glassblog

Monday, June 13, 2016

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

Elsewhere…

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 6, 2016

I happened upon a pretty interesting column on brand standards for construction in the hotel industry that also made me think about another trend that is troubling. First, the article on the hotel brand standards brought into play the fact that construction is not one-size-fits-all. A hotel in Phoenix vs. a hotel in Pittsburgh may have the same name and use the same interior looks, but its construction overall has to be different. Unfortunately more and more the hotel industry is dictating everything on the project- from the things that can be duplicated at every site, to the ones that can’t. It is scary because as we all know, the glass industry usually finds itself in the cross hairs of the blame game. But even beyond that, it’s an illogical business model that needs to be changed. 

Meanwhile, it made me think of the other trend that is a worry: selling glass/aluminum direct to the owner of a building. Cutting the knees of the architect and cutting out basically the professionals down the pipeline that will be installing the glazing. In the past it was a foreign entity doing this, but it’s now becoming a domestic play within the traditional industry. The angle here is to get your products locked in by the owner and avoid any questions from anyone else in the chain. I get it, cutting out levels makes the playing field a little easier to traverse, but the value of the insight from those levels are crucial to the success and efficiency of the job. There are other factors in the selling direct angle that I won’t get into here, but those in the industry surely know. Needless to say, I’m not a fan. The structure of the North American industry makes sense on many levels, seeing it circumvented is not something positive to me. Whether or not it’s a short trend or long-term one, that’s up for debate, but it will surely be interesting to see how this goes forward. 

Elsewhere…

  • While catching up on reading this week, I also saw the study done by St. Gobain and Sage on workplace design and productivity. No question that the growth of glass on the interior and upgrades to what products are used on the exterior are coming on the heels of occupant comfort needs. Natural light does matter. Workplace efficiency does grow when it’s a better atmosphere. Bottom line for me is if a trend means more glass, sign me up.
  • I was out and about this week and saw PPG sample boxes at one office. Not sure if these are new or old, but I loved the look and design. As someone who from time to time has to lug sample about, this design really makes it nicer. Props to the team at PPG on it.
  • Congrats to old friend Dan Plotnick on his new job at PGT Industries. Dan is a very talented guy and after a couple of past stints on the other side of the world he returns to America in a sales director role for PGT. Glad to have him back in the USA!
  • Last this week, thank you to the throngs of folks who signed up for the Glazing Executives Forum already. The event is going to be excellent and very important for educational and networking growth. I am also jealous of all that can attend because of my functions working at GlassBuild America I can only pop my head in and out of the GEF sessions. To learn more and sign up, please click here!

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, May 30, 2016

Blogging is a great way to share what I’m thinking. In this blog post I take the liberty to make a few (just the edge of my brain) observations and express opinions about projects, trends, issues, codes, and futures in regards to glass, glazing, cladding, enclosures, façade’s, building envelope systems, etc. Call them what you will, let’s get right to it.

 

1. Projects rarely, if ever, start on time (how about never). Everyone MEANS WELL. It just doesn’t happen. I wish I had a dollar every time I’ve heard, “And the curtain wall contract is going to be released by….”Yawn….snore….What’s that you said?

Most importantly, the “install” date never changes. The cladding must be installed by such-and-such date and the building completely enclosed. I get that. It’s the owner’s building. There are covenants and move-in dates. But never mind that bauxite can’t be mined and processed into extruded aluminum in two weeks, and glass can’t be shipped in three.After waiting eight weeks after design-assist to get approved die and profile drawings, going through endless design iterations, and being on the receiving end of delays in returned shop drawings, it’s impossible. 

By the way, if you can do the shop drawings in 12 weeks with three people, doesn’t that mean you can do them in one and a half weeks with 24 people? Doesn’t it work that way? Just add more resources!

2. “V-E” (Value Engineering) is too often a euphemism for “cheap.” Lots of emphasis typically on “V” and not “E.” It’s supposed to be an ROI decision, not “who or what is the cheapest.” It’s supposed to be about maximum “bang for the buck.”

3. Right now I see a gap in the release and cadence of large monumental projects. There are many new projects being bid. They are also delayed in being released. At least that’s my observation. Plus, glazing subcontractor clients now have more choices after absorbing initial market demand increase a few years ago. They are being more specific about the jobs they are pursuing. Owners are taking their time making decisions and selecting teams; drilling through costs; vetting the process.

