Monday, February 20, 2017

I had a few discussions this past week about advanced technology in our industry, and how it is or isn’t being adopted or grown in the architectural market. This is a massive frustration for me. I have always been an enthusiastic early adopter of new technology and see the value. Unfortunately, the people that really can control the end results of these new products are completely opposite of me.

What is the answer here? How do we get more push? Interestingly, if you ask people from outside the industry, they’ll blame us, saying we don’t innovate. But we do. We have amazing glass products that can hit numbers never seen before and are an active part of the structure. There’s now framing that allows the glass to actually perform as expected, not decreasing its values thanks to make up. And there are plenty of other components that help the assembly as a whole soar.

So, the products are there, but the mass adoption continues to be slow. What are we missing?


  • Saw a tidbit online that made me feel good. Residential building starts in 2016 posted its best year since 2005-2006. With the commercial industry running a year behind the residential side, this surely shows that the positivity should continue. Residential starts have grown now for seven straight years.
  • One area I failed to mention in depth during last week's BEC recap was the always extremely helpful presentation by Dr. Tom Culp. I seriously think his presentation should be streamed to the entire industry (hey, there’s an idea!), because it absolutely affects all of us. One word that really stuck for me throughout Tom’s presentation was “daylighting.” That surely seems to be an area of serious focus going forward and obviously our industry has great options for that. Though you still have to focus on the energy side, so a happy medium between great daylighting and high performance is a must.
  • The rocky run for the AIA ontinues. They are still dealing with the fallout of their post-election press release and then they ran into another issue when they laid out their keynote speeches for their upcoming show. They did not initially include any women in the program. After heavy backlash, they did add a panel on day three, but the damage was done. If you want to get a feel for how some of the membership is feeling, check out the article on the situation and spend some time in the comment section. Very interesting. 
  • For my marketing friends, just a heads up, Twitter is making more changes including hiding some “low quality tweets” during conversations. One thing that is not clear is how Twitter will determine quality, but if we have learned anything from Google and their programs, the rules will be changing constantly. Never a dull moment when you are trying to be active in the social and online realm.
  • Last this week, now that I am addicted to Netflix (the ability to download so I can watch while I fly is awesome), I found a work reason to use it. There’s a new series on there called "Abstract: The Art of Design," and it’s a documentary series that follows different designers, many of which are major players in the commercial architectural world. So, in between me binging on “House of Cards,” I will have some work to watch….

Read on for links and video of the week…

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications.E-mail him at

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, February 20, 2017

"Are you a Doritos or an Emerald Nuts commercial?" asked Janine Driver, body language expert, during her keynote address at the 80th Annual Conference for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, held Feb. 12-15 in Phoenix. Driver explained that a primetime Doritos commercial caused increased brain activity in viewers, while the Emerald Nuts commercial didn't have the impact. The reason? When evaluating brands, "consumers use emotions over information when making decisions," said Driver. 

"I'm here to prove to you that of everything you put on today, what will be judged the most is your body language," said Driver. During the conference, Driver shared tips on how to read and use body language to develop and maintain good relationships with customers. She posed the question: Are you using and interpreting body language successfully with your customers?

Because customers interpret body language and make decisions about you, it's important to understand what you're communicating. Driver says that body language shows up seven seconds before your brain realizes what you're doing—but other people in the room have already noticed.

"Even just a couple minutes of interaction can make a big difference when it comes to your body language," said Driver. She says that words, our speech and how we speak to people, matter. But, equally, so does body language. The two go hand-in-hand when presenting ourselves and the products, services, businesses, and the industry we represent. 

"We leave money on the table when we don’t understand verbal and non-verbal cues," said Driver.

Driver emphasized the importance of asking your customers questions. If you sense they may be withholding information, intentionally or otherwise, gently let them know you sense there may be something they're not saying. For example, seeing someone shrug their shoulders often communicates an incongruency with what thay're saying. 

Don’t make hasty decisions based on your interpretation of a situation, said Driver. If something seems off, ask about it, then WAIT, which stands for "Why Am I Talking?". Stop talking and wait for an explanation.

"This step of due diligence is very important," said Driver. "Think like a CIA operative and investigate when something in someone's body language is inconsistent with their speech."

Another tip for successful communication with customers is when greeting them, face your body toward the person you're shaking hands with. It's easy to accidentally give them the cold shoulder with your body language, according to Driver.

