glassblog

Sunday, October 20, 2013

When it comes to construction forecasts, I have been all over the board with my personal predictions for the future. And this makes me exactly like the experts who are actually paid to make those predictions. This past week, three major experts got together for the Reed Construction Data webinar, 2014 Outlook: Emerging Opportunities for Construction, and I am now as conflicted and frustrated as ever. The main issue I have is the constant “kick the can down the road” forecast, saying, “just wait, such and such a year will be great!” A year ago the predictions pointed to 2013 being good, especially the second half. Now this past week, one of the major experts kicked that can down the road again, and said he hopes nonresidential will improve “later this year, and do even better in 2014 and 2015.” That comment just eats at me, and shows that this is an inexact science. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen.

What we do know is many areas are busy, and many companies are doing the best they have done since the recession hit. Bidding activity is strong as well. But getting clarity from the experts, and accurately reading tea leaves is just not something that we can expect. By the way, the experts were, overall, confident that we are growing in most sectors (though education looks ugly), and the trends are heading in the right direction. I guess we will see.

Elsewhere…

  • Now that the shutdown is over or delayed until the fight starts again in 2014, maybe the focus can move to the other issues that seriously complicate our world. Then again, Washington is so dysfunctional, that will never happen. And to those of you dealing with the new health care act, I feel your pain. My health plan was cancelled (so much for “if you like your plan you can keep it”), pushing me into a whole new world that, so far, has not be easy to navigate. More on this as it plays out. 
  • Greenbuild, the show that just boggles my mind with massive hypocrisy, is coming in about a month. Who’s going? Philly in late November… should be special. Attendance, though, should be good given where the show is, and the bizarre hype the show gets. 
  • I’ve been playing with an idea to have my own award of MVP of the flat glass industry for 2013, to recognize someone who has made an impact on our world, whether it’s with technology, codes, companies, growth, charity, etc. I have a few people in mind, and will be laying them out in the coming weeks, and naming the winner at the end of the year. I may even spring for a glass trophy for the winner. If you have someone in mind that deserves recognition, drop me an email.  
  • Last this week … We continue to wish for a speedy recovery of Tim Moore and his daughter, and thoughts go out to my brother Steve who underwent a serious neck and spine procedure this past week. Surgery was smooth, but recovery has been very rough. Get well quick bro. We need you back out there doing all you do! 

Read on for links and video of the week.

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at 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 14, 2013

On the dos and don’ts checklist, it pays to remember your company’s fleet, even if a fleet of one, is a moving, multi-ton business card. 

I was reminded of this the other night as I spotted this fine specimen parked—legally, no less—on the street. Clean, informative, big numbers and type designed to be read on the move. I was impressed enough to scan the QR code and look at the company’s web site. Checkmark another “do” done right; easy to navigate on my phone. I’ve been thinking about a built-in cabinet at home, and this company made the right impression. I will call to get a quote.

I walked up another two blocks and there it was; the DON’T Truck. Also white, but that’s where the comparison ends. It was dirty and its signage was handwritten in magic marker, no less.
  
I felt a twinge of chagrin because unlike the DO truck, the DON’T truck is of the glass industry. In fact, the crew was installing a new glass storefront, and maybe not surprisingly, they were as unimpressive as the truck. A couple of them were lounging on ladders, one was smoking, all were wearing grubby sweatshirts, no company logo in sight, no gloves, no lifting belts. On the plus side, they did have the area roped off, which was good because there was broken glass on the sidewalk.

Now it’s true, I don’t have a storefront project in mind, and maybe the GC and the store owner are slobs, too. Maybe they needed and got the job priced cheap. 
 
But the fact remains: I was not impressed. In today’s instant gratification/expectation world, impressions—be they in person, on your website or on your truck—will drive business to or away from you faster than ever.

