glassblog

Monday, June 27, 2016

Last Thursday, more than 17 million Britons voted for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. The immediate repercussions of the impending British exit, or Brexit, on financial markets were sudden and severe. Beyond the markets, some economists are warning of a recession in the UK that could extend into Europe and beyond, and are readjusting GDP forecasts for both Europe and the United States (the U.S. GDP forecast for the second half of 2016 is down to 2 percent, from 2.25 percent).

The longer term economic effects of Brexit are uncertain. Some economists speculate that the markets will begin to stabilize, while others forecast a more medium- and long-term slowdown. Other economists are even optimistic. 

Also unclear is the impact that Brexit and its related economic repercussions will have on U.S. construction and manufacturing—and thus on the North American glass industry. (Learn more about how UK construction might be affected here and here, and how UK manufacturing might be affected here). Will the U.S. construction economy face a slowdown? For manufacturers and suppliers, will exports suffer? Will a higher dollar negatively affect sales?

Since the referendum last week, economists and officials from several real estate and manufacturing organizations have weighed in to offer some insight on how Brexit, and its related market uncertainty, might impact U.S. companies. One interesting report came from the National Association of Manufacturers, which posted a video interview and related article on the impact of the vote on domestic manufacturers.  

“Europe is an important market for U.S. manufacturers. Roughly one fifth of all exports we sell abroad go to Europe. And the United Kingdom is actually our fifth largest trading partner. The bottom line is there is certainly a lot of uncertainty over the next few weeks, few months,” says Chad Moutray, chief economist for NAM. Additionally, “this is going to add a level of uncertainty in general to the overall economy. We have already struggled a bit this year with exports and other global headwinds. This adds to that.”

In addition to the economic uncertainty, the Brexit raises questions about potential trade and policy implications, according to Linda Dempsey, the vice president of international economic affairs for NAM.  “We expect that yesterday’s vote is going to be a real drag on the ongoing negotiations that the U.S. and Europeans started three years ago—the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” Dempsey says. “It’s going to have a really big impact on the trade negotiations to the detriment of manufacturers in the United States who want to break down barriers.”

However, Moutray said the more dire predictions about the fallout from Brexit are probably overblown, at least for U.S. manufacturers. “The bottom line is that this is going to be something that continues to add a level of uncertainty,” he said. “Expect exports to fall a little bit certainly in the intervening months. But in the long term, I wouldn’t expect any major ramifications from it so long as those trade agreements continue to allow access to flow between Britain and the European Union.”    

Several officials from the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association also offered more cautious optimism about the extent of the Brexit impact on U.S. real estate. “The direct impact of Brexit will mostly be felt by Britain and the EU and will probably have a minimal direct impact on the U.S. economy and U.S. commercial real estate,” says Gerard Mildner, director, Center for Real Estate, Portland State University. “The risk is that other countries will copy Britain and impose trade barriers. The most exposed U.S. sectors will be export businesses (e.g., aerospace, agriculture, technology), port-related industrial property and the financial industry.”

What impact do you think Brexit could have on the glass industry and on your company? Have you adjusted your internal forecasts because of the Brexit vote? Feel free to comment below, or email me directly. 

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Any time I give analysis on the economy, I always leave a healthy “but” in there with regards to the political climate. So when #Brexit, the vote of Britain to leave the European Union, happened last week, that surely became an example of something that “could” be an issue. We live in such a reactionary world that sometimes you really can’t get a true feel for any sort of impact because of the immediate bluster in the aftermath of the event in question. “Uncertainty” is the keyword.  Obviously there’s a lot at play here, and a long way still to go, so it surely bears our attention going forward. Could this be something that derails the positive trend that many of us are on? I ask because the emotional reactions right now are outnumbering any rational ones. Curious of the thoughts of the amazing minds out there in the industry on this one, so feel free to share.

