2012 forecast: When do you anticipate glass industry market conditions in North America will improve?
The float perspective
Scott Thomsen, Guardian Flat Glass Group
"Residential construction could begin to see improvements in late 2013 into 2014, but this is a tough prediction to make given the uncertainties in the economy. The northern region will lead the way in multifamily and repair and replacement growth. Government incentives are needed to continue to drive the R&R industry over the next two years. We are well positioned with our ClimaGuard residential products to participate in that growth, as it comes. We have invested significant monies in the past five years in the North American and European residential segments to provide our customers with the products they need to meet changing energy codes and regulations, shifts in the market from new construction to R&R and migration from a made-to-stock to a made-to-order supply chain.
Bowie Neumayer, Cardinal Glass Industries
"Market conditions should gradually improve starting in 2012. Commercial, residential and automotive should all be on the uptick. We are still in tune with the solar side as well. However, conditions of late have cooled this market off dramatically. The industry is operating at 25 percent less capacity then in 2006. A lot of those tanks may never come back online."
Jon Hughes, AGC Glass Co. North America
"Improvements in general will follow the economic growth trends. The traditional building exterior glass business will not fully recover for another three or four years; however, opportunities exist in other value-add segments that will compensate to some extent, such as higher glass usage in building interiors. We expect the recovery to start in the multifamily/apartment sector."
The fabricator perspective
Kelly Schuller, Viracon
"We believe market conditions could begin to turn around as early as the back half of 2012. Depending on developments, a rapid recovery could be delayed into 2013. Right now, we see positive trends throughout North America."
The glazier/retailer perspective
Bob Trainor, Trainor Glass Co.
"2013 and 2014 will bring slow and gradual improvement. Factors that will play a role include business-friendly policies that will aid in job creation and growth, the gradual healing of and improvement within the real estate market, and industry innovation and the continued development of new products."
Rod Van Buskirk, Bacon & Van Buskirk
"It was interesting to see Jeff Dietrich’s revised national outlook. In prior years, he predicted we’d emerge from recession in 2014. Now, Jeff is predicting extended recession or ‘slow growth’ until 2015 or beyond. Unless things change radically and quickly, I’d agree with Jeff’s outlook."
Darand Davies, Dallas Glass
"If we believe what economists are saying and what we hear from our large vendors, it is going to be 2014. I think when the housing market improves, it will be a bellwether for the rest of construction and will show that a healthy recovery has begun. Unfortunately, I think that is still several years away."
David Fitchett, Carolina Glass & Mirror
"They have already started improving in the Triangle area market in North Carolina. [The key factors that will play a role in the recovery are] the continued erosion of housing inventory, causing a demand for new homes and condos. I think the election will be disappointing to the market and expect there to be some pull-back if the current administration remains in office."
The supplier perspective
Diana Perreiah, Kawneer North America
"For the overall market, a sustained recovery is unlikely before the first quarter of 2013. However, there could still be some growth opportunities in certain segments of the market in the coming year. In the commercial sector, with retail vacancy rates expected to decline in 2012, store and other retail building construction may experience modest growth during the latter half of the year. Office vacancy rates are also forecasted to decline in 2012, but persistently high unemployment rates and weakening of corporate profits will likely postpone any growth in office building construction. With business travel gradually returning and room occupancy rates rising, the hotel construction and renovation market is expected to show some growth in 2012. The multifamily residential buildings market is expected to continue on its recovery path in 2012 with an increase in new construction expected."