Tuesday, October 13, 2015

As we approach the end of the year, I have begun my process of figuring out who the industry MVP will be. Previous winners were Tracy Rogers of Quanex and the entire C.R. Laurence organization. 2015 looks to be much harder, as again there is no shortage of great candidates. What I look for is a person or company that has made an impact on our industry, be it technical, marketing, codes, leadership and so on. I am gathering my list, and if you believe there’s someone deserving in your opinion, please shoot me an email. I get around quite a bit, but not everywhere, so I may miss a potential candidate. I will note some of the finalists in November and then unveil and honor the winner in December. Thank you.


  • Once again, I enjoyed the Twitter coverage supplied by Glass Magazine (@GlassMag), this time from the Vitrum show in Italy. Great pictures and details, including a neat shot of what it looks like inside a working tempering oven. Overall it looked like an interesting show in regards to some cutting edge equipment. 
  • Speaking of machinery, can that sector be any hotter right now? It is surely a good time to be in that world. Congrats to those folks who had to really hold their breath through the tight times a few years ago. 
  • Have you seen the wild glass bridge in China? Thanks to friends Evan Otruba of Binswanger and Rick Shaw of Solar Seal for bringing me up to speed on this. The 984-foot glass suspension bridge is something to see, and it made even bigger news this week when a tourist dropped a metal travel mug and cracked one of the superficial exterior lites of glass. As those of us in the industry know, it’s not a big deal, but for the mainstream media it’s cause for a major story. 
  • It is October, and that means the NFL breaks out its annual Pinkwashing campaign. This is the time where every player, coach and official wears a multitude of pink to make us aware that they care about breast cancer. The league also sells all of this pink gear with “proceeds” going to charity. Sadly—and it’s been like this for years—they are just donating just a tiny bit of money to actually combat this heinous disease. After it’s all broken out, around 8 percent of proceeds of the pink gear sold goes to the American Cancer Society, and none of it goes towards research. Yes, that tiny sliver of cash goes towards “awareness,” which is a joke given that the last thing society needs in this effort is awareness. What is needed is research and a cure. I just can’t stand that every October this sham of campaign goes on, and the NFL gets richer, and we remain no closer to any breakthroughs in cancer world. We treat cancer the same way in 2015 that we did in 1980. That’s insane. In addition, good charities that need the funding suffer because of the overall power of something like this. That unintended consequence makes it hurt even more.  
  • Last this week, the GANA Fall Conference takes place in San Antonio. I won’t be there but I do look forward to hearing about what goes on and the discussions that arise.

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
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, October 12, 2015

The Langley, British Columbia, fabrication plant for Vitrum Glass Group. Photo by Stephen Nyran. 

One of the greatest challenges in business is recognizing the need for improvement, even during the best and busiest of times. But, perhaps even more challenging is making the difficult decision to invest time and money to make those improvements possible—and to then sell the future benefits of those improvements to an already-stretched staff.

To successfully execute such improvements when things are working, the shake-up must come from the top down. As Glass Magazine Columnist Carl Tompkins said in the September issue, “the top people of an organization must always ask questions, seek advice and realize that there is always room for improvement.”

This summer, I visited the Langley, British Columbia, fabrication plant for Vitrum Glass Group, where the results of such an investment are on prominent display. In May 2014, Vitrum implemented a massive overhaul of its processes and software systems with the adoption of a new plant-wide enterprise resource planning system. This complex and time-intensive process began in 2013, when the commercial construction market was beginning to step up its recovery, and took more than a year for the company to complete. The details of this transition are presented on pages 32-38 of the October issue of Glass Magazine.

Key to Vitrum’s success in implementing the new ERP during a busying building cycle was company leadership. But, even more important, was the leadership’s investment in bringing its people on board to participate in the execution of the major shift in technology and process.

Asking employees to participate in a complete overhaul of existing, functioning systems while orders and production ramp up to meet demand is a tall order. “They were shifting gears after 16 years of doing things the same way,” describes Nicky Whitehouse, Vitrum’s director of IT, who was brought in to lead the IT side of the transition. However, Vitrum leadership was dedicated to communicating the benefits of the transition and bringing staff from all departments to participate in the ERP integration. “The buy-in from senior management was critical, and it flowed downhill. It was unusual and outstanding,” Whitehouse says.