4. Design-assist is a terrific methodology for executing curtain wall and exterior façade projects. In fact I think EVERY curtain wall project should be a design-assist project. EVERY SINGLE ONE. I’d love to debate on this issue.

The problem with design-assist is that there are as many definitions as there are shades of gray in Cleveland, Ohio. Unless everyone is on the same page contractually and with methodology (use the buzz phrase “in alignment”), it can be a nightmare. Reality: Only a prescriptive definition and scope of work—accepted by all, defined from top to bottom—creates a clear and manageable path for success. Otherwise there’s lots of tension.

5. The supply chain (products and services) in façade projects can be complicated to manage. It shouldn’t be, and doesn’t HAVE to be, but you’ve got that pesky problem that we aren’t working with a repetitive, fixed product. A building product changes every time. Designs change. Building sites change. Teams change. No two jobs are alike. Many decision makers and influencer’s in the supply chain can influence the process or send it in a different direction.

Communication is one key to effective supply chain and project management, but most of us do a poor job at it. Most enterprises (B2B) are even worse. How about we just send ONE MORE EMAIL? Maybe that will fix the problem. Communicating well is a differentiator.

Online platforms for collaboration like Slack, One Note, and others will change (are changing) the face of project communication.

I am using many platforms all the time to connect and carry on conversations and develop relationships. These include face-to-face meetings; phone calls; email; texting; Twitter DM; Twitter feed; LinkedIn, Web News, Blogging, In-bound marketing, smoke signals, carrier pigeon, billboards, fax. (Ok, I lied about the fax.)

Social media for construction and engineering firms is a giant desert. A dry, parched ground waiting for moisture. I hope the glass and glazing industry, and those who support it, “get with it.” If not, then those in the space and dominating social media streams and relevant feeds will continue to expand and be recognized as the experts. And why not? Firms and people that are the most engaged are those that express the most desire and passion to make a difference, to connect, to communicate their brand. Be Social or be irrelevant.

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 jwheaton@wheatonsprague.com 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, May 30, 2016

Last week I took my daughter on a college campus tour at Michigan State University. In the middle of campus, a building absolutely stuck out and took all of my attention. The structure was the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, and while I had read about it over the years and seen a picture or two, it did not shake me until I saw it up close. The late, great Zaha Hadid designed the building and calling it iconic may be an understatement. The first thing that stuck me of course was the glass. The curtain wall was unique and breathtaking. And then inside the oversized all-glass doors with what looked like ¾-inch glass stopped me in my tracks. Just the way this project utilized glass and how perfect it all looked had me completely blown away. 

So when I got back home after the tour I made sure to try and find out more and I had thought that Guardian was involved in some form or fashion. Sure enough after a note to Chris Dolan, he not only confirmed that Guardian was involved but also shared a great video that showed exactly how deep the involvement went. All I can say is the glass makeup alone--a quad-pane IG--featuring low-E, Argon and silkscreen made me glad I was seeing this after the fact and not worrying about producing it! Anyway, the video is only about three minutes long, and if you are glass geek, it is absolutely well worth the watch. 

Side note: My conduct during this part of the tour had our guide a bit worried. I was studying every piece of glass up close, going to my knees trying to look at logos etc. My daughter just shook her head; it’s not the first time she’s seen me go gaga on a glass and glazing project. Oh, and side note No. 2: Despite this amazing building, Michigan State did NOT crack my daughter's top three for colleges, much to the chagrin of her mother and I who would love to have her only two hours from home instead of the current long trip choices she’s considering. Obviously she hasn’t learned yet that great glass is always a big part of every decision!

Elsewhere…

  • Last week I noted that I would have more on the latest Architectural Billings Index report. At the end of the report, the AIA included some comments from firms, and I wanted to share a few of them here because I think what the architects are going through absolutely mirrors our industry:

We are in a position to turn away work that does not fit our schedule/staffing. The downside is that we having a hard time hiring competent new employees.—80-person firm in the Midwest, institutional specialization

First quarter was a roller coaster ride of work and no work. Hopefully moving forward the hills and valleys will lessen.—6-person firm in the South, commercial/industrial specialization

Labor shortage is killing us. Firms are cannibalizing each other’s staff. The way you combat this is by making the firm a great place to work.—125-person firm in the West, institutional specialization

So workforce is an issue along with crazy and inconsistent performance in the 1Q. While the economic side is seemingly leveling out, the labor shortage is a massive worry. I am surprised because with all of the downsizing architectural firms did during the downturn, I would’ve thought a labor shortage would not be one of their issues. I also wonder if it’s not so much of a labor need but rather the desire to do more with less and not grow like they did previously. Anyway, I found it interesting that there’s certainly similarities between our world and the world of design.

