Monday, January 30, 2017

I joined the National Glass Association just a few weeks ago as the assistant editor for Glass Magazine and sister publication Window & Door. But I’ve already had a small taste of what this industry is all about by attending an Architectural Glass Boot Camp, presented by the Architectural Glass Institute and C.R. Laurence Co., on Thursday, Jan. 26. As a former educator, I was excited that my first industry event was focused on education.

The event was one of a series of boot camps hosted by AGI at the Finishing Trades Institute in Philadelphia. The boot camps offer individuals across the industry—glaziers, architects, reps and building managers—the opportunity to learn about new innovations and best practices in architectural glazing.

This particular event was a collaboration between CRL and the AGI, and focused on glass railings. The AIA/CES-approved session qualifed for 3 Health, Safety and Wellness learning units. Representatives from CRL began the boot camp with an hour-long technical presentation. Following the session, we stepped into FTI’s 20,000-square-foot glazier learning space for two hours of hands-on learning.

Boot camp attendees were first given a chance to participate in a demonstration of glass railing installation conducted by students and trainers in FTI’s glazing apprenticeship program. The demonstration included each step of a railing installation, from measuring to drilling to installing the glass panel. Demonstrators talked through each step and answered questions along the way. The initial demonstration wrapped up with a pane of glass installed into the base shoe using wedge shims and CRL’s Taper-Loc dry-glaze system. Participants then stayed for another hour working through each detail of an installation, the focus always on education and proper training. 

After the demonstration, I caught up with the other boot camp participants and found that everyone had a specific takeaway.  Some focused on the demonstration. “It was a good experience because coming from a different trades background it was very educational to see these components assembled in person,” says Rob Ritter, project manager, Advanced Glass & Metal. “It gives me a better understanding of how [the products] are used and therefore can enhance my productivity in estimating projects using them in the future.”

Ron Pulone, a contract glazier of 30 years, was attracted by the technical information offered in the informational session. Now with Keystone Aluminum & Glass, he says he plans to bring his glazing experience with him as he transitions into engineering. He has attended other FTI boot camps, and reminisced about his own apprentice program, which was housed in one classroom. FTI has certainly expanded beyond that.

The boot camp offered a look at what some in the building industry are doing to face one of its most major challenges: educating a new workforce. Touring the facility, it was clear how it was constructed to serve the learning needs of FTI’s own apprentice and journeyman students, which supply the area’s construction industry. The largely open space includes stations to complete guided practice in everything from welding to blue-print-making to creating and testing mockups. Students who complete mockups can also practice attaching them to a real-world, three-story building structure that is located just yards away. My favorite part of our comprehensive tour was the chance to attempt a simulated weld on a machine that allows instructors to evaluate a virtual real-time readout (My score? 67/100). 

Take a virtual tour of the training and the FTI facility in our photo gallery.


Norah Dick is assistant editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Last week I covered some of the trends I see really taking off in the new year, so I was pretty pumped to see a report come out that backed one of my predictions. Navigant Research released a study that shows the Net Zero Building movement growing tremendously over the next 20 years, eventually becoming a trillion dollar market segment. That’s trillion, with a T. The good news continued with the expectation that the main areas of growth will be from the glass and glazing segment. As I noted last week, this sort of building is growing because it’s a smart process that produces real results and it’s exciting that as an industry we have great options to be heavily invested in it.


  • Twitter can sometimes drive people crazy, especially with some of the insane negativity that can appear there, but I continue to try and find the good in it. Example was Friday during the riots in Washington, D.C., someone posted that there was tons of broken glass and windows all over the area. I replied to that tweet with “Oh to be a glass shop in Washington DC right now…,” and lo and behold a few hours later I see a tweet from Mike Albert showing his company (S. Albert Glass) out on the job, in DC, in the damaged area. Cool stuff and nice to see our industry in action. This is the second riot that I have watched a company I am familiar with jump into action. My pals at Binswanger in Charlotte responded to the riots in that area last summer.
  • Review of the December edition of Glass Magazine. Bethany Stough’s excellent cover story on installation was strong, especially given the severe labor pressure our industry faces. I am sure I am not the only one who walked away from this with an advanced understanding of the options available to the glazing community. And that story really made me understand even better why the installation equipment folks at GlassBuild were swamped. 
  • Also in this issue, Joe Schiavone of CRL had a great Glazier Bulletin like always. Love his work. I am also a huge fan of Mike Burk of GED via IGMA, who had a story on safety and smarts on the fab floor. Plus the recap of the incredible 2016 GlassBuild America just got me pumped for the future. All in all, from front to back, a great issue and must read.
  • The ad of the month goes to Wood’s Powr-Grip for the family approach, featuring Dustin Anderson of Anderson Glass of Waco, Texas and his beautiful family. The message of “bringing you home safe” is something that may be simple, but needs to be reminded daily. Good work there!

