Monday, May 30, 2016

Blogging is a great way to share what I’m thinking. In this blog post I take the liberty to make a few (just the edge of my brain) observations and express opinions about projects, trends, issues, codes, and futures in regards to glass, glazing, cladding, enclosures, façade’s, building envelope systems, etc. Call them what you will, let’s get right to it.


1. Projects rarely, if ever, start on time (how about never). Everyone MEANS WELL. It just doesn’t happen. I wish I had a dollar every time I’ve heard, “And the curtain wall contract is going to be released by….”Yawn….snore….What’s that you said?

Most importantly, the “install” date never changes. The cladding must be installed by such-and-such date and the building completely enclosed. I get that. It’s the owner’s building. There are covenants and move-in dates. But never mind that bauxite can’t be mined and processed into extruded aluminum in two weeks, and glass can’t be shipped in three.After waiting eight weeks after design-assist to get approved die and profile drawings, going through endless design iterations, and being on the receiving end of delays in returned shop drawings, it’s impossible. 

By the way, if you can do the shop drawings in 12 weeks with three people, doesn’t that mean you can do them in one and a half weeks with 24 people? Doesn’t it work that way? Just add more resources!

2. “V-E” (Value Engineering) is too often a euphemism for “cheap.” Lots of emphasis typically on “V” and not “E.” It’s supposed to be an ROI decision, not “who or what is the cheapest.” It’s supposed to be about maximum “bang for the buck.”

3. Right now I see a gap in the release and cadence of large monumental projects. There are many new projects being bid. They are also delayed in being released. At least that’s my observation. Plus, glazing subcontractor clients now have more choices after absorbing initial market demand increase a few years ago. They are being more specific about the jobs they are pursuing. Owners are taking their time making decisions and selecting teams; drilling through costs; vetting the process.

4. Design-assist is a terrific methodology for executing curtain wall and exterior façade projects. In fact I think EVERY curtain wall project should be a design-assist project. EVERY SINGLE ONE. I’d love to debate on this issue.

The problem with design-assist is that there are as many definitions as there are shades of gray in Cleveland, Ohio. Unless everyone is on the same page contractually and with methodology (use the buzz phrase “in alignment”), it can be a nightmare. Reality: Only a prescriptive definition and scope of work—accepted by all, defined from top to bottom—creates a clear and manageable path for success. Otherwise there’s lots of tension.

5. The supply chain (products and services) in façade projects can be complicated to manage. It shouldn’t be, and doesn’t HAVE to be, but you’ve got that pesky problem that we aren’t working with a repetitive, fixed product. A building product changes every time. Designs change. Building sites change. Teams change. No two jobs are alike. Many decision makers and influencer’s in the supply chain can influence the process or send it in a different direction.

Communication is one key to effective supply chain and project management, but most of us do a poor job at it. Most enterprises (B2B) are even worse. How about we just send ONE MORE EMAIL? Maybe that will fix the problem. Communicating well is a differentiator.

Online platforms for collaboration like Slack, One Note, and others will change (are changing) the face of project communication.

I am using many platforms all the time to connect and carry on conversations and develop relationships. These include face-to-face meetings; phone calls; email; texting; Twitter DM; Twitter feed; LinkedIn, Web News, Blogging, In-bound marketing, smoke signals, carrier pigeon, billboards, fax. (Ok, I lied about the fax.)

Social media for construction and engineering firms is a giant desert. A dry, parched ground waiting for moisture. I hope the glass and glazing industry, and those who support it, “get with it.” If not, then those in the space and dominating social media streams and relevant feeds will continue to expand and be recognized as the experts. And why not? Firms and people that are the most engaged are those that express the most desire and passion to make a difference, to connect, to communicate their brand. Be Social or be irrelevant.

John Wheaton is the founder & co-owner of Wheaton & Sprague Engineering, Inc., also known as Wheaton Sprague Building Envelope. The firm provides full service design, engineering and consulting services for the curtain wall/building envelope/building enclosure industry, and works at “Creating Structure” for clients. He can be reached at and on Twitter, @JohnLWheaton1. 

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, May 30, 2016

Last week I took my daughter on a college campus tour at Michigan State University. In the middle of campus, a building absolutely stuck out and took all of my attention. The structure was the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, and while I had read about it over the years and seen a picture or two, it did not shake me until I saw it up close. The late, great Zaha Hadid designed the building and calling it iconic may be an understatement. The first thing that stuck me of course was the glass. The curtain wall was unique and breathtaking. And then inside the oversized all-glass doors with what looked like ¾-inch glass stopped me in my tracks. Just the way this project utilized glass and how perfect it all looked had me completely blown away. 

