Letters to the editor

August 6, 2012
COMMERCIAL, RETAIL, FABRICATION

Who killed Bambi?  Not the Chinese.

I just recently read your article “The good, the bad, the suspect” regarding tariffs on Chinese aluminum.

If you’re a glazing contractor located in a region where your client’s attention has shifted to China, well, “welcome to the evolution.”  Just look around your house and check how many items you own that have “made in China” printed on them.  Don’t you think it was just a matter of time before it carried over to commercial building products?

It doesn’t surprise me to hear of domestic glazing contractors crying foul because they think they’re losing market share to China.  After all, I used to be one of them.  I eventually got over it, understanding that everything is cyclical in our industry, as is life itself, and this will run its course for a period that has already been pre-determined by the wheel of fate.

If we research which curtain-wall contractors performed the cladding of our nation’s skyscrapers prior to the 1980’s, we’ll find that they’ve all gone out of business.  This is typically attributable to low-bid-tendering salesmen, sub-par execution and leadership too focused on growth and not cyclic reality.  It’s still inherent in many organizations today, hence the recent closure of a national glazing contractor.

Collaborating to lobby for heavy import tariffs on finished products from China, e.g. unitized curtain wall, will not ensure your company gains a greater market share, nor will it cure a case of sour grapes.  It might be time to adapt to climate change.  Frankly, I would love for everything to be made in the USA, but keeping foreign interest out is like trying to protect your lawn from getting wet when it starts to rain before the big cookout.  It ain’t happening.

The common argument against importation of Chinese curtain-wall products is that it’s costing domestic jobs and loss of market share.  This is not true in many cases.  In fact, imported goods from China can create more jobs.  Developers seeking to build high-rise residential towers in your city today cannot bring their projects to fruition unless the construction cost meets their pro forma.  Profitable or not, the competitive skin pricing from China (or elsewhere) can mean the difference in whether or not the project gets constructed.  Yes, some domestic building product and fabrication jobs will be lost to China, but local labor forces construct these buildings that would not have otherwise been built without the foreign cost advantage.

The new 2.8 million-square-foot Apple Headquarters Campus that is to be constructed in Cupertino, Calif., will create about 7,000 construction jobs.  This project would not be possible if Apple didn’t get filthy rich manufacturing its products in China.  And guess where the several miles of 50-foot-long laminated glass panels are rumored to be coming from?  Feel free to take that up directly with Apple or its builders. 

Some who are attempting to circle the wagons and lay down bear traps have also explored the benefits of purchasing materials from China in order to gain a competitive edge or make an additional buck for themselves.  Sound hypocritical?  You be the judge.

All things in life are cyclical, as is the lifespan of the glazing contractor.  China didn’t force you to start a new company, purchase a company, expand your company, sink millions into solar curtain-wall technology, or hire a consultant to teach you a more efficient way to tie your shoelaces.  Lobby if you must, but in the end you’ll learn that China didn’t kill Bambi.  He died of natural causes.

John D’Amario
Yuanda USA Corp.

Full-time vs. part-time

May I congratulate you on Glass Magazine, which has great content? The latest issue showing the Top 50 Glaziers is a great service to our industry (See Page 12, June 2012 Glass Magazine). However, I would like to suggest the number of employees shown be “full-time equivalents.” A glazier that works for two or three months of the year should be reported as a fraction, not as a full-time employee. I think that would make the information a lot more valuable.

Edwin J. Berkowitz
J.E. Berkowitz LP

Editor’s response:
Thank you for your suggestion. It is with the help of readers like you that we are able to improve our Top 50 Glaziers content each year. This suggestion is definitely one that we will take into consideration when compiling next year’s report.

Every picture tells a story

 Impressive issue of Glass Magazine, starting with the Lincoln Square Synagogue cover and story (See June 2012 Glass Magazine).

As Rod Stewart sang, "Every picture tells a story, don't it?", and in June, you tell many successful stories from leading glaziers across the USA.

Here's hoping that you win an editorial/publishing award or two for your work.

Marc Fink
Bendheim Wall Systems