Finally, Driver told those at her presentation that they need to think about body language all the time. It takes awareness and practice to improve what you're saying—and not saying—to customers.

"This industry matters," she said. "Watch how you present yourself to better represent the importance of the industry."

Bethany Stough is managing editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at 

Monday, February 13, 2017

The latest Building Envelope Contractors Conference is now in the books, and the biggest news coming out of it was the announcement of a joint task force between the National Glass Association and the Glass Association of North America. The charge for that task force is to explore the options to work more collaboratively and possibly combining the two organizations. This is HUGE. I have been firmly in the camp of pushing a combined entity for a long time. Both organizations are favorites of mine, and I have been involved with both for many years. I know the pros and cons of both. And I can tell you this is a perfect match. From an industry standpoint, we need a more efficient and effective approach to events. We also need to have a clearly defined voice. And that’s just the start. This collaboration also has the ability to supercharge our training and education needs, something that is a massive issue for our world. We as an industry need this, and full credit goes to the leadership of both groups for starting this important process. Obviously, this is just a jumping off point, but I am hopeful this will grow into something great.

So, back to the actual BEC Conference recap…


  • It was a very strong event, and first congratulations have to go to Gus Trupiano of AGC Glass Co. North America, who is the chair of the division and driving force of the conference. Gus is not only an incredibly nice person, but a great leader as well. This was his first BEC in charge and he delivered a tremendous event.
  • The content this year was very strong, there was something for everyone. Julie Schimmelpenningh of Eastman delivered a fabulous keynote speech despite crazy technical interruptions. The keynote is a tough spot, but Julie nailed it. I thought that Matt Johnson and Paul Gary were super on the legal piece, and world famous architect James Carpenter really was a fascinating guy to listen to. The celebrity keynote was from former NBA player Mark Eaton, and that too landed nicely, with a memorable approach, and one that had many attendees debating some of his core messaging long after he was done.
  • I had the amazing honor again of moderating a panel. This year it was a glazier challenges theme, and my panelists were simply awesome. While I think the theme was meant for other glaziers in the crowd to learn from their peers on stage, I learned a ton during their session, and my respect for everything the modern contract glazier has to deal with grew immensely. Thank you, Bill Sullivan, of Brin, Stephanie Lamb of Giroux, Ted Derby of LCG and Joe Clabbers of National Glass. You all are incredible credits to our world, and I am grateful for what you all do.
  • To finish this post off, I will cover some of the folks I ran into at BEC. Remember, the big key of BEC is the networking. If you go to this and you are not making friends, you are doing it wrong … (and if you are not going, be there next year!)


Bill Coady of Guardian Glass let me know this will be his last BEC, as he’s retiring soon. That is a loss for Guardian and for all of us. Bill is the epitome of a class human being. He has great knowledge and care, and he will be missed. Enjoy retirement, my friend! While still on the Guardian track, I met Samer Abughazaleh for the first time, and that was enjoyable. He is a very interesting guy who probably was wondering what I do in life. (Don’t worry Samer, most people are still trying to figure that out, too).

Jon Kimberlain of Dow is always a favorite visit for me. He’s incredibly smart and put together, I just want some of that to rub off on me. Another example of smart? Dr. Tom Culp and Urmila Sowell meet that description every time. I thank them again for all they do for our world.

It was great to see a smiling and healthy Greg Oehlers of TriStar, along with his cohort Rob Carlson. Thanks for noting you read the blog Rob; I appreciate it! Speaking of reading, Cameron Scripture of Viracon always gives me great books to read, and he did it again this time. And yes, he still has those movie star good looks! I was also able to congratulate Ron Hull of Kuraray in person on his new position.

It was nice to talk for a few minutes with Joseph Holmes of EFCO, as well as my old friend, the incredible Shelly Farmer of SC Railing. Catching up with past co-worker Bob Cummings of Hartung will never get old for me, and same with talking sports with Joe Carlos of Triview. And speaking of guys named Joe, Mr. Erb of Quanex was there, and he always has a smile on his face and positive approach. I always am in awe of the talent of people like Heather West and Rich Porayko. They do things every day that make our industry (and the groups they work with) look great and that is appreciated.

I had the pleasure to meet GlassFab’s Barbara Russell for the first time, and was able to visit with Mike Goldfarb, too. That company just recently passed the 10-year milestone in business, and the sky is the limit for them. Clover Architectural Products Tom O’Malley is always a constant at events like this, and I think he knows more people in the crowd than anyone, so getting 5 minutes with him was a great deal for me.