So when I got back home after the tour I made sure to try and find out more and I had thought that Guardian was involved in some form or fashion. Sure enough after a note to Chris Dolan, he not only confirmed that Guardian was involved but also shared a great video that showed exactly how deep the involvement went. All I can say is the glass makeup alone--a quad-pane IG--featuring low-E, Argon and silkscreen made me glad I was seeing this after the fact and not worrying about producing it! Anyway, the video is only about three minutes long, and if you are glass geek, it is absolutely well worth the watch. 

Side note: My conduct during this part of the tour had our guide a bit worried. I was studying every piece of glass up close, going to my knees trying to look at logos etc. My daughter just shook her head; it’s not the first time she’s seen me go gaga on a glass and glazing project. Oh, and side note No. 2: Despite this amazing building, Michigan State did NOT crack my daughter's top three for colleges, much to the chagrin of her mother and I who would love to have her only two hours from home instead of the current long trip choices she’s considering. Obviously she hasn’t learned yet that great glass is always a big part of every decision!


  • Last week I noted that I would have more on the latest Architectural Billings Index report. At the end of the report, the AIA included some comments from firms, and I wanted to share a few of them here because I think what the architects are going through absolutely mirrors our industry:

We are in a position to turn away work that does not fit our schedule/staffing. The downside is that we having a hard time hiring competent new employees.—80-person firm in the Midwest, institutional specialization

First quarter was a roller coaster ride of work and no work. Hopefully moving forward the hills and valleys will lessen.—6-person firm in the South, commercial/industrial specialization

Labor shortage is killing us. Firms are cannibalizing each other’s staff. The way you combat this is by making the firm a great place to work.—125-person firm in the West, institutional specialization

So workforce is an issue along with crazy and inconsistent performance in the 1Q. While the economic side is seemingly leveling out, the labor shortage is a massive worry. I am surprised because with all of the downsizing architectural firms did during the downturn, I would’ve thought a labor shortage would not be one of their issues. I also wonder if it’s not so much of a labor need but rather the desire to do more with less and not grow like they did previously. Anyway, I found it interesting that there’s certainly similarities between our world and the world of design.

  • Previously I had written about the closing of Spectrum Glass. Now the government is pushing down on another player in the colored glass world and they’re trying to fight back. Click here for more info. This continues to be a story to watch on many fronts. It obviously is affecting business, and that will have a trickle down for sure. But what about the environment? That is surely a concern, too. When I shared this with a friend this week, she replied: does the need for something outweigh what is safe? It’s surely something that is not an easy call for anyone. My heart goes out to the folks in business caught in the middle of this, and hopefully something can work out for all in the end! 
  • Last this week, please note that I did pick the San Jose Sharks to win the Stanley Cup here on the blog back in April. OK, now it’s time for my normal jinx to arrive….Please.

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.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Philadelphia hosted the 2016 AIA Convention, May 19-21. The event included hundreds of exhibitors over 170,000 square feet of booth, gallery and lounge space. Glass Magazine stopped by the show to visit the numerous glass and glazing companies on hand at the event. Companies from across the industry continue to push the envelope of performance, aesthetics and technology.

Check out a photo gallery from the show floor, or catch up on even more news from the event in the @GlassMag twitter feed.

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

My time at AIA was very limited, so I didn’t come close to seeing everything and everyone I wanted. But I feel like I was there long enough to make some observations. The buzz was positive, exhibitors seemed happy though the inconsistent flow of architects, which is an AIA staple, was still happening. Philadelphia did attract a lot of Northeast architects, and I talked with one from Boston who hadn’t been to an AIA event in years. I have a feeling he was not the exception this year.

The overall design of the exhibits was fantastic. There is no doubt that budgets really swelled this year, as there were some excellent booths. Which ones really caught my eye? Viracon had a massive display showing their future oversize capabilities. The way they positioned it in their space, just drew people to it. Pleotint with a great video wall in a bright and open display was strong, and kudos to Guardian who made subtle but very smart and effective upgrades to their standard show booth. I also really liked GGI’s as well; they had so much glass showing, and there seemingly was a decorative style for any taste.

