glassblog

Monday, February 27, 2017

Many of us can relate to the recent Citi commercial where the homeowner asks his contractor how much longer their building project will take to complete. The contractor starts in on a longwinded, complicated answer. The camera then pans to the homeowner who says, “I’ll nod in agreement so my wife thinks I understand what you’re saying.”

Two people speaking different languages—it’s a communication problem we’ve all encountered. And, in the glass industry, it’s a problem that’s growing increasingly common.

In the aggressive push to ensure glass’ place on and in buildings, product offerings have become more complex. Glass is available in larger sizes, has exceptional solar and insulating capabilities and more advanced coatings. It can be bent, have more holes drilled in it, serve as a display screen and be installed in a wide range of fenestration systems. Even code-driven products, like fire-rated glazing, can offer similar performance benefits while meeting stringent fire and life safety criteria.

The challenge facing the glazing industry is how to translate these innovations into clear design speak and project plans. For example, the performance data that sets a product apart from its competition won’t show an architect how they’ve landed on a solution that achieves both their desired aesthetic and project goals. Industry speak also won’t show a contractor how the incremental cost increase of an enhanced product is worth the added safety, energy savings and simplified maintenance. And, the bottom line is that what customers don’t understand, they don’t buy.

So, how can we make sure we are speaking the same language as our customers? One of the first steps is to take the time to listen.

Your customers may not be an expert in your business, but they’re an expert in their own. Whether they’re an architect, contractor or building owner, they have a way of talking about their business, design goals, services and needs. Find out how they describe their products, refer to competitors and prefer to deliver value. Go to their industry events and learn what challenges they are talking about. Join LinkedIn groups relevant to their business and monitor their conversations. Or, read about common issues in industry publications and blogs.

As you spend time engaging with and learning about your customers, they will teach you how to speak their language. You’ll identify how to approach problems from their perspective and adapt your communication plan. This will make it easier for you to talk about who your company is and what your product does—in your customers’ language.

When you can, practice what you learn. You can’t learn a new language if you don’t use it. I bet many of you – like me – can’t speak more than a few words of the foreign language you studied in high school because you didn’t use it in your daily life. So, make sure you take the time to “talk shop” with your customers. You will speak their language better, and they will remember the time you took to get to know their business. You will also be better equipped to make product or design recommendations that help your help product get closer to their design and performance goals if you earn the job down the road.

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.

Monday, February 27, 2017

It’s the end of the month and I truly expect some big acquisition news to break. But then again, I have felt that way for a while, so we’ll see if my senses are accurate or not. Sometimes deals look perfect on the surface, yet they fall apart. I had heard last summer about a pretty major deal, things were moving fast, the buyer had a team working “around the clock” on it and so on. In the end, though, for a variety of reasons nothing happened: no deal. But this time I think we’ll see some action, whether it’s this week or sometime in the next month, as I see at least three deals close to the finish line. I will say the whole angle with researching things like this was a ton easier in 2007-2008 when I broke a few of them on here. Those were simpler times for this sort of stuff for sure!

