The 2017 Top Glass Fabricators

Top glass fabricators face growing pains as demand increases
Bethany Stough
February 27, 2017
COMMERCIAL, RETAIL, FABRICATION : TOP GLASS FABRICATORS

One word defines the current state of North American glass fabrication: growing. The vast majority of Glass Magazine’s 2017 Top Glass Fabricators reported impressive growth both in terms of sales and assets during the previous year.

Eighty-nine percent of this year’s Top Glass Fabricators reported an increase in sales year-over-year in 2016, and 85 percent reported adding capacity. Whether it’s investing in new equipment, increasing capabilities and product lines, expanding or adding fabrication plants, improving manufacturing processes, or hiring additional personnel, North American glass fabricators are growing rapidly to meet increasing demand.

“Our biggest challenge in 2016 was meeting demand,” says Joe Carlos, director of sales and marketing at Triview Industries. “There is an abundance of work available, and we look for projects that fit our profile and schedule.”

The opportunity of good growth, however, is not without its hurdles. Top Glass Fabricators’ biggest challenge in 2016 was finding enough quality workers to fill growing employment needs, followed by capacity planning in order to meet demand.

“Finding qualified employees [is our biggest challenge.] We are doing more with less,” says Robert Krause, purchasing manager at Paragon Tempered Glass. Many glass fabricators are, as nearly 40 percent of responding companies reported that finding enough workers to fill needed employment openings was their biggest challenge in 2016.

While lack of experience has been a problem in the past, many Top Glass Fabricators say it’s been a challenge finding any high-quality workers, with or without experience. “It has been a challenge to find talented employees at all levels, including warehouse and office,” says Marianna Villate, marketing manager for GGI.

Companies are spending time and money developing the right people to fill all types of employment needs. “We hire for fit and train our employees for skill. This has led to a more harmonious working relationship,” says Alison Smith, marketing manager for AGNORA.

As Top Glass Fabricators push to meet increasing customer demand, they are adding new equipment, more space and additional capabilities in order to reduce lead times, meet unrelenting project timelines and offer in-demand products (see The Market on pages 34-38).

“In 2016, Tempco acquired adjacent industrial space and expanded the production facility from 20,000 to 45,000 square feet,” says Tiffany Wan, sales manager, Tempco Glass Fabrication. “This provides the company with space for additional equipment to satisfy demand.”

“We installed a new custom laminating line capable of handling heat-treated glass plies, which will reduce lead times for railings, canopies and soft coated low-emissivity laminated insulating glass units,” says John Dwyer, president, Syracuse Glass Co.

To be successful, increasing capacity takes planning. “Our biggest challenges [in 2016] were recruiting, implementing new lean processes, and determining how to best allocate capacity across our product lines,” says Chris Mammen, CEO, M3 Glass Technologies.

Beyond additional space and equipment to satisfy schedule demands, Top Glass Fabricators overwhelmingly are investing in machinery and developing capabilities specifically to offer value-added products.

Viracon expanded its oversize glass capabilities to support glass sizes up to 130 inches by 236 inches. SIGCO is now manufacturing laminated glass with polyvinyl butyral and SentryGlas. Glassfab Tempering Services added heat soak capabilities to complement its insulating and laminated glass products. AGNORA upgraded its tempering furnace and acquired an Intermac 9000 to extend its oversized glass capabilities by 300 inches.

About the list

The Top Glass Fabricators list—based on annual sales volume—is accompanied by market statistics and notable projects from a selection of Top Glass Fabricators. Glass fabricators include those companies that have stand-alone fabrication plants in the United States or Canada that service our industry. An exception to this rule is Tecnoglass. Although the Tecnoglass’ manufacturing facility is located in Barranquilla, Colombia, its significant U.S. presence earned it a spot on the list. The list does not include float glass manufacturers that also have fabrication capabilities at their locations.

The majority of the information included in the Top Glass Fabricators report comes directly from the fabricators themselves. In cases where a company did not provide information, we gathered sales estimates and other data from industry insiders, business credit resources and the respective companies’ websites. Sales figures for these companies are shown as estimates. Although we provide specific sales data when it’s available, many privately held companies do not release sales figures. As a result, fabricators are listed alphabetically within six sales range categories.

We at Glass Magazine believe the Top Glass Fabricators report reflects leading companies within this industry segment. If your company belongs on the list, or you would like to update the information published here, please contact us. It is only with the cooperation of individual companies that Glass Magazine’s Top Glass Fabricators can reflect the industry as it is today. Questions or comments about this year’s list and requests to be included next year can be sent to Bethany Stough.

Intro
The Market
The List
The Projects

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