Monday, November 30, 2015

In business, the wrong mindset can be costly—affecting a company’s culture, its employees and its bottom line. There are four attitudes of business that should be avoided at all costs.

“We don’t know what we don’t know.”
By my own assessment, this is the most costly attitude in business. When businesses follow this mindset, we see an organization with leaders and employees that simply roll along believing and acting as though they are on top of their game, know all that is needed, and simply do the best they can with their set of circumstances. As a consequence, management loses their desire to search out new and better ways to conduct business. They quit asking questions, and lose their ability to learn more and evolve. They say, “I’ve seen it all!”

The top people of an organization must always ask questions, seek advice and realize that there is always room for improvement. Humility is the foundation of this pursuit.

“Pile on praise; avoid all criticism.”
The late, great Norman Vincent Peale once said, “The problem with people is that they would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” While it’s no fun to be constantly criticized, it’s even worse to be led down the primrose path being told that we’re great and that all is good. Conditioning personnel within an organization to avoid this mindset starts and stops at the very top of the company. Upper management must seek out personal improvement, and make this need known. This sets the precedent for others to follow.

A communication tool that greatly aids in this venture is to demonstrate thanks first and foremost for the things that people do well. By first emphasizing the positive subjects, people are then open to constructive advice as to how they can improve. Make sure to look to the future with constructive advice, and never connect a compliment with a criticism using the word “but.”

For example, avoid saying, “You really did a nice job in solving that problem, but you need to be more consistent in using this approach.” When such a statement is made, the receiving party only hears the criticism. A correct phrasing would be, “You really did a nice job in solving that problem. Keep up with this excellent approach when provided the opportunity.” Also, remember to speak in terms of “we” rather than “you” when sharing advice.

“Don’t rock the boat.”
Throughout my 40-year career, I’ve witnessed companies lose very valuable employees who were great innovators and leaders. These employees left because they were frustrated with their company’s inability to change and improve, or they were terminated because they “didn’t fit in.” In either case, the company lost a great asset and a great opportunity for financial improvement. This was due to an attitude of complacency—of opting to keep the peace by not rocking the boat.

To avoid this costly mindset, management should realize the value of those who push the organization for advancement, and those “pushers” should never give up, while working within the system at hand.

“Avoid expenses, at any cost.”
It continues to amaze me how many people in business fall captive to this mindset. When business leaders limit their expenditures and investments of money, time or effort to the greatest possible extent, their ventures are a total waste.

“The problem is, everyone is an expert on price, but knows the value of nothing,” Warren Buffet once said in an interview. Buffet went on to advise that it’s far more important to concern yourself with what you get than what you pay.

To avoid this mindset, business leaders should be certain of the desired outcome of any potential expense or investment, lock onto achieving it, and then buy it at a fair price. Expenses are a necessity of anything worthwhile.

Carl Tompkins is national flat glass sales manager for Sika Corp., and the author of the book “Winning at Business.” He can be reached at tompkins.carl [at] For more information on product development and innovation, see Tompkins' article, “Lead the Pack in Product Innovation,” set to appear in the May edition of Glass Magazine.

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, November 30, 2015

When I was a kid, I was always curious on how life would be in the year 2000. Would there be flying cars? Would we all be living like the Jetsons? Obviously that did not happen. But this week my futurist tendencies were tweaked again with a great article on what the construction industry could look like in 30 years. It’s a great piece featuring several excellent ideas that could be in place long before 2045. In fact many of the concepts listed are being developed right now, so it’s nice to see that there’s a finish line out there for it. I for one love the robot and lifting technologies. But I also think the reconfigurable rooms has potential. I would, however, be scared to death of the driverless trucks and heavy equipment, as I am not comfortable with anything “driverless” at this point. So check out the piece and dream…


  • For all of my technical experts out there, I have a question for you to look at. This comes from one of my loyal readers, and I just don’t have the knowledge for the insight needed. Here’s the deal:

    I have a question that may be nothing, but with the weather patterns this year water/leaks have become more of an issue than years past. I know the National Weather Service has changed the criteria for severe thunderstorms, but according to the small amount of research I have done wind speeds did NOT change. According to the ASTM E1105 water tests store fronts fail at 60 mph sustained and the weather service criteria for thunderstorms is 58 mph but more and more store fronts are beginning to fail or at least more water is showing up on the interior of buildings and the installs are correct. Has this become an issue everywhere? I am reading that some people within the weather service are wanting to change wind speeds for thunderstorms to 74 mph. My question is… if this does happen how long will it take the industry to react and change their criteria for store front water testing or will the industry go to curtain wall (or pre-glazed/unitized systems) standard to offset what will become a catastrophic failure for our industry with every store front installed?