Beyond Vitrum’s ERP, the October issue of Glass Magazine provides a look at a number of additional potential investments glass companies can consider in this time of market growth—from tools and supplies to increase productivity and efficiency (pages 40-46), or decorative glass machinery to expand product offerings (pages 22). But in the end, no matter how advanced the technology, how fast the machines, how helpful the tools, it’s the people that make business possible … and profitable.


Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Members of the Stairbuilders and Manufacturers Association tour one of the Los Angeles manufacturing facilities for C.R. Laurence Co. 


Glass is no longer relegated to windows and walls. Trends in the last 10 years have increasingly brought glass systems into the building interior, whether for office entrances, wall partitions or railings. Now the residential market is following suit, with glass coming into guard rails and stair rails in the home.

Last week, I attended a Regional Workshop for the Stairbuilders and Manufacturers Association at one of the Los Angeles manufacturing facilities for C.R. Laurence Co., where this trend topped discussions. While the SMA continues to be a group very focused on millwork and traditional wood stair and rail systems, emerging design trends toward glass handrails and stair rails have led the organization to the glass industry.

“We are getting a lot of demand on this, moving from the commercial market into residential,” said Tim Timmons, current president of SMA and owner, president of Source Building Products USA Inc.

CRL, which has been at the forefront of the movement to bring glass handrails and stair rails into commercial projects, has also begun seeing an increase in demand from the residential side. “We are seeing a lot of interest from the residential market to get these systems in homes, particularly in bigger cities—Los Angeles, Chicago, New York,” said Brian Clifford, CRL technical director for architectural railings and metals.

As a result of increased demand for residential rail projects, the company decided to get involved with the SMA. CRL is looking to educate stairbuilders about product options, provide information about safety and code requirements, and help the residential stair manufacturers connect with glazing industry professionals, officials said.

“We want to help you quote the right way, the first time; to give you the best options so these systems aren’t cut due to cost; and to make sure you have the right documentation. There are life and safety issues—the systems need to be right,” said Chris Hanstad, CRL vice president of architectural sales.

While residential glass rails is still a niche market, it offers significant growth potential, particularly if it follows the growth trajectory of commercial interior glass products, or of residential bath enclosures, officials say. Glass industry companies have a critical expertise in this emerging market that will be increasingly in demand. Perhaps it’s time for more glass companies to capitalize on this opportunity and expand their scope into stairs.

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I listened in on a construction forecast webinar this week, and it was basically more of what we we’ve been hearing: positive for the non-residential market for 2016, with some improvement on the institution side of things. Hotels and recreation are primed for a big year as well. But the interesting part was when the analyst reviewed material costs; when he got to flat glass he said something along the lines of “Usually flat glass costing is like its name… flat, but lately we’re seeing a rise.” He then added basically a regurgitation of the Wall Street Journal article saying there’s a supply shortage creating job delays. So the narrative that was floated out there a few weeks ago is growing, especially when it’s hitting the indicators and analysts.


  • I’ve always been a big fan of Donald Jayson and Bendheim for how they do business. Now I can add another great item  to the list, with their 4th generation  addition of Benjamin Jayson to the business. Obviously, I have a special place in my heart for the family business, and I love seeing the latest generations joining our industry. Congrats to the Jayson family!
  • Just a heads up: the folks at SAPA are hosting an Architectural Workshop for architects, designers, and building consultant for the first time in New York City. Great opportunity for those groups to learn some of the intricacies of metal and help them with design. So if you fall into that category, you should look into it. The date is October 14; more info is here. Props to Mark Spencer and the team at SAPA; they’re always on the cutting edge.
  • Communication was a big theme during GlassBuild America, and  I recently ran into a decent read on tips for effective construction communication.
  • Off topic from the industry… if you want an amazing read and book you will not want to put down, grab “13 Hours, The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi.” This book by Mitchell Zuckoff is amazing. It is non-political, so there are no discussions of what happened or did not happen in Washington or with politicians. It is about the men who had to deal with the attack and protect the annex and compound there. It’s told minute by minute with incredible detail. Amazing read. Evidently a movie is now being made from it. I am scared Hollywood will ruin it.
  • Bad news from the latest release of jobsite safety numbers. The construction world is in the midst of its most dangerous year since 2008. I know so many companies stress safety to the furthest extent, yet the injuries and fatalities keep happening and now at a pace that is really depressing.
  • I really thought the Alcoa news from last week would make more waves than it did. The announcement that the organization would split into two companies got a little reaction, and then everyone moved on. Industry-wise, the question is on where Kawneer lands. As expected, the release and comments say all will continue to be normal and that’s to be expected in the short term. But as with every deal, it sure bears watching to see what, if any, changes come down the pike there.