Elsewhere…

  • Speaking of positive trends, the Architectural Billings Index had an excellent May. With a score of 53.1, the index posted its best score of the year and the analysis is pointing to a fresh surge on the institutional side of the business. Personally I always liked institutional work because they were less likely to “value engineer” products out. In any case, this currently stands as a good sign. Now whether or not the geo-political strife is going to hamper this, we’ll see.
  • Fantastic book out that industry geeks would love. “One World Trade Center-Biography of the Building” by Judith Depré takes an extremely deep look at the building of the new World Trade Center buildings and the amount of mention on glass and aluminum has been surprisingly heavy. There’s also insight in there on suppliers for the building I was unaware of, so that was interesting to me. The best part is it shows our industry as more than just folks who throw some random glass into any old hole. There’s precision, planning and care. That was cool. I will note the first ½ of the book is where the action is; 2nd half starts in on the other landmarks of NYC and some other items, so it makes for a quicker read.
  • Saw the news this week on the Asahi and Solaria partnership. That is excellent stuff and major kudos to my old friend Scott Hoover who’s obviously doing great things in his role at Solaria.
  • I was able to finally see the movie “13 Hours” and I have to say I am impressed that they kept pretty close to the book. That’s rare in Hollywood. But then again this story was so deep and intense it was almost impossible for Hollywood to screw up. (Then again so was the movie based on “Munich” and that was ruined, so who knows.)
  • I had one of the moments recently where I know I am getting old. I had to change the settings on my iPhone to the largest print. My kids can read my phone from across the room now, as well as some astronauts in space…. 
  • Last this week, a programming note. No posts coming from me until the week of July 18th. Unless of course news happens. On that note, the rumor mill is churning at record speed, but yet no news. So maybe over these next two weeks things break? If they do, I’ll tweet about them more than potentially blog. Anyway, I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Canada Day later this week and Independence Day in the U.S. the week after. Please try and celebrate the good in the world, honor those who served, and stay positive for the future. See you back in this space in mid-July!

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 MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

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, June 20, 2016

One item I have hit on here in the past is improved/innovative design in schools. It is something I believe in greatly, not only that we can provide necessary security but with the right usage of glass and glazing we also improve the learning atmosphere. This week I got some company on my soapbox thanks to an excellent article that not only talked about what schools need to advance, but also the demographic and economic market around building them. It’s a worthwhile read. Let’s be real here, a lot of our industry thrives thanks to school and institutional building, so a solid sector there is very good for all of us. I personally would like to see our products grow in emphasis there. We can supply the security, energy, decorative and functional products that the educational facilities in North America deserve. 

Elsewhere…

  • Speaking of great reads, once again the latest issue of Glass Magazine did not disappoint. And props to the creative team there: just a wonderful and slick layout. I love how pictures of great glass jobs can fill a page and there’s several in this issue. The big story was the annual Top 50 Glazier list (mentioned last week), but the series on exit planning continues to be a must-read. Kudos to the class act that is the DeGorter family as they were profiled in the issue: good people, nice to see them covered!
  • PPG gets a thumbs up here, too, as they were my ad of the month in the aforementioned Glass Magazine. They nailed the text bringing out the image piece with their spot. Creative and well done!
  • I talk about where social media can be a good tool for learning/resources and this week was no different with the coverage of the AAMA conference on their twitter feed at @AAMAInfo. Even if you can’t follow in real time (I couldn’t), the beauty is going back to their feed after the fact and just going through it all. Tons of info there. Well done, folks, and great use of the medium!
  • The news of LinkedIn being bought by Microsoft was big this past week. But the bizarre part for me came in an article from the New York Times that said one of the key drivers for Microsoft was the ability to be able to incorporate LinkedIn into the Microsoft Office products. Now I can see Skype and Outlook being integrated somehow, but the article specifically mentioned Word. Now that would be flat out bizarre. I can see it now, writing a piece in word and a pop up comes up that says “Your LinkedIn Connection Joe Blow Is Also Working In Word” or something like that. That has potential to not be fun at all.
  • Last, many people noted that I did not mention the Penguins winning the Stanley Cup in last week's post. Normally I post on Sunday mornings, but many do not see this until Tuesday. So the clinching game was not done when I posted. I have to say I am amazed they won, and special kudos to my pal Joe Carlos of TriView who noted that I somehow planned it out by picking San Jose at the start of the playoffs, where my jinx would be timed perfectly when the two teams met in the finals. Believe me, if I planned it, San Jose would’ve been out in round 1! Anyway, I’m pretty thrilled still about the Pens. Thanks everyone for the notes! 