    If you have some thoughts on this drop me a note or leave it in the comments. Thank you!
  • A lot of forecasting reports have been released in recent weeks. The Architectural Billings Index continues to be solid. The Dodge Momentum Index continues to be mixed. And this week CMD did a 2016 projections webinar with the main takeaway being commercial construction growing in an average range of 5 to 10 percent. So, the positive trends are continuing, though I think we all are looking at the geopolitical landscape with some concern. At least I am.
  • Here’s the latest update on the growth of the North American Contractor Certification (NACC) program. A number of companies have completed the certification and many are now in the queue. This is an extremely important process for our industry and if you are glazing contractor, it is absolutely something you should budget for in 2016, especially with the certification need showing up in more and more specifications…
  • Last this week, I watched a pretty cool documentary recently—“Drunk, Stoned, Brilliant, Dead: The Story of National Lampoon.” It’s a really interesting work, and all I could think of is our current society is so over the top “PC” that a magazine like that would last about 2 seconds before being bludgeoned by social media mobs and so on.

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

Max Perilstein 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
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, November 16, 2015

Before I start, I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to everyone in France, and everyone affected by this awful tragedy. It is incredibly sad and scary. Peace needs to rule in our world…somehow.

A few years ago I started the Industry MVP award here on the blog to recognize people and companies for their efforts and support of the glass and glazing industry. Obviously there are quite a few candidates that deserve credit for what they do, so trying to narrow it down has become quite the challenge. Let’s begin with a reminder of past winners and nominees before we get to the runners up for 2015.


Winner: Tracy Rogers, Quanex

Runners up:

  • Tom Culp
  • Mark Silverberg
  • Ed Zaucha
  • Mic Patterson
  • Oliver Stepe
  • Dr. Helen Sanders
  • Scott Thomsen

Note: All but Scott are still very active and influential in the industry. Scott retired but his legacy thanks to “Battle for the Wall” and great technology lives on.


Winner: C.R. Laurence Co. 

Runners up:

  • John Wheaton
  • Rick Wright
  • Tom O’Malley
  • Bernard Lax

Note: See what happens when you win Industry MVP from me? Your company becomes a part of the biggest deal of the century!

Onto 2015

Today, I will present the runners up for the 2015 MVP, and the winner will be presented on my last scheduled blog of 2015 in mid-December. Nominees were gathered from my knowledge of who’s who, along with several submissions from readers and followers of this blog. I then narrowed the field to five, using the criteria that included some of the following categories:

  • Overall Influence in 2015 on the industry
  • Technology/innovation
  • Industry support
  • My opinion and knowledge of them and what they do. After all it’s my blog and my award right?  

After that I studied the five candidates against each other and then determined the MVP. This is a tough decision. As it was in previous years, all of these people and companies are certainly deserving of this huge honor. And to note, this is all on me, it has nothing to do with Glass Magazine (who graciously runs my blog weekly) or GlassBuild America. They don’t even know who I am picking.

The runners up for 2015 feature two companies and two individual. They are listed in no particular order.

  • Walker Glass. This is a company that is always at every industry event and meeting. And they just don’t attend to attend; they are active, with many of their folks on or leading committees. In addition, they have made great technology advancements. This year, they made a major splash with their heavy push into bird-safe glass. The team there is led by owners Lee Harrison and Ross Christie, who may be the nicest people around. It’s a great mix, nice, hardworking people, who are doing very good things for our world.
  • Garret Henson, Viracon. I think if I mention Garret any more he may take out a PPO on me. So, this will be the last time, at least in 2015. Garret is very deserving, and he cemented his place on this list with his performance at the Glazing Executive Forum in September. He takes very smart approaches to selling, and his massive embrace of communication is something I wish more would do. He’s also built a team around him at Viracon that always impresses and makes our industry look good.
  • Dip-Tech. The other company on the MVP list is this great Israeli organization. Dip-Tech has been very impressive in basically creating a new market from scratch. They have some incredibly engaging people that are always innovating, and always looking to see what else they can do to support the cause. They could have chosen to sit back and soak in their successes, but that has not been the case. Plus they are active and supportive within in the industry in many different forums, and are open to every idea.
  • Kris Vockler, ICD High Performance Coatings. Personally, I consider Kris to be a close friend. She is a fantastic person, and is a part of one of the best families this industry has. Professionally, though, is where this nomination comes from. The time, care, and effort Kris puts in at the trade level via GANA is impressive. Her desire for an overall advancement in the way the industry works is extremely admirable and needed. On the business side, ICD (with lots of credit to Kris’ dad Larry) has been pushing the envelope for years. They could sit back, but don’t, and that’s due to the drive Kris has.

