Zussman
The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) dives inside the career of Corey S. Zussman, Director of Quality for Pepper Construction Company in Barrington, IL. In this feature interview, learn what made him become an ABAA member, what led him on his career path, and get his perspective on the future of the air barrier industry.
Corey is a registered Architect in several states, practicing for more than 30 years. He specializes in building envelope, restoration, preservation, life safety, and interior finishes. Corey is currently the Director of Quality Assurance for Pepper Construction Company in Chicago, where he has promoted a formal quality program for more than seven years and works on 50-75 projects a year, conducting constructability reviews, pre-installation meetings, comprehensive envelope meetings, and construction observations, in addition to providing educational opportunities throughout the industry. Corey has produced more than 150 “lessons learned” papers about building envelope and life safety concerns to proactively address issues during design review, pre-construction, and construction. He maintains an extensive database of quality metrics gathered on more than 1,000 buildings and $3 billion worth of work and developed a quality app for mobile devices which houses the lessons learned papers and allows for easy access and construction verification in the field.
Corey S Zussman, AIA, NCARB, ALA, RBEC, RRC, REWC, RWC, RRO, CDT, CQM, CxA+BE, BECxP, LEED® AP BD+C, Level 1 Thermographer
Title: Director of Quality
Firm: Pepper Construction Company
City: Barrington, IL
ABAA member for 2 years
What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue a profession in the building industry?
A: I am a licensed Architect for over 30 years. I practiced Architecture for 15 years, working for traditional firms, a Developer, and a large hospital in Chicago before having the opportunity to work for a General Contractor developing and implanting their Quality Program. I became interested in the building envelope during my time as a developer, realizing how vital the building envelope is to the life of the building.
Is there anything that you believe everyone in this industry should be working towards?
A: Understanding what and why about the industry. I believe that once a good understanding of the components, products, and systems are understood, doing a good job will come naturally. This is true for the installer, the specifier, and the designer.
What role have peers, mentors, or advisors played in your career?
A: My Mother and Father taught me early on to work hard and learn. They believed that learning should be never ending, and it is okay to be wrong as long as you take away a lesson learned.
What led you to become an ABAA member?
A: I wanted to be part of the solution. Helping the industry, by being part of an organization that believes in educating everyone and giving them the tools to succeed.
Are you involved in any ABAA committees? Do you have any ABAA certifications?
A: I am currently part of the Contractors and QAP committees.
How long have you been in the industry?
A: I have been in the Construction world for over 30 years. I have concentrated on the building envelope for over 15 years.
What major changes have you seen?
A: Quality of construction overall, education for the trades, and expectations from Owners. I see trade groups stepping up and teaching the trades what they need to know to perform at their best.
What traits or skills do you think are necessary to be able to succeed in your industry?
A: The desire to listen, learn, communicate, and understand. Knowing the why is the key to getting people to understand and perform as expected.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in your field?
A: Learn as much as you can from many different sources. Talk to people in the field and in the office about construction & sequencing. Read and understand installation instructions, building codes, and how materials interact with each other. Review older construction types and see what is relevant to today’s construction and understand how to repair older buildings.
How much demand do you think there is for people in your profession?
A: Quality Assurance is in high demand as more Owners are understanding the construction process and the design/construction professions are getting more specific in nature. The industry needs people who are able to be a bridge between the designers, general contractors, and installers. More and more manufacturers are cutting staff, making it more difficult to have them on-site to review work in place or talk to the teams at the right time. On-site Quality Assurance professionals will be able to fill the gaps.
What do you think the industry will look like in five or ten year’s time?
A: I do not see the industry changing a lot. Construction tends to change very slowly. I do believe that the quality of construction will get substantially better than five years ago, with the increased training at the architect’s and contractor’s level.