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 MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

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.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A statistic from the National Fire Protection Association recently caught my eye. In 2014 (the latest year available), 1,298,000 fires were reported in the in the U.S. They caused 3,275 civilian fire deaths, 15,775 civilian fire injuries and $11.5 billion in property damage. While the numbers alone are staggering, what stood out to me most is the total number of fires increased 4.7 percent from 2013. Our country’s fire problem isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it may be growing. This gave me reason to pause – how many of us are aware of this trend? 

Of course, not many of us have the capacity to stay diligently up-to-date on the behind-the-scenes numbers for our country’s fire problem—or any major building and design issue—as we juggle multiple projects with tight deadlines. But, as I was reminded, looking at the big picture when using glazing products in building design and construction is extremely important. 

Architects specify glazing products for very explicit reasons, whether it’s achieving a certain level of fire and life safety, improving occupant comfort or enhancing energy performance. Although these factors may not be readily apparent to us or others working on the project, we have a responsibility to make sure the products we are providing don’t jeopardize project goals, or more importantly, the safety of others. Because this can prove challenging in a busy world, here are three practical things I’ve found helpful. 

  1. Develop trusted relationships: Although we work in the building design and construction industry, it’s really a people business. Developing a solid foundation of mutual respect with the architect is key to gaining access to the project vision and goals. The more clearly you understand what the firm is trying to accomplish, the more you will be able to support and meet these needs. Likewise, it’s important to have a reliable level of trust with your supplier. You have to feel comfortable that they are interested in more than profits and will consider the safety and welfare of your customers as you evaluate products that meet project goals. 
  2. Look for suppliers that do more than take and fill orders: When you have questions about how a product fits into a given project, it’s imperative you are able to call your supplier and talk to a knowledgeable expert who is familiar with code requirements and product details. Suppliers with a broad range of expertise can remain more objective in helping you determine the best solution for your project. Instead of pushing you toward an individual brand, they can present you with options that make the most sense for your project goals. And, if you run into roadblocks, ideally, they will approach the situation with your best interests in mind, working with you to find a solution. This can include shouldering the weight of developing custom solutions, or actually meeting with the architect to help problem solve. 
  3. Remember price is only part of the equation: With some non-crucial building systems, using lower cost, “equivalent” products rather than sticking with the specification can help save upfront costs with little impact on design and overall big picture project goals. However, when it comes to high-performance, life safety or building performance materials, product substitutions are complex and an inadequate choice has the potential to distract from long term goals or even compromise building performance. As author Chuck Palahniuk said, “The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close up.” Make sure you don’t focus solely on price and lose sight of what really matters.  

Jeff Razwick is the president of Technical Glass Products. He writes frequently about the design and specification of glazing for institutional and commercial buildings, and is a past chair of the Glass Association of North America’s Fire-Rated Glazing Council. Contact him at 800/426-0279.

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. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

So far in 2016, Glass Magazine has presented three succession stories from glass industry businesses, with more to come. (Read the stories from the April, May and June issues.) While gathering the information for these stories, we interviewed many company owners and leaders, many of whom are part of a family owned business—something very common within the glass industry. 

