Monday, April 16, 2018

At the recent Window and Door Manufacturers Association’s Spring Meeting and Legislative Conference, held March 19-21 in Washington, D.C., Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers, spoke on the continuing challenge of finding and retaining a skilled labor force, and outlined initiatives companies and associations are implementing to address the situation.

In his presentation, “Workforce Development: Helping Employers Close the Skills Gap,” Moutray characterized NAM members as very pleased with the current economic outlook. He attributed at least part of this positive feeling to the recently passed tax reform, as well as the improving global economy. “These are the best numbers out of Europe we’ve seen in seven years, in some cases 20 years,” he said.

The U.S. manufacturing sector mirrors this growth. While manufacturing businesses continue to run more leanly than they did pre-recession, Moutray said that the sector is much more competitive than it has been in the last two decades. 

While he assessed that 2017 manufacturing production has been “choppy,” at least partly due to the volatility of last year’s hurricane season, Moutray characterized manufacturing’s year-over-year growth as strong overall. He reported that 12.61 million workers are currently employed, and an average of 18,000 jobs were added in 2017. “It’s almost like someone flipped a switch,” he said.

While the growth is encouraging, it also exacerbates the sector’s need for a skilled workforce. According to an often cited study conducted by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, 2 million manufacturing jobs are expected to go unfilled between now and 2025. While the study attributes the shortage to the skills gap, Moutray also described the problem of attracting a skilled workforce in terms of a perception gap: “We need to get people to see manufacturing not just as blue-collar work, but as a very good, high-paying pathway to the middle class.”

As part of this campaign, Moutray outlined some of the initiatives that NAM and its member companies have organized or sponsored, including the following programs.

  • Manufacturing Day: Observed in October, this annual celebration of modern manufacturing saw 3,000 facilities hosting events for high-schoolers and parents in 2017, according to Moutray.

  • Heroes Make America: Started by the Manufacturing Institute, the program is a 10-week career skills program for military veterans that are ready to discharge, built on the idea that the military educates its personnel with many skills that can be applied to manufacturing. The first class recently graduated at the facility’s in Fort Hood.

  • STEP Ahead: Also launched by the Manufacturing Institute, the STEP (science, technology, engineering and production) Ahead program celebrates the achievements of women in manufacturing by honoring them at a formal gala.

  • Dream It. Do it: NAM partnered with the Manufacturing Institute to engage students, parents and educators to promote manufacturing careers to the next generation.

While these programs are designed to help address the skills gap, this challenge is certainly not the only one facing the manufacturing labor force. Added to these issues, Moutray highlighted the recent increase in the practice of poaching, as companies struggling to fill necessary positions head hunt skilled labor from other industry companies. He said that the result has been wage pressure increases, as well as price pressure increases.

As Glass Magazine continues to explore those mentioned here and all concepts regarding labor, staffing and training in its Workforce Development series, we encourage our readers to share their thoughts and experiences that we can share with the industry. Leave a comment below or email our editor with your insights.

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

Monday, April 16, 2018

The latest Dodge Momentum Index was recently released, and March posted a strong result, especially on the commercial side. That is welcome news since commercial had been lagging some. I had previously mentioned some softness in the markets and hopefully between the optimistic metrics and maybe the weather breaking in the Midwest and Northeast we’ll be rolling strong for the rest of the year. (As I write this, we are under a winter storm warning and my friends in Minnesota have a FOOT of snow on the ground. In mid-April. Ugh.) Anyway, the next Architectural Billings Index is out on April 18, so we’ll see what sort of detail we can glean from that one and continue to always monitor everything.


  • I hinted to it last week that a deal was in the works in our industry and it happened with Coral Industries being sold to Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope. I have always been a fan of Lewis McAllister and I am happy for him and his family. It’s great that the management team there will continue forward. Heck of a year in Alabama: the Tide wins the title and now this. 

  • I was thrilled to see my friend Danik Dancause get a promotion at Walker Glass. Danik is one of the best guys around and extremely talented. I have noted many times that his clothing tastes are easily one of the best in the industry. Now with this promotion, does Danik raise the bar style wise? Can’t wait to see what he breaks out at GlassBuild.

  • This was an interesting article on construction corruption in New York City. Those who have done work in the city know it offers a ton of challenges on a lot of levels, but how deep the rest of those issues go is well spelled out in this piece. I have to think that the overbilling happens everywhere, but New York just has so much more noise surrounding every major project that it surely attracts more of the negative element.