There were many more folks that I just can’t get to here…maybe next post! In any case, this was a good event that served its purpose once again. I look forward to the next opportunity to network and learn amongst the best and brightest in our industry!

Read on for links and video of the week… 

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications.E-mail him at

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Finding and keeping skilled labor has been a top concern of North American glazing contractors for several years. The problem that has been brewing since before the recession has only worsened as the construction economy improved and demand escalated. Fewer young people are entering the industry and the current workforce is aging, putting pressure on companies to find solutions, and to find them fast.

The topic of labor lead discussions during the panel “Contract Glazier Challenges” at the 2017 Building Envelope Contractors Conference, hosted by the Glass Association of North America. More than 400 industry representatives attended the conference, which was held Feb. 6-8 in Las Vegas.

“Labor, labor, labor. … This is the big issue for our industry,” said Ted Derby, business development manager for LCG Facades, and BEC panelist.

“We all agree, the biggest challenge is the struggle to find qualified people,” added panelist Bill Sullivan, president of Brin Glass Co. 

While the topic of the industry’s labor shortage is not new—Glass Magazine has covered it extensively in the magazine and online—I have noticed in recent months that the conversation surrounding labor has begun to shift. Company leaders, including those on the BEC glazing panel, have started to offer solutions—or at least, the beginnings of solutions. More and more, owners and managers say they are being proactive and taking steps to address labor and training concerns at their own companies. 

Each of the BEC glazier panelists offered insights into what their firms have done to address the challenges of finding and training workers.

Some companies are looking to expand their workforce by recruiting from a more diverse population. National Glass & Metal Co., a union glazier based in Philadelphia, has been working with the local union to find people. “There is a big push in Philadelphia … to expand minority involvement, women’s involvement, in the industry. We’d like to see more of that happening,” said Joe Clabbers, president. “We see great pride in seeing guys and gals develop in this industry.”

Companies are also actively recruiting inside schools. “We are going to tech schools and high schools,” said Stephanie Lamb, chief operating officer, Giroux Glass. “Giroux Glass goes into schools on career day. We’re searching for employees, but also working to get young people interested in this industry.”

Finding workers is only half the battle. Glaziers also have to train new employees and find ways to keep them. This training is more critical now than ever, as projects become more complex, the panelists said. “We needed to do something to help stabilize our workforce. The architects and engineers are challenging us with every new product they are developing. We need to be able to respond with expert quality people in the field,” Derby said.

Some companies, including LCG, handle their training in-house. “We instigated our own in-house training program about two and a half years ago,” Derby said. “We meet every Wednesday, year-round. We go through everything from fabricating a curtain wall, to installing and erecting it.”

Clabbers said National Glass has worked with the apprentice trade center in Philadelphia. “The center is accredited with the Department of Education. When an apprentice finishes, they come out with their associate’s degree. That has been a good recruiting tool,” Clabbers said. 

To share your company’s proactive solutions to addressing the skilled labor shortage, leave a comment or write to me directly. 

 Katy Devlin is editor in chief of Glass Magazine. Contact her at 

Monday, February 6, 2017

The GANA BEC Conference, one of the major events in our industry, is this week in Las Vegas. I have been fortunate enough to be involved with this event for many years, and while so much has changed in our industry and world, the key advantage of this conference remains: the incredible ability to network. Yes, the education is great and the speakers are usually very engaging, but the chance to see people from companies up and down the supply chain--all in one place--is huge. Basically, it’s one of the two times in our industry (GlassBuild America being the other) where you can attend an event that allows you stay on top of everything happening in our world. I’ll have my annual breakdown of all the takeaways of BEC next week…


  • One group of people and company I like visiting with at BEC is Viracon. And I have to pass major props to Kelly Schuller and every employee there for their incredible charitable contributions. Viracon employees donated an incredible $108,692.60 to the United Way in 2016. This is simply awesome and everyone involved there should be commended for the effort.

  • Time to look at the latest Glass Magazine. First what got me was the cover shot: a beautiful classic looking project in Montreal; it looks old school but performs like a 2017 champ. That led to a fantastic story from Katy Devlin that not only broke that building down, but others as well, as the battle for advanced energy performance in buildings continues. There are several other stories that are worth checking out as well, and I plan on calling them out more in the next few weeks, including the look at the I-Codes and how we as an industry should be approaching them. Whether you get the magazine or grab it online, make sure you are checking it out; too much important content to miss!