Elsewhere…

  • The past AAMA event looked like it had some excellent content. One of the recaps I read included the discussion of LCA and EPDs. That is an area where we as an industry still don’t have a great grasp. However, the energy committee at GANA has done an admirable job of pushing the importance of it. Efforts like those (from people like Mark Silverberg and Helen Sanders) and coverage of the topic at an event like AAMA’s surely helps. In my opinion, cost and time to achieve this information is surely a scary proposition for many at this point, but it sure looks like demand for these assessments is not going away.
  • For my friends in Southern California, any insight on “Measure S?” According to this article, it will hurt commercial building and development. But I am curious from the folks on the ground and doing business every day out there what your thoughts are. And, of course with any ballot measure, there’s usually, as my brother Steve would say, “three sides to the story” with each side taking a point and the truth lying somewhere in the middle.
  • If you ever watched the excellent documentary “The Two Escobars” or more recently the Netflix series “Narcos,” then you are familiar with Pablo Escobar. But are you aware that his son is actually a very respected architect? He credits the profession for saving his life. Good interview with him here.
  • The latest Architectural Billings Index is out and it starts 2017 in negative territory with a score of 49.5. (Slightly below the break-even of 50.) However, the new project score was a smoking 60, up from 57.6 last month. Overall the positive vibes continue and the analysts who monitor this still feel pretty good. If there is a worry, it’s that “real time” conditions are a bit soft right now, but that is the adventure of the start of the year where weather, budgets and holiday hangovers wreak havoc with schedules.
  • Last this week, glazier certification is back in the discussion. AMS, the group that the industry uses for IGCC, SGCC, NACC certification and more, held a summit in Las Vegas with the Finishing Trades Institute to begin dialogue on individual glazier certification. There’s a lot of passion for this process from many different areas of our world, and finally getting some movement is exciting. But there’s no question this is in its infancy and there is a long road to go.

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 MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

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, February 20, 2017

I had a few discussions this past week about advanced technology in our industry, and how it is or isn’t being adopted or grown in the architectural market. This is a massive frustration for me. I have always been an enthusiastic early adopter of new technology and see the value. Unfortunately, the people that really can control the end results of these new products are completely opposite of me.

What is the answer here? How do we get more push? Interestingly, if you ask people from outside the industry, they’ll blame us, saying we don’t innovate. But we do. We have amazing glass products that can hit numbers never seen before and are an active part of the structure. There’s now framing that allows the glass to actually perform as expected, not decreasing its values thanks to make up. And there are plenty of other components that help the assembly as a whole soar.

So, the products are there, but the mass adoption continues to be slow. What are we missing?

Elsewhere…

  • Saw a tidbit online that made me feel good. Residential building starts in 2016 posted its best year since 2005-2006. With the commercial industry running a year behind the residential side, this surely shows that the positivity should continue. Residential starts have grown now for seven straight years.
  • One area I failed to mention in depth during last week's BEC recap was the always extremely helpful presentation by Dr. Tom Culp. I seriously think his presentation should be streamed to the entire industry (hey, there’s an idea!), because it absolutely affects all of us. One word that really stuck for me throughout Tom’s presentation was “daylighting.” That surely seems to be an area of serious focus going forward and obviously our industry has great options for that. Though you still have to focus on the energy side, so a happy medium between great daylighting and high performance is a must.
  • The rocky run for the AIA ontinues. They are still dealing with the fallout of their post-election press release and then they ran into another issue when they laid out their keynote speeches for their upcoming show. They did not initially include any women in the program. After heavy backlash, they did add a panel on day three, but the damage was done. If you want to get a feel for how some of the membership is feeling, check out the article on the situation and spend some time in the comment section. Very interesting. 
  • For my marketing friends, just a heads up, Twitter is making more changes including hiding some “low quality tweets” during conversations. One thing that is not clear is how Twitter will determine quality, but if we have learned anything from Google and their programs, the rules will be changing constantly. Never a dull moment when you are trying to be active in the social and online realm.
  • Last this week, now that I am addicted to Netflix (the ability to download so I can watch while I fly is awesome), I found a work reason to use it. There’s a new series on there called "Abstract: The Art of Design," and it’s a documentary series that follows different designers, many of which are major players in the commercial architectural world. So, in between me binging on “House of Cards,” I will have some work to watch….

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 MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

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, February 20, 2017

"Are you a Doritos or an Emerald Nuts commercial?" asked Janine Driver, best-selling author and body language expert for the Body Language Institute, during her keynote address at the 80th Annual Conference for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, held Feb. 12-15 in Phoenix. Driver explained that a primetime Doritos commercial caused increased brain activity in viewers, while the Emerald Nuts commercial didn't have the impact. The reason? When evaluating brands, "consumers use emotions over information when making decisions," said Driver. 

