Sunday, May 8, 2016

Registration for the 11th Annual Glazing Executives Forum opens this week and a quick look at the agenda has me very excited about this must-attend event. The biggest draw for me will be the keynote talk from Ken Simonson, the chief economist with the Associated General Contractors organization. Simonson is one of the most respected voices in the construction forecasting arena and I have been lucky enough to sit in on several webinars featuring him. His insight to the economy and the effect on our industry will be extremely insightful. Also on tap at GEF is George Hedley, also known as the “Construction Business Builder.” I saw him several years ago and he was excellent as well. Obviously as the months go by, I’ll have more insight into GEF, but mark October 19 on your calendar and register to be there. You’re already probably going to GlassBuild America, so make GEF a part of the plan.


  • Just a heads up, the growth of company websites being hacked is heading towards an epidemic range. So get with your IT and web developers and make sure your security is up to speed. I’ve said it before; it makes me crazy that the brightest people in the world use their intelligence for evil. Incredibly frustrating.  
  • We just completed Construction Safety Week and I think the focus by so many was helpful in pushing the message. However, the obvious note is that safety has to be first in line all the time. It’s a mindset, and that needs to be constantly reinforced for the good of all.
  • Just received the latest Glass Magazine and the May issue is strong once again, especially with incredible educational resources and a look into the world of the architect. The highlight for me on that was a tremendous article by Joe Erb of Quanex on building a long-lasting relationship with the design team. Joe is one of the most talented guys in our world and when he’s sharing insight, I am there. Great stuff!
  • The ad of the month was a very tough call. People have raised their game dramatically over the last several months. So unable to pick one, I am giving the nod to my two favorites for May. At the front of the magazine, a very eye-catching ad from Petersen with their PAC-CLAD brand. When you can open a magazine and the ad stops you immediately, you know you did it right. Also props to Guardian for the ad on the back of the issue. It was a very simple and effective ad. Picture and testimonial were placed nicely and I liked the bold tag at top. Good job, though, to all the advertisers this month; really enjoyable approaches.
  • Last this week, Mothers Day is here, and I’d like to pass a Happy one to my Mom. She actually reads this blog every week, even though most of the stuff I write about she has no idea what I am talking about. But that is the motherly thing to do, right? So happy Mothers Day Mom from your eighth favorite kid. I love you. And to all of the other Moms out there, hope you had a great day!


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, May 2, 2016

Laminated glass was patented in 1909 and entered the mass market as a life safety product. In the late 1920s, laminated windshields became a common safety feature for vehicles, saving countless lives. It then became a critical material for building security and protection. Fueled by the terrible destruction from hurricanes during the 1990s, laminated glass became mandatory for structures in storm-prone areas. And it grew into an important safety solution for man-made threats, from simple break-ins to more devastating bomb blasts. The building industry has looked beyond just the safety benefits of laminated glass to aesthetic and acoustic performance as well.

The strength and security of laminated products garnered the attention of architects, as they sought to push the envelope of what’s possible with glass. The last decade has seen exciting developments in everything from point-supported facades to glass stair treads to glass balustrades. Laminated glass is maximizing transparency, while ensuring safety and security. This envelope pushing has also opened the door for more “extreme” glass possibilities. 

About two years ago, I was able to experience the extreme possibility of glass when I visited “The Ledge” in Chicago. I stood 1,353 feet above the ground in an all-glass box cantilevered 4.3 feet from the Willis Tower. It was incredible. I experienced some of the thrill of skydiving, base-jumping or hang gliding (all extreme activities that I will likely never attempt), but with complete confidence in my own safety.

From “The Ledge,” I looked between my feet toward the grid of streets far below, where cars appeared as moving specks of light. My heart raced and my stomach dropped. But, through the adrenaline, the still-rational part of my brain continued to assure me that the three layers of laminated glass under my feet, on all three walls of the box, and above my head, were more than enough protection.

Glass has become a favorite material for these safe, but extreme, applications, such as the Grand Canyon Skywalk, where visitors can stand 70 feet from the rim of the Grand Canyon at the, 2,000 feet in the air. At the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, tourists can walk 4,700 feet above the ground along a 200-foot skywalk that traces a sheer cliff-face of Tianmen Mountain. Starting in June, visitors to the new the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles will be able to pay $8 to slide down the glass enclosed 45-foot Skyslide running from the 70th floor to the 69th floor.