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

Monday, September 28, 2015

At the 2015 GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window and Door Expo, I saw an industry moving forward by marrying technology and design. While companies presented the latest innovations in glass, hardware and curtain wall to meet the changing demands of the architectural community, exhibitors were also focused on addressing one of the major challenges facing our industry: the labor shortage.

Equipment suppliers offer solutions to our common labor problems of cost and scarcity of talent with mechanized fabrication advances and field installation assist equipment. Part of this solution comes in the form of automation.

Robotics and automated technology has become a part of the future of this industry. On the show floor, I saw automated machines cutting and fitting spacers on insulating units, while an operator simply watched and tweaked the process.

For contract glaziers, suppliers are offering solutions for the handling and installation processes. The numerous spider cranes on display at the show look threatening until you realized how many fewer field guys you would need if you had one. I spoke to a few curtain wall companies at the show who are trying to sweep up the next new technology to offer them an advantage, and I would direct them to some of the numerous lifting devices I saw showcased.

I am currently consulting on a project that will require lifting 7-foot by 20-foot unitized panels up onto the face of a roof parapet wall. This requires some doing, but I saw equipment up for the task—cranes of several types that could themselves be craned up to the roof and positioned to set the panels, and lifting cups that can handle even textured surfaces for setting the project’s large art glass wall panels at the interior.

Despite the advantages of investing in new equipment and machinery, it is not always easy to make the call. I spoke to one glass company owner from Chicago who was nervous about his decision to spend on new equipment. He has been around the industry’s ups and downs for decades and after 30 years suddenly found himself staring into the abyss. He told me, “Things got better just in time. Finally we are developing a nice backlog. But will it last?”

In the end, the owner told me he would go with his gut and get the cutting table he needs—his table is over 18 years old and needs replacing before interest rates start moving up. “Maybe it’s time to focus on improving my production capacity instead of arm wrestling with my banker over our credit line. You’re either moving forward or slipping backwards, but never standing still,” he said.

Glass Magazine asked industry veteran Craig Steele to walk the GlassBuild America show floor and provide an insider’s view at the technologies, trends and advancements in the glass industry. As a child, Steele began working at his father’s glass company, John Steele Glass, on the north shore of Long Island, New York. From 1987 until his retirement in 2008, Steele and his wife Donna ran Neversink Construction Corp., a contract glazing firm in upstate New York. He currently serves as a façade consultant.

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, September 28, 2015

 A common practice in newsrooms all over the world is the use of “sensational headlines.” Usually these are statements that leave a key word in or out, and are misleading enough to catch your attention. In the old days, sensational headlines helped sell papers. Now, in the online age, they get clicks—they are “clickbait.”

So, when I saw a headline on that said “Architects Billings in August Signal Construction Slump,” I knew to take it with a massive grain of salt. The story, which I discovered thanks to @tedbleecker's great twitter feed, was about the release of the August Architectural Billings Index (ABI), which slipped in its main metric to 49.1 from the previous month of 54.7. The way the indicator works is any total under 50 means a decrease in design services. So, this was a negative month by that accounting, and thus the assumption of a slump was trumpeted. However, when you start to look deeper (and when it comes to data, you owe it to yourself to always look deeper), the situation is still nowhere near a “slump.” The main indicator was down, but other key indicators were still up and still rolling along, including inquiries and contracts. Many of the other deeper indicators also remained positive. So, while there’s been some slippage, I don’t think calling it a slump is even close to accurate, especially on the basis of only one month.