  • Previously I had written about the closing of Spectrum Glass. Now the government is pushing down on another player in the colored glass world and they’re trying to fight back. Click here for more info. This continues to be a story to watch on many fronts. It obviously is affecting business, and that will have a trickle down for sure. But what about the environment? That is surely a concern, too. When I shared this with a friend this week, she replied: does the need for something outweigh what is safe? It’s surely something that is not an easy call for anyone. My heart goes out to the folks in business caught in the middle of this, and hopefully something can work out for all in the end! 
  • Last this week, please note that I did pick the San Jose Sharks to win the Stanley Cup here on the blog back in April. OK, now it’s time for my normal jinx to arrive….Please.

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Philadelphia hosted the 2016 AIA Convention, May 19-21. The event included hundreds of exhibitors over 170,000 square feet of booth, gallery and lounge space. Glass Magazine stopped by the show to visit the numerous glass and glazing companies on hand at the event. Companies from across the industry continue to push the envelope of performance, aesthetics and technology.

Check out a photo gallery from the show floor, or catch up on even more news from the event in the @GlassMag twitter feed.

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

Sunday, May 22, 2016

My time at AIA was very limited, so I didn’t come close to seeing everything and everyone I wanted. But I feel like I was there long enough to make some observations. The buzz was positive, exhibitors seemed happy though the inconsistent flow of architects, which is an AIA staple, was still happening. Philadelphia did attract a lot of Northeast architects, and I talked with one from Boston who hadn’t been to an AIA event in years. I have a feeling he was not the exception this year.

The overall design of the exhibits was fantastic. There is no doubt that budgets really swelled this year, as there were some excellent booths. Which ones really caught my eye? Viracon had a massive display showing their future oversize capabilities. The way they positioned it in their space, just drew people to it. Pleotint with a great video wall in a bright and open display was strong, and kudos to Guardian who made subtle but very smart and effective upgrades to their standard show booth. I also really liked GGI’s as well; they had so much glass showing, and there seemingly was a decorative style for any taste.

Other trends at play were the Division 10 offerings and traditional residential window people pushing new products for the commercial space. There was a lot to see but unfortunately my time just did not allow it. And speaking of time, why the AIA chose to close the show at four o'clock instead of five is baffling to me. I know I could’ve used the extra hour. 
I assume that the keynote of Julia Louis Dreyfus was fine, but no one spoke of it to me. It surely did not have an impact like past speakers. Still a head-scratching call.

So once the show ended and the lights were quickly shut off, I had a little time before heading out to the airport. So being in Philly, I looked up where “Rocky’s Steps” were. I am a huge Rocky guy. My son is as well. So I had to make the pilgrimage. Luckily I was joined by the best-dressed guy in North America, Danik Dancause of Walker Glass (outfit: Amazing blue suit & bow tie). So Danik and I walked the almost two miles, through the maze of Philly road and sidewalk construction and roundabouts to make it to the famous Philadelphia Museum of Art. It was surely something to see, and yes I did make sure to get a picture next to the classic Rocky statue. No time to run the steps though, plus in my current crummy shape that was a heart attack waiting to happen.

Elsewhere…

  • The latest Architectural Billings Index was released this week and it is still in positive territory. The interesting nugget from this report was that the “New Design Contracts” category jumped to its highest rating since last summer. There were other pieces I want to get to on this and I’ll hit on them on my next post.
  • Last this week, just a heads up for a great website for technical and educational resources. Check out www.Glassdocs.com and see that it is a treasure trove of information. The latest addition “All About Glass and Metal” is geared towards Architects and Specifiers, and it’s a strong piece that I am sure many will find helpful.

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

In my years in the glass and window business I have found too often that many sales people and even more, sales teams, are ill-prepared for sales.  Too many sales people believe being on friendly terms with their sales prospects and customers will win the deal or get more business, that buying donuts or lunch will make all the difference. Many sales people cringe with accountability and reporting, and grumble about using Customer Relationship Management software.

If you’re a business owner, ask yourself if this would ever be acceptable for manufacturing, engineering, finance or any other operation. So why sales?

Sales is arguably the most important group in your business and yet, way too often I see that it is the most under-prepared. Forecast and scheduling are a best guess scenario; real growth is by chance. 