What we've learned through interviews and conversations is that passing along a family business generation after generation is not an easy task. According to the Conway Center for Family Business, nearly 70 percent of family business owners would like to pass their business on to the next generation, but, only 30 percent will actually be successful. But, we've also learned that, when done successfully, family business transition creates some of the strongest businesses in the industry, perhaps due to the passing down of values from one generation to the next. Conway says, "Of primary importance among family firm owners is transferring not only their financial wealth, but also their values, to subsequent generations."

The stats may be stacked against them, but while speaking with the family owned glass company leaders that have gone through, or are going through, a succession, we came across many success stories—and some hardships—and many insights into what keeps these industry veterans here for the long haul.

"Our industry is a unique intersection of creativity and numbers. I think that this combination appealed to me from a young age," says M3 Glass' Chris Mammen, CEO and third-generation family company leader. "We get to make things with our hands, but precision and numbers form the boundaries of our workspace. In the end, I think [glass] was just 'in my blood.' At times I did not appreciate it, like when I was running rubber on a storefront in 30-degree weather as a teenager, but by the time I finished college, I had done every hands-on job in the company. I now know this was intentional by my dad, and it served me well."  

Pete deGorter, fourth generation of the family who owns DeGorter Inc., is the only one of nine family memebers in his generation to stick with the family business. Initially, his decision to stay was exclusivly his deep commitment to his family. He says, "I came into this industry for the satisfaction of helping keep our family business alive... It had nothing to do with the appeal of the glass industry and everything to do with taking care of our family."

However, after spending more time on the front lines, deGorter's commitment has grown from his family to the industry itself. "I came into this industry believing glass was mundane and dull. That is far from what I believe now. It is amazing to think about what has become possible with glass... its capabilities are mind-blowing." 

As eventual owner of the company, Pete deGorter's goal is to pursue the same legacy within the glass industry left by John deGorter, his "Bonpapa," the company's second-generation owner. "[My Bonpapa] was a great mentor, and I saw first-hand the hard work needed to run a successful business," says deGorter. "I want to keep this opportunity for four more generations of deGorters."

Bethany Stough is managing editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at bstough@glass.org

Monday, June 13, 2016

More mixed results on various monthly indexes I follow. On the good side, the Dodge Momentum Index moved higher and the analysts are predicting that this trend will be stable, which is good news to some markets that had inconsistent and mostly soft first quarters. Also good? Construction spending for nonresidential buildings is now up 9.8 percent year-to-date, and its 3-month average best since early 2009. On the worrisome side is the labor issue. Construction employment dropped from April to May and even though the year over year numbers are good, the overall metrics here are miserable. There are 200,000 job openings and there’s no good remedy in sight. I think everyone in the industry shares this pain of needing qualified labor and I believe it is going to get tougher. This surely bears watching. If work keeps coming in, how do you get it processed, delivered and installed if you are constantly fighting the need for qualified folks?

Elsewhere…

  • Congrats to everyone on the Glass Magazine Top 50 Glazier list. The annual rundown is in the latest edition of the Magazine. Some excellent companies populating that list and I am proud to say I know many and even do work for one! I’ll have my monthly review of the magazine on next week’s blog.
  • Also, kudos to the Mobius family at Garibaldi Glass. This past Friday Garibaldi celebrated its 50th anniversary, which from what I was told was a great gathering. I was honored to be invited and wish I could’ve attended, but not meant to be. But more importantly, to Carey, Chris and Craig, a hearty congratulations for this awesome milestone!
  • Hey don’t look now, but gas prices are creeping up. Almost to $3 a gallon in Michigan now and I think just a matter of time before pricing is back to the very high marks from two years ago. And while that’s probably good for the overall economy, it’s back to sucking as a consumer.
  • For my fellow Road Warriors, interesting gallery on the top 14 Airport Hotels that have a cool design scenario. Unfortunately I have stayed at none of them because I’m usually at a Holiday Inn Express and design is like 19th on their list after making sure the pillow cases are mismarked “firm” and “soft” (I say mismarked because they are never right). Anyway, check out the article and if you stayed at any let me know! 
  • And last this week, as I have noted here many times, I am a big fan of the show “The Americans” and I know several of you watch it as well. While this season was good, it surely to me wasn’t great or as good as past seasons. So a bit of a letdown for me, but maybe it was just me… who knows. Hopefully the writers there can get back on track for their final 23 episodes before the show ends its run in 2018.

