2016 Top 50 Glaziers

U.S. glazing companies grow, while managing backlogs and a continuing labor shortage

601 Massachusetts Ave.

A striking 10-story point-supported glass wall fronts the new office building at 601 Massachusetts Ave. in the heart of Washington, D.C. Harmon Inc. served as the installer, and W&W Glass LLC was the system supplier for the 113-foot-tall point-support atrium wall—the Pilkington Planar system with ½-inch Pilkington Optiwhite low-iron monolithic tempered glass. The wall is supported by stainless steel tension rods and 86-foot wide horizontal painted steel trusses bracing the system at each floor. The architect for the project was Duda Paine Architects, the developer was Boston Properties, and the contractor was Clark Construction. TriPyramid Structures Inc. fabricated the trusses to very tight AESS tolerances, according to W&W Glass officials.

“Some of the unique aspects of the project were the high degree of engineering for the back-up structure by W&W Glass, the fabrication and engineering of the glazing by Pilkington, and the shipping and installation of the massive, one-piece horizontal trusses. The horizontal tube steel trusses provided wind load support for the glass while the stainless steel tension rods transferred dead load of the glass to the top of the system,” according to W&W officials.

In the face of notable challenges, Glass Magazine’s Top 50 Glaziers continued their growth trend in 2015. Seventy-seven percent of Top 50 Glaziers reported an increase in year-over-year sales in 2015, marking the fourth consecutive year that more than two-thirds of Top 50 Glaziers reported gains.

Those gains reflect a continued increase in construction activity, along with the trend toward more glass and glazing inside and outside of the building. However, several Top 50 Glaziers report they struggle to meet demand and manage backlogs, while facing an array of challenges.

“The biggest challenge in 2015 was making sure we did not sell more work than what we could manage,” says Mark Hogan, president of Vision Enclosure Walls Inc. ranked No. 28 on the Top 50 Glaziers list.

“Although growth is certainly desirable for most any company, being able to manage growth's little side effects—larger payroll burdens plus overhead, and generally greater risks assumed from larger contract amounts—became a central focus for us throughout 2015,” says Kathrine Greenberg, administrative manager for No. 29/30 Horizon Glass & Glazing Co. “Our approach to this problem was not just to hire more people, but more highly skilled people, and to invest in products and new approaches that helped improve our efficiency and track our projects more accurately than ever before. By managing our day-to-day workload more effectively, we believe these factors will help lead and sustain our current growth into long-term success down the road.”

The most-cited challenge among Top 50 Glaziers was the shortage of labor—a top concern of Top 50 Glaziers for several years.

“Our biggest challenges in 2015 were sustaining quality of work during growth and training new hires to meet our high expectations,” says Barbara Kotsos, director of marketing and PR for Giroux Glass Inc. ranked No. 18 on the Top 50 Glaziers list.

“Our biggest challenge was finding and training field installers while managing a larger backlog,” says Courtney Little, president of No. 45/46 ACE Glass.

Companies also noted growing complexity in the scope of work for many projects, the additional workload of design-assist projects, and a general compression of construction schedules. “Our biggest challenge in 2015 was trying to keep up with the pace of bidding and design assist proposal being requested,” says Jeff Haber, managing partner at No. 6 W&W Glass LLC.

“Our biggest challenge was meeting schedules, since the owners and [general contractors] want it faster and faster,” adds Mark Gampper, president of No. 44 Denison Glass & Mirror Inc.

Several Top 50 Glaziers also reported concerns over supply. Bill Wilson, president of No. 35 Specified Systems Inc., said one of the company’s greatest challenges in 2015 was coping with “changes in the supply dynamics, [specifically] corporate mergers affecting product availability and forcing relationship changes.”

“Lead times for product have improved on some supply fronts and have increased on others,” adds Bob Massey Jr., CEO for No. 13 Massey's Plate Glass & Aluminum Inc.

Despite those challenges, Top 50 Glaziers as a whole expanded in 2015. North American sales for Top 50 Glaziers topped $3 billion in 2015. This is up 17 percent from $2.59 billion for Top 50 Glaziers in 2014.

Several glaziers announced acquisitions or expansions. Notably, No. 8 Binswanger Glass, acquired Signature Glass of Houston, in September 2015. No. 50 Pike’s Peak and City Glass Cos. opened a Denver location, adding 20 employees. Additionally, Giroux Glass’ Fresno, California, location relocated to a larger office; No. 48 Key Glass LLC announced a 17,000-square-foot addition to its existing office; and No. 40 Wind Ready purchased a new facility in Miami-Dade County that includes 10,000 square feet of office and warehouse space. “The much needed additional space will allow us to accommodate additional full-time estimating, engineering and sales staff,” says Dan Sandoval, principal at Wind Ready.

The following Top 50 Glaziers annual report presents an in-depth look at the U.S. contract glazing market, including:

The List

The Market

Supplier Solutions

Katy Devlin is editor for Glass Magazine. E-mail Katy at kdevlin@glass.org.