A couple non-industry reviews:

  • I recently read “Losing Isn’t Everything” by Curt Menefee. This was an excellent and easy read about the people on the other side of some of sports' most famous plays, and how they dealt with the disappointments of being in the spotlight and known for losing. Some handled it better than others, but all of the stories were very interesting and some actually inspirational. 
  • I watched “The Founder,” which was the story of Ray Kroc, the man best known as the builder of the McDonalds behemoth. It’s an intriguing story in that Kroc is not your typical business hero. And that’s probably why it’s taken so many years to get a movie about him. He was not the brains behind really any of the advancements of the company, but was smart enough to listen and learn from those who had the ideas. From a business standpoint, it’s a great watch, and from an entertainment side good as well since he’s not what you would expect as the guy behind such a happy brand.

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, January 23, 2017

It was 1984. I was working for an environmental engineering firm, but I had studied as a civil engineer to work in structural engineering. That’s all I wanted to do; to work in building design. I checked the newspapers weekly for jobs, for a year. Then it happened. I answered a three-line want-ad in the Akron Beacon Journal for Structural Engineers. It was through a job-shop; a place called “CAMS.” I had no idea what they did, but I got an interview.

The interviewer greeted me and escorted me back to the office and shop. He pulled the cardboard off of the end of a bundle of aluminum and said, “These are mullions. They are made from aluminum; custom alloys and shapes; they hold the glass on the building. This is what we fabricate and what you’ll engineer.” “Ah, how interesting," I said. (I was clueless.)

The day I started, Steve Evans, then a PPG project manager, gave me my first problem to solve. I had no idea what to do. I got input from new colleagues in the structural engineering bullpen. Somehow I got him an answer. I met my future business partner, Richard Sprague, there, along with many other folks. There were many “newbies” to the industry—most of us in our 20s and early 30s—plus seasoned veterans, decision makers in PPG field offices, others that became future managers, fabricators, system designers, industry leaders, GANA committee members, glazing company owners, and the list goes on.

We were learning and growing with the emerging field of “curtain wall.” It was an amazing education. There was very little precedent. Calculations were done by hand at first. Drafting tables had parallel bars; we used blueprints; section properties were calculated by hand. And then the PC quickly came along. There was no “cloud,” no AutoCAD, FEA programs, BIM, Rhino, Mathcad; heck, we didn’t even have Excel or Word in 1984. I used a phone modem to calculate glass fin depths for PPG’s Total Vision System all-glass wall. But we got it done. We stumbled, we tested, we fixed. We made it work.

The seasoned folks that had migrated from PITTCO storefront and stick curtain wall systems to the increasing use of taller, broader, higher performing curtain walls, taught us entry level folks what they could. I got most of my education from field superintendents, branch managers and shop foremen.

Unit walls did not exist. The expansion horizontal was an idea. No one had yet heard of a “chicken head” at a “stack joint.”

Fast forward to 2016. Our field has expanded. Tools have gotten more numerous, more complicated.

And those of us who started in 1984 have become those older folks: the decision makers, buyers, leaders, committee members, policy makers and trainers. Those who must delegate, train, teach, mentor, listen, allow lessons to be learned, expose Millennials to clients, and to their emerging workforce. The curtain wall and enclosure industry will continue to change rapidly over the next five to ten years. Old guard will be replaced with new guard, by choice or by necessity. Time will march on, and work will be completed, miraculously, by those “kids.” The same kids like we were, only with more tools, more technology, on more complicated facades.

