From the fabricator: A harmful practice

Right at the start of the year, I was alerted once again to the depressing practice of suppliers selling direct to contractors, thereby cutting out the glazier. This is something that is not healthy for our industry on so many levels, and it needs to stop. I think sometimes companies do things in acts of desperation, but this latest rash of direct selling does not fall into that category. In my early days, when a supplier sold direct, they were faced with a version of frontier justice in that the local industry shunned them. Now, for some reason it’s more accepted, and that is insane. Hopefully this latest batch of wrong-headed selling will slow and retreat; if it does not, it surely won't be good for anyone in the end.


  • Why I like Twitter, part 378. This past week I was unable to attend the BETEC conference. Yet, I missed nothing thanks to live “tweeting” by Glass Magazine’s Katy Devlin. Twitter really is a great way to stay up on info, and Katy did a great job, as always.
  • The Dodge Momentum Index was up, and again, I remain hopeful. As for the ABI, it got some mainstream love from the folks at the Wall Street Journal. This article ran before the holidays and really played up the positive nature of the last few months.
  • I really like the agenda that IGMA has laid out for their conference next month. Kudos to David Cooper and Marg Webb for putting that one together: good speakers and subject matter to be covered.
  • Other than the above, it was a pretty slow week in our industry news wise, which was needed after the heavy news in week one of this new year.
  • Book of the week: If you grew up during the birth of MTV, then the book I just read is absolutely a must. The book’s title is “I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution” and it’s an oral history that is simply fantastic. I LOVED MTV as I grew up, and reading it just brought back tons of memories. It also sent me scurrying to YouTube to look up the videos as they were mentioned in the book. The inside stories were amazing too.
  • Also during the holidays, I was able to check another item off my “sports bucket list” by getting to see LeBron James play in person. He was spectacular to watch; just owned the court. Still not as good as Michael Jordan, but the game has changed, and seeing him in person gave me new perspective on how good James really is. Still on the list? See a hockey game in Edmonton and Toronto, go to Wimbledon, see The Masters and the World Cup, among others. Hey, I might as well shoot high, right?
  • Last, did any of you catch the controversy from “Wheel of Fortune” that hit over the holidays? I guess if you don’t enunciate just perfectly you can be buzzed as wrong. That happened in a horrible way in this video clip, and you just shake your head for this poor gal, who is, by the way, a part of our military and deserved better. Plus, I think she actually said it close enough, even with her accent, to be accepted.

Read on for links and clip 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

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.


Give me a break, as long as the glaziers play games and shop for the lowest price after bids why shouldn't the supplier go direct. I had one large window contractor who complained to me that he would never buy windows from us because we bid against him on a project. My response was simply since he never bought windows from us why shouldn't w bid direct against him since he's not buying from us anyway.

You are correct!

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There are several reasons why the suppliers chose to go direct and jump the middle man. The main one is the retail price which is lowered making a certain product more desirable compared to a more expensive one. As a manager of the France gites I prefer to purchase everything from the manufacturer or suppliers rather than go through intermediaries. This way I can lower my prices and become more competitive in the travel industry.

Either your a supplier or your not. Give the best price to the glazier and you wouldn't have that problem.
Until this trade gets it's act together and we become recognized we will always combat this problem.I had a GC tell me what my price should be because the supplier told him.
Stand up and boycott suppliers who do this.We all need to and deserve to make a profit!

Thank you for your comments. While I can understand the concept of making the sale in comment 1, to me it ends up doing more harm than good. It becomes the whole "two wrongs don't make a right" sort of thing. I appreciate your comment though and frustrations, we've all been there. I obviously align with comment 2 in that this makes us look bad as an industry and does cause problems (install, warranty etc.) that can haunt us. Regardless, glad there's some dialogue on a very tough issue. Thank you both for reading and posting.

Max, sounds like your way of thinking may be the problem, America has subscribed to this in the form of Union labor for far too long and look at where it has brought us to. Good Day.

Hi Max,

I can't help but briefly comment on this topic. I believe "channel integrity" is a key element of establishing a successful long term strategic plan. Companies that don't understand this are typically those unable to develop proper value props & service separation - and likely doomed in the long run. However, it's also important to understand when the winds of long-term change are upon you and not be the last to reap value when it's obvious that channel compression is inevitable. I don't believe this is the case for the N.A. commercial glazing industry; therefore, it's disappointing to hear how people are breaking channel for what simply appears to be opportunistic short term wins that won't truly add value to their bottom lines. Hopefully the good guys on both sides of the aisle shun these channel breakers; it's not easy to do, but it's best for the integrity of the industry.

All the best,

To the point: "We all need to and deserve to make a profit," even though our company has a long-standing policy not to go around our glazier customers, "best price" has become a euphemism for much-lower-than-low. Loyality is a two-way street, so I fully understand the supplier's reaction in commment #1. After 30-some years in the glass and glazing industry, I'm still dismayed that a loyal customer remains a rarity. So Max, even though I agree with the policy that you preach, unfortunately your parishioners don't always live up to their expectations of others. Whatever happened to The Golden Rule?

You are 100% correct.
Forgetting the moral or unethical issue, there is another serious problem for suppliers.
On several occasions we had to direct supply general contractors because of financial difficulties with our customer, the glazing contractor. The problems are job completion, collection related.
General Contractors are Great White Sharks, Glaziers are Tiger Sharks, fabricators are lemon sharks. It takes tremdondous energy to deal with the Great Whites. Most fabricators are not equipped to do so.
At the end of the day, getting paid with thinner margins is better than nothing

Very best regards

Your way of thinking works best in a soacilist society, But not here in America!

Max, as usual, you're bang on. Frontier justice is the only solution. These are often the same shady suppliers who don't know know their costs, start price wars by buying unprofitable jobs and drive the price down. Birds of a feather flock together.

Rich, Shame you do NOT know what your are talking about? Sorry But you are wrong as well, Sounds like the contactor who blames the window because it doesn't operate properly. You send a service tech out to find out it was not installed properly. The contractor gets angry and says "I've been installing windows for 30 years!" Maybe, OK but if your intall habits have been wrong for 30 years its still wrong.

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