glassblog

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.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The best type of product to sell is one that is unique, delivers unparalleled benefits to its users, has no competition, and is in high demand. Such product innovation assures increasing sales at a high profit margin. Any company able to produce and go to market with products fitting this description truly becomes the “leader of the pack” in terms of their competitive position. However, the challenges associated with leading the market in terms of innovation may not be worth pursuing for every company.

For companies aiming to be the leader of the pack, the first consideration in product development is to determine the product’s function. Will it fill a current need in the market that is not yet being met, or is it intended to exceed the function of pre-existing competing products already accepted and used within your specific industry?

To build and sell a product that fills the need that is not already being provided for is the easier of the two options; it takes less time and less marketing efforts. Why? Because the market has a pre-existing demand for you to fill and as long as your product fits and is reasonably priced, people will buy it. The problem is that this category of market is limited and opportunities usually arise as a secondary factor of a primary product category needing assistance in the market place.

For the glass industry, I encourage you to keep tabs on the market place and look for niches of opportunity where you can provide a product that will fill a need that is currently not being met. Produce it, test it, price it right and communicate it’s availability to your targeted customer base. The distributors will come running, wanting to be part of the action.

However, success in this category of pursuit is usually short lived because the competition will come running too, to duplicate your efforts in a very short period of time at a lower cost. As a consequence, this aspect of being the leader of the pack requires you to be well on your way to a second product victory while enjoying the fruit of your labors from your first.

The majority of product innovations within the glass industry tend to fit within the second scenario (improving upon existing products). The upside of this pursuit is potential for higher profit margins. Additionally, it can take longer for the competition to catch up, particularly if you are able to secure some added market share protection through product patents. The real challenge, however, is the time, effort and money it takes to validate the worth of such a new product that will, in turn, yield sales.

Given the challenges and necessary investments, leading the pack isn’t right every company. Being part of the pack is just fine. Many organizations have made a deliberate decision to not be an innovator but, instead, a follower, and have made a nice living doing so. The theme to follow as a member of the pack is to provide a similar product to what is already in the industry, absent of any patent infringement, and make it for less money resulting in a lower resale price, and as comparable in performance as possible. The unfortunate circumstance in holding this position in the market is that you’re surrounded by tough competition that is on the very same mission and only one can maintain the low-cost-producer position at a time.

Carl Tompkins is national flat glass sales manager for Sika Corp., and the author of the book “Winning at Business.” He can be reached at tompkins.carl [at] sika-corp.com. For more information on product development and innovation, see Tompkins' article, “Lead the Pack in Product Innovation,” set to appear in the May edition of 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.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The “green” building process is a favorite subject of mine. That effort still has tons of growing still to do, especially in North America. But when I saw a recent report on the world’s twelve “greenest” buildings, it was exciting to see our continent well represented. Five of the twelve were in North America, including:

 

  •     Arizona State Health Services
  •     Manitoba Hydro
  •     Bud Clark Commons
  •     SUNY-ESF Gateway Center
  •     Packard Foundation Headquarters

If you supplied the glass and metal on any of these I’d love to know and learn more of what you provided and any challenges you faced. And congrats for being involved in something both incredibly cool and important.

Elsewhere…

  • Another aspect of the “green” side of things is solar, and I have said that product line is still in line to make an impact. And now thanks to a link from the always excellent Twitter feed of Ted Bleecker, there’s some evidence of growth on the residential side. While the business is not in the greatest shape yet, and this story surely leaves a lot to wonder about, the positive undertone is there.
  • Got tremendous news this week that the extremely talented Dan Plotnick of Guardian Industries was promoted to Architectural Sales and Marketing director for the Asia Pacific region. I am thrilled for him. Plus he’s at least one person on that side of the world that doesn’t hate me. It’s a great thing to see when good things happen to good people. Congrats Dan.
  • I started my research into the AIA show and the immediate thing that jumped out at me? Birds. Or more specifically bird protection. There will be several non-industry companies there with different options to protect the birds from the building envelope, as well as industry folks like Walker Glass showing their option for the architectural community to consider. This trend may actually grow faster than I expected.
  • I’ve written a few times on how I love the glass usage at Dulles Airport, so when I was there this week, I snapped a picture. Doesn’t do it justice, but believe me it's amazing. Glass everywhere and on everything. And I noticed several different logos this time, so the supply was surely spread around too. Overall just fantastic for a glass geek.