Obviously, the overall worries that I hit here a lot (transportation, workforce, materials, etc.) are still prominent. But, the fact is the base remains in an optimistic state. In the end, CNBC succeeded with their headline … it got me and many others to read and comment on it, probably driving their pages views quite a bit higher than it would normally be. But they’re completely wrong. 


  • The industry ended up in another article in a traditional media setting with the Toledo Blade's “glass capacity” piece focused on hometown player Pilkington. Not a bad attempt with some content lifted from the previous pieces and also a mention on glazier availability.  
  • I was alerted this week about a petition online regarding the 179 Tax Deduction. 179 allows businesses to deduct the full amount of the purchase price of equipment (up to certain limits), it is a fantastic incentive for businesses to purchase, finance or lease equipment this year. However at the start of this year the deduction limit was reduced to $25,000. It used to be as a high as $500,000. This deduction is a huge help to small and medium sized businesses, and if you are one of them and you were just at GlassBuild America about to buy machinery, then signing this petition is something you need to consider. Take a look here and decide for yourself. 
  • Congrats to the team at Dip-Tech on the launch of their new website. Really sharp from a look and layout standpoint but the key for me on this one was the depth of the info. The site was heavy on detail and resources. Well done!

    I’ve recognized many new sites here so feel free to send me links to yours to check out- I always love to see what people are doing and sharing here when I can. 
  • The call for abstracts for GlassCon Global 2016 came out. This will be the second edition of the highly regarded event, and it will be in Boston next July. The education and insight that comes out of events like this are extremely helpful for the advancement of the industry. If you are interested in presenting and reaching a diverse and impressive audience click HERE. Deadline is October 15. 
  • Last this week… in my coverage last post about GlassBuild America I missed a few items. First, the 2016 edition of GlassBuild America will be in October, not as it usually is in September. There’s some conflicting info online at non-GlassBuild sites, but the dates are October 19-21, in Las Vegas. Please make a note. Also if you are not following @GlassBuild on twitter, please do so. That feed is rolling and will be a great place for updates and insight throughout the year. And finally, I forgot to note and congratulate the amazing work the staff of NGA/WDDA did. To handle thousands of people from all over the globe and hundreds of exhibits of varying sizes and needs is a challenge. The folks that I had the extreme honor to work with did it and did it extremely well. Simply amazing to watch it all come together. Congrats to everyone there for a job well done!

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
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, September 21, 2015

Here is where I take the gloves off a bit….

In the curtain wall and glazing world this has always been the reality:

You can install quicker than you can fabricate
You can fabricate quicker than you can engineer
Engineering is the bottleneck (the initial critical path)

By “engineering” I’m talking about design, delegated design, shop drawings, fab drawings, structural engineering, thermal analysis, and related coordination.  I can take this one of two directions; resource bottlenecking or leveraged cost impacts. I’m going the cost route this time. I’ll discuss resource limitations and challenges in another post.

Never did such a small line item of a project’s cost have such a large impact on the quality of its outcome. This is especially true in the glazing and facades world. Perhaps we could consider it similar to a car key. Without the key, it is impossible to unlock the car’s potential. It can’t move forward. In a similar way, engineering unlocks and brings to order the potential of a project. 

Some key questions to consider when assessing the engineering aspects are: What is the real cost of design and engineering?  Is it measured in the financial cost of the line item alone?  What type of impact does it have downstream? What is the cost of “good design”?

It is certainly not measured solely in the cost of the line item. Engineering, design and their respective work products of shop drawings, fabrication drawings, bill of materials, and structural engineering calculations are highly leveraged activities. The real cost of the services is measured in the quality of the outcome, not simply the financial cost of the line item itself.

Design and engineering services are both a cost and an investment. When performed appropriately and with value, the investment can yield cost and time savings downstream to improve a client’s bottom line through labor and material savings. When done poorly, it can produce magnified negative consequences that are difficult to recapture and correct. I’ve seen both outcomes. The only inappropriate cost of engineering (and design) is the one that doesn’t produce the necessary results; the one that negatively impacts a client’s bottom line. 

Engineering is often treated like a “black box.” By that I mean, there seems to be a notion from the client that “If I throw all the right documents in the space required by the engineering provider, and define the general scope, I’ll get the exact product I am envisioning”; and that “any of the resources I am considering will produce the same result.” This is certainly not the case. 

