glassblog

Sunday, May 22, 2016

My time at AIA was very limited, so I didn’t come close to seeing everything and everyone I wanted. But I feel like I was there long enough to make some observations. The buzz was positive, exhibitors seemed happy though the inconsistent flow of architects, which is an AIA staple, was still happening. Philadelphia did attract a lot of northeast architects, and I talked with one from Boston who hadn’t been to an AIA event in years. I have a feeling he was not the exception this year.

The overall design of the exhibits was fantastic. There is no doubt that budgets really swelled this year, as there were some excellent booths. Which ones really caught my eye? Viracon had a massive display showing their future oversize capabilities. The way they positioned it in their space, just drew people to it. Pleotint with a great video wall in a bright and open display was strong, and kudos to Guardian who made subtle but very smart and effective upgrades to their standard show booth. I also really liked GGI’s as well; they had so much glass showing, and there seemingly was a decorative style for any taste.

Other trends at play were the Division 10 offerings and traditional residential window people pushing new products for the commercial space. There was a lot to see but unfortunately my time just did not allow it. And speaking of time, why the AIA chose to close the show at four o'clock instead of five is baffling to me. I know I could’ve used the extra hour. 
I assume that the keynote of Julia Louis Dreyfus was fine, but no one spoke of it to me. It surely did not have an impact like past speakers. Still a head-scratching call.

So once the show ended and the lights were quickly shut off, I had a little time before heading out to the airport. So being in Philly, I looked up where “Rocky’s Steps” were. I am a huge Rocky guy. My son is as well. So I had to make the pilgrimage. Luckily I was joined by the best-dressed guy in North America, Danik Dancause of Walker Glass (outfit: Amazing blue suit & bow tie). So Danik and I walked the almost two miles, through the maze of Philly road and sidewalk construction and roundabouts to make it to the famous Philadelphia Museum of Art. It was surely something to see, and yes I did make sure to get a picture next to the classic Rocky statue. No time to run the steps though, plus in my current crummy shape that was a heart attack waiting to happen.

Elsewhere…

  • The latest Architectural Billings Index was released this week and it is still in positive territory. The interesting nugget from this report was that the “New Design Contracts” category jumped to its highest rating since last summer. There were other pieces I want to get to on this and I’ll hit on them on my next post.
  • Last this week, just a heads up for a great website for technical and educational resources. Check out www.Glassdocs.com and see that it is a treasure trove of information. The latest addition “All About Glass and Metal” is geared towards Architects and Specifiers, and it’s a strong piece that I am sure many will find helpful.

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

In my years in the glass and window business I have found too often that many sales people and even more, sales teams, are ill-prepared for sales.  Too many sales people believe being on friendly terms with their sales prospects and customers will win the deal or get more business, that buying donuts or lunch will make all the difference. Many sales people cringe with accountability and reporting, and grumble about using Customer Relationship Management software.

If you’re a business owner, ask yourself if this would ever be acceptable for manufacturing, engineering, finance or any other operation. So why sales?

Sales is arguably the most important group in your business and yet, way too often I see that it is the most under-prepared. Forecast and scheduling are a best guess scenario; real growth is by chance. 

So how do you rectify the situation? If you come down too hard, you will have a full-on revolt; if you don’t let people know you’re serious, they will regress. Well I suggest you take baby steps and instead of a full-blown restructuring, you choose the couple of items that you can implement that will have an impact. Then as time goes on, you can build upon it and over time transform your organization.

First things first, does your sales team try to see every potential customer in a given area, or do they focus their efforts on the ideal customer for your business? Are they looking for work that fits with your strengths as a company?  And are they trying to sell products you don’t have or don’t do well just so they can win a sale? 

I suggest you make a list of all the services or products you produce, then organize it by priority by which ones fit your production or service profile the best. If you have a very long list, maybe you should consider a consolidation or a purge of products/services that don’t fit well. This will add capacity for the products and services that do.

After you have done this, meet with your team and brainstorm. Get laser focused on growing the part of your business that you do best and that fits your business the best. The sales team may have to spend more time calling on select customers and less time calling on others. But you need to be insistent that this is the requirement.

Your sales team will gain confidence selling something they know you do well. Your production flow and efficiencies will increase, your cost of goods sold will go down, and your profitability will go up.  Most of all, your customers will be happier and more satisfied as you deliver a valuable service.  