  • Ad of the month is actually a tie. Loved the effect of the TGP ad as soon as I cracked open the magazine. Slick, 2-page spread with a catchy picture and tagline. Nice! But I also really liked what Schuco did with the use of old computer discs. Basically pushing the idea of don’t get left behind. While many do that sort of ad, this particular visual worked for me and caught my eye.

  • Check out this video from Guardian. It is undoubtedly a promotion video on their work in the Middle East, but it’s a great quick watch with stunning views of the buildings and facades in that region. Being the glass and glazing geek that I am, just seeing some of these projects is really breathtaking. Plus, I love looks at other plants and layouts. Good watch for sure and a VERY well done video. Wish I had those skills!

  • For my fellow road warriors, did you happen to see the airplane row of the future? Check out this link and let me know what you think. This looks to be too advanced for the stodgy airline industry…

  • Super article here on the “death” of Facebook. I know many who feel the same way.

  • Last this week, Super Bowl. WOW. I mean, that was beyond words. I feel for my friends that are Falcon fans; tough loss. Happy for folks like Steven Brenner and Brian Shaw: big time Pats fans who are on cloud nine right now. Commercial wise, they were pretty awful all night. 5 million for 30 seconds, and the lack of creativity was stunning. The folks doing creative for ads in Glass Magazine are loads better. If I had to choose a few "winners," I would say the Tide, Kings Hawaiian, Spud McKenzie, and Ford "Stuck" commercials were best with decent efforts by Buick (Cam Newton) and the live Adam Driver spot. Still I gotta think these agencies have to go back to the drawing board for the future.

Read on for links and video of the week…

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications.E-mail him at

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, January 30, 2017

After starting the new year with lists, trends and reviews, I had a bunch of other items piling up. It's time to do some catching up with a handful of different industry-related takes.

  • The National AIA show is changing its name. It will now be known as the AIA Conference on Architecture, and it’s a part of a bigger rebrand. The questions are: will it actually make the show better for the exhibitors? And, will it help the AIA recover from the continuing membership angst over the infamous press release after the U.S. Presidential election? (Read more about the backlash.

    My initial answers are "no" and "no". This show will always be about architects getting their educational credit. Between a lack of time and desire, a legitimate visit to the floor is often just not in their plans. Plus, as long as the AIA has a floor with companies desperate to get a visit from a real live breathing architect, there will never be meaningful change in the schedules to even give folks a better chance.

    As for the “revolt,” it surely seems to be real, as there’s still a massive dialogue featuring people that are talking about not renewing their membership and using this issue to point to other deficiencies inside the organization. We’ll see in April in Orlando (a traditionally awful tradeshow town anyway) if anything really has changed other than the name.
  • Thanks to the folks at Azon who tweeted out a link to the Top 10 countries (not including the United States) for LEED usage.

    It was a stunner for me to see that the No. 1 on the list wasn’t my awesome friends in Canada, but China. Yes, China is now at the top thanks to obviously some massive projects. They had 1,600 fewer buildings, but still produced more square meters of LEED than Canada. Don’t worry, my friends in the North, you are always No. 1 on my lists.

  • GlassBuild America formally announced dates for the 2017 event in Atlanta. Be there Sept. 12-14! As always, I believe it will be a fantastic show. (I’m obviously biased. I work it; I love it). But, I was very pumped to see that the GANA Fall Conference will be held during/at the show as well. That is huge. As an industry guy, the tough thing is the expense of travel to all of the events I want/need to attend. I know I am not alone. By simple collaboration, this sort of move helps so many be more efficient and more active in our industry. Great move, and it adds another angle to an already exciting process!

  • I saw that the NFRC released their new board member list. I laughed a bit, thinking back to the days when my life was consumed with trying to affect change by getting fresh blood in those spots. (My candidate Cliff Monroe would’ve been the best board member ever, that’s for sure). This “new” board looks exactly like the boards and power players from 2006. My only hope is with board members like Paul Bush and Kerry Haglund, excellent people who I know will at least listen to other views. 

  • There’s been a lot of chatter in the construction world on usage of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in the building and design process, and in the sales funnel. I did a lot of research into AR, and I really like the potential from a sales and marketing standpoint. Pricing is still high, and you have to have a solid sales staff. But my goodness it could be a game changer if used effectively.