An acceptable outcome requires defining the client’s expectation for the work products and their functionality, completeness, timing, quality and more. The engineering resource should also provide input on what they think will be appropriate if the client is not sure on the form and context required. Aligning with client expectations is a big part of the definition or plumb line of quality. During the project, quality requires client input at key points in the process, and clear communication from the engineering resource as well, including prompting and initiative communication. I call this “supply chain value input.” Add to this the fact that none of us (and I mean none) communicate as well as we should and there is potential for trouble along the way. 

How can engineering resources working with glazing subcontractors, material providers, fabricators and related constituents in the supply chain align and manage a positive outcome for an appropriate fee? I’ll talk about that and make some additional observations next time. In the meantime, I hope this prompts some conversation on a challenging topic.

John Wheaton is the founder & co-owner of Wheaton & Sprague Engineering, Inc., also known as Wheaton Sprague Building Envelope. The firm provides full service design, engineering and consulting services for the curtain wall/building envelope/building enclosure  industry, and works at “Creating Structure” for clients. He can be reached at and on Twitter, @JohnLWheaton1. 

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, September 21, 2015

GlassBuild America 2015 is now in the books and it surely confirmed that we are in the midst of a very positive or “up” cycle in our industry. Whether it was the busy show floor (including a 2nd day that had action rivaling some of the best shows I have attended in my 24 years in the industry); or the insight from the experts that were provided via forums and express learning; or the multitude of meetings and social gatherings throughout the center and town, I walked away from this event feeling very good about the current economic landscape as it pertains to our world. Obviously we have massive challenges, including workforce, supply and transportation, but at least we are sitting on what appears to be a very solid base.

The other main overall takeaway I have is that this is no surprise. The last few editions of GlassBuild have been momentum builders with increasing enthusiasm each year. Sharp companies and attendees have been taking advantage of this and growing their business, 2015 just added more people to the mix. With the indicators strong, I do expect 2016 in Las Vegas (October next year instead of traditional September) to be off the charts in regards to exhibits, attendees, and most importantly, business done!

Now on to my annual show review of the people, products, and adventures on the floor…