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 MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

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.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

For the record, I am a male Baby Boomer. This fact influences how I communicate and my preferences for ways to receive communication. However, some things remain constant regardless of age or gender.

Meaningful communication is based upon three things: words, tone of voice and body language. According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian, words account for 7 percent, tone of voice accounts for 38 percent, and body language accounts for 55 percent of meaningful communication. 

How does this apply to our current communication habits? Email and text use only words.Telephone uses words and tone of voice.Face-to-face and video use words, tone of voice and body language.

So how do we increase the probability of being successful in our communication? It depends upon your purpose. If your purpose is to share information, email and text suffice. Have you ever received an email that you misinterpreted? Was it poorly written so you couldn’t determine its meaning or intent? Have you, or others, overreacted to written communication? Have you made bad decisions based solely upon written communication?

If you insist on using email/text only to build your business relationships, you are increasing the probability of being misunderstood. Your intended audience is missing 93 percent of the total message, according to Dr. Mehrabian. Is it worth taking this much of a risk?

If your purpose is to build relationships, email, text, and any social medium do not work. Relationships require telephone or in-person communication. My company understands this communication challenge. We use all methods: email/text, telephone, and face-to-face. Our rule is to use email to summarize our conversations on the phone and in-person. We also use email to send information, knowing it will not build a relationship with its recipient.

Bottom line: if you want to communicate so you cannot possibly be misunderstood, decide what your purpose is first. If it’s simply to share information, email suffices. But if you want to build relationships, lead with telephone and face-to-face communication and summarize those conversations with email.

Bill Evans is president of Evans Glass Co. Write him at bevans@evansglasscompany.com.

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, June 6, 2016

I happened upon a pretty interesting column on brand standards for construction in the hotel industry that also made me think about another trend that is troubling. First, the article on the hotel brand standards brought into play the fact that construction is not one-size-fits-all. A hotel in Phoenix vs. a hotel in Pittsburgh may have the same name and use the same interior looks, but its construction overall has to be different. Unfortunately more and more the hotel industry is dictating everything on the project- from the things that can be duplicated at every site, to the ones that can’t. It is scary because as we all know, the glass industry usually finds itself in the cross hairs of the blame game. But even beyond that, it’s an illogical business model that needs to be changed. 

Meanwhile, it made me think of the other trend that is a worry: selling glass/aluminum direct to the owner of a building. Cutting the knees of the architect and cutting out basically the professionals down the pipeline that will be installing the glazing. In the past it was a foreign entity doing this, but it’s now becoming a domestic play within the traditional industry. The angle here is to get your products locked in by the owner and avoid any questions from anyone else in the chain. I get it, cutting out levels makes the playing field a little easier to traverse, but the value of the insight from those levels are crucial to the success and efficiency of the job. There are other factors in the selling direct angle that I won’t get into here, but those in the industry surely know. Needless to say, I’m not a fan. The structure of the North American industry makes sense on many levels, seeing it circumvented is not something positive to me. Whether or not it’s a short trend or long-term one, that’s up for debate, but it will surely be interesting to see how this goes forward. 