  • Last this week, the Super Bowl is now lined up. My condolences to my pal Mike Synon of HHH, who is also an owner of the Green Bay Packers. Tough one. This should be a very good game. As always, I am really looking forward to the commercials to see what 5 million dollars for a 30 second ad gets you these days in the way of creativity and memorable moments. I’ll give you my favorites on next week's post. Also next week, preview of BEC, a great video from Guardian, potential good news for fellow road warriors and more!

Read on for links and video of the week...

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications.E-mail him at

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, January 30, 2017

I joined the National Glass Association just a few weeks ago as the assistant editor for Glass Magazine and sister publication Window & Door. But I’ve already had a small taste of what this industry is all about by attending an Architectural Glass Boot Camp, presented by the Architectural Glass Institute and C.R. Laurence Co., on Thursday, Jan. 26. As a former educator, I was excited that my first industry event was focused on education.

The event was one of a series of boot camps hosted by AGI at the Finishing Trades Institute in Philadelphia. The boot camps offer individuals across the industry—glaziers, architects, reps and building managers—the opportunity to learn about new innovations and best practices in architectural glazing.

This particular event was a collaboration between CRL and the AGI, and focused on glass railings. The AIA/CES-approved session qualifed for 3 Health, Safety and Wellness learning units. Representatives from CRL began the boot camp with an hour-long technical presentation. Following the session, we stepped into FTI’s 20,000-square-foot glazier learning space for two hours of hands-on learning.

Boot camp attendees were first given a chance to participate in a demonstration of glass railing installation conducted by students and trainers in FTI’s glazing apprenticeship program. The demonstration included each step of a railing installation, from measuring to drilling to installing the glass panel. Demonstrators talked through each step and answered questions along the way. The initial demonstration wrapped up with a pane of glass installed into the base shoe using wedge shims and CRL’s Taper-Loc dry-glaze system. Participants then stayed for another hour working through each detail of an installation, the focus always on education and proper training. 

After the demonstration, I caught up with the other boot camp participants and found that everyone had a specific takeaway.  Some focused on the demonstration. “It was a good experience because coming from a different trades background it was very educational to see these components assembled in person,” says Rob Ritter, project manager, Advanced Glass & Metal. “It gives me a better understanding of how [the products] are used and therefore can enhance my productivity in estimating projects using them in the future.”

Ron Pulone, a contract glazier of 30 years, was attracted by the technical information offered in the informational session. Now with Keystone Aluminum & Glass, he says he plans to bring his glazing experience with him as he transitions into engineering. He has attended other FTI boot camps, and reminisced about his own apprentice program, which was housed in one classroom. FTI has certainly expanded beyond that.

The boot camp offered a look at what some in the building industry are doing to face one of its most major challenges: educating a new workforce. Touring the facility, it was clear how it was constructed to serve the learning needs of FTI’s own apprentice and journeyman students, which supply the area’s construction industry. The largely open space includes stations to complete guided practice in everything from welding to blue-print-making to creating and testing mockups. Students who complete mockups can also practice attaching them to a real-world, three-story building structure that is located just yards away. My favorite part of our comprehensive tour was the chance to attempt a simulated weld on a machine that allows instructors to evaluate a virtual real-time readout (My score? 67/100). 

Take a virtual tour of the training and the FTI facility in our photo gallery.


Norah Dick is assistant editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Last week I covered some of the trends I see really taking off in the new year, so I was pretty pumped to see a report come out that backed one of my predictions. Navigant Research released a study that shows the Net Zero Building movement growing tremendously over the next 20 years, eventually becoming a trillion dollar market segment. That’s trillion, with a T. The good news continued with the expectation that the main areas of growth will be from the glass and glazing segment. As I noted last week, this sort of building is growing because it’s a smart process that produces real results and it’s exciting that as an industry we have great options to be heavily invested in it.


