glassblog

Monday, November 9, 2015


The Spike app allows for 3-D measurements of objects and spaces using a smartphone. 

A couple of years ago, I stumbled upon a Kickstarter campaign for a smartphone app called Spike that offers 3-D measurement capabilities with laser accuracy. In the Kickstarter video, the app designer asked viewers to “imagine if you could measure absolutely any object just by taking a snapshot on your smart phone. Imagine if those measurements were laser accurate from any angle. … And imagine if you could share all of that data straight from your smart phone.”

I did. But, mostly, I imagined what technologies like Spike and other 3-D measuring tools would mean for the glass industry. What would easy 3-D measurements mean for installers and fabricators as installations become more complex, more customized? What sort of impact would these quick and accurate measurements have on companies as labor becomes a more critical concern, and as time constraints intensify? And, I wondered how long it would take for this type of technology to become a regular tool for some glass companies.

It didn’t take long.

3-D measurement devices have already become critical for AGNORA. “We use a laser scanner and a laser tracker to produce a 3-D map of any space. …This is the way to go in the future,” describes AGNORA’s Louis Moreau.

Just a few years ago, a complex glass staircase installation, for example, would have required the project team to put up plywood just to take necessary measurements, Moreau says. The digital tools “save so much time and are much more accurate,” he says. “Even for wall cladding, the installation goes more easily when you have the correct scanners.”

While many aspects of design, and glass and glazing fabrication are already digitized, the measuring tools bring a new level of digital technology directly to the jobsite. “It’s a digital world. We can scan the space digitally. We send the information to the shop floor digitally. We fabricate the glass using CNC machines, digitally,” says Kevin Nash, marketing, AGNORA.

Digital tools have made complex building, façade and interior designs possible. And, incredible advancements to fabrication software and equipment computerization have made glass processing more efficient. Many of those tools have also opened the door to new and innovative value-added glass products. Now, the glazing contractor community can benefit from digital tools as well, not only at the design level, but also at the jobsite.

The glass industry is part of a digital world at all segments. Imagine the possibilities.

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org.
Sunday, November 8, 2015

While I am always looking ahead with a positive approach, I can tell you one thing I am dreading…the 2016 presidential election. This is going to be a wild and probably bizarre ride thanks to more media (with more social and electronic options than ever), and more candidates. And with all of this extra attention will come extra noise and hyperbole. Simply said, it’s going to be a circus. But, this election, like all major ones, has the potential to change the trajectory of the construction and glass world. So, getting to know the candidates is critical—and not only the presidential ones, but your congressional and senatorial choices as well.

On a side note, it has been good that some candidates have already been active in noting their positions with regards to the building industry, so at least that’s not getting lost in the other adventures that come up during events like these.

Elsewhere…

I have some more lists for you—and you know how much I love them.

  • First, the great folks from SaveOnEnergy.com published a fascinating list on “Which States Care Most about the Environment.” They used Google trends to develop it, and the study was broken up into several categories. It’s a different way to see who’s interested in the environment and energy savings, and there were certainly some surprises. 
  •  The other list I have for you is something that I think everyone who reads this blog can have an opinion on: “The Worst Freeways in America.” Here are the top 12: 

12. I-95 and I-195 in Providence. I have no experience here.

11. 1-76/Schuylkill in Philly. I assume my pal Ted Bleecker may have an opinion on this.

10. I-376-Parkway East/West in Pittsburgh. Yep. It’s horrendous. I grew up there.

9. I-880 in San Jose.

8- I-80 in San Francisco. I guess the roads in NoCal are NoFun.

7. I-35 in Austin. I never thought it was that bad, but, then again I’m not there a lot.

6. I-635/LBJ Dallas. This is too low. Dallas roads and traffic are brutal.

5. I-70 in Denver. In the Winter it’s like a demolition derby.

4. The 405 in Los Angeles. I have very little experience here, but I am sure my friends in SoCal can vouch for it. Or, is the reputation worse than the reality?

3. 610 Loop in Houston. I think this should flip positions with Dallas.

2. I-10 in New Orleans. I have never been to New Orleans, which is nuts considering there are always shows and events there.

And the worst freeway in the US is …

1. I-66 in Washington DC. This is a very worthy champion! Not a fun road in any way, shape or form!

There is one big omission on this list, however. How are none of the freeways that run through Boston on here?