"I'm here to prove to you that of everything you put on today, what will be judged the most is your body language," said Driver. During the conference, Driver shared tips on how to read and use body language to develop and maintain good relationships with customers.

Are you using and interpreting body language successfully with your customers?

Because customers interpret body language and make decisions about you, it's important to understand what you're communicating. Driver says that body language shows up seven seconds before your brain realizes what you're doing—but other people in the room have already noticed.

"Even just a couple minutes of interaction can make a big difference when it comes to your body language," said Driver. She says that words, our speech and how we speak to people, matter. But, equally, so does body language. The two go hand-in-hand when presenting ourselves and the products, services, businesses, and the industry we represent. 

"We leave money on the table when we don’t understand verbal and non-verbal cues," said Driver.

Driver emphasized the importance of asking your customers questions. If you sense they may be withholding information, intentionally or otherwise, gently let them know you sense there may be something they're not saying. For example, seeing someone shrug their shoulders often communicates an incongruency with what thay're saying. 

Don’t make hasty decisions based on your interpretation of a situation, said Driver. If something seems off, ask about it, then WAIT, which stands for "Why Am I Talking?". Stop talking and wait for an explanation.

"This step of due diligence is very important," said Driver. "Think like a CIA operative and investigate when something in someone's body language is inconsistent with their speech."

Another tip for successful communication with customers is when greeting them, face your body toward the person you're shaking hands with. It's easy to accidentally give them the cold shoulder with your body language, according to Driver.

Finally, Driver told those at her presentation that they need to think about body language all the time. It takes awareness and practice to improve what you're saying—and not saying—to customers.

"This industry matters," she said. "Watch how you present yourself to better represent the importance of the industry."

Bethany Stough is managing editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at bstough@glass.org. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

The latest Building Envelope Contractors Conference is now in the books, and the biggest news coming out of it was the announcement of a joint task force between the National Glass Association and the Glass Association of North America. The charge for that task force is to explore the options to work more collaboratively and possibly combining the two organizations. This is HUGE. I have been firmly in the camp of pushing a combined entity for a long time. Both organizations are favorites of mine, and I have been involved with both for many years. I know the pros and cons of both. And I can tell you this is a perfect match. From an industry standpoint, we need a more efficient and effective approach to events. We also need to have a clearly defined voice. And that’s just the start. This collaboration also has the ability to supercharge our training and education needs, something that is a massive issue for our world. We as an industry need this, and full credit goes to the leadership of both groups for starting this important process. Obviously, this is just a jumping off point, but I am hopeful this will grow into something great.

So, back to the actual BEC Conference recap…

 

  • It was a very strong event, and first congratulations have to go to Gus Trupiano of AGC Glass Co. North America, who is the chair of the division and driving force of the conference. Gus is not only an incredibly nice person, but a great leader as well. This was his first BEC in charge and he delivered a tremendous event.
  • The content this year was very strong, there was something for everyone. Julie Schimmelpenningh of Eastman delivered a fabulous keynote speech despite crazy technical interruptions. The keynote is a tough spot, but Julie nailed it. I thought that Matt Johnson and Paul Gary were super on the legal piece, and world famous architect James Carpenter really was a fascinating guy to listen to. The celebrity keynote was from former NBA player Mark Eaton, and that too landed nicely, with a memorable approach, and one that had many attendees debating some of his core messaging long after he was done.
  • I had the amazing honor again of moderating a panel. This year it was a glazier challenges theme, and my panelists were simply awesome. While I think the theme was meant for other glaziers in the crowd to learn from their peers on stage, I learned a ton during their session, and my respect for everything the modern contract glazier has to deal with grew immensely. Thank you, Bill Sullivan, of Brin, Stephanie Lamb of Giroux, Ted Derby of LCG and Joe Clabbers of National Glass. You all are incredible credits to our world, and I am grateful for what you all do.
  • To finish this post off, I will cover some of the folks I ran into at BEC. Remember, the big key of BEC is the networking. If you go to this and you are not making friends, you are doing it wrong … (and if you are not going, be there next year!)

