Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Happy Labor Day week! First, I want to pay tribute to a great industry man and class act who announced his retirement last week.  Bob Lawrence is hitting the golf courses full time, and I for one will miss him greatly. In a lot of ways, Bob was one of those “conscience of the industry” types: never afraid to give his opinion or hear the other side, and always wanting the best for our world.  He served the industry and his customer base with absolute class.  While I will miss him and his approach, I am thrilled he is starting the next chapter of his life and know he’ll be making a difference for someone, somewhere.

  • The Farmers Almanac came out and it's predicting bitter cold for the winter, with lots of snow.  Given the crummy summer, this is not a surprise. Hopefully, the weather will not be a detriment to the building world though.
  • LEED was back in the news this week with a fawning article about it in the Atlantic.  To me, this article was over-the-top positive like I am over-the-top negative. So I guess it’s the ying to my yang.  It's worth the read though, and the comments are fascinating.
  • Happy Birthday to my brother Steve. If you see us together at GlassBuild America, try to guess who’s older.
  • Some updates for GlassBuild America. First and foremost, GlassBuild America now has an APP!  It’s a very cool addition that will make your show experience that much better. No longer will you have to scramble to find that booth you want to visit or seminar you want to attend. Just use the app, and you’ll be set.  If you are attending the show, download this now.  It works on Apple, Droid and even the rickety old Blackberry that I carry.
  • I have to extend a major thank you to Guardian after the team created and launched a video to promote their appearance at GlassBuild America. You can see the video here, and it's great work from Earnest Thompson and Paige Plant Coates.
  • Over the past few weeks, I’ve covered some of the stuff to hit at the show, so just a few more:
  1. Stop by the AGC booth to see what they have going on, and you might even get lucky and see Glass Magazine interview star Rodger Ruff. 
  2. Check out the “smart” or dynamic glass options all over the floor.
  3. If you are looking for equipment, there’s no better place to explore your options than on the GlassBuild America show floor. Rumor has it that one major equipment company is planning to make a major splash.
  4. Make sure you get to the opening night reception. It's always worth it. 
  5. Check out the floor demos throughout the show. 
  6. Attend the seminars September 11 and 12. One example: If you are a fabricator of safety glass, don't miss the "Safety Glass Process & Training" session. It is an absolute must!
  7. And seriously, make sure you visit and support the exhibitors. These companies spend significant time and resources, and deserve as much attention as we can give them.  Some amazing new products are being launched and old favorites shown. 
  8. Last, look for me in the bright yellow “media” vest and say hi. I’ll be shooting video all over. 

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.

Monday, August 26, 2013

In my March blog, I introduced the three phases of long-term planning: goal-setting, succession planning and contingency planning. The April blog focused on goal setting. The June blog focused on succession planning. Now, let’s take a look at contingency planning.

Contingency planning asks one question: What if? If there is a chance, however remote, that an event could disrupt everyday operations, we must plan for it. Think about situations involving employees, customers and vendors. Anticipate what you would need to do if something happened. The object is to eliminate surprises. A surprise in any one area can cripple a company.

Areas that need contingency plans are IT, equipment, finance and people. IT is relatively simple. Back up your information every day offsite. If the server crashes, a tornado destroys your building or there is a power surge, you can still retrieve yesterday’s information. Equipment is also simple. Keep spare parts on hand. Have an extra glass rack in case one gets bent. Have extra wheels for the polishing machine. Keep an extra glass cutter or cutter wheels in your toolbox. Also, make regular equipment maintenance part of your contingency plan. Planned maintenance reduces the possibility of equipment failure.

Finance is simple as well, albeit more complicated than IT and equipment. A bank line of credit is a contingency plan. Use it to manage the fluctuation of cash flow.  Don’t use it as a long-term loan. Another financial contingency plan involves life insurance. Is your company an owner of a life insurance policy on your key people? A life insurance policy’s proceeds will help a company weather the impact of the untimely loss of a key person. My company has such policies, and we have let our primary vendors know they are in place, thus reassuring them they will be paid and giving them an incentive to keep selling us products. We have also let our bank know about these policies. Business insurance is another aspect of financial contingency planning. Does your company have business interruption insurance? It allows a company to continue to operate while it relocates or rebuilds.