Other trends at play were the Division 10 offerings and traditional residential window people pushing new products for the commercial space. There was a lot to see but unfortunately my time just did not allow it. And speaking of time, why the AIA chose to close the show at four o'clock instead of five is baffling to me. I know I could’ve used the extra hour. 
I assume that the keynote of Julia Louis Dreyfus was fine, but no one spoke of it to me. It surely did not have an impact like past speakers. Still a head-scratching call.

So once the show ended and the lights were quickly shut off, I had a little time before heading out to the airport. So being in Philly, I looked up where “Rocky’s Steps” were. I am a huge Rocky guy. My son is as well. So I had to make the pilgrimage. Luckily I was joined by the best-dressed guy in North America, Danik Dancause of Walker Glass (outfit: Amazing blue suit & bow tie). So Danik and I walked the almost two miles, through the maze of Philly road and sidewalk construction and roundabouts to make it to the famous Philadelphia Museum of Art. It was surely something to see, and yes I did make sure to get a picture next to the classic Rocky statue. No time to run the steps though, plus in my current crummy shape that was a heart attack waiting to happen.


  • The latest Architectural Billings Index was released this week and it is still in positive territory. The interesting nugget from this report was that the “New Design Contracts” category jumped to its highest rating since last summer. There were other pieces I want to get to on this and I’ll hit on them on my next post.
  • Last this week, just a heads up for a great website for technical and educational resources. Check out and see that it is a treasure trove of information. The latest addition “All About Glass and Metal” is geared towards Architects and Specifiers, and it’s a strong piece that I am sure many will find helpful.

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

In my years in the glass and window business I have found too often that many sales people and even more, sales teams, are ill-prepared for sales.  Too many sales people believe being on friendly terms with their sales prospects and customers will win the deal or get more business, that buying donuts or lunch will make all the difference. Many sales people cringe with accountability and reporting, and grumble about using Customer Relationship Management software.

If you’re a business owner, ask yourself if this would ever be acceptable for manufacturing, engineering, finance or any other operation. So why sales?

Sales is arguably the most important group in your business and yet, way too often I see that it is the most under-prepared. Forecast and scheduling are a best guess scenario; real growth is by chance. 

So how do you rectify the situation? If you come down too hard, you will have a full-on revolt; if you don’t let people know you’re serious, they will regress. Well I suggest you take baby steps and instead of a full-blown restructuring, you choose the couple of items that you can implement that will have an impact. Then as time goes on, you can build upon it and over time transform your organization.

First things first, does your sales team try to see every potential customer in a given area, or do they focus their efforts on the ideal customer for your business? Are they looking for work that fits with your strengths as a company?  And are they trying to sell products you don’t have or don’t do well just so they can win a sale? 

I suggest you make a list of all the services or products you produce, then organize it by priority by which ones fit your production or service profile the best. If you have a very long list, maybe you should consider a consolidation or a purge of products/services that don’t fit well. This will add capacity for the products and services that do.

After you have done this, meet with your team and brainstorm. Get laser focused on growing the part of your business that you do best and that fits your business the best. The sales team may have to spend more time calling on select customers and less time calling on others. But you need to be insistent that this is the requirement.

Your sales team will gain confidence selling something they know you do well. Your production flow and efficiencies will increase, your cost of goods sold will go down, and your profitability will go up.  Most of all, your customers will be happier and more satisfied as you deliver a valuable service.  

Chad Simkins is vice president of Pleotint and vice president of sales for Thompson IG. He can be reached 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, May 16, 2016

This week many from the commercial side of our industry will be together in Philadelphia for the AIA show. This show always fascinates me because it’s like a modified version of speed dating. The architects only have limited time to hit the floor because of the education courses, so when they do start visiting exhibits, the urgency to pull them in is strong. That setup makes it a challenging show for exhibitors and anyone else who is working it. Regardless, many go because of the potential overall networking (suppliers, customers, consultants, etc.), which is as big as getting lucky finding an architect legitimately interested in you or your product. It will be interesting to see how busy it is. With a good location population wise, and better dates than in the past, it could be a good one. We’ll see.

Some other AIA related nuggets… 

  • The keynote speaker was supposed to be actor Kevin Spacey. He then had to postpone and they grabbed actress Julie Louis Dreyfus to replace him. And while I am a fan of their work, I’m still baffled on how either person makes sense as a keynote at an architectural conference. That whole setup smacks of the desire to just bring in a fun big name instead of something actually meaningful to the industry. Maybe GlassBuild can get Louis CK?  Or Chris Rock? And yes, I know BEC each year has a celebrity athlete as a speaker, but it’s never the main keynote and for the most part their messages are inspirational, so there is value there.
  • The email blast game with regards to AIA is the most prominent I have ever seen. I have gotten more emails from exhibitors at the show, promoting their exhibit and products than ever before. That is where the medium is truly effective, having a purpose to match to. Now I will be curious on what the post-show flow will look like.