And, by the way for my Canadian friends, the traffic in Toronto and Vancouver is mind blowingly bad. So, both would be at the top of this list if it included the great country of Canada.

  • The new Apple headquarters continues to get further along in construction, and Forbes this week had an update. So far, so good. And that is one place I will make every effort to get to when done, just to see it all. Thanks to the great twitter feed of @JohnLWheaton1 for the heads up. 
  • Next week I’ll be unveiling some of the names and companies that were nominated for the 2015 Industry MVP. The winner however will not be in that list. I’ll lay that out in December. There are some excellent nominees, as there are certainly a lot of good people and companies in our world right now.


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

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

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

 

Monday, November 2, 2015

The annual Dodge Construction Outlook conference was held last week, and for the most part the data is trending positive in the construction world. Overall construction starts are predicted to rise once again, but at a slower rate than the past—6 percent, after gains of 9 percent in 2014, and an estimated 14 percent for 2015. Commercial construction is also being pushed upward with a healthier jump in 2016. The one area to watch is the office category. Dodge is predicting an 11 percent jump, but there’s another analysis that I follow that is not as bullish. Obviously a majority of the audience who read this blog are heavily involved in the office category in one form or another.

The other big take away was that the cycle is looking healthy, meaning there’s still expected growth to happen. We’ve been hearing 2018 and 2019, so this seemingly is another affirmation of those previous predictions. As I think we all know, these forecasts are not guaranteed and have been known to be wildly off, especially during the recession. So everything needs to be taken with a massive grain of salt. Though in the end, I will take these positive notes for sure.

Elsewhere…

  • One of the other big themes of the Dodge event was the discussion about people and talent. Basically, the ability to hold on to your best people is a major concern and it’s something on the radar at companies all over the globe. It also points to the need to train your folks and grow your bench, because it’s surely tough out there to bring folks in. 
  • Speaking of talent leaving, we as an industry lost a major player to retirement last week. The incredible and iconic Ricky Shaw (Solar Seal, Shaw Glass, CGH) is calling an end to his glass career after more than 40 years of industry-leading moves, especially in regards to equipment and products. I am thrilled for him, even though his loss leaves a hole in the fabric of the Northeast and New England glass and fabrication scene. Enjoy the next phase of your life Rick. You have earned all of the skiing, golf, and whatever other recreational approach you want to do!
  • Now, maybe Rick will become a consultant like the technical wizard Chris Barry did when he retired from Pilkington a while back. I got to visit some with Chris this week and even though he’s not associated with a company, his care and passion for this industry has not waned one bit. He still attends trade meetings, and his activity and insight on our products is absolutely crucial for all of us to respect and understand.
  • There was a good piece from Julie Ruth in the latest Glass Magazine. Her first hand take of a tornado in her community and then the reaction to it (from a business and code approach) makes for a good read. 
  • Last this week, a quick book review. Have you ever read a book and 98 percent of it is awesome and you’re so excited to see how it ends, and then it closes with a thunderous dud? Well that’s the book “Almost- 12 Electric Months Chasing a Silicon Valley Dream.” This book about a start up in Silicon Valley was really mesmerizing, as the author wrote about what can go right and wrong (mostly wrong) with a startup. After spending a ton of time with this story and really being invested, the ending just came up very short in my opinion.  Anyway, if you want a book with 98 percent of an interesting story with dysfunction everywhere, give this one a shot. By the way after a run of business background books and history books, next one up is comedian David Spade’s biography. That surely will be different than what I have been reading!

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

 

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.
 
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

 

Monday, November 2, 2015

As the year winds to a close, I like to step back from the day-to-day at work and take a look at what’s ahead. It’s a welcome change to think towards the future with all the positive momentum building in our industry right now. But, the coming year is not going to be without its challenges. In a season of market growth, where extra time is no longer a commodity, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of setting yourself apart from the competition, in order to keep growing.

So, how do you break through the busyness and differentiate yourself from the company across town to land new customers? Use a mix of tried and true strategies you know will have proven outcomes. Here are a few to keep in mind as you plan for the new year.  

Build relationships, relationships, relationships

In our high-tech, on-demand world, slowing down the pace to network and forge relationships may seem counterproductive. But, taking the time to build connections, whether face-to-face or digital, (I’ll let the New York Times debate which is better here), builds trust. Over time, that trust turns into confidence about the integrity and quality of work your company provides.

