2015 Top Glass Fabricators - The Market

As sales levels climb, Top Glass Fabricators gear up for challenges ahead
Bethany Stough
February 9, 2015

Top Glass Fabricator respondents were asked to compare 2012 and 2013 sales, as well as 2013 and estimated 2014 sales. The majority of respondents reported sales were and will be higher year-over-year in both categories.

For the second consecutive year, fabricators reported that the decorative glass segment offered the most growth potential. Architects and designers increasingly demand all-glass, jumbo and custom glass for their projects, driving the decorative market, companies report. Energy-efficient glass products followed close behind in terms of growth for 2015.

** including office partitions, custom laminated glass, all-glass heavy shower enclosures, jumbo/oversized glass

Fabrication machinery, equipment and handling equipment/trucks continue to top fabricators’ lists of capital acquisition plans, as they did in last year’s report. To meet increasing demand, fabricators are looking to increase production, with 78 percent of responding Top Glass Fabricators preparing to acquire new machinery and equipment, compared to last year’s 65 percent.

The vast majority of respondents to the Top Glass Fabricators survey plan to add new products and product lines in the coming year. An additional 25 percent expect to add locations, and 20 percent plan to make acquisitions. This is a large increase from last year’s survey, when 16 percent planned additional locations and 12 percent planned to make acquisitions.

05A. While there is evidence that the construction industry as a whole is experiencing labor shortages, the glass fabrication industry is split on this issue. Many sources say retention is not the issue, but rather finding a workforce that offers the necessary basic skills and interest level to be an asset to the industry.

05B. Skilled positions, whether it’s machine operators and factory workers, or engineers and estimators, are by far the most difficult to fill for glass fabricators. Many Top Glass Fabricators also reported having difficulty finding and recruiting truck drivers, particularly those willing to do long haul and overnight shifts. Read more about the industry’s labor and transportation challenges.

The overwhelming majority of Top Glass Fabricator survey respondents are either already seeing a float glass shortage, or expect one is coming. For more information on this and other challenges for the glass industry, see Growing Pains.

*Respondents were asked to check all that apply.

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