  • The great news from Apogee Enterprises on their strong year is also a good indicator for the industry at large. It’s surely a positive that one of the big signature players is experiencing significant success. And as for the Viracon segment and their great run, it’s no surprise given how dialed in Garret Henson and the sales team is there.
  • Last this week, a personal note. My teenage son has had his own blog focused on the world of professional wresting for a year or so. This week, he started to write for a big publication in that industry and got his first piece published. So incredibly cool, and I am beyond proud.

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 13, 2015

Once there were two companies that were located on the same street and serviced the same market. Both installed new countertops and replaced old countertops. Both had access to the same products from the same vendors at the same volumes and prices. They both had the same number of employees and the same equipment. They both had the same number of trucks and office staff with equally skilled salesmen. However, Company A chose to sell and promote standard countertop laminates, because in their opinion the products were less expensive and easier to sell. Company B chose to embrace a more elegant and beautiful granite countertop, although it was much more expensive. Both companies installed the same amount of product by the end of the year. However, Company B made three times the profit of Company A.

Rather than trying to win every project and fight over half a penny in price, Company B chose to upsell their clients and provide better solutions to their situation. The customer had a need to build value in their home and wanted to make it more beautiful. Company B knew this was the case and found a way to introduce granite choices for his customers. Salesmen were taught what to look for and who to seek out for potential business. Company B’s customers were so happy they referred more customers to him, and soon his marketing budget was cut in half. He had more business than they could handle.

While both companies lived and worked in the same city and served the same marketplace, Company B made a choice to embrace a technology that could enable his company to thrive while Company A scraped by, barely able to eke out a living.

Business owners need to ask themselves the following questions: “Am I overlooking a technology that could help my company become more successful? If so what might that technology be? How can I educate myself and my employees to sell more of it to help my business become more profitable?”

What if a Company B glass business across the street embraces value-added products, such as dynamic glass or other advanced glass technologies, as a means to solve the customer’s problems, but you do not because you think it is too expensive? Where will the customers go?

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, April 13, 2015

Events are crucial for networking and education, and if you are in the business, you need to make sure you are keeping up. We are about to enter the late spring show/conference season and there are three that I have marked on my calendar for importance and impact.

Coming up on April 29th is the 28th Annual Mid-Atlantic Glass Expo in Maryland. This event is always packed with many regional glass and glazing companies, and rarely disappoints. Then two days later is an event that I simply cannot wait to experience. I am getting to attend the iconic Garibaldi Glass Day on May 1st. Being a glass geek, I love to see and learn new things. What Garibaldi Glass does every year is simply brilliant, educating the industry and bringing so many stakeholders under one roof. Being there in person has me excited beyond belief. The final event on the schedule is the annual AIA Expo, this year in Atlanta. While I pick on our industry's over-the-top obsession for architects and their approval (we are like that needy child, desperate to catch the attention of the distracted parent when it comes to our need for love from architects), there is value to this show, because of the networking and new products usually on display.

In the end, making shows or conferences a part of your yearly marketing budget is a must. That budget absolutely must include GlassBuild America, because if you are not attending/participating in that show you are truly doing yourself and your business a disservice. Obviously I’ll have a lot more to say on that event as we get closer, but it does boggle my mind when people skip it and then wonder why their competitors are gaining or passing them.

Elsewhere…

  • Heads up with your e-mail folks. A very nasty and tricky virus is out there. Basically you will get an e-mail from a recognizable friend of yours. It will start off as “Hi, how are you and then ask, “have you seen this” and leave a link. And that’s it. That link is a virus to add to your computer. And this virus is so tricky that you truly think it’s from a friend. In addition, another version has a link telling you to review “an invoice” and that too is bad. Needless to say, you have to be on guard with every e-mail nowadays. If it looks wrong or different, it probably is…
  • Tremendous issue of Glass Magazine is out now, and once again the great team led by Katy Devlin knocked it out of the park. Like each month, it's time to give props to the best ad of the issue and this one was a no brainer. The new ad from GGI was spectacular. Just stopped me in my tracks. That is what you want from a magazine ad for sure. Congrats to all involved on that one.
  • Also congratulations to Rick Hamlin of Cupples on his new post as president. Rick is a fantastic person and a true gentleman. Rick for the last few years has moderated the Glazing Executive Forum’s popular “State of the Industry” panel with great care and style. So happy that he’s continuing to be recognized for his talents.
  • Last this week: book review. I just finished “Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!” by Nicolas Carlson. It was solid--not quite as good as the last few books I have read--but if you want to get a feel for the way billion dollar companies make decisions, most of them bad, then you’ll want to read this. There’s also great inside insight on the configuration of Boards and volatile shareholders that's pretty enlightening. 

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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