Chad Simkins is vice president of Pleotint and vice president of sales for Thompson IG. He can be reached at csimkins@pleotint.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 16, 2016

This week many from the commercial side of our industry will be together in Philadelphia for the AIA show. This show always fascinates me because it’s like a modified version of speed dating. The architects only have limited time to hit the floor because of the education courses, so when they do start visiting exhibits, the urgency to pull them in is strong. That setup makes it a challenging show for exhibitors and anyone else who is working it. Regardless, many go because of the potential overall networking (suppliers, customers, consultants, etc.), which is as big as getting lucky finding an architect legitimately interested in you or your product. It will be interesting to see how busy it is. With a good location population wise, and better dates than in the past, it could be a good one. We’ll see.

Some other AIA related nuggets… 

  • The keynote speaker was supposed to be actor Kevin Spacey. He then had to postpone and they grabbed actress Julie Louis Dreyfus to replace him. And while I am a fan of their work, I’m still baffled on how either person makes sense as a keynote at an architectural conference. That whole setup smacks of the desire to just bring in a fun big name instead of something actually meaningful to the industry. Maybe GlassBuild can get Louis CK?  Or Chris Rock? And yes, I know BEC each year has a celebrity athlete as a speaker, but it’s never the main keynote and for the most part their messages are inspirational, so there is value there.
  • The email blast game with regards to AIA is the most prominent I have ever seen. I have gotten more emails from exhibitors at the show, promoting their exhibit and products than ever before. That is where the medium is truly effective, having a purpose to match to. Now I will be curious on what the post-show flow will look like.

Elsewhere…

  • Speaking of shows, GlassBuild America registration is now open. You can take care of that here. Early-bird rates end at the end of this month. You know you are going, and you know you have to be at the Glazing Executives Forum, so sign up now and save a few bucks.
  • Got depressing news this week that Spectrum Glass is closing its doors. It will wrap up business in the next few months and they’ll be a pretty large hole in the specialty art glass side of the industry. The push from the EPA with regards to air regulations is something that is a big factor for this industry segment and it obviously played a role here. I met the team at Spectrum once years ago. Tremendously nice people and I feel for them, their employees, and customers.
  • Excellent article here on why the need for retrofit is so crucial for energy efficiency performance in North America. I have always been on this train--that we are doing a solid job with new construction, but it’s the older buildings that need the push to upgrade. This story helps push that point.
  • And last this week, a very well put together article on the fact our world is certainly changing. It brings up a lot of the issues in one place such as China, Data Streaming, Artificial Intelligence, Logistics, OPEC and Sustainability. A lot of main issues all pulled together in one place for a serious thought piece.

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, May 10, 2016

The Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance Insulating Glass Fabricators’ Workshop at the Intertek Testing Facility in Plano, Texas, last week was eye-opening for me, as a newbie to the glass and glazing industry. I never realized how dynamic and full of life insulating glass units are, or how many things can go wrong to reduce their effectiveness! After a half day learning the basics of frost point testing, volatile fog testing, desiccant requirements, sealants, and proper cutting and care of the glass, we spent a whole day exploring each of these concepts. 

Take a photo gallery tour of my hands-on experience at the IGMA Workshop...

Read more about the event...

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Registration for the 11th Annual Glazing Executives Forum opens this week and a quick look at the agenda has me very excited about this must-attend event. The biggest draw for me will be the keynote talk from Ken Simonson, the chief economist with the Associated General Contractors organization. Simonson is one of the most respected voices in the construction forecasting arena and I have been lucky enough to sit in on several webinars featuring him. His insight to the economy and the effect on our industry will be extremely insightful. Also on tap at GEF is George Hedley, also known as the “Construction Business Builder.” I saw him several years ago and he was excellent as well. Obviously as the months go by, I’ll have more insight into GEF, but mark October 19 on your calendar and register to be there. You’re already probably going to GlassBuild America, so make GEF a part of the plan.

