Monday, December 17, 2018

Many economists are pointing to a potential slowdown in the U.S. economy after nearly a decade of sustained growth. “We see some headwinds coming,” said economist Connor Lokar during his forecast presentation at the Glazing Executives Forum at GlassBuild America in September. So, how can glass companies prepare for a potential downturn?

To begin to answer this question, I hopped on the phone with Glass Magazine’s financial columnist, Marco Terry. Terry, who is managing director of Commercial Capital LLC, emphasizes that, whether or not the economy actually enters a recession in the near future, “it’s always a good time to prepare.” Some specific tips:

1. Work on collections

“Assume that if recession comes, the customers paying you marginally—those on the edge of being OK to bad—are going to slide towards bad. Now is the time to start addressing that. For an owner not already checking the credit of commercial clients, now is a good time to start."

2. Optimize costs

“Now is a good time to see if there are areas where your company is leaking money. Now is good time to plug those leaks. If there are any areas that can be improved, now is the time to do it. These are the things that companies are going to end up doing when recession hits. If you do them now, you’ll be ready.”

3. Build a cash reserve

“This one is important. How big should the reserve be? That is a question of personal preference. It can depend on how your cashflow moves through the business. At minimum, 3 months; 6 months is better. However, there is always a tradeoff between hoarding cash and growing business. If you have cash sitting in a bank account, it’s not out there paying new employees, buying new machinery.”

4. Consider an emergency line of credit

“This is something I am hesitant to recommend. But the right time to get a line of credit is when you don’t need it. … There is nothing wrong with having line of credit that you don’t touch. It may cost some money to get it and maintain it, but boy will it be useful if things go south. … The major caveat is that it is for emergencies only. Getting into debt right before recession hits is a recipe for disaster.”

5. Cut unprofitable services and products

“Sometimes owners don’t notice or care about services that are draining money. If a company is doing reasonably well, they don’t focus attention on them. But, they become a cash drain when real products producing profits start slowing down. … The same goes for cutting problem clients. This is an important one. We’re starting to approach a time for firing bad clients. Moving them into a pay up front model would be a good idea.”

6. Expand sales and look for new markets.

“The right time to implement those [growth] strategies is now. When recession hits, you will be one of many companies looking to new markets.”

Terry will cover these tips more in-depth in the March issue of Glass Magazine.

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

Monday, December 17, 2018

We’ve nearly reached the end of the year, and it’s finally time to announce my annual Glass Industry MVP award. It was a tough one this year. I received more input than ever before. Tons of excellent candidates, but in the end, I think I chose the most deserving. I used the following criteria to determine this honor:

1)     An overall dedication to the betterment of our industry, including through activity in industry meetings, committee work, creation of technology, advancing education, etc. 

2)     My opinion of them and knowledge of their background. This one is all on me. I ask for input on nominees, but I don’t discuss anything further. 

Below is my list of runners up, followed by the 2018 MVP. Disclaimer: I’m not playing favorites to people who read this blog; as to the best of my knowledge, none of the people listed below read this, even if I have mentioned them in the past. 

Without further delay…

Runners Up

Felix Munson, Anchor Ventana Glass. Felix is very active in the industry; his dedication to the great Texas Glass Association is huge and his desire to bring more education and knowledge to all is impressive. He also is very in tune with the growing glazier certification process and has always pushed supported the industry. In addition, he runs a very good organization with a great reputation.

Jeff Haber, W&W Glass. Jeff may be the single most respected member in our industry. When he speaks, everyone listens. In addition, W&W is an incredible company. Jeff and his family could take a different path and not be involved in the day-to-day happenings of the glass world, but he chooses to volunteer quite a bit. His impact with conferences like BEC and FTI is important for educating the masses, and he brings a vision and strategy to everything he does. 

Glenn Miner/Rob Struble, Vitro Architectural Glass. I paired these two because often they are a combo deal. The key for these two is better educating the industry. Glenn and Rob are constantly looking at ways to grow the communication of glass and its greatness. The Vitro Glass Education Center is awesome, and the monthly email Vitro sends is helpful and worthy. In addition, Vitro continues to step up and be a partner throughout the glass and glazing landscape when others in the same place choose not to be involved.

