glassblog

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.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A glass company you can count on, of course.

Steve Albert learned from an earlier tragedy—the February 2014 Columbia Mall shooting—what to do when the calls started coming in on Saturday night from Baltimore. Steve, a sales rep at his family’s glass company, S. Albert Glass Co., Beltsville, Maryland, sprang into action while at a wedding in New York City. Thankfully for the property manager and several store managers at a commercial property in the heart of Baltimore, Steve had his phone on and picked up. “We need you to come board us up!”  And the need grew as the glass continued to break and the looting amped up. 

 

“Communication is No. 1 in a crisis,” says Steve. And you have to be quick about it. This is Steve’s 5-point action plan:

  1. Give the customer under duress every way to contact you and also the numbers for other people in your company just in case you can’t be reached.
  2. Call all your suppliers right away to tell them you will be needing them to supply the “go stuff” –no quoting, no orders, no deliveries—you’ll be picking up directly. 
  3. Put your installers on standby.
  4. Arrange for someone else to do your “regular” job, including calling customers to tell them you have to postpone handling non-essential jobs.
  5. Get to the site (once safe) to assess the damage.

With most everyone busy now, lead times are a problem. “I call as many suppliers as I can,” says Steve, emphasizing “this is not a regular job.”  On Monday night, more calls came in for another property and Steve and his crew were on the site the next morning with temporary acrylic sheets to make the storefronts secure and presentable until the tempered glass replacements are fabricated and installed. “Only us glass people know it’s not glass,” notes Steve. 

We know this: The Baltimore riots and the resulting property damage won’t be the last.

 

Nicole Harris is president and CEO of the National Glass Association|Window & Door Dealers Alliance. Contact her at nharris@glass.org.

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 4, 2015

Education and communication: both crucial needs in our industry, and both among the major themes at the annual Garibaldi Glass Day I attended last week. It was very apparent to me from the questions I heard throughout the event that there’s a serious need to educate the masses about what we do and how we do it. Read more about the event. 

 

Elsewhere…

  • The design of the Garibaldi facility was surely something to see, as well. Exterior and interior usage of glass and glazing ran the gamut. Really a smart way to promote what our industry does in real life applications.
  • I gotta say I do love Canada. Have never had a bad experience anywhere or with anyone in that country.
  • Glass Magazine broke two pretty big stories last week--the closing of Southwall Insulating and personnel changes at HMI Cardinal. Both stories will have major repercussions in the industry, one of which is that there’s now some serious talent available for hire.
  • Last this week, a movie to recommend. On the plane ride home I caught “Now You See Me.” It came out a couple of years ago, but I never heard of it. Glad I got to watch it--pretty cool and creative movie. And evidently a sequel is coming out soon too. Hope it lives up to the first one.

Read on for more about Garibaldi Glass Day, 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, April 27, 2015

I am a member of a group of leaders representing 10 counties including and surrounding my home county. We, as a group, are creating relationships that will allow us to work cohesively to solve the larger geographical region’s challenges.

At each meeting one or more members stands and delivers a three minute presentation of a “Defining Moment” in their life. The purpose of this exercise is to help us get to know and understand each other. It is interesting to hear others talk about one or more past events and how these events have affected their life. It became obvious that we, as individuals, have different definitions of “Defining Moments.”

This exercise has allowed us to get to know each other, but has also made us see ourselves in a better perspective. As I thought about my “Defining Moments,” I realized the significance of past, current, and future events in my life. When it was my turn I referenced several past events that influenced my life. I stated that they were just events and not “Defining Moments.” I stated that I believe my “Defining Moment” is presently occurring. How well I teach the glass business to the succeeding generation of my family will be one of my “Defining Moments.”

To refer to a past event is typical because it is difficult to recognize a “Defining Moment” while you’re in the midst of one. When we recognize a “Defining Moment” that recognition influences how we think about the event and what we do with it.

This exercise caused me to reach several conclusions regarding “Defining Moments”:

  1. People define “Defining Moments” differently. 
  2. Most people look only to past events. 
  3. It is important to recognize that we have multiple “Defining Moments” in our life. 
  4. Stop and consider that you may be currently going through a Defining Moment.”

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, April 27, 2015

Basically April is now in the books and 2015 is just screaming along; I can’t believe we are four months in already. Of the stories I have been monitoring, the capacity tightening of glass continues to be the most interesting. Some pockets of North America have been affected more than others, and with this cold, bizarre spring about to morph into a hot summer, we’ll see how things hold up. I know my contacts are telling me it’s going to be rough, so we will see.

The one cool thing? The fact that so many fabricators and glaziers have increased their communication game. I am seeing an unprecedented level of dialogue on leadtimes and planning. That is great at so many levels and a good business practice no matter what.

Elsewhere…

  • The Architectural Billings Index continues to provide good news for the commercial industry. The main rating was up a point and the new project index up 2. The worrisome news is that multi-family residential has had two negative months in a row. That bears watching for sure.
  • Major kudos to the folks at Giroux Glass. Their social media and website effort (with really strong blog takes) are absolutely fantastic. Overall well-thought-out and strong content. Very impressive stuff and worth checking out for sure.
  • Congrats to a few companies on the recently announced expansions. Onyx Solar is opening a location in Avila, Spain. Plus they are hiring 60 more people. That is great news for a very cool and needed technology. Great credit to Alvaro Beltran, and my pal Diego Cuevas on the positive moves!

Meanwhile, Dip-Tech is opening up a service center in Shanghai, which is a smart move to handle that side of the world for sure. No question that this is a company that just continues to press all the right buttons.

Last, the team from Alliance Glass is moving into a new facility and I loved how they promoted on Twitter with everyone in matching Ric Flair “Wooooo” T-shirts. All good news and “Wooooo” to all!

  • Also this week is my trip out west to the Garibaldi Glass Day. I am so excited to experience it and be involved on a panel while there. I’ll surely provide some thoughts next week.
  • I wish I had more time when I head to Vancouver; regrettably it’s an “in and out” for me. So getting to see the sites or visit with good friends like the awesome Chris Ketchum (who will be out doing a super job pushing RavenWindow, so he told me he wouldn’t see me anyway!) won’t happen this time.Then again with the Canucks eliminated in round 1, not sure anyone will be in the mood to visit!
  • This coming Saturday is as loaded as a sports day can be. NFL Draft (which I used to live for, not so much anymore), NBA and NHL Playoffs, Major League Baseball games all day, the Kentucky Derby (major bucket list item for me...some day I’ll visit the Louisville legend Tony Kamber and attend), and ending with the long-awaited Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. If you are a sports fanatic I am not sure it can't get much better than that. (By the way, my heart wants a Pac-man win, but the head says unfortunately Mayweather will take it.)

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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