Elsewhere…

  • Just a heads up, the growth of company websites being hacked is heading towards an epidemic range. So get with your IT and web developers and make sure your security is up to speed. I’ve said it before; it makes me crazy that the brightest people in the world use their intelligence for evil. Incredibly frustrating.  
  • We just completed Construction Safety Week and I think the focus by so many was helpful in pushing the message. However, the obvious note is that safety has to be first in line all the time. It’s a mindset, and that needs to be constantly reinforced for the good of all.
  • Just received the latest Glass Magazine and the May issue is strong once again, especially with incredible educational resources and a look into the world of the architect. The highlight for me on that was a tremendous article by Joe Erb of Quanex on building a long-lasting relationship with the design team. Joe is one of the most talented guys in our world and when he’s sharing insight, I am there. Great stuff!
  • The ad of the month was a very tough call. People have raised their game dramatically over the last several months. So unable to pick one, I am giving the nod to my two favorites for May. At the front of the magazine, a very eye-catching ad from Petersen with their PAC-CLAD brand. When you can open a magazine and the ad stops you immediately, you know you did it right. Also props to Guardian for the ad on the back of the issue. It was a very simple and effective ad. Picture and testimonial were placed nicely and I liked the bold tag at top. Good job, though, to all the advertisers this month; really enjoyable approaches.
  • Last this week, Mothers Day is here, and I’d like to pass a Happy one to my Mom. She actually reads this blog every week, even though most of the stuff I write about she has no idea what I am talking about. But that is the motherly thing to do, right? So happy Mothers Day Mom from your eighth favorite kid. I love you. And to all of the other Moms out there, hope you had a great day!

 

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 2, 2016

Laminated glass was patented in 1909 and entered the mass market as a life safety product. In the late 1920s, laminated windshields became a common safety feature for vehicles, saving countless lives. It then became a critical material for building security and protection. Fueled by the terrible destruction from hurricanes during the 1990s, laminated glass became mandatory for structures in storm-prone areas. And it grew into an important safety solution for man-made threats, from simple break-ins to more devastating bomb blasts. The building industry has looked beyond just the safety benefits of laminated glass to aesthetic and acoustic performance as well.

The strength and security of laminated products garnered the attention of architects, as they sought to push the envelope of what’s possible with glass. The last decade has seen exciting developments in everything from point-supported facades to glass stair treads to glass balustrades. Laminated glass is maximizing transparency, while ensuring safety and security. This envelope pushing has also opened the door for more “extreme” glass possibilities. 

About two years ago, I was able to experience the extreme possibility of glass when I visited “The Ledge” in Chicago. I stood 1,353 feet above the ground in an all-glass box cantilevered 4.3 feet from the Willis Tower. It was incredible. I experienced some of the thrill of skydiving, base-jumping or hang gliding (all extreme activities that I will likely never attempt), but with complete confidence in my own safety.

From “The Ledge,” I looked between my feet toward the grid of streets far below, where cars appeared as moving specks of light. My heart raced and my stomach dropped. But, through the adrenaline, the still-rational part of my brain continued to assure me that the three layers of laminated glass under my feet, on all three walls of the box, and above my head, were more than enough protection.

Glass has become a favorite material for these safe, but extreme, applications, such as the Grand Canyon Skywalk, where visitors can stand 70 feet from the rim of the Grand Canyon at the, 2,000 feet in the air. At the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, tourists can walk 4,700 feet above the ground along a 200-foot skywalk that traces a sheer cliff-face of Tianmen Mountain. Starting in June, visitors to the new the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles will be able to pay $8 to slide down the glass enclosed 45-foot Skyslide running from the 70th floor to the 69th floor.

We highlighted several extreme glass applications in the May issue of Glass Magazine, including the impressive Glacier Skywalk in Alberta, Canada, featured on the cover, China’s Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, and Tilt! in Chicago (pp. 38-44). This issue also provided an important look at another type of safety glass, capable of handling extreme situations—fire-rated glass. On page 14, view an updated guide to fire-rated glass codes and standards.  

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org. 
Sunday, May 1, 2016

Every year, one or two of the most important events in our industry are held in Las Vegas. (Remember: GlassBuild America-October-Vegas). It’s important because so much of our product is used there, and in a lot of cases, its higher end using more sophisticated materials. With that in mind, I keep tabs on that city and this week I ran into news about discussions happening there to get a light rail system and expand the monorail. If either happens, it could make getting around the area easier and more efficient. Especially the long-promised light rail from the airport to the strip. As someone who has waited in crazy cab lines at the airport, the ability to possibly cut that out would be very welcomed. All of this is still in planning stages, but it bears watching. These changes don’t have a direct effect on our industry, but the more work that happens in Vegas, no matter the style, usually the better for us.