Greg Oehlers, Tristar. Greg is a freaking legend. Period. I honestly can say I love this man and admire all he has done in our world. No matter what is going on in Greg’s life, his energy and desire to push the good in our world is never diminished. His presentations are incredible. (Advice if you have to speak alongside Greg: go before him because if you follow him, it’s simply impossible.) Greg has always been willing to hear out and try new products and services, which makes him a great friend to every innovator out there. And if he likes what you do, it’s an incredible endorsement.

This year’s runners up are all incredible people who do great work and advance and support our world. Who tops them and wins the title this year?

The 2018 Glass Industry MVP

Nathalie Thibault, Prelco. Nathalie is a constant presence at the now-combined NGA level as well as being the current president of IGMA. To put it simply, she is involved consistently at every level. Nathalie is extremely well-respected, and she brings significant insights to everything she does. Her approaches usually develop into important guidelines or pieces of education that drive our industry. She is also very inquisitive in the most positive way. She asks questions of you because she legitimately values your opinion.

With how incredibly busy she is, you would think she’d be less open for deep discussions or more roles, but that has not been the case. Prelco has an excellent reputation, so they truly practice what Nathalie preaches. To make things even more amazing is Nathalie is also in school for an MBA. When I asked her about it, I was impressed by her answer: she wanted to push her skills a notch further. That’s incredible given how good she already is. Bottom line: Nathalie is a great example of someone who gets it and truly deserves the recognition. Congratulations on being our 2018 Glass Industry MVP!


This is probably the last post of the year unless something crazy happens. I just wanted to take the time to thank everyone who reads this blog and communicates with me about it. I truly appreciate it! I believe we have another good year upcoming, and I am excited about so much of what is happening in our world. (Do you think I am excited by Thirsty Thursdays, Annual Conference and BEC? I know I promote ‘em like crazy.) In any case I hope everyone out there has a fantastic holiday season and you and your families have a happy, healthy and profitable 2019! 

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, December 10, 2018

Next week, I will announce my industry MVP. But this week, I want to recognize two incredible men that have recently transitioned away from the day-to-day glass and glazing industry: Jerry and Jeff Razwick, formerly of Technical Glass Products. When I first heard that Jerry and Jeff were no longer with TGP, it struck me hard. These guys were forces in their sector of our world, and it’s going to be seriously different without them out there on a daily basis.

While I was growing up in the industry, Jerry Razwick was this incredible influential figure. I would see his name in all the news stories, and he was always on the forefront of technology and innovation in the fire-rated space. When I finally got to meet Jerry, I was a wreck because he is a legend. But I didn’t need to worry, as he was as friendly as could be to me. Along the way, I also got to know his son, Jeff, who in his own right became a brilliant businessman, leader and class act. Getting to know the Razwicks, and so many of the folks that worked with them, it was easy to see why they were having such amazing success.

But amid such success, and this is a big thing for me, they continued to serve and support our industry extremely well. They could’ve pulled their company support when they had explosive growth, but they didn’t. And as an industry guy, I will always appreciate that. Not only did Jerry and Jeff truly care about their industry and their product, but they also cared about the people who worked at TGP. They were determined to do things the right way, and I think they did exactly that. This chapter may be over, but I hope Jerry and Jeff stay in contact with our world. If not, it was a great pleasure and honor getting to know them and I thank them for all they have done.


  • This week Vitro announced that Ricardo Maiz would be named president, and I’m thrilled. I have known Ricardo for many years and he’s a tremendous man with talent that I couldn’t even dream of having. He will do a fantastic job in his new role. 

  • Speaking of new roles, I also saw Linetec promoted Tammy Schroeder to marketing manager. Every time I have ever interacted with Tammy I always leave so impressed by her talent, approach and vision. She’s been kicking butt at Linetec for 19 years, and I am sure with her new gig that greatness will continue! 

  • Please don’t forget about Thirsty Thursday this week. Security Glazing for Schools is the subject and it’s really a good presentation. Register here.