  • Twitter can sometimes drive people crazy, especially with some of the insane negativity that can appear there, but I continue to try and find the good in it. Example was Friday during the riots in Washington, D.C., someone posted that there was tons of broken glass and windows all over the area. I replied to that tweet with “Oh to be a glass shop in Washington DC right now…,” and lo and behold a few hours later I see a tweet from Mike Albert showing his company (S. Albert Glass) out on the job, in DC, in the damaged area. Cool stuff and nice to see our industry in action. This is the second riot that I have watched a company I am familiar with jump into action. My pals at Binswanger in Charlotte responded to the riots in that area last summer.
  • Review of the December edition of Glass Magazine. Bethany Stough’s excellent cover story on installation was strong, especially given the severe labor pressure our industry faces. I am sure I am not the only one who walked away from this with an advanced understanding of the options available to the glazing community. And that story really made me understand even better why the installation equipment folks at GlassBuild were swamped. 
  • Also in this issue, Joe Schiavone of CRL had a great Glazier Bulletin like always. Love his work. I am also a huge fan of Mike Burk of GED via IGMA, who had a story on safety and smarts on the fab floor. Plus the recap of the incredible 2016 GlassBuild America just got me pumped for the future. All in all, from front to back, a great issue and must read.
  • The ad of the month goes to Wood’s Powr-Grip for the family approach, featuring Dustin Anderson of Anderson Glass of Waco, Texas and his beautiful family. The message of “bringing you home safe” is something that may be simple, but needs to be reminded daily. Good work there!

A couple non-industry reviews:

  • I recently read “Losing Isn’t Everything” by Curt Menefee. This was an excellent and easy read about the people on the other side of some of sports' most famous plays, and how they dealt with the disappointments of being in the spotlight and known for losing. Some handled it better than others, but all of the stories were very interesting and some actually inspirational. 
  • I watched “The Founder,” which was the story of Ray Kroc, the man best known as the builder of the McDonalds behemoth. It’s an intriguing story in that Kroc is not your typical business hero. And that’s probably why it’s taken so many years to get a movie about him. He was not the brains behind really any of the advancements of the company, but was smart enough to listen and learn from those who had the ideas. From a business standpoint, it’s a great watch, and from an entertainment side good as well since he’s not what you would expect as the guy behind such a happy brand.

Read on for links and video of the week...

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications.E-mail him at

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, January 23, 2017

It was 1984. I was working for an environmental engineering firm, but I had studied as a civil engineer to work in structural engineering. That’s all I wanted to do; to work in building design. I checked the newspapers weekly for jobs, for a year. Then it happened. I answered a three-line want-ad in the Akron Beacon Journal for Structural Engineers. It was through a job-shop; a place called “CAMS.” I had no idea what they did, but I got an interview.

The interviewer greeted me and escorted me back to the office and shop. He pulled the cardboard off of the end of a bundle of aluminum and said, “These are mullions. They are made from aluminum; custom alloys and shapes; they hold the glass on the building. This is what we fabricate and what you’ll engineer.” “Ah, how interesting," I said. (I was clueless.)

The day I started, Steve Evans, then a PPG project manager, gave me my first problem to solve. I had no idea what to do. I got input from new colleagues in the structural engineering bullpen. Somehow I got him an answer. I met my future business partner, Richard Sprague, there, along with many other folks. There were many “newbies” to the industry—most of us in our 20s and early 30s—plus seasoned veterans, decision makers in PPG field offices, others that became future managers, fabricators, system designers, industry leaders, GANA committee members, glazing company owners, and the list goes on.

We were learning and growing with the emerging field of “curtain wall.” It was an amazing education. There was very little precedent. Calculations were done by hand at first. Drafting tables had parallel bars; we used blueprints; section properties were calculated by hand. And then the PC quickly came along. There was no “cloud,” no AutoCAD, FEA programs, BIM, Rhino, Mathcad; heck, we didn’t even have Excel or Word in 1984. I used a phone modem to calculate glass fin depths for PPG’s Total Vision System all-glass wall. But we got it done. We stumbled, we tested, we fixed. We made it work.

The seasoned folks that had migrated from PITTCO storefront and stick curtain wall systems to the increasing use of taller, broader, higher performing curtain walls, taught us entry level folks what they could. I got most of my education from field superintendents, branch managers and shop foremen.

Unit walls did not exist. The expansion horizontal was an idea. No one had yet heard of a “chicken head” at a “stack joint.”

Fast forward to 2016. Our field has expanded. Tools have gotten more numerous, more complicated.