The author is publisher of Glass Magazine. Write her at nharris@glass.org.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Being that it was a quiet week in the industry, I decided to use this post to talk about the pink… the pink that is dominating this month thanks to breast cancer awareness efforts. On the whole I think its amazing and exciting how this effort has taken off, pink dominates so much of society during this month that it’s really mind blowing. But is it too much? Is it becoming too much fashion and not enough focus on the needs to actually cure the disease? I sincerely wonder if some of the folks going so all in on this would be better off donating cold hard cash to research and a cure instead of these advertising efforts. Specifically the worst aggressor of this is pro football, where even the referees are throwing pink colored penalty flags. To me their effort is complete overkill. When money is being spent on items like that, I believe it’s a waste. Instead of making pink football socks and pink mouth pieces—items that most of the general public would not probably buy—why not donate direct to the cause. Awareness of this specific disease is surely high, especially this month, but is the money being funneled to the right places for the right usage?

Obviously all forms of cancer need to be cured. All need awareness. And surely all could use the amount of money that is being spent on pink hand towels for million dollar football players to use for four weeks. I just think it was a great idea that now has gone way overboard and the end user is probably not getting the maximum amount of charity when all is said and done.

Oh and the NFL, if you don’t wear pink you get in trouble, like Brandon Marshall of the Bears, fined almost $6,000 for wearing green shoes last week to raise awareness during mental health month. Sad when the league chooses one forum over another.

Elsewhere…

  • I received word late yesterday that Tim Moore of Standard Bent Glass was in a pretty bad auto wreck. According to news reports, his car was hit from behind by a person fleeing from the police driving at more than 100 miles per hour. Tim and his daughter Rachel are hospitalized with some very serious injuries. Anyone who has ever worked with Tim knows he is an amazingly good man. My thoughts and prayers go out to him and Rachel, and I sincerely hope this can be a speedy and full recovery. I will update this as we find out more.
  • Welcome to the newest blogger for our industry, Bethany Stough. Her first effort was excellent, and after spending time with her at AIA and GlassBuild America, she is proving to be a quick study and someone who gets the personality of our industry.
  • Bethany's blog on marketing was solid, and it drove me to think on one thing with regards to marketing—follow up. Good old-fashioned stuff, like following through on leads, mining your data, determining if your promotion or advertising worked. Things like that have largely disappeared. This usually leads to people saying that their marketing effort "didn’t work," which makes me laugh since many don’t take enough time to research it to see if it actually did.
  • Great to see my old friend Joe Carlos of Triview Glass in the Glass Magazine “G3” section this month. The question was a good one too with regards to codes and the challenge their companies face. The fascinating thing about the subject of codes is that these days, it encompasses so much and can take so many different directions. It surely has become a much larger player in our world compared to a decade ago.
  • Last this week… does anyone read the LinkedIn message boards anymore? I'm just curious, because the last handful of months those boards have been just a mess, and its depressing. There used to be some good conversations going but now its either massive spam or people pleading to sell their product, no matter who is looking.

Read on for links and video of the week.

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at 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 7, 2013

I attended my first GlassBuild America this year. Other than home and garden shows (do those count?), I don’t have much trade show experience, so I had no idea what I was in for. On the GlassBuild America show floor, I quickly learned that this was a serious business environment. Instead of wandering the halls hearing talk of remodeling the basement and adding a deck, I heard about new business transactions and product developments. I learned a lot and had a great experience getting to know industry people.

By far, though, my favorite thing about the show was getting to see relationships in action. I saw first-hand that the glass industry works hard to build relationships and maintain them every chance they can. I spoke with business owners and company representatives who were downright excited to meet customers and other suppliers they had been in communication with over the year. Stories were shared. Contacts were made. Friendships were fostered. Business was done. And after seeing how business truly is built on relationships in the glass industry, I was not at all surprised that in the “Guerilla Marketing for the Glass & Metal Industry” seminar at GlassBuild, Rich Porayko emphasized building relationships over any other effective marketing tactic. 