Congratulations to the Industry MVP Runners Up! Thank you for doing what you do for this industry. Next month I’ll recognize the 2015 MVP. And, as a hint, it is an individual this year, not a company. 

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

Max Perilstein 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
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, November 16, 2015

This summer, the National Labor Relations Board significantly expanded risk for companies that subcontract employees to be considered a “joint employer” of its contractors. The risk involves liability for injuries, taxes, contract breaches and other third-party claims. This can affect residential construction constituents who market “installed sales” to the extent that any of the installation is subcontracted.

In its decision involving Browning-Ferris Industries, the NLRB effectively abandoned a 30-plus year interpretation of what constitutes a “joint employer.” The ruling was in favor of a standard that focuses less on whether there is direct control over employees, and more on the economic ability to control employees. The Board believed prior interpretations were “out of step with changing economic circumstances.”

Perhaps coincidentally, in July 2015, the Department of Labor issued a new Administrator’s Interpretation regarding the classification of employees as independent contractors. This interpretation similarly suggested that employment should be determined in a less mechanical fashion with a focus on the “broader concept of economic dependence.”

What emerged is a new “economic dependence” measuring stick that imposes employer liability over non-employees. The implications range from potential collective bargaining exposure as a joint-employer, to serious tax penalties that may arise due to misclassifying employees as independent contractors. This move away from established practices that determine joint-employers and classify employees places business in a position of uncertainty.

Not surprisingly, success in the construction industry includes building continuity with valued, non-employee service providers. It is a given that, within the relationship, “contractors” may have economic dependence on your company, which can be beneficial to all. But now there must be heightened attention to staffing relationships and independent contractors because of the government’s shift in how it will evaluate these classifications.

Outside staffing agreements for services like accounting, manufacturing, or even janitorial work should be evaluated to ensure that the ties and controls between the hiring and staffing companies are managed. Contracts or practices that suggest both companies control essential terms and conditions of employment can risk a determination of joint-employer status.

Moreover, the closer an independent contractor comes to complete dependence on the hiring company for profitability and performance, the less “independence” will be found, making it more likely that he or she could be found to be an employee. Keep an eye on this one.  

Paul R. Gary is the prinicipal of The Gary Law Group, a law firm based in Portland, Oregon, emphasizing legal issues facing manufacturers of windows and doors. He can be reached at 503/227-8424 or

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, November 9, 2015

The Spike app allows for 3-D measurements of objects and spaces using a smartphone. 

A couple of years ago, I stumbled upon a Kickstarter campaign for a smartphone app called Spike that offers 3-D measurement capabilities with laser accuracy. In the Kickstarter video, the app designer asked viewers to “imagine if you could measure absolutely any object just by taking a snapshot on your smart phone. Imagine if those measurements were laser accurate from any angle. … And imagine if you could share all of that data straight from your smart phone.”

I did. But, mostly, I imagined what technologies like Spike and other 3-D measuring tools would mean for the glass industry. What would easy 3-D measurements mean for installers and fabricators as installations become more complex, more customized? What sort of impact would these quick and accurate measurements have on companies as labor becomes a more critical concern, and as time constraints intensify? And, I wondered how long it would take for this type of technology to become a regular tool for some glass companies.

It didn’t take long.

3-D measurement devices have already become critical for AGNORA. “We use a laser scanner and a laser tracker to produce a 3-D map of any space. …This is the way to go in the future,” describes AGNORA’s Louis Moreau.

Just a few years ago, a complex glass staircase installation, for example, would have required the project team to put up plywood just to take necessary measurements, Moreau says. The digital tools “save so much time and are much more accurate,” he says. “Even for wall cladding, the installation goes more easily when you have the correct scanners.”

While many aspects of design, and glass and glazing fabrication are already digitized, the measuring tools bring a new level of digital technology directly to the jobsite. “It’s a digital world. We can scan the space digitally. We send the information to the shop floor digitally. We fabricate the glass using CNC machines, digitally,” says Kevin Nash, marketing, AGNORA.