As an added benefit, the trust brought about by relationships can positively impact the bottom line. The Construction Industry Institute has long reported that working relationships with greater trust can increase efficiencies and reduce project costs (you can see an overview of the 262 projects they studied in “The Cost-Trust Relationship in the Construction Industry” here). When you think about it, this outcome makes sense. Building industry professionals with a strong, working relationship are more likely to have open and honest conversations, set realistic expectations and adapt and implement changes. These factors can all work together to prevent roadblocks such as re-ordered products, project delays and onsite custom work that costs more in the long term. 

Know what people are saying

We all know how to use positive feedback to fuel growth. It’s what we do with the negative feedback that sets us apart. Take the time to listen when you receive hard feedback, and make adjustments where necessary. By showing architects and supply chain members that you make mid-course adjustments, reevaluate processes and work towards a better outcome, you can help turn unsatisfied customers into lifelong brand advocates. Feedback presents an opportunity for growth that few people take advantage of.   

Provide value below a low bid number

Whether you’re landing a new sale or working with an existing customer, remember that products and price are only the beginning. There are a number of things glazing industry professionals can do to help make architects’ and general contractors’ jobs easier, and in turn help differentiate themselves from the competition.

Consider taking the time to show customers how a product provides value beyond the original design intent, whether it’s life safety or energy efficiency. It can go a long way towards securing specification and improving a firm’s overall project. Informational training sessions can also prove extremely beneficial, particularly if new materials, custom designs or complex codes are involved. Design teams with a good grasp of product limitations, installation timeframes and how the glazing product interfaces with other materials will be able to better meet budget and project deadlines, all of which ultimately affect whether or not they will value working with you in the future.

What other tried and true strategies do you recommend for the coming year? 

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.

 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Thirteen years ago, David Fitchett approached the National Glass Association for help in forming a group of glass professionals. His idea was to build a peer-to-peer network of glass company entrepreneurs along the lines of the World Entrepreneurs Organization, of which he was a member in Garner, North Carolina, home of Carolina Glass & Mirror, the company he started in 1993 with Mike Wilkins. 

The Glass Professionals Forum in 2011: David Uhey, Guy Selinske, Tom Whitaker, David Fitchett, Angelo Rivera, Bob Brown, Chris Mammen, Steve Mort, Bill Evans, Newton Little, Nicole Harris

Over the years, these now 12 glass company owners from across the country have helped one another develop and improve their businesses. Through an open, trust-based sharing of problems and offered solutions—and a good number of beers—this band of brothers also formed deep and lasting friendships. 

David died on Friday, October 23, at the age of 52 of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  His obituary notes that he was “a founding member” of the Glass Professionals Forum (GPF). One of David’s many admirable traits was his humility. Every time one of us would acknowledge his founding father role, he would gently brush it off, sometimes with a wry remark, always with a warm and engaging smile. 

Founding and guiding the group was just his first gift; his quiet foresight had far-reaching consequences. The same guiding principle of thought leadership and positive change were reflected in another voluntary body. It’s not at all surprising that several members of this peer group have also served on the National Glass Association’s board of directors. Each of them brought clear-minded, improvement-driven focus that continues to this day. 

In the early years, especially, I joined the GPF as they visited each other’s company locations.  The agenda included a tour of the hosting member’s facility, a meeting, sometimes a special tour or presentation by an industry supplier. And of course, a couple of dinners full of laughter and good-natured ribbing. I was happy to share both the camaraderie and many of their best practices in the pages of Glass Magazine.

Many of my inspirations for bettering the industry originated with David’s idea to form a glass industry-focused peer networking group. Many of my happiest industry meeting memories are from these GPF gatherings.  

I am proud and ever grateful to David to call myself a sister among his band of brothers. 

Nicole Harris president and CEO of the National Glass Association and Window & Door Dealers Alliance. Write her at nharris@glass.org.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

This week, From the Fabricator turns 10. One decade of posts and ramblings on the first ever glass and aluminum related blog. Please join me please on a run through memory lane.

It all started on Oct. 25, 2005. This blog was launched with a simple 17-word post. The goal was to provide insight to the industry with this new avenue of communication. On Oct. 27, I came back with a post with a few of my favorite subjects: the National Fenestration Rating Council, China and green building. And from there it took off.

