glassblog

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

As a provider of professional services for design, engineering and consulting to the glass-glazing-curtain wall industry, my experience is that the best value to the end-user and owner, and to all constituents in the supply chain, is generated in collaborative design. Real collaboration is key, and it takes much energy and buy-in from all project participants.

The struggle we all share too often is that a “throw it over the wall mentality” is still used by many in our industry as a standard operating procedure. This process is linear, sequential, with companies pushing work through the portal and expecting results. Design and engineering doesn’t work best that way. This linear process produces less than optimal results, especially when trying to apply new technologies and compressed schedules to critical path components like the curtain wall.

Too often in our work, the tyranny of the urgent is the rule of the day. By comparison, investing time proactively in ongoing, real-time, shared collaboration from the start yields better results downstream. It also demands tenacity and commitment.

Collaboration can be manifested in different forms. One aspect of collaboration involves driving integration. To do this, there must be a commitment by the team to pull each other into the space of a shared reality. This creates better understanding, fewer assumptions, lower risk and improved results. It gets the job to the finish line more effectively. In a fragmented and often disruptive supply chain in the curtain wall industry, steps toward value generation can be as simple as driving integration. How can we accomplish this?

This process can be defined prescriptively and contractually in various forms. One form is to create a design-assist collaboration process, where parties from each firm, representing their various interests in the project, are working to design and engineer a wall system that can best meet the demands from performance to installation based on the project plan.

I am seeing more recognition over the past several years as to the value of this process, but it is still not common enough. Solving problems and working through issues concurrently with the engineering and construction teams can eliminate a great deal of waste, re-work, misunderstanding, poor interpretation, risk and more.

In my next blog, I’ll offer specific tips and recommendations for pursuing a success design-assist process on a curtain wall project.

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, June 8, 2015

On the heels of last week's note about the down ABI, an opposite and very positive trend emerged this week. For the month of April, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of construction spending topped the $1 trillion mark for the first time since November 2008. Any time you see a stat that refers to the “first time” since pre-Great Recession, it is surely something to note. Combine this with a very positive trend on the put-in-place investment numbers, and right now things are surely moving in the right direction.

Elsewhere…

  • At the end of June, Jan Rogan of PPG is retiring, which is a huge loss. She is one of the greatest and nicest people in the industry. Anyone who has ever had the honor of dealing with Jan will miss her. I’ve been lucky enough to know Jan for most of my professional glass life and will always be grateful for her help and assistance along the way, not to mention seeing her smiling face at various trade shows. We will miss you, Jan. Enjoy retirement; you deserve it!
  • Props to the folks at IGMA on their latest bulletin on Vacuum Insulating Glass. There’s no question that VIG is something that intrigues many. The potential has been staring people in the face a long time, but getting it into a mass production scenario has always seemed to be the bugaboo. IGMA putting out this document will surely help educate the masses about this product line and give decision makers the proper insight on where and why this technology may work.
  • I’m a month behind with my normal “best ad of the month in Glass Magazine” thoughts. But actually for this month I am skipping the ad and giving kudos to the Here's an Idea... article on the very last page. The folks at Hale Glass have their own internal training program, and the article there breaks down what and why they do what they do. It’s an excellent read, and congrats to Brian Hale and everyone at Hale Glass for making themselves—and in effect the industry—better!
  • Anyone have an Apple Watch? Curious if you like/use it. Why do I have a feeling former glass industry star Scott Surma will be the one to tell me he has one…?
  • Another question while I am at it: does anyone really believe that driverless cars will make it in our world? I know several major players are experimenting with this, but I just can’t see it working at any sort of level in our society. Too many moving parts and pieces, but the big thing is liability. Especially in the United States. The liability issue curbs tons of enthusiastic and entrepreneurial approaches on a daily basis; this one would get trampled by it.
  • Last this week, a great link that anyone in the glass industry will enjoy—Hollywood making the crash through a window look “safe and easy.” All of us surely know how it really is! The link lists four other things that Hollywood makes different than reality as well. Good stuff.

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

The author 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 1, 2015

“Saint-Gobain is a 350-year-old company that is more focused on the future than the past,” said Pierre-André de Chalendar, Saint-Gobain chairman and CEO, during a June 1 press conference for the company’s 350th anniversary exhibition in Philadelphia.