Porayko, founding partner of Construction Creative, recommended seminar attendees get to know their audience and build a tribe—customers, voters, employees, anyone you’re trying to reach, as Seth Godin explains in his book, Tribes. To best market to your audience, think about holidays and time zones when trying to promote your business and products. Think about other events pulling the same audience. Handle customer complaints and problems by respecting e-mail marketing lists and publically addressing customer feedback on Facebook, which means playing an active role in the marketing efforts of your company, Porayko advised.

Seeing totes, pens, beer cozies and the like swarming the GlassBuild America show floor was a good indication that business people take marketing seriously. But for me, it was the conversations, the open ears, the hugs and friendly handshakes that proved it. I'm happy to say I'm now a member of the glass industry "tribe."

Stough is editorial assistant for Glass Magazine, GlassMagazine.com and e-glass weekly. Write her at bstough@glass.org.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The cover story in the latest Glass Magazine is a must read. It focuses on how our industry can make a massive difference with products now and in the future-in the crucial area of occupant comfort. We talk all the time about what our role in the building world is, and how sometimes we are taken for granted or not appreciated. Well, without question, our products play a major role in this equation. Read Katy Devlin’s piece here, as she interviewed some of the best minds in our industry and in the architecture world to get a flavor for this entire development.

Elsewhere....

  • The latest version of LEED launches in November, and once again it will be interesting if the changes made will end up being positive. As people who read my stuff on a weekly basis know, I am not a fan of LEED or the USGBC. But I will keep an open mind.  For those of you who want to know what you are up against with the new version, here is a great piece on it.
  • The government shutdown is surely stirring many emotions, and I have tons of opinions on it. But for now my concern is on the economy, and I am truly curious to see what the end effect will be. Sequestration hampered some segments of our industry. Will this shutdown do massive damage, or will it be spotty? 
  • Tough story of the week, University of Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill suffered his 5th seizure either before or during a game this week. My heart just breaks for this man who worked his entire life climbing the coaching ladder, landing at a great school and then having this health issue that is obviously un-predictable and untreatable. Here’s hoping that he can keep battling through these while also continuing to raise awareness of epilepsy and its effects.
  • I saw that AGC and Heliatek signed a development deal recently, and I will be watching how that progresses closely. Heliatek makes organic photovoltaics, and that is product I know extremely well. I will be very curious to see if this can get over the goal line.
  • The next big glass show kicks off in a couple weeks in Italy with Vitrum. I will not be there, because me flying overseas would probably set off many international incidents. In any case, I know plenty of folks going and will get some reports from the floor. I will be waiting to see what new products may be making their debut there, as well as what the vibe is towards the market and its improvement over the last few months.
  • Last this week… the weather… gotta say it has been unbelievable this fall, at least everywhere I have been. This makes me think we are in for a miserable winter...and the Farmers Almanac backs me on that. So, enjoy it now folks…

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

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at 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, September 30, 2013

Top of mind for the glass industry: finding and keeping skilled labor. Glass Magazine highlighted the topic in “Glaziers Wanted,” published in September, and led the conversation at the Glazing Executives Forum in Atlanta.

The glass industry isn’t alone in its struggles to find experienced tradespeople. According to a recent survey from the Associated General Contractors of America, 74 percent of construction firms report having trouble finding qualified workers. “Many construction firms are already having a hard time finding qualified workers and expect construction labor shortages will only get worse,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of the AGC, in a Sept. 4 association release. “We need to take short- and long-term steps to make sure there are enough workers to meet future demand and avoid the costly construction delays that would come with labor shortages.”

A new social networking start-up, Work Hands, is hoping to ease the hiring hardships for firms and workers by being the “LinkedIn for America’s estimated 20 million skilled workers,” according to a Sept. 24 San Francisco Gate article about the site. "We've been contacted by organizations all over the country that struggle to fill these positions, from publicly traded companies, municipal public works departments, economic development organizations and everything in between," said Patrick Cushing, WorkHands' CEO, in the article.