  • Once again this year I have the honor of being on the BEC Program Planning committee and I can tell you that agenda has really come along nicely. Most people will say they come to BEC for the networking, and that will obviously still be in play. But this year the depth of the subject matter, with a focus on the glazing community, makes the event even more valuable. Obviously, as a former host and chair of this event, I am extremely biased, but I sincerely see it worth your time.

  • I about went crazy when I saw this headline: “Glass Towers Are So Passé. What Will Replace Them?” But the article was less inflammatory than the headline and, quite frankly, the author showed a job or two with a great amount of glass. I think there are people who truly don’t understand the way glass can interact with other building materials. People are not designing the 1980s-style all-reflective glass box anymore. Read for yourself and decide…

  • Last this week, for my friends in Denver and Kansas City, is this really a thing? “Denverization” is the theme…

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, December 10, 2018

Finding skilled labor is the number one challenge for most construction companies. Despite offering apprenticeships and partnering with trade schools and high schools, the industry is still struggling to recruit the next generation. However, one emerging segment is trying to raise awareness of opportunities in the industry and put the fun into construction: construction-themed amusement parks.

The parks provide a hands-on construction experience with real, heavy-duty equipment that grown-ups and young people can explore, including everything from excavators to dump trucks.

While the purpose is to have fun, at least some of the park owners also see this is as an opportunity to raise awareness about the industry with the future workforce. Randy Stenger, founder of Extreme Sandbox, says on the website that the venture's participants have “had the opportunity to be advocates for the construction industry.” Though Stenger does not have a background in construction, Extreme Sandbox has hosted tours for high schools and camps who are interested in working in the field.

 Participants at Dozer Day 2013. Photo by Dolanh at Flickr

Dozer Day, though not an amusement park per se, is an annual event that “seeks to educate children of all ages about building sustainable communities, industry opportunities and public safety,” according to a statement on the organization’s website. An annual charity event hosted in five locations across the United States, Dozer Day allows children to experience driving heavy-duty equipment under the supervision of a professional operator. Part of the organization’s stated mission is to increase interest in construction and change perceptions of the industry. “As families interact with professionals in these industries, they become aware of the incredible possibilities and industry stereotypes are redefined,” reads a statement on the organization's homepage.

Do these parks and experiences elevate awareness of construction and inspire interest in the industry? Do they have potential to attract the next generation to join the industry? Find some information below about these facilities if you would like to make up your own mind.

(Note: all parks and experiences have specific age restrictions and height requirements. See websites for more details)

Location: West Berlin, New Jersey
Activities: Over 25 attractions, including opportunities to drive a back-hoe, operate a digger, and maneuver a dumper truck.

Location: Hastings, Minnesota; Roseville, Minnesota; Pottsboro, Texas
Activities: Visitors can operate Komatsu equipment, including a wheel loader, bulldozer and excavator.

Location: Las Vegas
Activities: Visitors can drive bulldozers and excavators, mini-excavators and skid steer track loader.

Location: Vancouver, Washington; Yakima, Washington; Seattle; Eastern, Washington/Northern Idaho; Kansas City, Missouri
Activities: With a professional operator, children are invited to experience what it’s like to drive bulldozers, dump trucks, excavators and other heavy equipment.
*This is an annual event – see website for details of locations and dates. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

With the end of the year approaching, my final blog of 2018 is a collection of random thoughts and experiences. Hopefully some will resonate with you.

Let’s discuss terms.

I love the technical terms we use in our industry. “Chicken head” may be the best. Most of us know that term to define the upturned stack-joint leg on an expansion horizontal mullion. In profile, it looks like a “chicken head” when some types of gaskets are applied over top. I first heard the term in 1989, and it has been used since. Can’t we find a better naming convention?

Yes, Mr. Owner, you are buying a high-performance curtain wall with a chicken-head in it. Don’t ask questions. Just smile and nod. “Single leg stack and double leg stack” refer to the type of stack joint typology. One or both can be “chicken heads.” Your stack joint will have one leg or two. Depends on which design-camp you’re in. Both options work just fine. Yes, Mr. Owner, you’re getting a single leg stack that looks like a chicken head. You’ll be okay.

There are many more interesting terms we use: jumbo glass, bellows gasket, bulb gasket; sponge gasket (I have a good story about that one I’ll share another time), V-groove, nub, hook anchor, condensation trough, weep tubes, baffles, peening and more. I’d love to hear your favorite terms in the comment section below.

