Member Spotlight: Dan Biser
The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) dives inside the career of Dan Biser, President of Summit Insulation and Contracting Corp in Baltimore, MD. 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.
Name: Dan Biser
Firm: Summit Insulation and Contracting Corp
City: Baltimore, MD
What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue your profession?
A: Upon graduating from Villanova University in 2005, I was hired as a project manager for a home builder which is where I first officially cut my teeth in the construction industry. After experiencing the residential market, I decided to go to work in the commercial sector in hopes of working on large scale projects, so I went to work for a local commercial general contractor.
Around 2009 I started ‘getting the itch’ to go off on my own. At that time, I noticed the local utility companies started coming out with a variety of energy efficiency programs geared towards building owners and home owners, incentivising them for making their properties more energy efficient. I thought this presented an interesting opportunity, so I left my job and decided to start my own energy consulting / general contracting company called Harbor Energy Consulting.
I was now a business owner / contractor who specialized in making buildings more energy efficient via air sealing and insulation measures. At the time, Summit Insulation was owned and operated by my Uncle, Andrew Biser, so I would subcontract his crews to install the measures.
I owned and operated Harbor Energy until I bought Summit Insulation and Contracting in 2013.
Is there anything that you believe everyone in this industry should be working towards?
A: In my opinion, one thing that should be universal for us as an industry, is to have multiple checks and balances in place with regards to the installation process. We must ensure that we installing air barrier systems that not only meet the design requirements of each project, but also provide the service of monitoring the system from the point of installation, until the building is closed in. If an air barrier system is installed sub-par, or perhaps compromised post installation, (often times due to other trades / damage), the building will not perform as intended. If so, future problems will soon be exposed and eventually, it will reflect poorly on us as an industry and in turn, all credibility will be lost.
What role have peers, mentors, or advisors played in your career?
A: Without being able to call on a select handful of people to brainstorm ideas, troubleshoot issues, or simply ask for advice, Summit’s entry into the commercial sector would have been way more difficult and longer in duration. Having key people like this can dramatically shorten the “growing pains” of any business and help ease the stress with any situation.
What led you to become an ABAA member?
A: Summit Insulation and Contracting is a family business started by my Grandfather, Bob Biser in 1979. For the first 30 years, the company was geared only towards insulating residential properties. Specifically, Summit would retrofit older / existing homes through attic treatments and injection foam insulation in exterior walls.
When I purchased the business from my Uncle, Andrew Biser in 2013 I knew there was tremendous growth potential in the commercial sector. Being the owner of a business with over 35 years experience in spray foam and injection foam insulation I knew we had a leg up compared to any other business entering the space.
After realizing that ABAA was the organization who certified the types of commercial projects that Summit intended to pursue, I wasted no time putting myself and essentially every one of my employees through their training and certification courses.
Since becoming certified in 2017, we were able to hit the ground running. Summit has completed approximately 4 million square feet of air barrier projects and have over 2 million square feet currently under construction / under contract.
Are you involved in any ABAA committees? Do you have any ABAA certifications?
A: Since our initial certification in 2017, things have been moving at warp speed. I have a true desire to get involved with the different ABAA committees but have not had the time to do so to date. Hopefully this year, as growth continues and I hire more personnel, I will be able to dedicate more time to industry-based activities like this.
How long have you been in the industry?
A: As a teenager growing up, I would work on the Summit install crews during Summer break. I guess that technically, that makes it about 20 years.
What major changes have you seen?
A: The dedication to whole-building performance and air barrier continuity from design professionals and building owners seems to be stronger than it has ever been.
What traits or skills do you think are necessary to be able to succeed in your industry?
A: The ability to recognize talent and building a team that can work in tandem as a fluid machine (in my opinion) is a key to success in this industry. As a business, you are only as profitable as your crews are efficient.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in your field?
A: The first advice I would give is to get certified. I say that not only for the educational component (which is paramount), but for the networking aspect. The amount of people I met at the ABAA events who are willing to share industry tips, tricks, and advice is invaluable. It is at these events where contactors aren’t shy about sharing info because they come from all over the US and aren’t all in direct competition.
What do you think the industry will look like in five or ten years’ time?
A: I think it is a safe bet that continued energy efficiency legislation will not leave the desks of Washington law makers for the foreseeable future. My hope is that this will have trickle down effect and that our industry will only grow bigger and stronger because of it.
With our governments desire to get away from the consumption of natural recourses, the next best thing is implementing more energy efficiency measures into the US construction industry.
It is ABAA certified contractors like us, who will be on the front lines and implementing the most up-to-date energy efficient measures in buildings across the country.