How about we take the best of the old and combine it with the best of the new? How about we listen to each other, listen to the field and the fabricators, understand each other’s needs and the key drivers in the decision-making processes? Can we can take the best proven practices of “we’ve always done it this way before” with the newness of “why can’t we try it like this” and move forward? Baby Boomer collaborating with Millennial. It’s going to happen. The shift is happening right now. How do you want it to go down?

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, January 16, 2017
Part of DeGorter Inc.'s mission statement is to increase the productivity and success of our clients. Always with this in mind, as a distributor of capital equipment, those of us at DeGorter Inc. have learned a thing or two about aiding the success of our clients when it comes to purchasing new machinery. Whether you're one of the largest fabricators with a purchasing team, or a one-person business, the following list offers five steps for ensuring your business makes a smart choice when purchasing your next piece of equipment.


  1. Find a partner, not a salesman. Let’s start the list by looking at the purchasing process from another light: who will be the best partner? Buying equipment should not be a one-and-done process. It should be the bringing together, or further development, of the relationship between two parties. To get the best fit for your unique application, this step is critical. All parties must know where you are, where you want to go, and how they're able to be of service. Purchasing solely off price, favoritism or reputation alone could set one up for disaster in the future.
  2. Remember Penny Wise Pound Foolish. Forget the price! Easier said than done, right? But, having followed the first point, you're not working with someone looking to take advantage of your business. The old adage is "You get what you pay for," and I firmly believe this to be true. If needing to fill a small gap in production, it doesn't make sense to purchase a work-horse machine for $100,000, that will be sitting idly most of the time. On the other hand, if one needs a machine to last 10+ years, in a rigorous production environment, let's not expect a $30,000 edger to be able to handle this. Each varying price point has its niche; define your needs and buy what fits your specific production needs. Walking away from a quality piece of equipment over a few dollars is often a mistake. 
  3. Trust the experts. One of the largest assets of an equipment supplier is their previous experience. Having followed the first two steps, you're certainly working with credible partners, so trust them.  When a supplier or agent gives advice on how the process could be better, take it; they’re speaking from experience. Yes, you know better how your daily operation needs to run; the manufacturer of equipment will know whether your suggestion is feasible or if there is a better way to accomplish the same result. You each bring your own experience to the table. Use both to your advantage when making a machinery purchase.  
  4. Emphasize service, service, service. Most often, the company offering equipment is not the same company manufacturing said equipment. What good is it to buy equipment, if you're not able to get parts, supplies or service? After the sale, service is one of the most important factors to consider. Be sure to ask about parts and supplies inventoried from the prospective equipment supplier. Ask about their network of technicians and typical lead times to get a service accomplished. At DeGorter, for example, we pride ourselves on strong partnerships as, without an ability to quickly and accurately handle the requirements our clients face, we would be out of business. 
  5. Consider the operators. Most importantly on this list, do not forget the operators. Your business is like an organism, and requires coordination of many parts to function efficiently. Opinions should be important to those purchasing the equipment another will be required to use. They will operate these machines every day and will have a set of concerns based on what is required from them. Get feedback from as many as you can, and be sure to consider this information thoroughly. An operator might not care as much about the price of the machine, but certainly does care for its reliability, ease of operation and its ability to be easily repaired. I'm constantly requesting feedback from our technicians upon their return from installations and service visits. We also remain in contact with operators and managers alike, after a sale has been made. These conversations allow us to bridge any gap between upper management and production.
If you've laid the groundwork when purchasing capital equipment, there should never be a feeling of buyer's regret. When the process is done correctly, all parties feel successful and look forward to working more with each other in the future.


Pete de Gorter is vice president of sales and marketing at DeGorter Inc. Contact 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, January 16, 2017

2017 is off and running, and aside from a rocky weather start in many parts of North America, it’s been pretty quiet overall. With that in mind it’s time to take a look at my fearless predictions for the coming year with regards to trends in our industry. Here goes…

More Unitized. The growth of the unitized curtain wall process will be significant. This has been a growing segment over the last few years and in 2017 it will take another step forward. And this is a trend that is not going to burn out thanks to significant labor shortages in the field. In addition, more and more unitized systems are performing at incredible levels energy wise, making them extra attractive to building owners and designers.