I used this space to inform and educate. I tried to rally the industry, sometimes succeeding, sometimes not. But I tried. And, as time went on, this blog became a stop for readers to see what I’d say next. And that was good and bad.

On the negative side, back then, I was pretty rough around the edges. I thought I was bulletproof and pretty much set for life. I had people around me that loved when I threw haymakers, so I did it to please them. But, I also got into it myself, and was too stupid to realize what I was doing. There were surely posts I regret, and ones that hold me back professionally to this day. So, believe me, lessons learned.

On the plus side, I was breaking stories. I was getting leads on acquisitions from all over thanks to this forum. I broke the Oldcastle purchase of Vistawall, and was on top of Pella buying EFCO, which back then were gigantic deals. Companies changed the way they did due diligence and closed communications tighter. As a former communication and journalism person, I enjoyed the fact I was disruptive. And I also got a kick out of making life miserable for the NFRC. Though, in the end they “kinda” won when the industry slept through the process. (I say kinda because even years later their system is not what it was ever cracked up to be).

In 2006 and 2007 as this blog was really growing, we were all busy in this industry. Things were rolling. I joke about it a lot, but no one truly realized things were THAT good then. We were all in a good place P&L wise, but there were always issues and fire drills—things like codes and standards, etc. And if you didn’t work through the 70’s and the recession then, you didn’t know what bad times really were. Then 2009 and 2010 arrived, and we all found out.

Things changed, and changed quickly. I hit a crossroads, and as fate would have it, I had to face some of the same people I was rough to on this blog. My rabblerousing days had me in a bad spot. Somehow I was very fortunate and beyond blessed that Arturo Carrillo looked beyond my past and gave me shot at Vitro America when my previous world went up in sun-ignited flames. Many people inside Vitro America questioned Arturo on why he’d hire the blogger who was a massive thorn in his company’s side.  Thankfully he held to his convictions that there was more to me than my writings, and that I had grown from it, and realized what I had done and whom I had affected. But, enough of my personal adventures. (That will be a book someday…haha!) This post is meant to be about the blog.

With a new lease on my professional life, I refocused my energy and passion, changed my style and basically “grew up” thanks to the support and guidance of people like Arturo, Nicole Harris, Denise Sheehan, Greg Carney (RIP), Kris Vockler, and many others. I began a different approach and liked it. I enjoyed being positive, but without losing my eye for things that concerned me. I dropped the attack mode and tried to focus on the good people of this industry who do great things but get little to no recognition. I still call out issues and warn of consequences, but I do it without rancor. (Usually!) And while there’s a vocal minority that implores me to be like I used to be, I’m never going back to that style.

Since I started this adventure, our industry changed so much. Major players at every level are gone. If you would’ve told me when I started this blog that 10 years from now I’d be on my own and that several major players had failed, I would’ve never of believed it. Especially the being on my own fact. That still blows me away.

It’s been 10 years and 538 posts. And I could not of done it without all of you out there. The encouragement, dialogue, support and so on mean the world to me. When brilliant and class people like John Wheaton, Ted Bleecker, Jeff Kirby, Terry Newcomb, Garret Henson, Mark Silverberg, Rich Porayko, Jon Kimberlain, Tom O’Malley, Marc Deschamps, Chuck Knickerbocker, and many many others take the time to drop me notes or tweet my blog out, it blows me away. (I know I am forgetting people to name. Sorry!)

Thank you to all who read this week in, week out and never comment or communicate as well. The fact you give me 5 minutes a week is appreciated. The traffic that I get never fails to boggle my mind, and I will always be forever grateful.

Ten years down, and who knows how many more years to go. But we’re going to keep plugging along. I hope you’ll continue to join me on the ride.

Thank you.

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

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.
 
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.
Monday, October 19, 2015

The many industry gatherings in recent weeks lent themselves to the incubation of rumors. Being connected to the industry in the odd ways I am, I get to hear many of these. Most are of the outlandish variety, but some eventually happen. In any case, the scuttlebutt continues to grow regarding newer foreign players coming to the United States to set up fabrication plants. These rumors started a year ago during glasstec and have gained more ground throughout the year. It bears watching if the current busy market attracts new players. Plus, it poses the question about whether these newcomers will pursue greenfield opportunities or acquisitions. It’s a sellers’ market right now, so I would not be shocked if we see the former happen. My fearless prediction is you will see someone new hitting a major market in the next 6 to 9 months.

