glassblog

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Material selections and light play an important role in architectural design. These elements are essential to making a human connection to our built environments, helping to shape our emotional wellbeing. With the generation of progressive ideas for new uses of materials, an entire space can be transformed.

Art glass can do this in many ways. It can allow us to experience the exterior and interior in tandem, while various lighting conditions can change the perceived experience of the glass and its reflection on the space around us, and it’s a material that gives a look of luxury with its glimmering surfaces and depth that no other material can offer.

The possibilities with art glass are endless. Enhance a storefront window, create a curtain wall for your business or loft, add vibrancy to your residential windows, or simply make a statement with the boldness of a fine art piece.

Aside from all the creative reasons to utilize art glass in your project, there are practical reasons, too. Utilizing art glass is an easy-to-maintain option to enhance your space. Art glass is a strong, safe and energy-efficient way to personalize your space and create a sense of identity and style.

  1. Art glass provides a sense of place that is unique. 
  2. For a business or institution, art glass conveys a permanent grounded and established expressive presence rather than a temporary fleeting existence. 
  3. Art glass can be a beacon or landmark identity. 
  4. Along with being non-toxic like all glass, art glass can be specified to contribute to gaining LEED points, including Platinum designation. 
  5. Glass artwork can be designed and specified to meet safety codes.

 

Nancy Gong is owner and director of Gong Glass Works, an art studio that focuses on the design and fabrication of contemporary architectural art glass. Gong serves on the Board for the American Glass Guild, is AGG’s 2017 Conference and Program Chair, is a member of the Glass Art Society and Stained Glass Association of America, and an Allied Member of the American Institute of Architects Rochester. She can be reached at Nancy@nancygong.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.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Do you see value in professional development? Most people would answer yes, but how many would follow through? During the housing downturn, many expenses that didn't directly correlate to a revenue line item were put on hold. However, the industry is now doing better than it has in many, many years. So, how do you stand out from the competition to ensure you're at the top of your customers' lists?

According to the latest AAMA market study, the U.S. total non-residential vision area in 2015 increased 5 percent compared to 2014 and 10 percent compared to 2013. The excuse of lean times is over. Those who invest in their employees, invest in their business overall. Knowledge is king! When customers ask a question, they want to know they can count on you for an immediate, accurate answer.

Even Congress sees the value of education. The House Education and the Workforce Committee has introduced draft Perkins Reauthorization legislation and is expected to debate, mark up and vote on that legislation before the House adjourns in mid-July. Let's all pause here. Our government is acknowledging a gap. If both sides of Congress can come together on the issue of education, surely we can all agree that it is one worthy of action.

The conversation below from Joe Erb's blog on investing in professional development sums up how our industry should view education. 

CFO asks CEO: What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave?

CEO: What happens if we don't, and they stay?

Joe certainly put words into action by becoming one of the first FenestrationAssociate certified professionals, acknowledging that knowledge is power. In a highly competitive market with well-educated customers, it’s important for industry professionals to maintain a broad knowledge base. I challenge you to evaluate how to strategically strive toward professional development. The effects on your culture and customers will be worth the investment.

Angela Dickson is marketing manager for AAMA. Contact her at adickson@aamanet.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.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

When I think about relationships, I first think about the bond I have with my immediate family. Undoubtedly, these three individuals forge the most significant and meaningful relationship in my life. I can only assume that the rest of the world also sees relationships through this familial lens.

As I’ve matured, I have discovered that I tend to value relationships with everyone else outside of my family in much the same way. As a businessman, I count these connections not only as an entry in the asset column but as a testament to how a business should be run. Without cultivating the relationships I’ve built with my partners, my employees and, most importantly, my customers, I would either be a lousy business owner or I wouldn’t be in business at all.

Which makes the decision to be a people person rather simple.  

At FeneTech, our mission statement is all about providing the best products we can create and develop then providing for our customers ongoing, sustained, and meaningful support for those products.  It follows that building strong, lasting and valuable relationships with our customers is paramount to remaining successful. 

How do we do this?  First, all FeneTech employees strive to bring our best to the table when we’re sitting down with our customers, whether it’s a live meeting, a virtual meeting, a telephone call, an email, or over a few beers. During special events, like the FeneVision User Conference, we take the opportunity to treat our customers as the treasured guests they are. It is usually here that our customers connect—in person—with the developers and support personnel. To this end, it’s satisfying to see our customers connecting with our people. 

All of this is accomplished in a setting that is conducive to conversation, camaraderie, and just a little bit of crazy fun. It is gratifying to experience the fellowship that comes along with having customers and vendors who have become like family to us. Equally rewarding is developing new friendships among newcomers. 

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, June 27, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 27, 2016

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

Elsewhere…

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

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

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications.E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, June 20, 2016

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

Elsewhere…

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

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

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications.E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 13, 2016

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

Elsewhere…

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

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

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications.E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors. 

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