On WorkHands, tradespeople can create a free account that allows users to post work experience, skills, examples of past work, licenses and certifications, and additional job-related information. Employers can use the site to “hire and recruit according to their needs,” Cushing said in the SF Gate article.

It looks like the site is initially focused on the San Francisco region. However, recent activities indicate WorkHands is busy building membership throughout the West Coast and in Texas. Check out the company’s Twitter and Facebook for more updates.

What do you think? Could WorkHands work for the glass industry?

Devlin is senior editor for Glass Magazine. Write her at kdevlin@glass.org.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Each month the Architectural Billings Index comes out and I usually make a quick comment or two on it. It’s been a tremendous struggle for me to trust the numbers, because forecasting in our industry is pretty much a disaster. If you look at the various professional predictions over the last few years they have come up wrong, significantly wrong in some cases, so my confidence in relying on these efforts is not strong. So that said, when this month’s ABI was released I was very excited but also wary because I just don’t want to get let down again. The numbers coming from the ABI are showing that we are trending out of the malaise and challenged economy we have all been dealing with in some form or fashion over the last few years. Combine that with an incredibly positive trade show performance at GlassBuild America as well as expanding employment numbers and we just may be on the right path again.

Elsewhere…

  • Props to AAMA for putting together a first class fall conference coming up later in October, specifically the scheduling of Dr. Karma Sawyer of the DOE to deliver the keynote speech. I had the honor of meeting Dr. Sawyer once and she is sharp, focused, and professional. I believe she has the ability to really benefit our industry and our world as a whole. And those who know me know that I am a huge believer in “karma” so it’s only natural I would be a fan of a person with that name.
  • Nice work by Guardian on their joint white paper with the University of Michigan on the benefits of glass and daylighting. Once again Chris Dolan and his team come through with a meaningful and significant effort. Papers like that are crucial to our industry.
  • A favor to ask… Former NGA VP David Walker is doing amazing things in his new life as CEO of the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes’ charity. Recently he was nominated for a “Rare Life” honor in which his story and others are told, and the public votes for a winner. What David is doing is significant and a win in this contest would bring tremendous benefit to the organization he now runs. So please click the link, read about David and click to vote. Thank you.
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates made the playoffs in baseball. Been a long time coming for sure… first time since 1992.  My World Series picks though are Oakland out of the AL and the Dodgers from the NL with LA winning it all. That pitching in LA will be hard to beat. Oh and if you missed Mariano Rivera’s last Yankee Stadium appearance, it’s my video of the week and it’s beautiful.
  • And while we’re talking sports… the NHL drops the puck formally this week, too. My call for the finals there: Washington and LA with the Kings winning it. Going to be a good year to be an LA fan.
  • Last this week… I noted that I’d be saying goodbye to my beloved Blackberry next spring when my contract is up. Well I may have to move that schedule up since a company I do work for switched their e-mail format to a platform that doesn’t support Blackberry at all. I guess the end really is near…

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

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at 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, September 24, 2013

GlassBuild America provided a fantastic opportunity to catch up with representatives from all segments of the glass and metals industry, from manufacturers, to equipment suppliers, to glazing contractors. We were curious to hear what people had to say about the industry, its future, and its recent past, so we asked several people to play a little word association game. Watch what they had to say in this video from the show; although the video quality isn't great (it was shot on the show floor), everyone's responses certainly are. And for more word associations, check out last week's glassblog.

 

Glass Magazine presents "Word Association" with: Rich Walker, AAMA; Mark Decker, Cardinal Shower; Chip Steele, Emmegi USA Inc.; Tim McGee, Glass Coatings and Concepts; and Jeff Swoboda, H.B. Fuller.