Let’s move on to the building code.

“Yeah, John, but you guys are designing and engineering to CODE. You are being conservative.” Um, let’s remember that the building code is defined as the “Minimum Requirements” for buildings. Thankfully, we have standards, since most things are “sticky downward” if not defined and benchmarked prescriptively. Being “conservative” or perhaps “wise” in some instances would be designing and engineering to MORE than the codified standard, such as with Factory Mutual specifications.

I am not advocating for conservatism, I am just making the point not to misrepresent the standard. So many of us see the code as the maximum, but it is not. We can design for more egress, better redundancy, better light, ventilation, daylighting, air and water infiltration resistance, and other attributes if owners want a better building product. As design-professionals, we are working and starting with the standard and needing to meet certain requirements. How we interpret and apply our craft within those standards is where we provide value to clients. More on that in a future post.

Next up, U-values and thermal analysis.

We have gotten this comment recently on two different jobs, one from a general contractor and one from a curtain wall consultant (perish at the thought): “Don’t give me standard NFRC boundary conditions. We need the U-values to be calculated based on the local conditions, not the standard.” That’s not right. U-values are based on the standard NFRC boundary conditions. In this way, they are all comparable to the same standard. Dew points can be run for the specific local boundary conditions. This will give insight into condensation issues and whether or not moisture will form on various surfaces. 

Thanks for all that you, the readers, pour into this industry. Thanks to Glass Magazine for this platform and for your advocacy. Thanks to AAMA and NGA technical committee members for your efforts and investments. Thanks to all of you for working together to make the built-world a better place. I count it a privilege to be a part of this meaningful and purposeful work. Make it a wonderful holiday, and I look forward to future connectivity and collaboration.

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, December 3, 2018

2018 is quickly coming to a close. We’ve now reached December and the end of the year is clearly in sight. I have been asked quite a bit recently if there will be any major deals before the year ends. Typically, year-end is a target date for deals. In the past, we’ve had a few big ones hit in mid- to late-December. This year, I think we may have a couple, but based on what I am hearing, it will be on the smaller side. Although, you never know. So, while this month is one of holiday and celebration, it may also produce some interesting news. Stay tuned!


  • I’m going to be a pain with reminders, but I only do it because it’s worthy. First one is Annual Conference, coming In January. Last week, NGA announced that Lisa Rammig of Eckersley O’Callghan & Partners will be the featured presenter. Folks, it is worth coming to this event just for that. I briefly met Lisa at glasstec, and she’s incredibly intelligent and has awesome insight into the architectural trends and drivers in our world. Seriously, a must see. Add this into the other subjects slated to be discussed like AB262, IBC, ASHRAE, and full technical meetings and you really can gain a ton of intel just being there. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me, otherwise please register today.

  • Major Thirsty Thursday alert on a crucial subject: school security. Glass plays a big role in school security, and this webinar offers a very true and in-depth background to what is happening in that world and how our industry fits in. If you are doing anything in this space or want to do something, then this is where you get up to speed. Check it out on December 13 and register here.

  • This week’s wild looking building?  Look for it coming soon in Miami. Incredible.

  • Time for the monthly review of Glass Magazine. This is the metal companies issue and features the annual Top Metal Companies report along with stories on continuing labor challenges, edge grinding, and a great take on the tariff adventures out there. Cover to cover, yet again, a very solid issue.  As for the ad of the month, I have to give it to Trex Commercial Products for their snazzy ad that really showed the awesomeness of glass. (I’m a sucker for great shots of glass in use.) Tremendous work as always by Tessa Miller and her team at Trex.

  • Speaking of railings, if you watch the TV show “New Amsterdam,” the set they use has an incredibly cool railing and structural wall setup. If anyone out there knows what this one is or who supplied the materials, let me know. I would love to pass the kudos on. Good stuff, and again, shows glass in a fabulous way.

  • Last this week, I came across this fun and snarky look at what the new Amazon HQ2 in New York City could look like. I swear this story of Amazon opening in NYC is going to take 50 more turns before it’s said and done. In any case, I like the fun look at it.

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.