Elsewhere…

Lots of links with education and insight this week…

 

  • For those of you who have to use Google to advertise, the changes they recently made are a new challenge to getting the word out. Good rundown over at Window and Door by Welton Hong here. Also check out the poll. I am stunned at the results where half of the respondents do not use Google for advertising. Why stunned? Because the audience of that blog is made up of window folks and while many are manufacturers, many also are dealers. And if you are selling to the public and not in Google, you are missing out. 
  • While you are out reading different links, I suggest checking out the latest from John Wheaton. Really good piece on the back and forth that goes on in getting a customer. All of us have been there--on one side or another--I enjoyed the way John wrote it, made me feel like a fly on the wall in the room as the conversations took place. 
  • Speaking of blogs, when I first read this one from Ron Crowl, I e-mailed to tell him how much I liked it. The takeaway is excellent and I am sure to share this with my kids as well; good life lesson. 
  • I do enjoy PPG’s Glass Education Center. Tremendous resource. I was on the “Top Design Considerations” page and it was a great primer. I especially love that they listed “Safety” first. That is so huge and something we all as an industry have to keep pounding on, in every aspect of the business. Safety has to come first! Anyway, great info overall throughout that site. 
  • Last this week, fantastic read on the architectural design of Prince’s home and headquarters in Minnesota. So not only was Prince a legend from an entertainment standpoint, he also did some cutting edge things from an architectural angle. Also, I have to guess with so many great industry players in the state of Minnesota, someone reading this blog had to have worked on this project. If you did, let me know. I would love to hear your experience. 

 

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, April 26, 2016

Like many college kids, I spent my senior year juggling a heavy course load with a busy interview schedule as I searched for my first full-time job. I scheduled one of the interviews with a large and highly technical government agency on a day that was tightly packed with several classes and was all the way across campus from where I lived. Young and naïve, I was confident I would have plenty of time after my last class to go back to my apartment, change into a suit, and make it back for the interview.

My first piece of bad luck: I was delayed in returning to my apartment and only had a few minutes to change clothes and rush back for the interview. The second piece of bad luck was even more ominous—the only dress shirt that I owned looked like a slept-in-after-a-fraternity-party wrinkled mess.

In typical engineer fashion, I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and devised an ingenious work-around. I found a seldom-used iron in a dusty corner of my closet, plugged in the device my once-hopeful mother must have packed for me four years’ prior, and cleverly ironed only the front of the shirt. Satisfied, I raced across campus ready to take on the world via the United States government.

As I was escorted into the interview, I was feeling pretty self-assured. That lasted until the perfectly groomed government official interviewing me invited me to remove my suit coat because, he said, “that’s the way we work at the agency.” Deflated, I sat for the remaining painful hour of the interview wondering if the wrinkles in the shirt were making the sweat stains under my arms look better or worse.

It goes without saying that I didn’t get the job. Not only did I fail to make the right impression at the beginning of the interview, I lost all confidence once I removed my suit coat.

The takeaway from this experience has remained with me ever since. Being prepared and able to imagine all possible scenarios alleviates the need to cut corners. In business, as in life, preparation and practice go a long way toward building the confidence required to succeed.

Have you ever been caught cutting corners? What did you do, what did it cost, how did you manage and what did you learn? 

Ron Crowl is president and CEO of FeneTech Inc.

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, April 25, 2016

This past week we had two major construction-related indexes release reports that featured some interesting takeaways. First from the general contractor level, the results were not very rosy and somewhat surprising. The Associated Builders and Contractors Construction Confidence Index is a study/survey that takes six months into account and looks at the business in a few different areas: Sales, Profit Margin and Staffing. In the latest CCI, tracking the last six months of 2015, all three indicators were down. I can see staffing as a challenge, but I have to admit that Sales and Profit being off is a shock. And those of you dealing with GCs each day probably agree. Now the numbers are obviously much better than they were in 2012, but still interesting to see that the end of 2015 was not a major success for this side of the world, at least according to the index.  

Meanwhile the monthly Architectural Billings Index was released and it ticked up again coming in at 51.9. New project inquiries were down slightly, but they are still in a very healthy territory and regionally only the Midwest did not crack the break-even mark of 50, finishing slightly under at 49.8. So overall the ABI continues to be a source of positivity as we keep our eyes glued to 2017. Second quarter usually sees a boost in new project inquiries, so we’ll see if that indicator starts moving that way or not.

