G3: Industry insiders talk glass

How are you keeping employees' spirits up amidst these tough economic conditions and the consequent plant closings and layoffs?

Commercial

Russell J. Ebeid, president, Glass Group, Guardian Industries Corp., Auburn Hills, Mich.

"I tell them three things. First, we are financially in good shape ... We are not concerned with taking business just to take business. Second, because we’re financially in good shape and other companies are not doing as well, we see that as an opportunity. This is a year of opportunity. We could make acquisitions--if they’re any good--at discount prices. Third, we’re continuing to maintain production. We’re not shutting down plants. What got us to this point is that we've proven we’re not flaming mavericks. We want to stick to our policies and not over-leverage. That’s what got other companies in trouble."

Ebeid

Retail

Tom Lee III, CEO/president, Lee & Cates Glass, Jacksonville, Fla.

"We have started sending out a monthly newsletter focused on each division of our company to those in that division. All the information has a positive spin, with encouraging articles from leading business writers and motivational speakers. We also focus on one individual and [her/his] contributions to the company, the community and their family."

Fabrication

Charles Witherington, vice president and general manager, Vitro America, Memphis, Tenn.

"This global recession is a concern for all of us, yet it comes at a time when our company has a lot of positives upon which we can build. We recently introduced a new architectural binder, along with some other new marketing materials, to promote our Classic Line of architectural products. These new sales tools have definitely been a motivator, and not just to our sales team.

"Employees see that we have recently made significant investments to ensure a strong position in the future, and they understand we must work harder and smarter than ever. Our employees are encouraged by the fact that we have a business with tremendous value and potential. We are implementing several strategies to build on our core strengths to better meet customers’ needs, and it is important that we maintain good communication with our employees."