Member Spotlight: Ned Kegan
The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) dives inside the career of Ned Kegan, Director of Exteriors Division for Ocean Drywall, Inc. in Virginia Beach, VA. 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.
Ned Kegan is the Director of Exteriors Division for Ocean Drywall, Inc. Having started in the field and working for a specialized air barrier firm as lead estimator and project manager, he then moved over to Ocean. Currently, he leads their efforts in expanding their scopes via estimating, business development, and design consulting. He stays busy pursuing projects that entail building envelopes, exterior claddings, as well as prefabricated construction with exterior panels through an affiliation with StoPanel. Originally from the Eastern Shore of Maryland and a graduate of Sewanee: The University of the South, he enjoys hunting, surfing, golfing, and walking the dog.
Name: Ned Kegan
Title: Director of Exteriors Division
Firm: Ocean Drywall, Inc.
City: Virginia Beach, VA
What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue a profession with a manufacturer?
A: I had the opportunity to help a building envelope company shift from residential to commercial and it seemed like one I should jump at. I started as an applicator by day and an estimator by night before shifting to a full-time estimator. Most recently, I had the chance to start a new division for a large drywall and framing company and it has been a great experience. We are now one of the premiere building envelope contractors in Virginia providing air barriers, EIFS, waterproofing, spray foam, and exterior claddings.
Is there anything that you believe everyone in this industry should be working towards?
A: I feel that all of us in this industry should be focused on shifting the perception that many general contractors and architects have. Air barriers are often viewed as a minor player, with copy-and-pasted spec sections and squeezed into a project schedule, but if we stress the value our systems play, such as the longevity they provide to a building, then we can eliminate that status.
What role have peers, mentors, or advisors played in your career?
A: My peers have been key for me understanding the realities of what it takes to actually install envelope systems, since what is seen on a set of plans is often much different than what we are faced with in the field. As for advisors, I have had two that have helped push me to find new avenues of growth, which is a push everyone can use.
What led you to become an ABAA member?
A: I became an ABAA member so that I could pursue larger projects as ABAA is often a pre-requisite. Having an ABAA certification is like having a Michelin Star – general contractors who may not know us can be confident that we are good at what we do.
Are you involved in any ABAA committees? Do you have any ABAA certifications?
A: I am on the ABAA Contractors Committee as well as the Marketing Committee and I am a Level 3 for fluid and sheet-applied air barriers.
How long have you been in the industry?
A: I have been in the industry for 7 years but they have gone by fast because of all of the experiences and opportunities that I have enjoyed. This latest chapter has been with Ocean has been the most rewarding and challenging, so I am excited to watch our continued growth and expansion.
What major changes have you seen?
A: When I started out, most superintendents were unsure of what exactly we were there to do. As time has gone on, it has been great to witness the rest of the construction industry come to better understand our scope. Aside from that, I have seen a lot of new products come to market that are trying to best tackle the challenges we face when it comes to limitations from weather and cure times, which is invaluable.
What traits or skills do you think are necessary to be able to succeed in your industry?
A: To work in building envelopes, a willingness to learn is key. There are always new situations that arise that are going to take some research, or a new system that an architect wants that is going to involve some homework. Additionally, paying attention to the details, being willing to put in the extra time, and of course it never hurts to be friendly.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in your field?
A: Typically I would say call Peter Spafford, but sadly our industry lost a kind man and a great resource. In his absence, I would say spend time in the field, read articles, watch YouTube tutorials, and find someone in the industry you feel has walked the path you would like to and then reach out and listen.
How much demand do you think there is for people in your profession?
A: Simple building wraps that could be slapped up are being phased out and for good reason. There is a lot of construction going on, however, that needs people who understand how to properly seal a building and right now there are not enough of them. We are always looking for more people that are ready to learn these new skills that I believe will serve them well for a long time.
What do you think the industry will look like in five or ten year’s time?
A: I believe that as our industry is better understood by the rest of the construction community that building envelopes will only continue to grow more critically desired. The specific products we use may come and go but ten years from now this industry will be just as vital since air and water are not going anywhere.