We highlighted several extreme glass applications in the May issue of Glass Magazine, including the impressive Glacier Skywalk in Alberta, Canada, featured on the cover, China’s Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, and Tilt! in Chicago (pp. 38-44). This issue also provided an important look at another type of safety glass, capable of handling extreme situations—fire-rated glass. On page 14, view an updated guide to fire-rated glass codes and standards.  

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at 
Sunday, May 1, 2016

Every year, one or two of the most important events in our industry are held in Las Vegas. (Remember: GlassBuild America-October-Vegas). It’s important because so much of our product is used there, and in a lot of cases, its higher end using more sophisticated materials. With that in mind, I keep tabs on that city and this week I ran into news about discussions happening there to get a light rail system and expand the monorail. If either happens, it could make getting around the area easier and more efficient. Especially the long-promised light rail from the airport to the strip. As someone who has waited in crazy cab lines at the airport, the ability to possibly cut that out would be very welcomed. All of this is still in planning stages, but it bears watching. These changes don’t have a direct effect on our industry, but the more work that happens in Vegas, no matter the style, usually the better for us.


Lots of links with education and insight this week…


  • For those of you who have to use Google to advertise, the changes they recently made are a new challenge to getting the word out. Good rundown over at Window and Door by Welton Hong here. Also check out the poll. I am stunned at the results where half of the respondents do not use Google for advertising. Why stunned? Because the audience of that blog is made up of window folks and while many are manufacturers, many also are dealers. And if you are selling to the public and not in Google, you are missing out. 
  • While you are out reading different links, I suggest checking out the latest from John Wheaton. Really good piece on the back and forth that goes on in getting a customer. All of us have been there--on one side or another--I enjoyed the way John wrote it, made me feel like a fly on the wall in the room as the conversations took place. 
  • Speaking of blogs, when I first read this one from Ron Crowl, I e-mailed to tell him how much I liked it. The takeaway is excellent and I am sure to share this with my kids as well; good life lesson. 
  • I do enjoy PPG’s Glass Education Center. Tremendous resource. I was on the “Top Design Considerations” page and it was a great primer. I especially love that they listed “Safety” first. That is so huge and something we all as an industry have to keep pounding on, in every aspect of the business. Safety has to come first! Anyway, great info overall throughout that site. 
  • Last this week, fantastic read on the architectural design of Prince’s home and headquarters in Minnesota. So not only was Prince a legend from an entertainment standpoint, he also did some cutting edge things from an architectural angle. Also, I have to guess with so many great industry players in the state of Minnesota, someone reading this blog had to have worked on this project. If you did, let me know. I would love to hear your experience. 


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.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Like many college kids, I spent my senior year juggling a heavy course load with a busy interview schedule as I searched for my first full-time job. I scheduled one of the interviews with a large and highly technical government agency on a day that was tightly packed with several classes and was all the way across campus from where I lived. Young and naïve, I was confident I would have plenty of time after my last class to go back to my apartment, change into a suit, and make it back for the interview.

My first piece of bad luck: I was delayed in returning to my apartment and only had a few minutes to change clothes and rush back for the interview. The second piece of bad luck was even more ominous—the only dress shirt that I owned looked like a slept-in-after-a-fraternity-party wrinkled mess.

In typical engineer fashion, I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and devised an ingenious work-around. I found a seldom-used iron in a dusty corner of my closet, plugged in the device my once-hopeful mother must have packed for me four years’ prior, and cleverly ironed only the front of the shirt. Satisfied, I raced across campus ready to take on the world via the United States government.

As I was escorted into the interview, I was feeling pretty self-assured. That lasted until the perfectly groomed government official interviewing me invited me to remove my suit coat because, he said, “that’s the way we work at the agency.” Deflated, I sat for the remaining painful hour of the interview wondering if the wrinkles in the shirt were making the sweat stains under my arms look better or worse.

It goes without saying that I didn’t get the job. Not only did I fail to make the right impression at the beginning of the interview, I lost all confidence once I removed my suit coat.

The takeaway from this experience has remained with me ever since. Being prepared and able to imagine all possible scenarios alleviates the need to cut corners. In business, as in life, preparation and practice go a long way toward building the confidence required to succeed.

Have you ever been caught cutting corners? What did you do, what did it cost, how did you manage and what did you learn? 

Ron Crowl is president and CEO of FeneTech Inc.