Net Zero. Even with the political winds shifting in the United States, the desire and charge to still build with energy efficiency and sustainability is very strong. Building to a Net Zero performance is actually accomplishing more than if you went through some “green” rating system, and more and more people are realizing that. 

Security. Again. As I noted last week, this was on my list for 2016 and I am putting it back on for 2017. It’s unfortunate that as a world we have to think this way, but it’s reality. I am seeing more security product options available hitting different application needs, and that too makes this an area to follow.

Deals and Acquisitions. Considering that at least two major deals that I expected to hit at the end of 2016 haven’t happened yet, this could be an easy prediction for me when they hit this year. But even aside from that, there are still a lot of people looking to buy and sell right now as well as companies looking to diversify through acquisition. All of that makes it ripe for a big deal year.

New Social Push.  A fun one to end it. At this point mostly everyone is familiar with the basic social outlets like Facebook and Twitter. Some people love them and some not. (Example: I loved following Matt Hale of Global Glass on Facebook as he flew to and worked around China this week.) However, the freshest outlets going right now are podcasts, Periscope and Facebook live. These take communication to the next level. As I noted a few weeks ago, John Wheaton has done a great job pushing his Periscope approach, and kudos to the folks at GCI Consultants who launched a podcast program. I have always harped on communication, and these new outlets are just another way to educate, inform and promote.

So there you go… It’s shaping up to be a great year overall and I am looking forward to everything that happens in our industry and covering it here!


We had three big industry personnel moves to start the year, featuring three of the most talented people in our world. 

  • First, Dr. Helen Sanders joined Technoform. I have written about Helen a lot over the years. She’s been a brilliant representative of our industry at the code and trade level, and a massive credit to the dynamic glass segment. She’ll continue to do great things at Technoform. I need to note that even with Helen leaving Sage, they are still in fantastic shape talent wise and I am confident they will continue to be an industry leader and supporter. 
  • Next was my pal Scott Goodman joining Aldora. Scott is a relentless sales professional and my respect for him is deep. He’s a great hire and he will be a force to be reckoned with in his territory. 
  • Last, a major coup for the folks at Guardian with the tremendous addition of Darijo Babic. Anyone who knows Darijo likes him and absolutely respects his skill and passion for his work. He represents our industry very well at the architectural level and will do fantastic things for Guardian in that regard. 

Congratulations to all three of you and to your new companies for bringing you on.

  • Obviously, later this week in the United States, we will start a new adventure. I will be most curious on what happens with the healthcare system. Right now that may be the most frustrating thing going. But we’ll see how that and all else goes as we begin with a new administration.
  • Last this week, I am pushing off the Glass Magazine review to next post. I know my audience, and if I start flying past 700+ words, I’ll lose you…. So we’ll hit that and much more next time!

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, January 9, 2017

The team of glaziers from C&H Glass knew their storefront installation work would be delayed upon arriving at a Bismarck, North Dakota, jobsite following back-to-back winter storms that dumped several feet of snow on the region. Snow had blown into the unprotected openings of the building creating drifts of 3 to 4 feet inside the structure, obstructing the crew’s workspace.  

“I don’t usually include that we will do snow removal in our bid. But, when there are 3-foot drifts inside, we have to shovel out before we can work,” says Russ Heier, owner of C&H Glass, a commercial and residential glass company based in Bismarck.

Russ Heier, owner of C&H Glass. 
Snow piles in the C&H parking lot. According to Heier, the company's usual seven parking spots are down to just three or four due to the snow. 

North Dakota is experiencing a snowier than usual winter, presenting construction challenges. While the first major snow didn’t occur until December, by the first week of January, four winter storms had blanketed the area with feet upon feet of snow. Sub-zero temperatures combined with strong winds, created near unmanageable snow drifts and dangerous conditions.

“We have been getting 30 inches at a time,” Heier says. “This is a little abnormal for the region. We do get storms with this much snow, but it is usually in the spring, and it melts away.”

The heavy snowfalls and cold temperatures have made for difficult conditions in building construction, the most notable of which has been project access, Heier describes.