The glassmaker and building product giant is recognizing the anniversary with a worldwide exhibition, “Future Sensations.” The expo, which celebrates the innovation and imagination of the company, makes four stops across the globe, including Shanghai, China; São Paulo, Brazil; Paris, France; and Philadelphia.

The company is focused on “bold innovation” to address the greatest challenges of our time, such as climate change, air quality and the future of sustainability, de Chalendar said. This innovation includes high performance building products and next-generation glasses including SageGlass, electrochromic dynamic glass from Saint-Gobain subsidiary Sage Electrochromics.

The company’s innovation takes center stage at Future Sensations, which consists of five pavilions demonstrating the range of Saint-Gobain’s product offerings. The expo, which is free and open to the public, runs through June 6 in Philadelphia before its final stop in Paris. View a photo gallery of the expo. 

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org.
Sunday, May 31, 2015

Is there cause for concern after the latest Architectural Billings Index fell again this past month? The headlines surely give you pause, but when you dig into the report, it does not look as negative as you may think. The “New Projects” rating was positive again as was the “Design Contracts” index. Plus the winter weather may have left a bit of hangover when it comes to the overall performance. I not only see, but also continue to hear, too much positivity and confidence in the economic future of our industry to raise the red flag yet. Obviously this and the other indexes bear watching. But for now, I wouldn’t consider this last report anything but a blip on the radar.

Elsewhere…

  • Congrats to Tubelite on celebrating their 70th year in business. Really an incredible and impressive run through some volatile territory and times.
  • Excellent article in the new Glass Magazine on ergonomics in the workplace. It is a must read, especially when you are talking health and welfare of your plant personnel. Kudos to Lisec, AGNORA, and all others engaged in this excellent process.
  • Minnesota is home to some of the best minds in our industry. And now that state has a city that is going to really do something fascinating. Rochester, Minnesota, is working to transform itself and doing so with an ambitious 20 year, $6.5 billion renewal that will surely need a lot of glass. Fast Company magazine has the insight and it’s a great read.
  • As many know, I am a big fan of solar, and I still believe in it. But even though solar performance is growing and products are improving there’s still a massive reluctance to use it. The big utilities still stand in the way of solar growth and there are a few states that are letting that happen. It’s an unfortunate battle that is not good in the end for our environment or energy needs. It also does affect many in our industry that supply to it, though I do know much of it does come from off shore. Still a tough one in any form.
  • For those of you in my generation, a fun documentary to watch: “Atari-Game Over”  is a good one chronicling the rise and fall of Atari with regards to one game and its burial in a landfill. Technology on gaming has come so far in such a short time, and this documentary was a pretty neat walk through the 80s and the initial gaming explosion.
  • Last this week, just downloaded a new book I am looking forward to reading.  “Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry” is now in my queue and while I will never go back to a Blackberry (I love my iPhone), I have a feeling this insider tale may be one to immerse myself in and enjoy. Once done I’ll provide a review. Still finishing the current book “Becoming Steve Jobs,” which has been a solid read for sure.

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

The author 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 25, 2015

The construction industry is designed to look forward, to the completion of a project. However, the emergence of requirements for life cycle assessments and health product declarations ask the industry to do the reverse—to look back to the start of each product in a building, every component of every product, and in the case of HPDs, every ingredient of every component. For the glass industry, this look to the beginning inevitably brings us back to sand.

We don’t often celebrate the material that makes this industry possible. So, in the spirit of looking back to the start, here is a comprehensive and quite fascinating infographic of sand, created by Mainland Aggregates

“Today, sand is used for a wide variety of purposes that range from fracking to construction of natural and synthetic athletic fields. It is also the main raw material used in the manufacturing of all types of glass, both standard and specialty,” according to officials from Mainland Aggregates. “But did you know that man had started using sand to cook his food as early as 8000 BC? Or that there are roughly 7.5 x 1018 grains of sand on Earth?”

Click here to view a larger version of this infographic and to learn more. 






Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org.
Monday, May 25, 2015

Key to a company’s long term success is understanding the difference between “good profits” and “bad profits.” Bad profits may provide earnings in the moment, but good profits pay off again and again. A CFO or CPA reviewing your company books can’t tell which is which. However, there is one simple test to tell if you are achieving good profits versus bad profits. But first, let’s discuss what each look like.