  • Speaking of shows, GlassBuild America registration is now open. You can take care of that here. Early-bird rates end at the end of this month. You know you are going, and you know you have to be at the Glazing Executives Forum, so sign up now and save a few bucks.
  • Got depressing news this week that Spectrum Glass is closing its doors. It will wrap up business in the next few months and they’ll be a pretty large hole in the specialty art glass side of the industry. The push from the EPA with regards to air regulations is something that is a big factor for this industry segment and it obviously played a role here. I met the team at Spectrum once years ago. Tremendously nice people and I feel for them, their employees, and customers.
  • Excellent article here on why the need for retrofit is so crucial for energy efficiency performance in North America. I have always been on this train--that we are doing a solid job with new construction, but it’s the older buildings that need the push to upgrade. This story helps push that point.
  • And last this week, a very well put together article on the fact our world is certainly changing. It brings up a lot of the issues in one place such as China, Data Streaming, Artificial Intelligence, Logistics, OPEC and Sustainability. A lot of main issues all pulled together in one place for a serious thought piece.

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.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance Insulating Glass Fabricators’ Workshop at the Intertek Testing Facility in Plano, Texas, last week was eye-opening for me, as a newbie to the glass and glazing industry. I never realized how dynamic and full of life insulating glass units are, or how many things can go wrong to reduce their effectiveness! After a half day learning the basics of frost point testing, volatile fog testing, desiccant requirements, sealants, and proper cutting and care of the glass, we spent a whole day exploring each of these concepts. 

Take a photo gallery tour of my hands-on experience at the IGMA Workshop...

Read more about the event...

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Registration for the 11th Annual Glazing Executives Forum opens this week and a quick look at the agenda has me very excited about this must-attend event. The biggest draw for me will be the keynote talk from Ken Simonson, the chief economist with the Associated General Contractors organization. Simonson is one of the most respected voices in the construction forecasting arena and I have been lucky enough to sit in on several webinars featuring him. His insight to the economy and the effect on our industry will be extremely insightful. Also on tap at GEF is George Hedley, also known as the “Construction Business Builder.” I saw him several years ago and he was excellent as well. Obviously as the months go by, I’ll have more insight into GEF, but mark October 19 on your calendar and register to be there. You’re already probably going to GlassBuild America, so make GEF a part of the plan.


  • Just a heads up, the growth of company websites being hacked is heading towards an epidemic range. So get with your IT and web developers and make sure your security is up to speed. I’ve said it before; it makes me crazy that the brightest people in the world use their intelligence for evil. Incredibly frustrating.  
  • We just completed Construction Safety Week and I think the focus by so many was helpful in pushing the message. However, the obvious note is that safety has to be first in line all the time. It’s a mindset, and that needs to be constantly reinforced for the good of all.
  • Just received the latest Glass Magazine and the May issue is strong once again, especially with incredible educational resources and a look into the world of the architect. The highlight for me on that was a tremendous article by Joe Erb of Quanex on building a long-lasting relationship with the design team. Joe is one of the most talented guys in our world and when he’s sharing insight, I am there. Great stuff!
  • The ad of the month was a very tough call. People have raised their game dramatically over the last several months. So unable to pick one, I am giving the nod to my two favorites for May. At the front of the magazine, a very eye-catching ad from Petersen with their PAC-CLAD brand. When you can open a magazine and the ad stops you immediately, you know you did it right. Also props to Guardian for the ad on the back of the issue. It was a very simple and effective ad. Picture and testimonial were placed nicely and I liked the bold tag at top. Good job, though, to all the advertisers this month; really enjoyable approaches.
  • Last this week, Mothers Day is here, and I’d like to pass a Happy one to my Mom. She actually reads this blog every week, even though most of the stuff I write about she has no idea what I am talking about. But that is the motherly thing to do, right? So happy Mothers Day Mom from your eighth favorite kid. I love you. And to all of the other Moms out there, hope you had a great day!


