An Invisible Force
Cameron Building Envelope Specialists creates building exteriors that last
When it comes to buildings, Ginny Cameron believes that, just like a bottle of wine or the heart of a person, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
“Successful building projects have successful building envelopes,” she says. “They’re the invisible force behind the surface that makes everything work and protect what’s inside the building.”
At its simplest definition, a building envelope is the exterior shell of a building that repels outside elements. At its most complex, it’s an engineering system that maintains a building’s structural integrity, moisture and temperature through a single design strategy. As the CEO of Cameron Building Envelope Specialists, Ginny’s definition is more personal: “A building envelope protects what’s most valuable in a building—people—bringing comfort and reliability to the places where they live and work.”
Since the company was established in 2008, Cameron Building Envelope Specialists has been doing just that—helping commercial contractors, architects and developers build successful projects across Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.
The company is an industry leader in building envelopes and a top insulation installation company in the Mid-Atlantic region, offering expertise in spray foam, insulation, air and vapor barriers and fireproofing while applying building science and innovation to every project. They also install a range of versatile, cost-effective and durable exterior finishes such as phenolic panels, high-end fiber cement and metal to create stunning and sustainable designs.
“We’re focused on building projects that are code compliant, energy efficient and safe enough to stand the test of time,” Ginny says.
The Family Business
Ginny knows something about standing the test of time. After all, she oversees her family’s 100-year-old business called Cameron Group LLC, the nation’s oldest insulation contractor, which now includes Cameron Building Envelope Specialists, Cameron Insulation and Cameron Home Insulation.
Her grandfather started his first construction company in 1907. Her father and uncle took over the family business in 1949, and Ginny developed a passion for building at a young age. “It always seemed like a good, honest business, and my dad was the picture of integrity,” she says.
While Ginny leads Cameron Group with that same integrity, it took her a while to officially join the company business. She pursued a degree in sociology and had a brief stint in marketing before deciding to come to work for her father in 1977.
“When I finally approached him, he said, ‘I’ll let you work for me but you’ll start at the bottom,’ so I worked in production and warehousing,” she says. “When you work with people who do installations for a living, you have to start at that level to understand what they go through. It’s critical to having respect for what they do.”
Ginny worked her way up the ladder over time and became a leader in a male-dominated industry, ultimately taking over as CEO of Cameron Group’s businesses in 1988. She also serves on the board of directors of Insulation Contractors Association of America (ICAA) and Insulate America, and in 2001, became ICAA’s first female president.
“My parents always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted,” she says. “Not for one minute did anyone ever indicate I might not be able to do this because I’m a woman; that never crossed my mind. It was always, ‘If you want to do something, do it.’ So I did.”
That leadership, tenacity and encouragement is something Ginny has passed down to her two sons—Scott Cameron, President, and Andrew Cameron, Vice President—who are leading the family business with her into its fourth generation of ownership.
“I was a single parent for many years and my children grew up with me as I was working, so they followed in my footsteps,” she says. Overseeing the company with them has encouraged her to embrace new, innovative project offerings that keep customers happy and projects successful.
“We continue to evolve because of my children,” Ginny says. “I was brought up in the fiberglass industry, so it was always all about fiberglass. That’s now advanced into air barriers, foam insulation and stricter codes. All these things have forced us to become better at what we do.”
As Vice President, Andrew develops and maintains the custom homebuilding clients that are vital to the company’s success. “Custom homebuilders are always seeking the best ways to build and truly see the value in the innovative products Cameron has to offer,” he says. As President, Ginny notes Scott insisted the company get involved in foam insulation. While she was initially hesitant, she agreed on the condition that he learn it from the ground up and be “at the end of the hose,” so to speak, to ensure its success.
He followed through, and in doing so expanded the company’s service offerings. According to Scott, that commitment to staying on the cutting edge of an evolving industry is fundamental.
“As energy prices have risen over the years, the demand to conserve energy has increased,” he says. “That’s resulted in more product innovation for building envelopes in the past 10 years than we’ve seen over the past 100 years. Our company excels in energy-saving methods and the installation of the most advanced building envelope products on the market.”
Scott believes the company’s use of advanced products like spray foam, air barriers and soundproofing are what make their buildings healthier, quieter and more energy efficient.
“Insulation is critical to building performance; if it’s not installed perfectly, it doesn’t work,” he says.
“Successful building projects have successful building envelopes. They’re the invisible force behind the surface that makes everything work and protect what’s inside the building.” Ginny Cameron, CEO, Cameron Building Envelope Specialists
Projects Built to Last
The company’s innovative approach has paid off. In its relatively short 12-year history, Cameron Building Envelope Specialists has already successfully tackled thousands of projects with hundreds of architects and general contractors across the region.