And those of us who started in 1984 have become those older folks: the decision makers, buyers, leaders, committee members, policy makers and trainers. Those who must delegate, train, teach, mentor, listen, allow lessons to be learned, expose Millennials to clients, and to their emerging workforce. The curtain wall and enclosure industry will continue to change rapidly over the next five to ten years. Old guard will be replaced with new guard, by choice or by necessity. Time will march on, and work will be completed, miraculously, by those “kids.” The same kids like we were, only with more tools, more technology, on more complicated facades.

How about we take the best of the old and combine it with the best of the new? How about we listen to each other, listen to the field and the fabricators, understand each other’s needs and the key drivers in the decision-making processes? Can we can take the best proven practices of “we’ve always done it this way before” with the newness of “why can’t we try it like this” and move forward? Baby Boomer collaborating with Millennial. It’s going to happen. The shift is happening right now. How do you want it to go down?

John Wheaton is the founder & co-owner of Wheaton & Sprague Engineering, Inc., also known as Wheaton Sprague Building Envelope. The firm provides full service design, engineering and consulting services for the curtain wall/building envelope/building enclosure industry, and works at “Creating Structure” for clients. He can be reached at and on Twitter, @JohnLWheaton1. 

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, January 16, 2017
Part of DeGorter Inc.'s mission statement is to increase the productivity and success of our clients. Always with this in mind, as a distributor of capital equipment, those of us at DeGorter Inc. have learned a thing or two about aiding the success of our clients when it comes to purchasing new machinery. Whether you're one of the largest fabricators with a purchasing team, or a one-person business, the following list offers five steps for ensuring your business makes a smart choice when purchasing your next piece of equipment.


  1. Find a partner, not a salesman. Let’s start the list by looking at the purchasing process from another light: who will be the best partner? Buying equipment should not be a one-and-done process. It should be the bringing together, or further development, of the relationship between two parties. To get the best fit for your unique application, this step is critical. All parties must know where you are, where you want to go, and how they're able to be of service. Purchasing solely off price, favoritism or reputation alone could set one up for disaster in the future.
  2. Remember Penny Wise Pound Foolish. Forget the price! Easier said than done, right? But, having followed the first point, you're not working with someone looking to take advantage of your business. The old adage is "You get what you pay for," and I firmly believe this to be true. If needing to fill a small gap in production, it doesn't make sense to purchase a work-horse machine for $100,000, that will be sitting idly most of the time. On the other hand, if one needs a machine to last 10+ years, in a rigorous production environment, let's not expect a $30,000 edger to be able to handle this. Each varying price point has its niche; define your needs and buy what fits your specific production needs. Walking away from a quality piece of equipment over a few dollars is often a mistake. 
  3. Trust the experts. One of the largest assets of an equipment supplier is their previous experience. Having followed the first two steps, you're certainly working with credible partners, so trust them.  When a supplier or agent gives advice on how the process could be better, take it; they’re speaking from experience. Yes, you know better how your daily operation needs to run; the manufacturer of equipment will know whether your suggestion is feasible or if there is a better way to accomplish the same result. You each bring your own experience to the table. Use both to your advantage when making a machinery purchase.  
  4. Emphasize service, service, service. Most often, the company offering equipment is not the same company manufacturing said equipment. What good is it to buy equipment, if you're not able to get parts, supplies or service? After the sale, service is one of the most important factors to consider. Be sure to ask about parts and supplies inventoried from the prospective equipment supplier. Ask about their network of technicians and typical lead times to get a service accomplished. At DeGorter, for example, we pride ourselves on strong partnerships as, without an ability to quickly and accurately handle the requirements our clients face, we would be out of business. 
  5. Consider the operators. Most importantly on this list, do not forget the operators. Your business is like an organism, and requires coordination of many parts to function efficiently. Opinions should be important to those purchasing the equipment another will be required to use. They will operate these machines every day and will have a set of concerns based on what is required from them. Get feedback from as many as you can, and be sure to consider this information thoroughly. An operator might not care as much about the price of the machine, but certainly does care for its reliability, ease of operation and its ability to be easily repaired. I'm constantly requesting feedback from our technicians upon their return from installations and service visits. We also remain in contact with operators and managers alike, after a sale has been made. These conversations allow us to bridge any gap between upper management and production.
If you've laid the groundwork when purchasing capital equipment, there should never be a feeling of buyer's regret. When the process is done correctly, all parties feel successful and look forward to working more with each other in the future.


Pete de Gorter is vice president of sales and marketing at DeGorter Inc. Contact him at

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.
Page 1 of 78
 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 Next > | Last >>