Survey reveals benchmarks

NGA members respond to sales, employment, business environment questions
By David Walker
December 1, 2007


The recently completed 2007 NGA Competitiveness Survey provides a broad view of business practices and performances across the membership of the National Glass Association, McLean, Va. Survey findings, based on responses from 88 NGA members, reveal a wealth of benchmarks that can help all members steer their firms toward more profitable, productive years. Among this year’s top-line findings are:

Sales: Not surprisingly, member sales are driven by firms providing architectural and automotive glass. The architectural side collectively accounts for an average 50.7 percent of member sales with a median 30 percent. Among contract glazers, an average 79.7 percent of sales derive from architectural glass with a median 70 percent. In addition, the majority of member sales derive from private work with a median 95 percent and average 84.3 percent, rather than public contracts with a median 5 percent and average 15.7 percent.

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Averages will sum to 100 percent, medians might not; a median of 0 percent means that half or more of the members reported 0 percent sales.

Employment:  NGA members project employment to rise from 2006 through 2008 by 33 percent based on median annual figures, and by 8 percent based on average annual figures. The wide disparity between median and average figures—e.g., median 17.5 employees and average 227.1 employees in 2007—indicates that a handful of members are employing a significantly higher number of workers than the typical NGA member.

The majority of NGA member workforces are field labor/installers with a median 58.6 percent and average 50.9 percent, followed by managers/supervisors with a median 10 percent and average 13 percent, administrative with a median 10 percent and average 10.7 percent, sales with a median 5 percent and average 8.2 percent, and production/operators with a median 4 percent and average 13 percent.

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Business environment:  Seventy percent of NGA members express concern that energy/fuel costs will threaten their profitability in the coming year; 54 percent cite finding skilled labor; and 54 percent cite insurance costs as threat to profitability. The perceived impact of business factors is closely related to type of business; for example, 75 percent or three-fourths of manufacturers cited the health of the economy as the top concern; among contract glazers, 71 percent cited finding skilled labor as the top concern; and energy/fuel cost concerns were paramount among 83 percent dealers/retailers.

Seventy-two percent or nearly three-fourths of members raised prices in the past year; 31 percent increased prices by more than 5 percent; 15 percent lowered prices last year; and 13 percent kept pricing in check.

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In the coming issues, look for more detailed information about these three topics as well as analyses of costs, operations practices and performances.

The author is vice president of Association Services, National Glass Association, 703/442-4890, ext. 153,