So how do you rectify the situation? If you come down too hard, you will have a full-on revolt; if you don’t let people know you’re serious, they will regress. Well I suggest you take baby steps and instead of a full-blown restructuring, you choose the couple of items that you can implement that will have an impact. Then as time goes on, you can build upon it and over time transform your organization.

First things first, does your sales team try to see every potential customer in a given area, or do they focus their efforts on the ideal customer for your business? Are they looking for work that fits with your strengths as a company?  And are they trying to sell products you don’t have or don’t do well just so they can win a sale? 

I suggest you make a list of all the services or products you produce, then organize it by priority by which ones fit your production or service profile the best. If you have a very long list, maybe you should consider a consolidation or a purge of products/services that don’t fit well. This will add capacity for the products and services that do.

After you have done this, meet with your team and brainstorm. Get laser focused on growing the part of your business that you do best and that fits your business the best. The sales team may have to spend more time calling on select customers and less time calling on others. But you need to be insistent that this is the requirement.

Your sales team will gain confidence selling something they know you do well. Your production flow and efficiencies will increase, your cost of goods sold will go down, and your profitability will go up.  Most of all, your customers will be happier and more satisfied as you deliver a valuable service.  

Chad Simkins is vice president of Pleotint and vice president of sales for Thompson IG. He can be reached at csimkins@pleotint.com. 

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

Monday, May 16, 2016

This week many from the commercial side of our industry will be together in Philadelphia for the AIA show. This show always fascinates me because it’s like a modified version of speed dating. The architects only have limited time to hit the floor because of the education courses, so when they do start visiting exhibits, the urgency to pull them in is strong. That setup makes it a challenging show for exhibitors and anyone else who is working it. Regardless, many go because of the potential overall networking (suppliers, customers, consultants, etc.), which is as big as getting lucky finding an architect legitimately interested in you or your product. It will be interesting to see how busy it is. With a good location population wise, and better dates than in the past, it could be a good one. We’ll see.

Some other AIA related nuggets… 

  • The keynote speaker was supposed to be actor Kevin Spacey. He then had to postpone and they grabbed actress Julie Louis Dreyfus to replace him. And while I am a fan of their work, I’m still baffled on how either person makes sense as a keynote at an architectural conference. That whole setup smacks of the desire to just bring in a fun big name instead of something actually meaningful to the industry. Maybe GlassBuild can get Louis CK?  Or Chris Rock? And yes, I know BEC each year has a celebrity athlete as a speaker, but it’s never the main keynote and for the most part their messages are inspirational, so there is value there.
  • The email blast game with regards to AIA is the most prominent I have ever seen. I have gotten more emails from exhibitors at the show, promoting their exhibit and products than ever before. That is where the medium is truly effective, having a purpose to match to. Now I will be curious on what the post-show flow will look like.

Elsewhere…

  • Speaking of shows, GlassBuild America registration is now open. You can take care of that here. Early-bird rates end at the end of this month. You know you are going, and you know you have to be at the Glazing Executives Forum, so sign up now and save a few bucks.
  • Got depressing news this week that Spectrum Glass is closing its doors. It will wrap up business in the next few months and they’ll be a pretty large hole in the specialty art glass side of the industry. The push from the EPA with regards to air regulations is something that is a big factor for this industry segment and it obviously played a role here. I met the team at Spectrum once years ago. Tremendously nice people and I feel for them, their employees, and customers.
  • Excellent article here on why the need for retrofit is so crucial for energy efficiency performance in North America. I have always been on this train--that we are doing a solid job with new construction, but it’s the older buildings that need the push to upgrade. This story helps push that point.
  • And last this week, a very well put together article on the fact our world is certainly changing. It brings up a lot of the issues in one place such as China, Data Streaming, Artificial Intelligence, Logistics, OPEC and Sustainability. A lot of main issues all pulled together in one place for a serious thought piece.

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance Insulating Glass Fabricators’ Workshop at the Intertek Testing Facility in Plano, Texas, last week was eye-opening for me, as a newbie to the glass and glazing industry. I never realized how dynamic and full of life insulating glass units are, or how many things can go wrong to reduce their effectiveness! After a half day learning the basics of frost point testing, volatile fog testing, desiccant requirements, sealants, and proper cutting and care of the glass, we spent a whole day exploring each of these concepts. 

Take a photo gallery tour of my hands-on experience at the IGMA Workshop...

Read more about the event...

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