Elsewhere…

  • Environmental Product Declarations is an area I am admittedly weak on. So I have been trying to educate myself and I came across this excellent article that provided solid insight. 
  • If you somehow missed the great blog post by Kris Iverson on last week’s e-glass weekly, here’s the link. Hiring is so incredibly hard; so any additional help is always appreciated.
  • Via Facebook I saw the news on changes at Vos Glass in Western Michigan. Vos is one of those very respected brands and I am a big fan of Linda Vos-Graham who ran the company until now with a new team taking over. I hope Linda is able to stay involved (if she wants) in the industry. Her smarts and perspective were huge parts of events like the Glazing Executives Forum.
  • We are about a month from the next event that many in the industry will participate in one way or another. The 2016 AIA show is in Philadelphia this year and given its location and timing (better in May than in June), I have a feeling it could be very busy. The fact it’s busy is not usually a guarantee for the exhibitors of a good show though since the event is so vast and education is still the priority, but the potential is there. 
  • Last this week, Prince passed away. I’m a fan, have listened to his music for years.  What I did not expect was how many people were HUGE fans and the outpouring of love and respect for him. It was Michael Jackson-like, including wall-to-wall coverage on the cable news channels. Tough run for music superstars with David Bowie and now Prince passing away in such a short time.

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, April 18, 2016

From time to time I hit some personal items on this blog. The start of this post will be one of them, so if you are here for the industry-related scuttlebutt, please skip down to the next section. Otherwise, thank you for hearing me out. Fifteen years ago this past week, my father passed away. He was a great and patient man. An inspiration in that he decided to “bet on himself” and start anew, by breaking away and starting his own glass business in the 70s. Not exactly the greatest economy to do so, but he did and did it well. He recognized the talent of people around him and put them in a position to succeed. Efforts by my brother, sister and many others who were there at the start were huge and the company grew. That team he built, led to more and more over the years as people connected to that original network branched out and now the impact from that foundation is felt throughout the industry today. That makes me proud. I was too young to be in that business at the start, but I consider myself one of the branches of that tree though. I wish he could still be here to see how we all are doing, but that was not meant to be. In any case, I do think about him all the time and miss him dearly. He may be gone, but never forgotten.

Elsewhere…

  • Nice pub for the industry and SageGlass with a quick Q&A in the New York Times in the Vocations section. 
  • Very interesting article here on a 1,600-year-old glass kiln discovered in Israel. The best part of it for me was that they mention how even back in ancient times there were cost differences for glass based on supplier. The price lists were on stone tablets… amazing. 
  • A great Twitter follow is Glassworks Inc. (@Glassworks_Inc) as there’s usually an excellent article or picture to take in. This past week was no exception with a super link to an article on “Architectural Embellishment,” and that story was spot on. For the architect the question is: you have the freedom to design whatever you want, but should you? 
  • I got the new Glass Magazine this week and kudos again to Katy Devlin and company for a fantastic issue. Tremendous reads cover to cover and the list of top fabricators never disappoints. In addition, the piece on interiors was very informative. A lot more to think about with that application than I think many expect.   And the continuation on “Exit Planning & Succession” series was strong. Good stuff.
  • And in that issue, my “ad of the month” award goes to Dorma. I liked the layout of their piece, very sharp and eye catching. Right amount of text and thumbnails of product really worked here.
  • Last this week, the NHL playoffs kicked off, as did the NBA. So here are my picks in both. Again, apologies to the fan bases I choose, as I am rarely right…  In the NHL I am taking the San Jose Sharks to beat the New York Rangers. Yes, I know picking the Rangers means I am picking against my Penguins…. In the NBA, this year will be amazing to watch. I am excited that my Detroit Pistons are back in the post-season for the first time in years, but they have no chance, unless they convince Guardian’s Chris Dolan to come out of retirement and rain down lots of three pointers on the Cavs. I don't  think LeBron can guard Megatron Dolan. I would love to see the Spurs win because of my friends in San Antonio, the awesome Luna family. But I think it’s the Warriors world and while they will be tested, in the end, I think they pull it off in a finals rematch vs. the Cavs.

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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