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

Monday, April 25, 2016

This past week we had two major construction-related indexes release reports that featured some interesting takeaways. First from the general contractor level, the results were not very rosy and somewhat surprising. The Associated Builders and Contractors Construction Confidence Index is a study/survey that takes six months into account and looks at the business in a few different areas: Sales, Profit Margin and Staffing. In the latest CCI, tracking the last six months of 2015, all three indicators were down. I can see staffing as a challenge, but I have to admit that Sales and Profit being off is a shock. And those of you dealing with GCs each day probably agree. Now the numbers are obviously much better than they were in 2012, but still interesting to see that the end of 2015 was not a major success for this side of the world, at least according to the index.  

Meanwhile the monthly Architectural Billings Index was released and it ticked up again coming in at 51.9. New project inquiries were down slightly, but they are still in a very healthy territory and regionally only the Midwest did not crack the break-even mark of 50, finishing slightly under at 49.8. So overall the ABI continues to be a source of positivity as we keep our eyes glued to 2017. Second quarter usually sees a boost in new project inquiries, so we’ll see if that indicator starts moving that way or not.


  • Environmental Product Declarations is an area I am admittedly weak on. So I have been trying to educate myself and I came across this excellent article that provided solid insight. 
  • If you somehow missed the great blog post by Kris Iverson on last week’s e-glass weekly, here’s the link. Hiring is so incredibly hard; so any additional help is always appreciated.
  • Via Facebook I saw the news on changes at Vos Glass in Western Michigan. Vos is one of those very respected brands and I am a big fan of Linda Vos-Graham who ran the company until now with a new team taking over. I hope Linda is able to stay involved (if she wants) in the industry. Her smarts and perspective were huge parts of events like the Glazing Executives Forum.
  • We are about a month from the next event that many in the industry will participate in one way or another. The 2016 AIA show is in Philadelphia this year and given its location and timing (better in May than in June), I have a feeling it could be very busy. The fact it’s busy is not usually a guarantee for the exhibitors of a good show though since the event is so vast and education is still the priority, but the potential is there. 
  • Last this week, Prince passed away. I’m a fan, have listened to his music for years.  What I did not expect was how many people were HUGE fans and the outpouring of love and respect for him. It was Michael Jackson-like, including wall-to-wall coverage on the cable news channels. Tough run for music superstars with David Bowie and now Prince passing away in such a short time.

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, April 18, 2016

From time to time I hit some personal items on this blog. The start of this post will be one of them, so if you are here for the industry-related scuttlebutt, please skip down to the next section. Otherwise, thank you for hearing me out. Fifteen years ago this past week, my father passed away. He was a great and patient man. An inspiration in that he decided to “bet on himself” and start anew, by breaking away and starting his own glass business in the 70s. Not exactly the greatest economy to do so, but he did and did it well. He recognized the talent of people around him and put them in a position to succeed. Efforts by my brother, sister and many others who were there at the start were huge and the company grew. That team he built, led to more and more over the years as people connected to that original network branched out and now the impact from that foundation is felt throughout the industry today. That makes me proud. I was too young to be in that business at the start, but I consider myself one of the branches of that tree though. I wish he could still be here to see how we all are doing, but that was not meant to be. In any case, I do think about him all the time and miss him dearly. He may be gone, but never forgotten.


  • Nice pub for the industry and SageGlass with a quick Q&A in the New York Times in the Vocations section. 
  • Very interesting article here on a 1,600-year-old glass kiln discovered in Israel. The best part of it for me was that they mention how even back in ancient times there were cost differences for glass based on supplier. The price lists were on stone tablets… amazing. 
  • A great Twitter follow is Glassworks Inc. (@Glassworks_Inc) as there’s usually an excellent article or picture to take in. This past week was no exception with a super link to an article on “Architectural Embellishment,” and that story was spot on. For the architect the question is: you have the freedom to design whatever you want, but should you? 
  • I got the new Glass Magazine this week and kudos again to Katy Devlin and company for a fantastic issue. Tremendous reads cover to cover and the list of top fabricators never disappoints. In addition, the piece on interiors was very informative. A lot more to think about with that application than I think many expect.   And the continuation on “Exit Planning & Succession” series was strong. Good stuff.
  • And in that issue, my “ad of the month” award goes to Dorma. I liked the layout of their piece, very sharp and eye catching. Right amount of text and thumbnails of product really worked here.
  • Last this week, the NHL playoffs kicked off, as did the NBA. So here are my picks in both. Again, apologies to the fan bases I choose, as I am rarely right…  In the NHL I am taking the San Jose Sharks to beat the New York Rangers. Yes, I know picking the Rangers means I am picking against my Penguins…. In the NBA, this year will be amazing to watch. I am excited that my Detroit Pistons are back in the post-season for the first time in years, but they have no chance, unless they convince Guardian’s Chris Dolan to come out of retirement and rain down lots of three pointers on the Cavs. I don't  think LeBron can guard Megatron Dolan. I would love to see the Spurs win because of my friends in San Antonio, the awesome Luna family. But I think it’s the Warriors world and while they will be tested, in the end, I think they pull it off in a finals rematch vs. the Cavs.

