2012 forecast: What products and/or services are experiencing the most growth at your company? To what do you attribute that growth?
The float perspective
Scott Thomsen, Guardian Flat Glass Group
"Our strategy is to continue to increase sales of value-added products and services that provide a competitive advantage. We feel our value-added strategy is working: We’ve been able to maintain and even enhance our float assets in North America since the start of the recession in 2009. We view the key to success in these volatile times is having flexibility in manufacturing assets, products, and industry channels to maximize the bottom line numbers, and a decentralized business that places decision-making at the level in the organization closest to the customer. Also, the launch of new services such as SunGuard’s mobile app and the Building Energy Calculator are helping our customers appreciate and evaluate glass products and performance. We are seeing new opportunities in the use of glass in interior applications, as well, and have launched our InGlass portfolio to further grow that segment."
Jon Hughes, AGC Glass Co. North America
"The simple answer is value-added products. With the stringent regulations—which we are in favor of—the glass industry has to introduce alternative higher tech solutions that will support the revenue growth but not necessarily the volume growth. We expect a uniform geographic growth in technology usage, although solutions will vary from one region to another. The automotive industry has also picked up in glass technology applications, which supports both revenue and volume growth. Similarly, demand in solar-related glass technologies is on the rise, but with the market slowdown, the industry is more cautious. For the exterior facades of buildings, there has been a steady increase in the use of low-E coatings. In the commercial segment, double and triple silver low-E coatings represent a majority of the market. In the residential segment, we are seeing an increase in the use of U4 fourth-surface low-E coatings."
The fabricator perspective
Kelly Schuller, Viracon
"Institutional projects have shown strength in 2011, and while that may be waning, private sector projects appear poised to grow in 2012. Interestingly, we have continued to see growth in our highest value-added products despite the recession. I believe that is because of underlying long-term architectural trends to demand more from glass façades both aesthetically and in terms of performance."
Nick Sciola, Hartung Glass Industries
"Specialty decorative glass and dynamic glazing systems are experiencing some growth because they are starting from a smaller base and are very specific to certain demand groups that are funded and willing to improve their buildings. Solar, PV and alternative energy is competitive, however based on the government’s willingness to subsidize these products; this will continue to be an area with growth."
Lewis McAllister, Coral Industries
"Shower doors are our strength, and the larger portion of increased sales has been there. However, our architectural aluminum products have doubled in sales [as well], and our decorative products are also doing much better. We attribute this to several things. First, the economic cycle is just taking its course. Secondly, our industry has seen a lot of consolidation, and many customers either lost service or don’t like the new service, so they are trying out new vendors. Lastly, our decorative products are improving because the word is getting out about our cast glass, back-painted glass, imagery glass, glass flooring/stair treads, etc. Most people didn’t know we offered these products."
The glazier/retailer perspective
Bob Trainor, Trainor Glass Co.
"Renovation and rehab of older buildings and education and healthcare [projects are where we’ve seen the most growth]. The work available in these markets can be attributed to a slow but steady demand for high performance buildings that are aesthetically pleasing."
Rod Van Buskirk, Bacon & Van Buskirk
"In contract glazing, healthcare and schools continue to be good sectors. Why? Baby boomers must spend money on their health, and schools need repairs."
Donill Kenney, Palm Beach Glass Specialties, Inc.
"[We’ve seen the most growth in] hospitals, adult living and alcohol/drug abuse facilities due to increased demand; country clubs; and interiors, [the latter due to] lower rents and deals to move."
David Fitchett, Carolina Glass & Mirror
"We are continuing to try to offer products and services that are trend-setting in our market. Our effort to educate ourselvesand keep up with trends helps us to make product selections to add to the showroom. We are currently making a push into all-glass sliding door systems forresidential and commercial applications."
The supplier perspective
Dave Hewitt, EFCO, a Pella Co.
"EFCO is doing well across the country...We are realizing growth in all areas, particularly in curtain wall and storefront. We are fortunate to have an excellent sales rep organization providing outstandingmarket coverage. This has enabled considerable growth for us as well."
Diana Perreiah, Kawneer North America
"In 2011, Kawneer experienced the most growth in the storefront and entrance market, and we expect this trend to continue through 2012. Retail building construction is often one of the first markets to recover after a down-cycle, and the increase in storefront and entrance product sales is consistent with this, since these products are primarily used in malls, stores and other commercial projects. However, we do not expect a steep rate of growth for two reasons: the weak housing market and the structural shift in retailing. As more people purchase products on the Internet, the need for physical retail locations has been reduced."