In the people area, all companies should have a deep bench. If a company has one person that is skilled at a particular task and that person is away from work, who does the job? If someone is on vacation, they are sick, or they’re at lunch, who is the backup? My company is two-to-three deep at most positions. Of course, the third stringer is not as good as his or her predecessors, but they can keep the operation going until the more skilled person returns. How will your customers react if you tell them you can’t do a job because Joe/Jane are on vacation (sick, busy, etc.) this week? Having a substitute keeps the business flowing and helps generate repeat customers.

Contingency planning is often overlooked when we are consumed by the daily pressure of business. It doesn’t take a lot of time to do this. Most people don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan.

The author is president, Evans Glass Co., and chairman of the board for the National Glass Association. Write 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.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Way back in 2007, I did a list that recognized the “stars” of our industry, comparing them to fantasy football stars. I loved the way it turned out, especially because the timing was right before GlassBuild America and I was able to see all of these fine folks. So after six years, it's time for a new list!

Of the original listall of the stars are still active in our industry except Christine Shaffer and Scott Surma, who moved on to great opportunities. Also, I want to point out that I wanted to name like 30 people this year, but I had to settle for six. So, I know I am missing some great ones and I am sorry. Anyway, here it goes…

James Wright, Glass Coatings and Concepts = Adrian Peterson. Peterson’s nickname is “All Day” and it’s because he’s virtually non-stop action. Well so is James, who is an absolute rising star in this industry and an active participant in many positive efforts. Plus, the work he is doing with GCC is strong, sharp and impressive.

Mike Turner, YKK AP America = Robert Griffin III. Like the dynamic RGIII, Mike is a serious double threat: a tremendous marketer who is also a technical powerhouse. It's a crazy combination, but Mike pulls it off with ease. Plus, his team (YKK AP) puts him in some great spots to score.  (See interview below with Oliver Stepe.)

Alysa Hoffmeister, Dip Tech = Arian Foster. Ever since Foster burst onto the scene, he has been outstanding.The same is true of Alysa, who has been a significant part of the incredible growth of digital printing on glass thanks to her efforts and her company's equipment. It is not easy developing new markets and getting major pieces into place, but Alysa has done so with the same effectiveness that Foster uses carrying the ball over the goal line.

Chris Dolan, Guardian = Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. I have known Chris for many years and have seen the growth and progression of the products under his leadership. Like Johnson making a tough catch in double coverage, Chris has had to launch and grow products in the most challenging of eras and has done it very well. Plus, any time I can attach a wild nickname like “Megatron” to a professional guy like Chris, I gotta do it!

Jon Kimberlain, Dow Corning = Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is known to go into “Beast Mode” and take over a game. Well, with Jon’s intelligence and drive, I think he’s in “Beast Mode” 24/7.  Not only is Jon an amazing source of product knowledge, he’s also now taking on major roles in our industry.

Chris Mammen, M3 Glass Technologies = Peyton Manning. Manning is that guy who has proven he can succeed anywhere while directing a high-octane offense with ease. Chris is similar in that his company has succeeded at every level, and its product line can be considered “high octane” for sure. Unlike Manning, who only has a few years left, we’ll see Chris in our world for a very long time and that is a very good thing.

So there it is. As always, it's tough leaving folks off, but I think these six represent what is right with our industry. They respect and push for their companies, they volunteer for the industry and they are extremely talented. Congrats to them all!


  • Last week, I held a contest to win a free corporate video, and the winner chosen at random was William Bailes of Bailes Glass. Thank you William for signing up, and thanks to everyone who registered this week as well. The numbers were amazing, and GlassBuild America is really looking strong.  If you have not made plans to attend, you better get moving. If you have not signed up, you do not want to miss this event!
  • Quick personal note: today, my daughter told me my beard looked too “Duck Dynasty." I guess I need to trim it now. I was going for that mix of Duck Dynasty and Captain Lou Albano. Dang.
  • Last this week, I recently caught up with the gold sponsor of the Glazing Executives Forum at GlassBuild America: Oliver Stepe of YKK AP America.  Below is just one question I asked him and I wanted to share so you could get a feel for why I am so fired up about the show and the industry support. Thank you to YKK, as well as the other sponsors: SAPA, PPG, Hartung Glass, Dow Corning and NSG.

    YKK has been a very active participant in many industry related events. Why is it so important for you to be such a great industry partner?