Digital tools have made complex building, façade and interior designs possible. And, incredible advancements to fabrication software and equipment computerization have made glass processing more efficient. Many of those tools have also opened the door to new and innovative value-added glass products. Now, the glazing contractor community can benefit from digital tools as well, not only at the design level, but also at the jobsite.

The glass industry is part of a digital world at all segments. Imagine the possibilities.

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at
Sunday, November 8, 2015

While I am always looking ahead with a positive approach, I can tell you one thing I am dreading…the 2016 presidential election. This is going to be a wild and probably bizarre ride thanks to more media (with more social and electronic options than ever), and more candidates. And with all of this extra attention will come extra noise and hyperbole. Simply said, it’s going to be a circus. But, this election, like all major ones, has the potential to change the trajectory of the construction and glass world. So, getting to know the candidates is critical—and not only the presidential ones, but your congressional and senatorial choices as well.

On a side note, it has been good that some candidates have already been active in noting their positions with regards to the building industry, so at least that’s not getting lost in the other adventures that come up during events like these.


I have some more lists for you—and you know how much I love them.

  • First, the great folks from published a fascinating list on “Which States Care Most about the Environment.” They used Google trends to develop it, and the study was broken up into several categories. It’s a different way to see who’s interested in the environment and energy savings, and there were certainly some surprises. 
  •  The other list I have for you is something that I think everyone who reads this blog can have an opinion on: “The Worst Freeways in America.” Here are the top 12: 

12. I-95 and I-195 in Providence. I have no experience here.

11. 1-76/Schuylkill in Philly. I assume my pal Ted Bleecker may have an opinion on this.

10. I-376-Parkway East/West in Pittsburgh. Yep. It’s horrendous. I grew up there.

9. I-880 in San Jose.

8- I-80 in San Francisco. I guess the roads in NoCal are NoFun.

7. I-35 in Austin. I never thought it was that bad, but, then again I’m not there a lot.

6. I-635/LBJ Dallas. This is too low. Dallas roads and traffic are brutal.

5. I-70 in Denver. In the Winter it’s like a demolition derby.

4. The 405 in Los Angeles. I have very little experience here, but I am sure my friends in SoCal can vouch for it. Or, is the reputation worse than the reality?

3. 610 Loop in Houston. I think this should flip positions with Dallas.

2. I-10 in New Orleans. I have never been to New Orleans, which is nuts considering there are always shows and events there.

And the worst freeway in the US is …

1. I-66 in Washington DC. This is a very worthy champion! Not a fun road in any way, shape or form!

There is one big omission on this list, however. How are none of the freeways that run through Boston on here?

And, by the way for my Canadian friends, the traffic in Toronto and Vancouver is mind blowingly bad. So, both would be at the top of this list if it included the great country of Canada.

  • The new Apple headquarters continues to get further along in construction, and Forbes this week had an update. So far, so good. And that is one place I will make every effort to get to when done, just to see it all. Thanks to the great twitter feed of @JohnLWheaton1 for the heads up. 
  • Next week I’ll be unveiling some of the names and companies that were nominated for the 2015 Industry MVP. The winner however will not be in that list. I’ll lay that out in December. There are some excellent nominees, as there are certainly a lot of good people and companies in our world right now.

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

Max Perilstein 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

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, November 2, 2015

The annual Dodge Construction Outlook conference was held last week, and for the most part the data is trending positive in the construction world. Overall construction starts are predicted to rise once again, but at a slower rate than the past—6 percent, after gains of 9 percent in 2014, and an estimated 14 percent for 2015. Commercial construction is also being pushed upward with a healthier jump in 2016. The one area to watch is the office category. Dodge is predicting an 11 percent jump, but there’s another analysis that I follow that is not as bullish. Obviously a majority of the audience who read this blog are heavily involved in the office category in one form or another.

The other big take away was that the cycle is looking healthy, meaning there’s still expected growth to happen. We’ve been hearing 2018 and 2019, so this seemingly is another affirmation of those previous predictions. As I think we all know, these forecasts are not guaranteed and have been known to be wildly off, especially during the recession. So everything needs to be taken with a massive grain of salt. Though in the end, I will take these positive notes for sure.