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, May 2, 2016

Laminated glass was patented in 1909 and entered the mass market as a life safety product. In the late 1920s, laminated windshields became a common safety feature for vehicles, saving countless lives. It then became a critical material for building security and protection. Fueled by the terrible destruction from hurricanes during the 1990s, laminated glass became mandatory for structures in storm-prone areas. And it grew into an important safety solution for man-made threats, from simple break-ins to more devastating bomb blasts. The building industry has looked beyond just the safety benefits of laminated glass to aesthetic and acoustic performance as well.

The strength and security of laminated products garnered the attention of architects, as they sought to push the envelope of what’s possible with glass. The last decade has seen exciting developments in everything from point-supported facades to glass stair treads to glass balustrades. Laminated glass is maximizing transparency, while ensuring safety and security. This envelope pushing has also opened the door for more “extreme” glass possibilities. 

About two years ago, I was able to experience the extreme possibility of glass when I visited “The Ledge” in Chicago. I stood 1,353 feet above the ground in an all-glass box cantilevered 4.3 feet from the Willis Tower. It was incredible. I experienced some of the thrill of skydiving, base-jumping or hang gliding (all extreme activities that I will likely never attempt), but with complete confidence in my own safety.

From “The Ledge,” I looked between my feet toward the grid of streets far below, where cars appeared as moving specks of light. My heart raced and my stomach dropped. But, through the adrenaline, the still-rational part of my brain continued to assure me that the three layers of laminated glass under my feet, on all three walls of the box, and above my head, were more than enough protection.

Glass has become a favorite material for these safe, but extreme, applications, such as the Grand Canyon Skywalk, where visitors can stand 70 feet from the rim of the Grand Canyon at the, 2,000 feet in the air. At the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, tourists can walk 4,700 feet above the ground along a 200-foot skywalk that traces a sheer cliff-face of Tianmen Mountain. Starting in June, visitors to the new the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles will be able to pay $8 to slide down the glass enclosed 45-foot Skyslide running from the 70th floor to the 69th floor.

We highlighted several extreme glass applications in the May issue of Glass Magazine, including the impressive Glacier Skywalk in Alberta, Canada, featured on the cover, China’s Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, and Tilt! in Chicago (pp. 38-44). This issue also provided an important look at another type of safety glass, capable of handling extreme situations—fire-rated glass. On page 14, view an updated guide to fire-rated glass codes and standards.  

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at 
Sunday, May 1, 2016

Every year, one or two of the most important events in our industry are held in Las Vegas. (Remember: GlassBuild America-October-Vegas). It’s important because so much of our product is used there, and in a lot of cases, its higher end using more sophisticated materials. With that in mind, I keep tabs on that city and this week I ran into news about discussions happening there to get a light rail system and expand the monorail. If either happens, it could make getting around the area easier and more efficient. Especially the long-promised light rail from the airport to the strip. As someone who has waited in crazy cab lines at the airport, the ability to possibly cut that out would be very welcomed. All of this is still in planning stages, but it bears watching. These changes don’t have a direct effect on our industry, but the more work that happens in Vegas, no matter the style, usually the better for us.


Lots of links with education and insight this week…


  • For those of you who have to use Google to advertise, the changes they recently made are a new challenge to getting the word out. Good rundown over at Window and Door by Welton Hong here. Also check out the poll. I am stunned at the results where half of the respondents do not use Google for advertising. Why stunned? Because the audience of that blog is made up of window folks and while many are manufacturers, many also are dealers. And if you are selling to the public and not in Google, you are missing out. 
  • While you are out reading different links, I suggest checking out the latest from John Wheaton. Really good piece on the back and forth that goes on in getting a customer. All of us have been there--on one side or another--I enjoyed the way John wrote it, made me feel like a fly on the wall in the room as the conversations took place. 
  • Speaking of blogs, when I first read this one from Ron Crowl, I e-mailed to tell him how much I liked it. The takeaway is excellent and I am sure to share this with my kids as well; good life lesson. 
  • I do enjoy PPG’s Glass Education Center. Tremendous resource. I was on the “Top Design Considerations” page and it was a great primer. I especially love that they listed “Safety” first. That is so huge and something we all as an industry have to keep pounding on, in every aspect of the business. Safety has to come first! Anyway, great info overall throughout that site. 
  • Last this week, fantastic read on the architectural design of Prince’s home and headquarters in Minnesota. So not only was Prince a legend from an entertainment standpoint, he also did some cutting edge things from an architectural angle. Also, I have to guess with so many great industry players in the state of Minnesota, someone reading this blog had to have worked on this project. If you did, let me know. I would love to hear your experience. 


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.