Monday, September 23, 2013


How important is energy efficiency to you? Would you pay more for it? If you were a bigwig developer and had a gaggle of new buildings to build, would you spend the extra money to make it the most energy efficient it could be? Those are three questions that have recently been bandied about, and here’s what I think the majority of owners/developers would say:

“Yes, energy efficiency is important to me. If this were a public poll then ‘yes’ I would pay more for it. Confidentially, not a chance. And as for the question of spending extra money, well, I didn’t get to the point of developing buildings by spending ‘extra’ on anything!”

This is our problem: We build the products and push the attributes, but if they cost more, a lot more, it will always be a struggle to get them into applications. We have a society right now that, no matter what it says publicly, will always defer to the bottom line when it comes to financial decisions.

Last week, issues like this were discussed at the GANA Fall Conference, and it was fascinating on several levels. First, one of the leaders of the discussion was an anti-glass industry guy. Unreal. The other fascinating thing was the codes issue. As we have seen with other battles in the code arena, the codes can have a tremendously negative effect on our industry if implemented incorrectly. They also could raise costs even more. Heck, groups like the NFRC account for additional costs now that, in my opinion, do not make sense or pay off. (Go ask a window manufacturer.) So what does this rambling rant mean?

Basically, we have to get past the money proposition by having clear and concise arguments regarding  why the new technology coming from our industry is better and how it works. It is essential that we demonstrate the improved energy modeling, be aggressive with technology and work with every component to ensure the quality of the products we deliver. As an example, people buy expensive cars all the time not because of status (though some do) but because they have a belief system that the expensive car is BETTER, will last longer, and at the end of the day, will be worth the investment. We have to convince owners that our products--the glass, the frame, etc.--offer that kind of value. Building owners will change the carpet every few years, re-paint every few years, tear out interior offices and remodel every few years, but the curtain wall will be there forever, so why not make it the best? Let’s prove it.

Elsewhere…

  • There’s more to say on the above, and in coming weeks, we’ll get to it. And with GlassBuild over, I plan on a few more interviews (with people MUCH smarter than me) to keep this discussion going. It’s an important one; it is a part of our future.
  • One of my past interview subjects and one of the most intelligent people when it comes to talking about our future, Mark Silverberg, had a great link from his Twitter account recently on the top 10 green building practices of 2013. This list was pretty interesting overall and something for everyone to be aware of.
  • Very sad news last week with the passing of Arthur Balik, retired Chairman of GGI. Arthur, along with his brother Al (who passed away last year), were pillars in this industry and were a huge part of building the infrastructure we all work in today. I’d assume Arthur had to be extremely proud of the advancements his company made over the years. My thoughts go out to the Balik family on their loss.

On the lighter side, to end this week…

  • I did see people still using a Blackberry at GlassBuild America. So I am not alone. But come May, I am moving on… very scared…
  • I saw the movie Pain and Gain. It was the re-make of an amazing newspaper series I covered here a while back. And of course Hollywood ruined it. Only Hollywood could take a story that is built for a movie and screw it up.
  • Finished the latest College Football expose by John Bacon called 4th and Long, and it was a decent read. If you are a college football fan, it’s worth looking into. By the way, I see a work stoppage or some sort of major protest coming to college football soon. Some seeds were planted this weekend, and I have a feeling these players who are being exploited badly will start to band together. And yes, that is a story for another time too.

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

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at 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, September 17, 2013

GlassBuild America provided a fantastic opportunity to catch up with representatives from all segments of the glass and metals industry, from manufacturers, to equipment suppliers, to glazing contractors. We were curious to hear what people had to say about the industry, its future, and its recent past, so we asked several people to play a little word association game. Watch what they had to say in this video from the show, and visit glassblog next week for part two of "GlassBuild America Word Association" 

Word Association with: Mike Otis, Double O Supply and Craftsman; Matt Harper, Nu-Vu Glass; Mark Imbrock, EDTM; Chris Dolan, Guardian Industries; and Michael Spellman, IGE Glass Technologies.

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