Elsewhere…

  • Thank you to everyone in the industry who signed the Section 179 petition. It was a bunch of you and good to see. The petition passed the 10K mark this week, and the effort continues to encourage Congress to look at this piece and roll it back to where it should be. 
  • I have been following the new Apple headquarters closely, and this week renderings were released for another major Apple campus building in Silicon Valley. This one is a clover leaf shaped complex that will cover 18 acres. HOK is the designer, and it will feature a lot of glass—a lot of it large and bent. Plus there’s some thought that Apple may try to push for Net Zero on this complex, which would be an amazing accomplishment. So, expectation of a heavy dose of solar is surely a possibility. 
  • Before we leave the state of California, I read a comical piece this week in the New York Times on electric cars and the battles that come with them—mainly, the areas and spaces necessary to charge them up. People are getting fired up as the cars and technology are outpacing areas to service and charge. It’s a great read and shows that sometimes disruptive technology still has a long way to go with support and consideration. Personally, I see frustration and arguments over electrical outlets all the time, particularly at the busy airports I frequent. 
  • Poll time. So, what are the most energy efficient and least energy efficient states? A new survey by WalletHub outlined the rankings by analyzing efficiency of car and home energy consumption as part of the process. (Note, the study covered the continental U.S. only).

    Most Efficient:
    1. New York (Color me stunned on this one)
    2. Vermont
    3. Minnesota (I actually figured this would be No. 1, thanks to brilliant people like Kerry Haglund being so active there)
    4. Wisconsin
    5. Utah

    Least Efficient:
    44. Arkansas
    45. Kentucky
    46. Texas
    47. Louisiana
    48. South Carolina

    So, South Carolina is the least energy efficient state according to this particular piece. I guess, aside from being a tough state to get hurricane protection codes enforced, S.C. is also tough in terms of energy.

    I am in shock after the end of the Michigan-Michigan State game. What a wild finish to a pretty intriguing football game. I love college football. Congrats to my many State fans out there, and I feel for my UofM folks.

    Last this week. For those of you with a retail arm, do yourself a favor and check out this article about Angie’s List. If you provide a service to the public, you likely have been inundated and guilted by the heavy sales pitch from these folks, and this story gives some insight on why. I have to give credit to the people behind this service. They have found a way to make some good money without the effort of producing the product. 

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

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.
 
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.
Monday, October 19, 2015

Most people react to stressful situations by seeing something negative, saying something negative, and doing nothing. These actions, or inactions, will be duplicated in all subsequent challenging circumstances.

Then there are the rare people who handle something unpleasant by, first, seeing something positive in all that happens; second, saying something positive; and third, taking positive steps to correct the situation. These three steps are the components of a genuinely positive attitude.

Recently, our company had a truck stolen. The thieves removed concrete blocks, entered, and stole the truck. Our company color is pink—1956 Cadillac pink—and our trucks are painted that color. Our first actions were to call the police and notify the insurance company. Next, we contacted the local television stations to see if they wanted to report the theft of a large pink truck. "Large pink truck" was the hook for the TV stations.

The local CBS and ABC affiliates conducted interviews and filmed our premises. The CBS affiliate ran three two-minute reports during three different newscasts, and a four-minute report during their primetime 6 p.m. newscast. The ABC affiliate ran their report three times. Both posted it on their respective websites. Additionally, the story was picked up and reported by glass industry Internet news feeds.

These actions created a buzz about our company. The local buzz was widespread and has lasted for the two weeks since the reports aired. We receive telephone calls saying that the caller spotted one of our trucks. We reward the callers, if they want, with coffee cups and/or t-shirts.

The theft will cost our company money. It is an inconvenience and interrupts our daily flow. However, we received 16 minutes of free advertising in our local market (worth approximately $14,000), and got our target market talking about our company.

We chose to take positive action to counteract a negative situation. Choose, in all challenges, to see something positive, say something positive and take positive steps in addressing the situation. Make lemonade out of lemons.

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. 

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.

Elsewhere…

  • 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 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, 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 kdevlin@glass.org.

 

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