    The YKK Cycle of Goodness philosophy is rooted in engagement with local communities and industry in which we conduct business, so YKK AP America’s support of glass industry education and events is consistent with our long-standing core values. As the industry entered and endured various phases of the financial crisis and support for industry organizations and events was challenged, it became apparent that we needed to play a bigger role. It was at that time we stepped up and began sponsoring GEF. We feel that industry events such as GEF and others are vital for the continuing education of the industry community and necessary to assure that industry members remain current with evolving building technologies. If we and others like us can play a small role in assuring that façades remain relevant in the built environment by supporting industry events and initiatives, then it is the calling of us all to do so.     

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.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The blog has a singular focus this week: GlassBuild America. Before I begin, however, full disclosure: I do work for the National Glass Association, which sponsors the event. I know that some of you might be tiring of me constantly promoting this show, but I do it because I believe I have a compelling story to tell. So please read on, and see where I am coming from. 

I have attended GlassBuild America (known back in the day as The NGA Show) basically every year since 1998. There’s no doubt the event has changed, but so has our industry. Once upon a time I was even critical of the show, making fun of it for trying to evolve. (I now know that is what good companies attempt to do; me being immature, stupid and thinking I was bullet-proof missed that.)

When I joined the GlassBuild America effort, I figured I’d have no problems just jumping in. After all, I (with a few others) built the GANA BEC to more than 800 people, so I have handled big crowds. Right? Nope. It didn’t dawn on me until I really got into it how huge and intense GlassBuild America really is. The team that truly puts this show together is absolutely unreal: a handful of the hardest working people I have ever been around.

So you are probably now wondering where I am going with this…well it's simple: this year the show is tracking to have great exhibits and the best attendance in a long time. I just want everyone to be a part of it. I want it to be the BEST EVER.  I want it to be great for the exhibitors and sponsors who participate. And I want to throw it out to those on the fence, why they shouldn’t miss it.

First and foremost, this is the biggest event in our far. Combine every other event (and there are many good ones out there), and you won’t even get to a third of the people that attend GlassBuild America. Every major player either has a booth or a sponsorship, or at least, walks the floor. 

To me, the products make the show. Every year, new, groundbreaking and innovative products fill the floor, and smart participants that are either diversifying their business or looking for a new business channel lap it up and run with it. At the end of the day, GlassBuild and its amazing exhibitors make people’s businesses better. I even had one exhibitor ask me to chill out on the push to find more exhibitors because he liked that he didn’t have all of his competitors on the floor.

The networking is second to none, from the opening night cocktail party to all of the other events. You can accomplish more in three days at GlassBuild America than in three months on the road.

What else would you miss, aside from your competitors getting a massive step up, and chance to network yourself and your business? You’d miss the educational opportunities, from the great panel at the Glazing Executives Forum (featuring top people like Dick Beuke of PPG, Mike Turner of YKK, Jim Miller of View and Dr. Jeff Meyer of White Bear), to an insanely good marketing seminar by Rich Porayko, to one of the most exciting panels we’ve had in years on the growth and ascent of decorative printing on glass. (Believe me, digital printing on glass is extremely popular.) Plus, there will be even more of the popular floor demonstrations.

It’s the one place to find product lines like truck racks, storefronts, sealants, hardware, software, dynamic glass, handrails, screens, windows and so much more. And yes, machinery will be all over the floor as well. The entire industry will be ALL IN ONE PLACE. 

So there ya go; I ranted enough. If you want to be in the minority who miss the show, that’s your call. But I think you’d be making a big mistake, and I say that with years of experience of making mistakes. That includes back when I totally misunderstood how great this event and its people are.

Last, an extra incentive to sign up if you have not yet. There's a great opportunity to advance your own brand/company. One person will be chosen at random from everyone who registers this week. The winner will get a free video promotion from me for his or her organization. I will come to your location and/or jobsite, profile your company and shoot/edit/produce a high-end corporate video for use on YouTube and your personal website. No strings attached. This is one of my donations to the show effort and it will give you a chance to advance your brand image at my expense. The amazing registration staff at GlassBuild America will randomly choose the one winner, and I’ll make arrangements to get shooting…. And we’ll see you and the rest of the industry at the show! So click here to register now...

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.

Monday, August 12, 2013

When I saw this Bank of America commercial, I immediately doubted its accuracy: not because I didn't believe the bank's assertion that it financed a revitalization project in Brooklyn, but because I found it hard to believe the bank was funding new construction projects in the enthusiastic manner depicted.

It's my understanding that banks are still hesitant lenders. In the American Institute of Architects' latest Architecture Billings Index release, AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker referred to the "inability to access financing for real estate projects" as a "threat to a sustained recovery." That said, it's also my understanding that project financing is easier to come by today than it was three years ago.