“Most of our projects have been won not because we had the lowest price, but because the contractor knew we were the right company for the job,” Scott says.
He lists off a slew of noteworthy projects they’ve tackled, including iconic Washington, D.C., buildings like the International Spy Museum, Herbert C. Hoover Federal Building, the National Museum of American History and the Pentagon, to name a few.
This has earned the company multiple industry awards of excellence. Cameron Building Envelope Specialists has been recognized with the Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) Quality Assurance Program Excellence Award, is a five-time winner of the BASF WALLTITE Contractor of the Year and an Icynene New Dealer of the Year award, and has earned the Icynene Gold Circle Award 10 years in a row.
Amid these accolades, Scott’s favorite project is The Signet, a luxury condominium complex that the Cameron Building Envelope Specialists team took on in McLean, Virginia. The project is one of his favorites not because the complex is well known, but because the project demonstrated the company’s strengths and expertise.
“The building envelope originally designed by the architect had some glaring issues, but there was not enough time during the bidding process to fix them all,” he says. “We convinced the contractor that if they hired us, they’d be in good hands. We all worked together as a team to troubleshoot each issue and ended up delivering a beautiful building that’s built to last.”
As Director of Business Development at Cameron Building Envelope Specialists, Kyle Ball is known as the first point of contact for commercial construction projects. His favorite is a $600,000 insulation project for the Under Armour global headquarters building on its Port Covington campus in Baltimore, Maryland.
“That one project catapulted us into a long-lasting relationship with contractor James G. Davis Construction, and we’ve continued to do a bunch of design-build work for them,” Kyle says. “I could go on and on about all my favorite projects, but that was the one that made me—and, I believe, the company—grow into where we are now.”
Relationships aren’t the only thing Cameron Building Envelope Specialists maintain as a critical part of its business success—the company prioritizes the education of its team as well.
“Building science is a complex and always-emerging field that demands special expertise, training and practical experience,” Scott says. “Our employees all have a strong foundation in building science. That deep understanding of physics, chemistry and architectural detailing allows them to consistently pick the right products for the job.”
In addition to ongoing education, most of the company’s employees receive incentives based on company profits as a reward for performance, motivating them to succeed together.
“If you want to retain good employees, you must share a piece of the pie,” says Scott. “Our firm has a lot of experienced people with a passion for what they do, and we’re always looking for ways to utilize new technology or products to make the company better. Our employees are a key part of the reason we continue to be a leader in our industry.”
Their operations team, for example, boasts a combined 40-plus years of spray foam experience between David Ball, the company’s General/Operations Manager known as the “Foam Brainiac,” and Wayne Ball, the team’s Production Manager. According to Scott, that expertise is “unheard of” in such a young industry, and the two have been instrumental in helping the company grow and teach the next generation of installers.
The company’s investments in education and incentives seem to be working. Many of Cameron Building Envelope Specialists’ employees have been with the company for many years.
“We like to hire people who carry themselves with honesty and integrity because in this industry sometimes you win, sometimes you lose—but above all else you need to do the right thing,” Scott says “We don’t cut corners to make a dollar, and our employees pride themselves on being industry experts and putting their knowledge to work.”
Leaving a Legacy
Those pillars of honesty and integrity that Scott values are in large part due to his mother’s influence, representing why she got into the business in the first place. As Ginny looks back on the past four decades of her career, she says she’s enjoyed watching the next generation build on those fundamental principles to create buildings that last. “We’ve done a lot of beautiful homes and buildings, and the effort that goes into the planning and execution is very rewarding,” she says. “I love to drive by those buildings and think, ‘Our team did that.’ It’s wonderful to know that a building is going to be there for a long time—that it has top quality workmanship and that our people took a lot of pride in putting it together.”
In addition to her role as CEO of Cameron Group, Ginny continues to lend her leadership to Insulate America, an organization she helped found nearly 20 years ago to help independently owned contractors achieve success in the industry. The company provides scholarships, trade educational information, a range of resources, best practices, contests and monetary rebates that help independent contractors thrive.
When asked how she feels about her career and legacy, she answers: “Proud. I’m just very thankful I’ve been able to be involved in an honest industry—one that makes people comfortable and saves them energy. We build something that doesn’t break; it just continues to work.” Ginny, now a grandmother, can’t help but muse about passing the family business along to her grandchildren someday. “Who knows, maybe they’ll come in one day and start at the bottom like my grandfather, father, me and my kids,” she says. “I hope the business stands for a long time.”
If the quality of their buildings is any indication, it certainly will.