Elsewhere…

  • While catching up on reading this week, I also saw the study done by St. Gobain and Sage on workplace design and productivity. No question that the growth of glass on the interior and upgrades to what products are used on the exterior are coming on the heels of occupant comfort needs. Natural light does matter. Workplace efficiency does grow when it’s a better atmosphere. Bottom line for me is if a trend means more glass, sign me up.
  • I was out and about this week and saw PPG sample boxes at one office. Not sure if these are new or old, but I loved the look and design. As someone who from time to time has to lug sample about, this design really makes it nicer. Props to the team at PPG on it.
  • Congrats to old friend Dan Plotnick on his new job at PGT Industries. Dan is a very talented guy and after a couple of past stints on the other side of the world he returns to America in a sales director role for PGT. Glad to have him back in the USA!
  • Last this week, thank you to the throngs of folks who signed up for the Glazing Executives Forum already. The event is going to be excellent and very important for educational and networking growth. I am also jealous of all that can attend because of my functions working at GlassBuild America I can only pop my head in and out of the GEF sessions. To learn more and sign up, please click here!

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 MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

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, May 30, 2016

Blogging is a great way to share what I’m thinking. In this blog post I take the liberty to make a few (just the edge of my brain) observations and express opinions about projects, trends, issues, codes, and futures in regards to glass, glazing, cladding, enclosures, façade’s, building envelope systems, etc. Call them what you will, let’s get right to it.

 

1. Projects rarely, if ever, start on time (how about never). Everyone MEANS WELL. It just doesn’t happen. I wish I had a dollar every time I’ve heard, “And the curtain wall contract is going to be released by….”Yawn….snore….What’s that you said?

Most importantly, the “install” date never changes. The cladding must be installed by such-and-such date and the building completely enclosed. I get that. It’s the owner’s building. There are covenants and move-in dates. But never mind that bauxite can’t be mined and processed into extruded aluminum in two weeks, and glass can’t be shipped in three.After waiting eight weeks after design-assist to get approved die and profile drawings, going through endless design iterations, and being on the receiving end of delays in returned shop drawings, it’s impossible. 

By the way, if you can do the shop drawings in 12 weeks with three people, doesn’t that mean you can do them in one and a half weeks with 24 people? Doesn’t it work that way? Just add more resources!

2. “V-E” (Value Engineering) is too often a euphemism for “cheap.” Lots of emphasis typically on “V” and not “E.” It’s supposed to be an ROI decision, not “who or what is the cheapest.” It’s supposed to be about maximum “bang for the buck.”

3. Right now I see a gap in the release and cadence of large monumental projects. There are many new projects being bid. They are also delayed in being released. At least that’s my observation. Plus, glazing subcontractor clients now have more choices after absorbing initial market demand increase a few years ago. They are being more specific about the jobs they are pursuing. Owners are taking their time making decisions and selecting teams; drilling through costs; vetting the process.

4. Design-assist is a terrific methodology for executing curtain wall and exterior façade projects. In fact I think EVERY curtain wall project should be a design-assist project. EVERY SINGLE ONE. I’d love to debate on this issue.

The problem with design-assist is that there are as many definitions as there are shades of gray in Cleveland, Ohio. Unless everyone is on the same page contractually and with methodology (use the buzz phrase “in alignment”), it can be a nightmare. Reality: Only a prescriptive definition and scope of work—accepted by all, defined from top to bottom—creates a clear and manageable path for success. Otherwise there’s lots of tension.

5. The supply chain (products and services) in façade projects can be complicated to manage. It shouldn’t be, and doesn’t HAVE to be, but you’ve got that pesky problem that we aren’t working with a repetitive, fixed product. A building product changes every time. Designs change. Building sites change. Teams change. No two jobs are alike. Many decision makers and influencer’s in the supply chain can influence the process or send it in a different direction.

Communication is one key to effective supply chain and project management, but most of us do a poor job at it. Most enterprises (B2B) are even worse. How about we just send ONE MORE EMAIL? Maybe that will fix the problem. Communicating well is a differentiator.

Online platforms for collaboration like Slack, One Note, and others will change (are changing) the face of project communication.

I am using many platforms all the time to connect and carry on conversations and develop relationships. These include face-to-face meetings; phone calls; email; texting; Twitter DM; Twitter feed; LinkedIn, Web News, Blogging, In-bound marketing, smoke signals, carrier pigeon, billboards, fax. (Ok, I lied about the fax.)