 

Bill Coady of Guardian Glass let me know this will be his last BEC, as he’s retiring soon. That is a loss for Guardian and for all of us. Bill is the epitome of a class human being. He has great knowledge and care, and he will be missed. Enjoy retirement, my friend! While still on the Guardian track, I met Samer Abughazaleh for the first time, and that was enjoyable. He is a very interesting guy who probably was wondering what I do in life. (Don’t worry Samer, most people are still trying to figure that out, too).

Jon Kimberlain of Dow is always a favorite visit for me. He’s incredibly smart and put together, I just want some of that to rub off on me. Another example of smart? Dr. Tom Culp and Urmila Sowell meet that description every time. I thank them again for all they do for our world.

It was great to see a smiling and healthy Greg Oehlers of TriStar, along with his cohort Rob Carlson. Thanks for noting you read the blog Rob; I appreciate it! Speaking of reading, Cameron Scripture of Viracon always gives me great books to read, and he did it again this time. And yes, he still has those movie star good looks! I was also able to congratulate Ron Hull of Kuraray in person on his new position.

It was nice to talk for a few minutes with Joseph Holmes of EFCO, as well as my old friend, the incredible Shelly Farmer of SC Railing. Catching up with past co-worker Bob Cummings of Hartung will never get old for me, and same with talking sports with Joe Carlos of Triview. And speaking of guys named Joe, Mr. Erb of Quanex was there, and he always has a smile on his face and positive approach. I always am in awe of the talent of people like Heather West and Rich Porayko. They do things every day that make our industry (and the groups they work with) look great and that is appreciated.

I had the pleasure to meet GlassFab’s Barbara Russell for the first time, and was able to visit with Mike Goldfarb, too. That company just recently passed the 10-year milestone in business, and the sky is the limit for them. Clover Architectural Products Tom O’Malley is always a constant at events like this, and I think he knows more people in the crowd than anyone, so getting 5 minutes with him was a great deal for me.

There were many more folks that I just can’t get to here…maybe next post! In any case, this was a good event that served its purpose once again. I look forward to the next opportunity to network and learn amongst the best and brightest in our industry!

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 MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

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, February 13, 2017

Finding and keeping skilled labor has been a top concern of North American glazing contractors for several years. The problem that has been brewing since before the recession has only worsened as the construction economy improved and demand escalated. Fewer young people are entering the industry and the current workforce is aging, putting pressure on companies to find solutions, and to find them fast.

The topic of labor lead discussions during the panel “Contract Glazier Challenges” at the 2017 Building Envelope Contractors Conference, hosted by the Glass Association of North America. More than 400 industry representatives attended the conference, which was held Feb. 6-8 in Las Vegas.

“Labor, labor, labor. … This is the big issue for our industry,” said Ted Derby, business development manager for LCG Facades, and BEC panelist.

“We all agree, the biggest challenge is the struggle to find qualified people,” added panelist Bill Sullivan, president of Brin Glass Co. 

While the topic of the industry’s labor shortage is not new—Glass Magazine has covered it extensively in the magazine and online—I have noticed in recent months that the conversation surrounding labor has begun to shift. Company leaders, including those on the BEC glazing panel, have started to offer solutions—or at least, the beginnings of solutions. More and more, owners and managers say they are being proactive and taking steps to address labor and training concerns at their own companies. 

Each of the BEC glazier panelists offered insights into what their firms have done to address the challenges of finding and training workers.

Some companies are looking to expand their workforce by recruiting from a more diverse population. National Glass & Metal Co., a union glazier based in Philadelphia, has been working with the local union to find people. “There is a big push in Philadelphia … to expand minority involvement, women’s involvement, in the industry. We’d like to see more of that happening,” said Joe Clabbers, president. “We see great pride in seeing guys and gals develop in this industry.”

Companies are also actively recruiting inside schools. “We are going to tech schools and high schools,” said Stephanie Lamb, chief operating officer, Giroux Glass. “Giroux Glass goes into schools on career day. We’re searching for employees, but also working to get young people interested in this industry.”