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, April 18, 2016

The decorative glass industry has changed a lot in the last 10 years, and so has the employee market, making finding good employees a real challenge. I work for a mid-size, very specialized decorative glass company, and know first-hand the challenges of finding an employee who is both creative and knows something about glass. It’s near impossible. We usually resort to on-the-job training with people who have no prior knowledge, and then just hope it all works out. Being in such a specialized industry makes it hard to find good quality employees that will stay for the long term. Here are the biggest issues we run into regularly:


  • People with industry knowledge are retired or close to retirement (short timers)
  • The majority of the job candidates have no or very little knowledge of glass or the industry
  • Most people do not know the safety standards needed for the job and have no understanding of various detailed processes
  • Most younger applicants want to be part of the cutting-edge, and not part of an older single-product industry.
  • Many shop owners are retiring or selling, making fewer people doing decorative glass, and an even smaller candidate pool.  


Take these challenges in finding good employees and combine it with the fact that not many people can take an idea from concept to completion while understanding and conveying the limits of what can be done on glass, and you have a near impossible situation requiring specific hiring and training tactics. 

Working in the current employment market, it usually takes us up to two years to train one person on all decorative glass processes we have at our shop. Now our business isn’t all that complicated, but it is very detail-orientated and fast-paced. After investing two years into a person, we find that a lot of people can’t handle the stress of quick turnaround times and demanding customers, and usually leave within six to eight months.

So what works for us? Just like our business, finding quality employees who will stick around is an art. One thing we found that works well for us is to train the new employee (for the first two weeks) in all the departments--each for a couple days--to get at least a basic knowledge of what’s going on and how things run. This includes everything from answering calls, working with accounting, bidding out jobs, working production in all areas, shipping, and sometimes even field visits. We require employees to have at least a basic working knowledge of all our machines, equipment, safety standards and processes so that if help is needed somewhere other than their area or someone is out, the others can pick up the slack if needed. By doing this, the employee gains a good knowledge of the overall company and how all jobs fit together to create the best possible product. It also makes them feel as if they are an integral part of the company, not just a number.

Along the same lines, we also have empowered our employee by letting them know that if they see anything wrong in the process that they can stop production to make sure we are safe, doing best practices, or correcting errors or flaws in the process. This goes for any employee on the floor. 

We also try to hold monthly meetings to let the employees know what’s happening with the company and what to expect in the coming months. Communication is a very large part of our business and we want our employees to feel empowered to talk to us about anything that is going on. 

Kris Iverson is marketing and creative director for Moon Shadow Glass Inc., He can be reached 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, April 11, 2016

Glass Magazine is launching its inaugural Reader Photo Contest. The contest is intended to celebrate what’s possible with glass and glazing; to recognize the complexity and aesthetic value of industry products and processes; and to provide a glimpse into the everyday experiences of workers in the glass and glazing community.

Readers are invited to submit photographs that highlight the achievements and advancements seen across all segments of the glass industry, from the factory floor to the jobsite. The winning photos will run in the July issue, coinciding with the prestigious annual Glass Magazine Awards.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, April 29.

A panel of judges—including Glass Magazine editors—will select finalists, and readers will be able to vote on winners on

Read the guidelines for entry and to submit photos.

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at

Monday, April 11, 2016

It’s always a good idea to set goals and form ideas for what’s to come, especially when it comes to social media. Here are some tips for things you can do to set up your, and your company’s, marketing strategy for success.