Social media for construction and engineering firms is a giant desert. A dry, parched ground waiting for moisture. I hope the glass and glazing industry, and those who support it, “get with it.” If not, then those in the space and dominating social media streams and relevant feeds will continue to expand and be recognized as the experts. And why not? Firms and people that are the most engaged are those that express the most desire and passion to make a difference, to connect, to communicate their brand. Be Social or be irrelevant.

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 jwheaton@wheatonsprague.com 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, May 30, 2016

Last week I took my daughter on a college campus tour at Michigan State University. In the middle of campus, a building absolutely stuck out and took all of my attention. The structure was the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, and while I had read about it over the years and seen a picture or two, it did not shake me until I saw it up close. The late, great Zaha Hadid designed the building and calling it iconic may be an understatement. The first thing that stuck me of course was the glass. The curtain wall was unique and breathtaking. And then inside the oversized all-glass doors with what looked like ¾-inch glass stopped me in my tracks. Just the way this project utilized glass and how perfect it all looked had me completely blown away. 

So when I got back home after the tour I made sure to try and find out more and I had thought that Guardian was involved in some form or fashion. Sure enough after a note to Chris Dolan, he not only confirmed that Guardian was involved but also shared a great video that showed exactly how deep the involvement went. All I can say is the glass makeup alone--a quad-pane IG--featuring low-E, Argon and silkscreen made me glad I was seeing this after the fact and not worrying about producing it! Anyway, the video is only about three minutes long, and if you are glass geek, it is absolutely well worth the watch. 

Side note: My conduct during this part of the tour had our guide a bit worried. I was studying every piece of glass up close, going to my knees trying to look at logos etc. My daughter just shook her head; it’s not the first time she’s seen me go gaga on a glass and glazing project. Oh, and side note No. 2: Despite this amazing building, Michigan State did NOT crack my daughter's top three for colleges, much to the chagrin of her mother and I who would love to have her only two hours from home instead of the current long trip choices she’s considering. Obviously she hasn’t learned yet that great glass is always a big part of every decision!

Elsewhere…

  • Last week I noted that I would have more on the latest Architectural Billings Index report. At the end of the report, the AIA included some comments from firms, and I wanted to share a few of them here because I think what the architects are going through absolutely mirrors our industry:

We are in a position to turn away work that does not fit our schedule/staffing. The downside is that we having a hard time hiring competent new employees.—80-person firm in the Midwest, institutional specialization

First quarter was a roller coaster ride of work and no work. Hopefully moving forward the hills and valleys will lessen.—6-person firm in the South, commercial/industrial specialization

Labor shortage is killing us. Firms are cannibalizing each other’s staff. The way you combat this is by making the firm a great place to work.—125-person firm in the West, institutional specialization

So workforce is an issue along with crazy and inconsistent performance in the 1Q. While the economic side is seemingly leveling out, the labor shortage is a massive worry. I am surprised because with all of the downsizing architectural firms did during the downturn, I would’ve thought a labor shortage would not be one of their issues. I also wonder if it’s not so much of a labor need but rather the desire to do more with less and not grow like they did previously. Anyway, I found it interesting that there’s certainly similarities between our world and the world of design.

  • Previously I had written about the closing of Spectrum Glass. Now the government is pushing down on another player in the colored glass world and they’re trying to fight back. Click here for more info. This continues to be a story to watch on many fronts. It obviously is affecting business, and that will have a trickle down for sure. But what about the environment? That is surely a concern, too. When I shared this with a friend this week, she replied: does the need for something outweigh what is safe? It’s surely something that is not an easy call for anyone. My heart goes out to the folks in business caught in the middle of this, and hopefully something can work out for all in the end! 
  • Last this week, please note that I did pick the San Jose Sharks to win the Stanley Cup here on the blog back in April. OK, now it’s time for my normal jinx to arrive….Please.

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 MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

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.

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