So what are you seeing in terms of lending? Is project financing getting easier to obtain? Are an architect, a developer, and a commercial banker meeting over lunch to share a vision?

Chase is editorial director of Glass Magazine, and e-glass weekly. Write her at

Saturday, August 10, 2013

After a pretty mellow summer news-wise, the last few weeks have seen a lot of action—good and bad—in our industry. I knew it was just a matter of time before these maneuvers hit and I do not believe we’re done just yet. I see a few more pieces in play, as I think the climate is ripe for more acquisitions. Think about it: For many players, 2013 has been good and the appetite for more is growing. These players are not worried about survival; they either want growth or they want to add positive pieces to mask negative ones they might already own. Match that with the desire of some business owners to exit at a higher point than where they were two years ago, and I think the ingredients are in place. Mix in the industry getting together at GlassBuild America next month and you have your recipe for a lot more action on the horizon. Stay tuned.


  • I was extremely saddened by the passing of Jim Dwyer of Syracuse Glass. Jim was a kind, classy, professional man who did things the right way. We as an industry surely lost a tremendous person, and his family lost a great leader. His lessons obviously were not lost on son John, who remains one of the best guys in our industry today. My thoughts and condolences go out to the Dwyer family and everyone associated with Syracuse Glass during this very sad time.
  • A reminder: the next Glass Management Institute session, "Macro Economic Inputs to Strategic Planning" by Mark Silverberg is coming up August 20. I believe this will be a tremendous course, especially given the landscape of our industry and world. Who wouldn’t benefit from a business forecasting session like this? Register now. 
  • Funny mid-blog link: a skyscraper going up in Spain… and the architects forgot the elevator. Oops!
  • Last week, I bashed LEED and received a comment online from the esteemed Mic Patterson of Enclos. Mic is one of those guys I truly admire; he is always out and about, on top of the issues and persuasive with his arguments. The comment he left would fit that role. I love to bash LEED--or really anything that gets me frustrated--because that is what I do. I stir the pot and have been doing it since 2005. (Though as many know, I am more mellow now than I was back then!) Mic’s approach though is the right one: measured and intelligent as always. Whether or not we ever see the day where our energies are rightfully placed is another story, but we can always hope. Anyway, I thank you Mic for the comment and for reading the blog. Very much appreciated.
  • Last this week, another interview with a connection to GlassBuild America. One of the most popular seminars at any event I am involved in is the legal one. There are so many different twists and turns out there, and understanding the law and your rights is crucial. At GlassBuild, Rick Kalson of Babst & Calland out of Pittsburgh, will speak. For years, Rick spoke at various industry events, and I am thrilled he was able to bring GlassBuild into his schedule. He knows our world. Whether you are a two-man glass shop or a gigantic corporation, Rick gets it.

Here is part of my interview with him:

Your seminar at GlassBuild America will cover a lot of important subjects; can you give us a sneak preview of what attendees will learn about?
My presentation focuses on construction contracts, which have become far more complex and onerous in recent years. The ability to make a profit on a project is often squandered before work even starts due to unfavorable contract clauses. This construction law seminar will pragmatically present best practices for having favorable terms and conditions included in the contract documents while identifying key clauses regarding payment, indemnification and claims to avoid or negotiate. Finally, an invaluable contract review checklist will be provided as part of the presentation for your future use, which should be reason alone to attend this seminar.

You have spoken in front of the glass and glazing industry many times in your respected career. What makes this industry interesting for you?
I have very much enjoyed teaching and working with the glass industry over the last decade largely due to the mutual respect between industry competitors. I am constantly impressed by the high level of questions that I receive during and after each construction law seminar that I have presented to members of the glass industry, and I look forward to the same at GlassBuild America,

Thank you, Rick. And folks, if you have not signed up for GlassBuild America, get online now to do so.

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.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Over the years, I have been a pretty vocal critic of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system. Many people have taken shots at me because of that, but it sure seems that as time moves on, I have not been too far off base.

This past week, I was alerted to two situations that cast a negative light on LEED once again. While some of the attacks that this program took on recently may be a little beyond the pale even for my tastes, the fact remains that this system is not what it was cracked up to be, and is really not making the difference most people assumed it would.

Case in point, an article that ran in the New Republic last week. It broke down the absolute folly of the LEED rating system, and how things get off track once the building is occupied. LEED is working to change some of these loopholes with the new version, but it’s still a massive sore point. And even with changes, a lot of the holes will remain.