  1. Make sure your info is up-to-date: Check in on your social media profiles and bios to make sure your information is still current. Ensure your profile and cover images are consistent with each other and your website’s current design. This helps to create a consistent online brand. It’s also not a bad idea to re-read your company’s About Us page to see if anything should be updated based upon recent changes.
  2. Re-assess your goals: Which social media platforms have been performing well? Which ones get less response and interaction? Are those worth staying invested in? If so, how can you increase their performance? These are questions you can ask yourself as you make future plans. And, use stats to back up your decisions. Data never lies.
  3. Schedule content now: Don’t let your social media pages become a dead zone. Even if you won’t be in the office, you can schedule tweets in advance to continue engaging your followers. Find some relevant articles and links now to save yourself a headache later.
  4. Plan your hashtags: If you know what product launches, company events and such are scheduled for the next several months, make hashtags a part of your promotion strategy now. Keep them short and easy to remember. And, make sure they’re not being heavily used already within someone else's online promotion.
  5. Find your evergreen content: Go through the content you posted previously to see what can be recycled. Plus, it’s not a bad idea to see what performed best and, if possible, why. Doing this will provide you with an arsenal of ready-to-go content that you already know gets attention. Just make sure you’re not using it too much and making your followers tired of it.

Hopefully these tips help you plan ahead in order to make the most of your social media efforts.

Read more from the American Architectural Manufacturers Association Socially Speaking blog.

Meryl Williams is the communications coordinator for AAMA. She produces national and regional newsletters, writes editorial content and helps lead AAMA’s social media outreach, including the Socially Speaking blog. She has seven years of professional communications experience in both journalism and public relations. 

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, April 5, 2016

As a Seattleite, one conversation I can always count on having with locals is a discussion of our city’s current housing market. The rebounding economy and local tech boom has shrunk our housing inventory, creating constant buzz about bidding wars, scarce listings and soaring home prices. Sound familiar to anyone? 

These conversations are not only reminiscent of the 2006 real estate bubble, but they’re also starting to reflect what we’re hearing in the glass industry. With 2015’s unexpectedly strong growth in the nonresidential building sectors, talks of bidding wars, a tightening labor market and a looming glass shortage are becoming commonplace. While the suddenly busy market presents very real challenges for an industry with limited resources, it can also help us create more effective, efficient and profitable companies. 

So, how do we all take advantage of this opportunity? Here are my thoughts on five ways to take action.  

  1. Be smart with your resources. As the construction recovery continues to accelerate, many in the glass industry face limited staff and production capabilities. To increase your profit margin, apply your resources smartly to the projects with the best return on investment for the company. While this may require you to say no to projects more often than you’d like, it will help sustain long-term growth. 
  2. Define profitability targets. Revenue means next to nothing if you're not hitting your profitability targets. While big projects may be attractive and boost your ego, it’s important to determine whether they make the best use of your company’s resources. We can all recall the glass companies with giant revenues that failed during the downturn. Let’s learn from their mistakes. Be smart and selective, and make sure you understand what is profitable for your company. Remember, long-term business strength is about the bottom line—not the top line.
  3. Prioritize your company’s value. If your sales staff or company is approaching project bids in 2016 largely the same way they did in 2011 when a construction recovery seemed like a pipe dream, you’re not doing your job. Look for projects where your expertise, products and relationships provide lasting value. Yes, this takes time and effort, but the resulting work partnerships are worth it.
  4. Don’t compromise. Even in busy seasons, the saying “adapt or die” holds true. Just make sure you don’t lose sight of your integrity as you adjust to the new normal. Are there ways you can win jobs without undervaluing your services? Is there a more effective way to compete on price without jeopardizing product quality? 
  5. Consider morale. It’s easy to think about company morale when business is down. Motivating employees or colleagues to keep their heads up and work hard is part of what makes positive gains possible when construction is slow. It has an equally important role when business picks up. Recognizing and rewarding accomplishments can go a long way towards boosting employee morale and productivity when team members are balancing multiple projects with demanding schedules. 

Whatever steps you end up taking towards growth as the construction recovery continues, don’t underestimate the value of what we’ve learned as an industry in the last decade.  As Jeff Dietrich, senior analyst for ITR Economics, once said, “The world rebooted in 2008 for many industries, but did not die. Many are coming out stronger, wiser and more profitable than before. It can be done.” Let’s continue to prove that we are stronger, wiser and more profitable in 2016 by pushing our respective crafts outside the presumed limits of our field. 

Jeff Razwick is the president of Technical Glass Products, 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 Fire-Rated Glazing Council. He can be reached 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. 

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