Bad profits come from sales on products and services that satisfy a customer, but the customer is not excited about the work that was completed. That customer wouldn’t necessarily recommend a company to a friend or colleague based on those products or services.

In such cases, it’s most likely that a company didn’t understand what the customer really wanted, and didn’t understand the goal to help solve a particular problem.

Good profits, on the other hand, come from products and services rendered when a company was able to dig into the customers’ needs and desires. The company took the time to understand what the customer wanted, and the company discovered they had an underlying need to solve and issue or achieve a goal. The company helped them reach that potential in a better way.

When it comes to good profits, the customer is excited about the results and is eager to tell everyone who will listen—even those who really don’t care. The customer becomes an extension of the company’s sales team. They are happy to provide testimonials and become a reference, and given the chance, will become a repeat customer.

So, the one simple question you need to ask yourself is: “Am I solving my customer’s issues?” Or, more specifically: “Am I working to understand the potential issues and desires for my customers and making recommendations that can help solve those issues?” If not, you might just be providing a service that is giving your company bad profits.

Chad Simkins is vice president of Pleotint and vice president of sales for Thompson IG. He can be reached at csimkins [at] 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 18, 2015

Key to capitalizing on the growing construction market is meeting changing customer demands. This was clear on the AIA Expo 2015 show floor, as glass and glazing companies demonstrated product innovations that meet the needs of the architectural community.

What do architects want from their glass and glazing? According to glass company exhibitors, they want two things: performance and custom aesthetics. However, those two concerns are far from mutually exclusive, as designers seek glass products that marry performance and aesthetics, and offer both within budget.

From the AIA Expo floor, here are seven ways glass and glazing companies are adapting to meet evolving demands and profit from a changing industry.

1.    Change manufacturing to keep up
“The design community continues to challenge us,” says Joanne Funyak, coated products manager for PPG Ideascapes. “They’re asking what’s new and when can I get it? We’re making capacity improvements. We have to look at the equipment we have and what can be made more easily to deliver and deliver faster as everything is picking up.”

2.    Build relationships with owners and builders, not just architects
Many in the industry are seeking ways to “drive the adoption of the product,” as Erich Klawuhn, vice president, product management for View, puts it. One way to increase awareness of new products is building relationships. “Architects can’t always make the decision [for building products]. Our relationship with builders and owners is equal to architects.”

3.    Invest in customer-centric technology
Technology is a top priority for many glass industry companies, with firms making updates and innovations often with the architectural customer in mind. Guardian Glass Analyticss, for example, allows architects and other customers to integrate products into their perceived design digitally. “We want to help architects in specifying products. We’re constantly adding on technology components to make our products easier to see,” says Chris Dolan, director of marketing for Guardian Industries.

“We have to make using our product easy for [the customer],” adds View's Klawuhn. View introduced Intelligence Version 2, a connective predictive glass that uses weather feeds to clear or tint. “We’ve updated the technology to gratify the customer.”

4.    Anticipate demand
Viracon’s Garrett Henson, vice president of sales and marketing, says the industry is seeing a lot of activity again. “Customers are challenging us from an engineering standpoint to come up with reliable, safe technology to get more glass. We have to produce and invest capital to keep up with the desire.”

5.    Invest in process for today and for the future
Building sustainability has been a theme for architects and the building community for many years. Mike Turner, national operations manager for YKK AP America, says resiliency is an upcoming theme within the industry, and notes YKK AP’s investment into resilient buildings. “We’re trying to design structures that consider how you maintain them after warranties run out. How easy will it be? How accessible will the parts be?” he says.

6.    Produce products that answer the question: What do you want it to do?
 “Architects have challenged us with design, to see if we can do it,” says Alan McLenaghan, CEO of Sage Electrochromics. “Now we’re asking ‘what do you want it to do?’ I want to help architects achieve their dream. By listening to the voice of customers, we’re adapting product for how it will be used in the space. It has to fix the problem.”

In a similar way, Kawneer Co., in conjunction with its partner companies Reynobond and Traco, offers architects complete solutions for all major market segments. “By adapting our products, we can give architects the flexibility to work them into any design,” says Karen Zipfel, director of marketing for Kawneer's parent company Alcoa Building & Construction Systems.