LEED also has been taking heat from the chemical industry on its lack of inclusion and stigmatizing of their products. This article spells out the latest issues. The rating system plays favorites, and it’s frustrating.

At the end of the day, the reason why anyone cares is simple: LEED is the system that the government uses, and it is most well-known rating program. So, you are stuck with that path, which is amazingly unfair. There are better paths to true sustainability but the LEED machine crushes them. And as we’ve seen in the past, it doesn’t matter; the USGBC machine has too much money and power. But, as more articles get written, maybe some things will begin to change.


  •  Also this week the Wall Street Journal ran an article noting that government construction spending is at a 6-year low. It was probably meant to depress you, but I actually took it differently. We are now matched at 2007 levels. (Remember those days? The GLORY days!) And, we’re way beyond the spending in 2000. In addition, it’s nice to see some spending control at the public level, given the debt load already. Plus a return to private construction spending surely would be nice.
  • Time for another interview. This one serves an extra purpose. With GlassBuild America coming up, I want to introduce you to some of the people and players involved, so you could plan your time at the show accordingly. This week I caught up with marketing guru Rich Porayko of Construction Creative Marketing & Communications, who will be leading a seminar that you cannot miss.

    Here are the details and interview:

    What seminar are you leading?
    It’s titled, Guerrilla Marketing for the Glass & Metal Industry. It will be an information packed, hour long presentation focused on getting solid results using a system of creative yet cost-effective promotions that rely on time, energy and imagination instead of big marketing budgets.

    There’s a lot of excitement surrounding all the GlassBuild America seminars, including yours. What can the attendees expect to take away from your class?
    The session is fun, fast paced and broken into easy takeaways so attendees will literally leave with dozens of easy, cost effective, time tested marketing tips and tricks that have taken me almost twenty years of studying and trial and error to put together. It’s the best deal going in Atlanta! Whether you are a closet marketer or a seasoned pro, there’s something for everyone.

    The world of marketing has evolved quite a bit in the last several years. What do you believe to be the biggest change?
    Hands down, it has to be social media and its integration with email and web marketing. There is something really satisfying about watching a social media campaign go viral live in front of your eyes. Every social media campaign can’t be a homerun but digital marketing can be measured in so many ways that traditional marketing campaigns will never be able to. If you can measure it, it can be improved. Each tweet, post or email gives you more insight on what works and what doesn’t.

    What would you say to any of the folks currently on the fence about attending the show and your seminar?
    What are you waiting for? If you make your living in the glass business, GlassBuild America is the place to be. The economy isn’t out of the woods yet, but it seems like every week you read and hear more positive news. If you miss GBA 2013, you will have to wait until September 2014, and with the pace things are currently moving, a lot can happen in 12 months.

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.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Affordable Care Act, known in some circles as “ObamaCare,” is certainly a program that every business owner needs to understand. This past week, I learned a lot about it during a tremendous Glass Management Institute presentation. Susan McKay and Matt Johnson of The Gary Law Group presented as much of this gigantic program as they could in one hour, and it was mind blowing. The amount of work that will need to be done when this act is fully implemented looks to be insanely large. And, the amount of uncertainty surrounding what will happen between now and then is beyond belief.

As a business owner, you are truly stuck in the middle of the road. Not preparing for the Affordable Care Act will leave you in deep trouble, but preparing and possibly seeing actions delayed or changed can be equally detrimental. Needless to say, if you have not dug into this yet, you need to. And yes, I know this is a hot potato politically, but this thing is coming down the pike, so you need to be prepared.

Also, if you have not looked at the Glass Management Institute, you are absolutely missing out. Now that the warm up act (me) is over, the real pros have taken over, and the remaining three sessions (Business Forecasting, Leadership, and Legal/Contracts) promise to be top notch. In any case, with issues like the Affordable Care Act, knowledge truly is power.