Finding workers is only half the battle. Glaziers also have to train new employees and find ways to keep them. This training is more critical now than ever, as projects become more complex, the panelists said. “We needed to do something to help stabilize our workforce. The architects and engineers are challenging us with every new product they are developing. We need to be able to respond with expert quality people in the field,” Derby said.

Some companies, including LCG, handle their training in-house. “We instigated our own in-house training program about two and a half years ago,” Derby said. “We meet every Wednesday, year-round. We go through everything from fabricating a curtain wall, to installing and erecting it.”

Clabbers said National Glass has worked with the apprentice trade center in Philadelphia. “The center is accredited with the Department of Education. When an apprentice finishes, they come out with their associate’s degree. That has been a good recruiting tool,” Clabbers said. 

To share your company’s proactive solutions to addressing the skilled labor shortage, leave a comment or write to me directly. 

 Katy Devlin is editor in chief of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

The GANA BEC Conference, one of the major events in our industry, is this week in Las Vegas. I have been fortunate enough to be involved with this event for many years, and while so much has changed in our industry and world, the key advantage of this conference remains: the incredible ability to network. Yes, the education is great and the speakers are usually very engaging, but the chance to see people from companies up and down the supply chain--all in one place--is huge. Basically, it’s one of the two times in our industry (GlassBuild America being the other) where you can attend an event that allows you stay on top of everything happening in our world. I’ll have my annual breakdown of all the takeaways of BEC next week…

Elsewhere…

  • One group of people and company I like visiting with at BEC is Viracon. And I have to pass major props to Kelly Schuller and every employee there for their incredible charitable contributions. Viracon employees donated an incredible $108,692.60 to the United Way in 2016. This is simply awesome and everyone involved there should be commended for the effort.

  • Time to look at the latest Glass Magazine. First what got me was the cover shot: a beautiful classic looking project in Montreal; it looks old school but performs like a 2017 champ. That led to a fantastic story from Katy Devlin that not only broke that building down, but others as well, as the battle for advanced energy performance in buildings continues. There are several other stories that are worth checking out as well, and I plan on calling them out more in the next few weeks, including the look at the I-Codes and how we as an industry should be approaching them. Whether you get the magazine or grab it online, make sure you are checking it out; too much important content to miss!

  • Ad of the month is actually a tie. Loved the effect of the TGP ad as soon as I cracked open the magazine. Slick, 2-page spread with a catchy picture and tagline. Nice! But I also really liked what Schuco did with the use of old computer discs. Basically pushing the idea of don’t get left behind. While many do that sort of ad, this particular visual worked for me and caught my eye.

  • Check out this video from Guardian. It is undoubtedly a promotion video on their work in the Middle East, but it’s a great quick watch with stunning views of the buildings and facades in that region. Being the glass and glazing geek that I am, just seeing some of these projects is really breathtaking. Plus, I love looks at other plants and layouts. Good watch for sure and a VERY well done video. Wish I had those skills!

  • For my fellow road warriors, did you happen to see the airplane row of the future? Check out this link and let me know what you think. This looks to be too advanced for the stodgy airline industry…

  • Super article here on the “death” of Facebook. I know many who feel the same way.

  • Last this week, Super Bowl. WOW. I mean, that was beyond words. I feel for my friends that are Falcon fans; tough loss. Happy for folks like Steven Brenner and Brian Shaw: big time Pats fans who are on cloud nine right now. Commercial wise, they were pretty awful all night. 5 million for 30 seconds, and the lack of creativity was stunning. The folks doing creative for ads in Glass Magazine are loads better. If I had to choose a few "winners," I would say the Tide, Kings Hawaiian, Spud McKenzie, and Ford "Stuck" commercials were best with decent efforts by Buick (Cam Newton) and the live Adam Driver spot. Still I gotta think these agencies have to go back to the drawing board for the future.

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 MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

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.