7.    Educate at every stage
More product education is needed across the industry. As a result, David Potter, Northeast regional sales manager for Pella EFCO says manufacturers have had to make an investment in their web presence. “Architects first go the a company’s website to learn about products. With an effective website, customers can be highly educated after one view. Then, still try to get them into the office for education on proper application and determine the right solution.”

Kevin Norcross, general manager for Vetrotech, says with a niche and technical product like ceramic fire-rated glass, education for the architect is key—in terms of codes, specifications and life safety of the product. "We are always getting more questions from the architectural community, especially about [Environmental Product Declarations] and [Health Product Declarations]. It’s very important that we continue to educate the community.”

Bethany Stough, managing editor, Glass Magazine

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 18, 2015

A lot of quick hitting items for me this week, so I’m going to eschew the normal format and just get into them…

Great Tweet of a link from John Wheaton (who is a must-follow on Twitter, @JohnLWheaton1) about the decision in California to grant land to LinkedIn over Google. I don’t think Google loses many battles, so this is truly an interesting one. Google was planning an intense new global headquarters (which I wonder now if they will redesign to try and match or top Apple), and now without the land they’ll be going to plan B.

  • Tremendous feedback from my piece last week on the renovation needs by 2030. Thank you to all. It will be an issue to continue to monitor and we as an industry need to support any and all efforts to be involved in the process.
  • Hiring is always a crucial need. With the shortage of skilled employees some companies are just hiring any warm body they can. That is a dangerous approach as sometimes it’s really better to let the job go unfilled than to hire someone who could cause major harm. And in an industry where the primary product is pretty dangerous when not handled correctly, that’s even a bigger reason why it’s better to be focused on the hires you make.
  • I made the extremely quick visit to AIA. Did not get to all I wanted to, but still good to see who I did. Reaction on the floor traffic was mixed; some folks were thrilled, some not so much.
  • One thing at AIA that I caught wind of via social media was View’s announcement of their new “Intelligence” product. It’s a predictive glass that will do many things including react to the environment. It’s no secret I love the dynamic glass space, and this is yet another reason why.
  • Kudos to Jeff Razwick for a tremendous blog on GlassMagazine.com last week. I believe the blog “format” has many uses, but pieces like Jeff’s that in 500 words or so provide such great and important information is crucial to our world.
  • I ran into a computer magazine from 1977 that had a great story on how computerized statements will be a key to getting paid faster. I have to laugh since I don’t think that ever made a dent in the pay process. Even now, with electronic statements, those who want to pay quick do; and those who don’t or can’t… won’t.
  • The NFL was in hot water yet again, but this story did not get the same amount of attention as “Deflategate” did. The story is how the NFL takes millions of dollars from the armed forces for advertising, but they try and play it off with “honoring the troops” during pre-game and halftime. It’s very disingenuous. If you want to take money to promote signing up for the National Guard or Army, etc., that’s fine. But honoring of any troop should be free and done with respect, not because of a sponsorship.
  • Hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day. (And a Happy Victoria Day this week for my friends in Canada.) And please, those in the U.S., take some time to pay respect to the men and women of the armed forces, both alive and passed, for their commitment and dedication to the country they served. Thank you.

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

From the Fabricator will be back on Tuesday, June 2.

 

The author 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 11, 2015

As famed author Kurt Vonnegut and many others have noted, “In this world, you get what you pay for.” This holds as true for building materials such as glazing, as it does for vehicles, restaurant meals, electronics and other goods we enjoy every day.

When faced with a choice between apparently similar items, it is tempting to choose the lower cost one in order to help your budget, whether it’s your household budget or the budget for a client’s project. But, fixating on the bottom line can distract you from crucial long-term considerations.

So, how do you balance budget and project demands with quality, in the glass industry? While there isn’t a one-size fits all answer (if you find one, let me know), following are a few practical things I’ve found helpful.

Look at the total package. It’s important to assess a product’s full range of design and performance benefits, and determine any complementary cost savings they can provide. For example, glass with increased clarity, high impact ratings and the ability to meet energy codes can help save money in the long-term by preventing retrofits and costly replacements. In many instances, when architects present a product to their client as a multi-faceted solution, its widespread functional value can outweigh price concerns.