  • It’s been a tough few weeks for our industry as two excellent men involved with our world passed away. Merv Murphy was a staple in Detroit and a class act all the way around. “Murph” treated everyone well, knew all of the ins and outs of the industry, and deeply cared about every organization he was involved with—especially the Glazing Contractors Association. We also lost Alec Spielberg, the former president of Kentucky Mirror and Plate Glass. Mr. Spielberg built a tremendous company that is respected far and wide. I never met Mr. Spielberg, but always heard great things about him. My thoughts and prayers go out to both families during this difficult time. 
  • Thank you to Mandy Marxen of Gardner Glass Products for her comment on my last blog. I need to go see Pacific Rim, especially if that movie does break tons of glass. I appreciate the comment too!
  • Stumbled across an excellent blog over the last two weeks: Steve Watts, VP at Walters and Wolf, writes one at Excellent and interesting content. Gotta get him signed up to blog at Glass Magazine too and join the incredible stable there.
  • We are six weeks away from the opening of GlassBuild America, and excitement is building. Love the exhibitors that have signed up, can’t wait to see some neat new technology and am pumped for the seminars and forums. There’s a great mix of people involved to make this, like always, the premier industry event. In the next few weeks, I’ll be breaking it down. Oh, and if you haven’t yet booked your hotel room, go ahead and get that done before the blocks close out.
  • The Architecture Billings Index continues to stay positive. Can this nice rush of a busy season be real? Is it sustainable? After my last blog, I got several notes from glaziers and fabricators who noted they are busy…real busy. Hopefully we are truly headed in the right direction.
  • Last this week: is it me or has summer just flown right by? If you go by the sports world calendar it sure has. The NHL schedule came out last week; the NBA schedule comes out this week; and the NFL is in training camp. College football kicks off in four weeks. Unreal.

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.

Monday, July 22, 2013

For the June issue of Glass Magazine, I spoke with several decorative glass suppliers about the challenge of value engineering on projects. Decorative glass is a prime target for VE due to its high price point and late position on the project timeline. The suppliers offered tips to help avoid having decorative glass―and other specialty glass products―value engineered out of a project.

Since the article went to print, I have heard from a number of readers about how VE affects their businesses. Below are two letters we received about the VE issue.

In response to the article, the owner of one contract glazing firm added perspective on VE of decorative glass from his company’s experience: “One of the reasons besides cost that [general contractors] try to get [decorative glass] removed is that suppliers … require large deposits and 100 percent payment prior to shipping. Everyone wants to be paid promptly, but construction projects, and how they are financed, are quite rigid in procedures. When contractors have to make exceptions or additional administrative work, it is understandable that they will [attempt] to see decorative glass value engineered out.”

It’s clear that the VE issue extends beyond decorative glass and into all segments of the industry. I heard from Steve Fronek, vice president of technical services at Wausau Window and Wall Systems, who said the Wausau sales team faces the VE challenge daily.  

“The best way to ensure that the value engineering process serves the needs of all stakeholders is to make it part of early pre-bid design-assist. During design-assist, a cross-functional team focuses on optimizing fenestration configuration and design to meet or exceed performance requirements, address aesthetic preferences, and stay within budget—to maximize value for the owner. In this manner, a level of trust is established that makes the entire project run smoother. Wausau is often invited to participate in design-assist in partnership with an installing subcontractor," he said. "During the shop drawing and engineering phase, design-assist partners co-develop the details with the architectural team, so that all involved understand design criteria for better quality and a faster overall schedule.”

I’d like to continue the VE conversation here. What have your experiences been with VE? How does VE affect your company, and your profit margins? Feel free to email me directly at, or leave a comment below.

Devlin is senior editor for Glass Magazine. Write her at

Monday, July 15, 2013

When commercial construction starts plummeted in 2009, the cover of the Glass Magazine forecast issue read: “We’ll use adversity to our advantage.” Four years later, that prediction is coming true, as glass and glazing companies emerge from what many describe as the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

It has been a difficult stretch for all of us. And while we still have a long way to go in terms of regaining higher profit margins, rehiring staff and rebuilding backlogs, I think it’s finally safe to say the process has begun. Today, the market is reversing course, with economists at Reed Construction Data predicting incremental growth in nonresidential construction through 2013 and 2014.

Industry-wide, companies are making progress. Seventy-six percent of the 2013 Top 50 Glaziers reported overall sales volume was higher than the previous year. That number topped more than 80 percent among Top Glass Fabricators. And looking ahead to GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window & Door Expo, Sept. 12-14 in Atlanta, suppliers will introduce products and services to meet the needs of the accelerating market.

Today’s glass industry is adapting to the “new normal,” in which companies oftentimes operate with fewer staff, at lower profit margins, than they did pre-recession. Yet simultaneously, these companies have become more efficient, a characteristic that will benefit them as the market regains strength.

In upcoming issues of Glass Magazine, we will run a series of articles on glass companies that have successfully navigated the recession and positioned themselves for growth. If you have a story to share for potential inclusion, please email me at

Chase is editorial director of Glass Magazine. Write her at

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