  • Clearly one major stop was the C.R. Laurence booth because of their news making in the last few weeks. It was enjoyable to get a few minutes with Mr. Friese and Lloyd Talbert to personally congratulate them on the deal. Spending a few minutes learning from Jeff Phillips and Joe Schiavone was also incredible for me. I love gaining knowledge however possible! I visited for basically a split second with old friend Matt Hale of YKK AP as he had people lined up waiting to catch up with him. Never bad to see Dan Poling of Schott; though once again, I failed to get a picture of him with me to show my wife I was hanging with a James Franco lookalike. Ran into Jim Gildea late in the show, which was a great blast from the past. Speaking of the past, I had not seen Dave Alexander of Guardian in quite a while, so that was surely an unexpected plus. Two of the coolest guys in our world? Devin Bowman and Dave Vermeulen of Technical Glass Products were there and I am always blown away at everything that company does.
  • There was lots of discussion about the now debunked article in the Wall Street Journal throughout the floor. Was great to catch up on that with the always-on-point Pat Kenny of PPG. And, the legend Rob Struble was at the show so that could be why things went so well…. Speaking of “doing well,” that would pertain to Ralph Aknin, as it was great to see him and see him looking healthy and well. Plus, getting to meet Sandi Jensen and Leslie Idems at the same time was a show-maker for me. Good people. 
  • GlassBuild allows me to meet people who may read my blog, or industry people I have admired but spent very little time with. In that category, getting to talk with Greg Abrams and Chris Murphy of 310 Tempering was great. Smart and focused guys who will do well. I was humbled that Dip Tech VP of Sales Erik de Jongh noted that he read my blog--that was unanticipated but appreciated! And getting a chance to meet the new CEO at Dip Tech, Alon Lumbroso, was an honor for sure. Wanted more time with Gus Trupiano of AGC but failed there. Next event for sure. Thank you to Dave Hull of Glass Guru for stopping me to say hi and introducing me to a few of his new franchisees he was shepherding through the show. 
  • The show always has a reunion feel for me as I run into so many former coworkers I respect tremendously. People like Cliff Monroe of Oldcastle Glass; Tony Kamber, Joel Smith, and Scott Sallee of AMG; Mike Dishmon of Virginia Glass; Henry Taylor of Kawneer; Erik Stumpf of CGH; Scott Cook of GGI; and Manny Valladares of Aldora.
  • I missed tons and heard from them after: hated not seeing Rodger Ruff and Scott Goodman of AGC and Tom O’Malley of Clover. Though Tom’s doing so well right now I don’t think his handlers would allow me near him. I can always say I knew him before he got big.
  • One note on the Glazing Executives Forum: the panel that I had promoted here on the blog was very good. The key takeaway this excellent group presented was communication at every level. So needed, so crucial, yet so under rated and under utilized. The companies and people that are aggressive communicators will be better off in challenging supply times than those who are not. As for the members of the panel: I did not know John McGill of YKK and he was impressive. I do know Chris Cotton of Dlubak/CGH as we share a distinction of being the “other brother” to more powerful and popular industry siblings. Chris was great, too. But the star was Garret Henson of Viracon. I joke a lot with Garret, but in all seriousness, he was incredible in his presentation and his insight. Strong, clear speaking style that resonates with our audience. Only Joe Puishys at BEC this year was a better speaker, in my opinion. Sorry in advance Garret for the abuse that you will get within the walls of Viracon, but you deserve the props.
  • From a product standpoint, software was really notable, including some excellent solutions for the glazing contractor I had never seen before. Labor-saving equipment continues to be robust, specifically the glass installation/handling machinery.  My old favorite Dynamic Glass had a good show as well; Pleotint smartly landed in the bustling “Dream Showroom” and was busy from start to finish, while Sage had several well-attended demonstrations on how to install their product. It was a very intelligent move to educate the installers and get them familiar and comfortable with the product.
  • Best clothes: past winners PPG and Salem were decent, but not enough to beat Quanex. Great colors for women and men, really clean and classy. On that note, I only get to see fine people like Brian and Kim Kress, and Ryan Kerch once a year at the show, so was nice to visit them and not only chat but admire/envy the look!
  • The show was also strong social media-wise. I enjoyed running the GlassBuild feeds for a few days and interacting with some great companies. The periscope piece is a work in progress, but was fun to do. Just wish I had an extra hand or two so I could do all I wanted to do with this stuff!


So that’s the wrap up. Bottom line is we are in a good place; let’s keep moving on it. Communicate strong and make it happen while the climate is ripe!

Links and video of the week will return next week. Read more on Max's blog

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

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, September 14, 2015

Note: This post is a little longer this week because of the big news from last week and GlassBuild America kicking off this week.

One story that I have been talking about for a while, and that Glass Magazine has been all over for months, hit the mainstream media in a big way this week. A story that led with the premise of glass being short in supply first appeared in the Wall Street Journal on September 8th. (Thank you old pal Scott Surma for the initial lead on it.) After the first posting of the article, many other sites followed with their takes as well, making the news somewhat “viral,” at least as our world is concerned.

First and foremost, the original article from the Journal had some serious flaws in it. The biggest one was noting that a product shortage forced real estate companies into the “glass” business. However, the Journal's example firm actually makes unitized curtain wall, so that move in no way alleviates any pressure a glass shortage would have. That’s just a hole in the story logic, making their “problem” more of a fabricator/glazier issue, which in fact is a serious problem, possibly as much as a tightening of glass capacity. 

When it comes to glazing, especially major, high-end contracted projects, the field of qualified players is very limited. Because of many factors, only so many companies per market really want to get into these projects, or have the ability to do so. These are sophisticated projects that if you do not have a good team, including top-notch project managers, your entire business could fail with one bad turn. So blaming a glass shortage the way the article initially intended and then going into the installation issues in the way the article ended, was off base. 

This WSJ article really is more about a glazing issue, featuring costs developers never expected to pay, and lead-times they never expected to wait. Why? Because they’ve always enjoyed the benefits of the opposite. Most feel our industry has always been too “competitive” when it comes to the first issue and way too expedient on the second. Lead-times especially have thrown many in the chain because it’s always been a “just in time” world. We surely spoiled the masses there.