  • One of the other big themes of the Dodge event was the discussion about people and talent. Basically, the ability to hold on to your best people is a major concern and it’s something on the radar at companies all over the globe. It also points to the need to train your folks and grow your bench, because it’s surely tough out there to bring folks in. 
  • Speaking of talent leaving, we as an industry lost a major player to retirement last week. The incredible and iconic Ricky Shaw (Solar Seal, Shaw Glass, CGH) is calling an end to his glass career after more than 40 years of industry-leading moves, especially in regards to equipment and products. I am thrilled for him, even though his loss leaves a hole in the fabric of the Northeast and New England glass and fabrication scene. Enjoy the next phase of your life Rick. You have earned all of the skiing, golf, and whatever other recreational approach you want to do!
  • Now, maybe Rick will become a consultant like the technical wizard Chris Barry did when he retired from Pilkington a while back. I got to visit some with Chris this week and even though he’s not associated with a company, his care and passion for this industry has not waned one bit. He still attends trade meetings, and his activity and insight on our products is absolutely crucial for all of us to respect and understand.
  • There was a good piece from Julie Ruth in the latest Glass Magazine. Her first hand take of a tornado in her community and then the reaction to it (from a business and code approach) makes for a good read. 
  • Last this week, a quick book review. Have you ever read a book and 98 percent of it is awesome and you’re so excited to see how it ends, and then it closes with a thunderous dud? Well that’s the book “Almost- 12 Electric Months Chasing a Silicon Valley Dream.” This book about a start up in Silicon Valley was really mesmerizing, as the author wrote about what can go right and wrong (mostly wrong) with a startup. After spending a ton of time with this story and really being invested, the ending just came up very short in my opinion.  Anyway, if you want a book with 98 percent of an interesting story with dysfunction everywhere, give this one a shot. By the way after a run of business background books and history books, next one up is comedian David Spade’s biography. That surely will be different than what I have been reading!

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


Max Perilstein 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
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, November 2, 2015

As the year winds to a close, I like to step back from the day-to-day at work and take a look at what’s ahead. It’s a welcome change to think towards the future with all the positive momentum building in our industry right now. But, the coming year is not going to be without its challenges. In a season of market growth, where extra time is no longer a commodity, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of setting yourself apart from the competition, in order to keep growing.

So, how do you break through the busyness and differentiate yourself from the company across town to land new customers? Use a mix of tried and true strategies you know will have proven outcomes. Here are a few to keep in mind as you plan for the new year.  

Build relationships, relationships, relationships

In our high-tech, on-demand world, slowing down the pace to network and forge relationships may seem counterproductive. But, taking the time to build connections, whether face-to-face or digital, (I’ll let the New York Times debate which is better here), builds trust. Over time, that trust turns into confidence about the integrity and quality of work your company provides.

As an added benefit, the trust brought about by relationships can positively impact the bottom line. The Construction Industry Institute has long reported that working relationships with greater trust can increase efficiencies and reduce project costs (you can see an overview of the 262 projects they studied in “The Cost-Trust Relationship in the Construction Industry” here). When you think about it, this outcome makes sense. Building industry professionals with a strong, working relationship are more likely to have open and honest conversations, set realistic expectations and adapt and implement changes. These factors can all work together to prevent roadblocks such as re-ordered products, project delays and onsite custom work that costs more in the long term. 

Know what people are saying

We all know how to use positive feedback to fuel growth. It’s what we do with the negative feedback that sets us apart. Take the time to listen when you receive hard feedback, and make adjustments where necessary. By showing architects and supply chain members that you make mid-course adjustments, reevaluate processes and work towards a better outcome, you can help turn unsatisfied customers into lifelong brand advocates. Feedback presents an opportunity for growth that few people take advantage of.   

Provide value below a low bid number

Whether you’re landing a new sale or working with an existing customer, remember that products and price are only the beginning. There are a number of things glazing industry professionals can do to help make architects’ and general contractors’ jobs easier, and in turn help differentiate themselves from the competition.

Consider taking the time to show customers how a product provides value beyond the original design intent, whether it’s life safety or energy efficiency. It can go a long way towards securing specification and improving a firm’s overall project. Informational training sessions can also prove extremely beneficial, particularly if new materials, custom designs or complex codes are involved. Design teams with a good grasp of product limitations, installation timeframes and how the glazing product interfaces with other materials will be able to better meet budget and project deadlines, all of which ultimately affect whether or not they will value working with you in the future.

What other tried and true strategies do you recommend for the coming year? 

Jeff Razwick is the president of Technical Glass Products (TGP), a supplier of fire-rated glass and framing systems, and other specialty architectural glazing. He writes frequently about the design and specification of glazing for institutional and commercial buildings, and is a past chair of the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Fire-Rated Glazing Council (FRGC). Contact him at 800/426-0279.

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.