Demonstrate product quality. If there isn’t a generic product alternative that accomplishes what the building team wants without compromising on quality, let the glass speak for itself. For example, while there are many clear, fire-rated glazing products, clarity varies among them. If a crystal-clear viewing surface is central to project goals, a large-size glass sample of a top-notch fire-rated ceramic, or low-iron multi-layered laminate, for example, could provide the building team with an accurate representation of the surface quality and why it would benefit their design, more so than trying to make a choice from a pocket-sized sample.

Give them what the architect asked for. To be blunt, stop wasting your time trying to get substitute products accepted, and give the architect and building owner enough credit by following the spec and providing them what they asked for. Properly prepared glazing specs account for numerous performance and aesthetic demands that might not be readily apparent to others working on the project. Since even slight product alterations can affect performance— particularly related to fire and life safety, energy performance and high-performance coatings— misapplication can put the building and occupants at risk or substantially weaken the building’s benefits. Additionally, higher-priced products typically are more aesthetically pleasing, and what the architect wanted in the first place.  If the completed project looks better, then the architect and sub look better and the owner ends up happier.   

Put cost in perspective. Think beyond your upfront material cost. There's more to a successful project and your long term business than simply winning work with the cheapest material. I'd argue the most successful business often does the exact opposite of trying to squeeze out the lowest cost, and instead selects value-added products that cost more upfront, but save money and gain satisfied customers in the end. What about the installation costs, customer service and warranty support, if needed, that will make your customer happy and return to you for the next job? In my experience, the cheapest product will fall short on some or all of these issues. Whether it's investing in your company, people or serving your customers by recommending products, being the 'low bid' rarely pays off in the long run.

Jeff Razwick is the president of Technical Glass Products (TGP), a supplier of fire-rated glass and framing systems, and other specialty architectural glazing. 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 (GANA) Fire-Rated Glazing Council (FRGC). 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.

 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

According to the Build America Initiative, approximately 75 percent of the infrastructure in the United States will need to be either renovated or replaced by the year 2030. At first glance I see the year 2030 and think, that’s a long way off. Then it hits me: time is flying, that is not really that far away anymore. As for the actual stat, I can truly believe it. Massive building growth in the 70s and 80s already is seeing signs of decay, and in our little world of glass and glazing, the amount of structures with old and poorly performing materials is mind blowing. So what’s the plan? Well that’s another problem; there doesn’t seem to be any cohesive or leading plan out there to address the issue.

The Build America group is surely a start and it has the backing of the Rockefeller Foundation and the White House, but that is not going to be enough. Not even close. To truly get in front of this situation and do what needs done, this needs massive buy in from trade groups across the spectrum (not just glass, but builder and development bodies), code organizations and the government. Will it happen? My guess: not any time soon. But the issue is out there and hopefully will spur some action. 

Elsewhere…

  • Maybe I shouldn’t be too hopeful to get government involved after all, especially after this past week and a special election in Michigan. The very off-season election, at a cost of 10 million dollars, featured a complex and confusing proposal that would increase one tax, reduce another and spread money around to several needs including roads and schools. The proposal was so poorly written and communicated that it went down to defeat 80 to 20! Think about that for a second. In this day and age of strict lines of right and left, this was something that a mass majority agreed on. Not sure you will ever see anything like that anywhere any time soon.
  • The AIA show is this week in Atlanta. I am only hopping in and out for bit, so probably no big recap from me. Looking forward to seeing the floor, though, and getting a feel for the attitude of the attendees and exhibitors I do get to run into.
  • Congrats to the gang at Guardian on the expansion of their Science and Technology Center. I have gotten the opportunity to visit and tour the original structure and it was amazing. Now this new addition sounds even more intense. I love that they went with Bagatelos Façade System and look forward to seeing it in action some day. Practicing what they preach is a great concept.
  • Last this week, our industry had a cool connection to the first round of the recent NFL Draft. The first round pick of the Cleveland Browns, Danny Shelton, is the first cousin of Jimmy Hanczor of Binswanger Glass. I’ve gotten to work with Jimmy over the years and he’s an incredibly good guy, so I’m obviously thrilled for him and his family on one of their own making the big time. Oh and our video of the week features Mr. Shelton and his reaction after he was picked. Good stuff!

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

The author 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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