“We have to be able to access the jobsite and the openings,” Heier says. “Many jobsites are on the outskirts of town, and it takes three to four days for snow removal on the roads just to get there. Once we are there, we have to gain access to the openings.” That has led to hours of shoveling work for Heier’s crew before they can begin installation.

The cold, wet conditions also affect the openings themselves, both in new construction or existing buildings. “The majority of what we do right now is door problems,” Heier says. “Automatic doors stop working in the cold. There’s ice in the tracks. Swing doors stop working.”

Frost heaving has also created problems. “The way this snow came—wet at first, then cold—caused heaving cement. The cement comes up and makes the opening too tight,” Heier says. “We have been cutting doors down for fit.”

The snows created problems from above as well, due to the excess weight on the rooftops. “We had one job where it wasn’t the cement coming up, but the roof was coming down due to weight,” Heier says. “Removing snow off roofs has become big business.”

In addition to snow, the bitter cold presents its own set of challenges. The most important consideration is worker safety. “We know [our glaziers] will have to take frequent breaks. We keep the vans running all day for warmth,” Heier says.

The installation process itself also changes in the cold as sealants, in particular, are affected by the cold. “We are limited because of temperature. We take care of the majority of the installation. We set the glass, and put in stubs—3-to-4-inch long pieces that keep the glass centered. This will shut out the majority of the weather, and we come back when it is warmer to finish,” Heier says.

 Katy Devlin is editor in chief of Glass Magazine. Contact her at 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Hope everyone had a great holiday season and you are ready to roll into a very exciting year ahead! But before we look forward into 2017, it’s time to look back at 2016 and see how everything shook out with regards to my predictions at the front of the year. I made five predictions and I don’t believe I was far off…

1. Go big or go home. I predicted that the trend of going bigger was not ending anytime soon. With Guardian and Vitro putting in jumbo coaters (and Viracon which announced last year) and more oversize coming from all parts of the world, I’d say this was dead on. 

2. Security focused. I talked about the need for security glazing. It did not take off like I thought it would, but by no means do I think this area was a dud. I’d give myself half credit here, and quite frankly I think I may put this on the 2017 list, too. 

3. Greenfielding is back and new players emerge. The new players emerging were surely a trend in 2016, but only a few greenfields, and I was shocked that very few established fabricators did it. Plus none of the bigger folks from overseas jumped in yet with facilities in North America. They may still do it by acquisition or wait until the American dollar value changes. This is a failed call by me at this point.

4. Codes and certifications. No major issues on the code side thanks to a mellow year, but also tremendous work by those who represent us at that level. (Visit my MVP articles to see those names.) However, the certification side did get its feet down, and the work and advancement from groups like the NACC cannot be denied.

5. More focus on birds. This was on the list in 2015 as well and the focus without a doubt continued to grow. While there are still too many new buildings being built without bird protection in mind, many more are. With more products than ever available, I believe this is an area of concern that will continue to be addressed and the usage of the right design and products utilized.

Overall not that bad—surely better than my sports predictions (sorry Panther and Bengal fans!). Next week I will have my predictions for 2017.


  • The new year has begun, and somewhat shockingly to me, a few of the deals that I was told would be done by year-end still are not complete. So I guess we’ll see if the first quarter breaks anything loose on that front. 
  • The Sotawall/Apogee deal that closed right after my last blog of 2016 is a good one for both sides and surely is a great addition to the already powerful Apogee group of companies.
  • The November Architectural Billings Index hit positive levels again with 50.6. That is basically unchanged from the previous month. The interesting news was that new project inquiries were up sharply to 59.5. That’s an area to watch, as with a new presidential administration this would be the first area to see any change, positive or negative.
  • Congrats to good friend and excellent rep Margaret Brune. She continues to land excellent clients, most recently curtain wall manufacturer FreMarq Innovations. Good match of talent there and good to see!
  • Last this week, the coolest buildings of 2016 according to the folks at Construct Connect. Four of the five are on North American soil, which I am not sure has happened a lot in recent years. Take a look and if you had anything to do with these amazing structures, drop me a line! Would love to give you proper credit for being involved in something so “cool.”
  • Next week, predictions for 2017, Glass Magazine issue review, a great video and more!


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.

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