In the end, there are two takeaways.

First, there’s no doubt, despite the confusing nature of some of the articles out this week, we do have a glass shortage. It’s been building for a while. It’s something I have been banging on and telling anyone who listens to prepare for. I know some are questioning if it’s real, and while they may make calls to find out, anyone who works in this business on a day-to-day basis knows it’s a very difficult climate, worse in areas that are further from the primary plants and especially bad on certain styles and sizes of glass. What used to always be there is simply not available right now.

Second, we do have an issue with installation, especially a shortage of quality project managers. That is something that is not new to readers of this blog either. When you add these up with the other factors in our world (transportation, recovering economy, stressed equipment, etc.), this is what happens.

As noted above, many sites picked up on this original story. But one article really caught my eye. It was by huge tech blog Gizmodo. This one took the lead from the Journal, stayed in its lane focus wise, and then also pointed out the excellent work that Katy Devlin and Glass Magazine did to show what is happening here. Plus the story featured the line of the year for me:

"Maybe most interestingly, this isn’t the first time a glass shortage has hit the world. Katy Devlin, editor of Glass Magazine (yes, there is a glass magazine!)"

That last sentence: so true. And if you’ve been reading Glass Magazine, you knew about all of this long before the mainstream stumbled upon it.


  • Last note on the above for now: Props to Matt Tangeman of Custom Glass Machinery. He attacked the comment section of the WSJ story like a champ. Great insights provided. Nice work, Matt! 
  • GlassBuild America kicks off this week, and I am looking forward to seeing as many people as I can. Once again I’ll be the goofy looking guy wearing the yellow vest that looks like I stole from the ground crew at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport. So please stop me and say hi. As for the show, the exhibits I have been researching have me excited to see the innovation and advancements. And I have to say the amount of education this year is like nothing that has ever been at a conference or show before. It’s amazing. Also, a side note: during the Glazing Executives Forum, a great panel will be held on the lead-time subject featuring Garret Henson of Viracon, Chris Cotton of Dlubak/Consolidated Glass Holdings, and John McGill of YKK AP America. Three companies and three excellent people to provide some views on a very challenging world right now.
  • If you are unable to attend (I am sorry; tough one to miss), I will be tweeting from the GlassBuild America twitter account @GlassBuild and also doing Periscope sessions from there to show you some education and forum happenings. So follow @GlassBuild on both Twitter and Periscope. And my guess is they’ll probably never let me near either account again after this, so don’t miss it!
  • Of course on my blog next week, the recap of the show: people seen and products checked out and more.
  • Last this week, a shout out to my good friend Kris Vockler and the folks at ICD High Performance Coatings. ICD was given an award by the state of Washington for their efforts on hiring America’s veterans. The Vockler family are simply awesome people, and they back it up with the way they do business and the people they hire. Congrats!

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

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, September 7, 2015

In recent visits to glass and glazing companies of all shapes and sizes, I have asked company leaders to describe their training programs. I assumed this would provide an interesting look at how companies big and small are dealing with the current shortage of skilled labor. What I didn’t expect was the wealth of information about how glass companies are keeping their workers safe through training and with detailed safety policies.

Many of the companies I spoke with, from small 10-person glass shops to large glass fabricators, report required regular safety training, particularly for workers on the jobsite or on the factory floor. Some manufacturers I spoke with have a safety manager, responsible for leading daily or weekly safety briefings. Many have set safety guidelines that employees are required to follow (and will receive ‘warnings’ if they are caught not following).

Many companies have developed more nuanced safety policies. One window manufacturer I interviewed recently created safety guidelines for visitors. The guidelines outlined PPE requirements, noted areas where visitors were not allowed, and included a code of content (no cell phones, for example).

Because many factory accidents occur simply because a person isn’t where they should be, one glass fabricator I visited requires factory floor employees to wear a specific colored shirt that indicates their work “zone.” A plant manager can simply look at the floor to see if any employee is not where they should be.

In an upcoming issue of Glass Magazine, we will look at the ways glass companies keep their workers safe. If you would like to share your company's approach to keeping employees safe, leave a comment or send an email.

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at

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