  • Sat in on an interesting webinar on building projects and the stress that comes from them. The intriguing part for me was learning the pain points and then seeing what some of the ideas were to address them. One of the main issues is late or incomplete design. I know many glaziers deal with problems along these lines all the time and they are counted on to come through for all involved. The tips for dealing with the problems hit a key theme that I have harped on: communication. Basically, when it comes to messaging, the more focused and clear you can be with expectations, schedules and approaches the better. Obvious, but probably not done like needed.

  • Last this week, I was researching an upcoming trade show and I was blown away at how many companies did not have a website. It just amazed me that someone could be in business in 2018 (and be doing a decent-sized trade show) and not have at least something up online. I haven’t touched mine in years, but I still have something up there. Maybe I am just hypersensitive because I am a communication strategy guy... 

Read on for links and video of the week…

The author 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, April 9, 2018

If the June 2014 issue of Sports Illustrated ever landed on your desk, chances are good you either laughed or said “yea, right” when you read the cover story about the Houston Astros: “An Unprecedented Look at How a Franchise is Going Beyond Moneyball to Build the Game’s Next Big Thing…Your 2017 World Series Champs.” The Astros’ performance drought had been well advertised.  I’m not a baseball guy, and even I knew they were bad.

How could this team make the World Series, let alone win it?

The answer lay with the approach. When Jeff Luhnow came on board as the Houston Astros’ general manager in 2011, he knew fans expected a quick turning of the ship. A record close to .500 seemed attainable, and would allow them to watch a fair amount of wins. But, Luhnow and analyst Sig Mejdal decided to focus on the long-term win instead of a more immediate and respectable record. They avoided expensive free agents, put more resources into their farm system, traded away some of their most mature assets, and developed a controversial analytics-based approach to drafting players.

The initial cost for the duo’s approach was high. The Astros lost game after game, some of which received local TV ratings of 0.0. By 2013, their record of 51-111 was the worst in franchise history and tied for the majors’ worst in a decade. But in 2017, their strategy paid off. The Houston Astros won the World Series.

Thinking beyond the immediate win isn’t easy, not in baseball or in the glass industry. To get the job done, we are often focused on landing the next project or getting the next shipment out on time. There are always pressing matters competing for our attention. Looking beyond these urgent needs to reevaluate internal processes, reconfigure programs, shift employee roles and make other beneficial changes takes time and resources. Since the initial investment is high and we are already busy, we don’t take action. But, like the Astros, the pay-off for strategic, long-term adjustments can far outweigh the initial cost.

A recent example at TGP took place during the build out of some of our machining programs. To effectively build out the new program, we had to shift engineering resources normally used for shop drawings and reallocate them to machining for a one-month period.

It was a major effort to manage these resources. Did we experience short-term discomfort during this period? Yes. But, the net-gain is expected to be huge. To put it into perspective, it would have taken two engineers and one programmer over a year and a half at one day per week to complete the same amount of work that our team was able to test, verify and program during that one-month timeframe. It also left our team in a great situation for those specific machining programs going forward. Perhaps more importantly, it reminded me of the value of thinking beyond the here and now, of experiencing a little discomfort for a bigger gain.

So, my question for you is this: are you thinking beyond the immediate win?  

David Vermeulen is the national sales manager for Technical Glass Products (TGP), a supplier of fire-rated glass and framing systems, and other specialty architectural glazing. TGP works closely with architects, designers and other building professionals, providing them with the state-of-the-art products, service and support to maximize design aesthetics and safety in commercial and institutional buildings around the world. 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, April 9, 2018

I am always studying trends and directions that our world will go into, and when I come across lists that interest me I love to share them here. This week I ran into a great piece on the TMD Studio blog that broke down the future of design and architecture. Of course, I had some comments on the list of trends.

Check them out.

  • Collaboration. There is no doubt that this area is growing, and the article did not mention integrated project delivery, which is absolutely a growing movement.

  • VR and Immersive Architecture. VR and AR are both items that benefit design teams. As that technology grows, so will the usage. Residential glass shops are already seeing value, but costs are still very high to use.

  • BIM. Is this the future? Isn’t it here and hasn’t it been here for a while? The article does do a good job of explaining the situation here.

  • Parametric Architecture. This is intense and deep; too much for my little brain.

  • Robots and 3D printers. To me this is the best bet for massive usage in the future. I believe we will see more robotics in our world in many different areas.

  • Internet of Spaces. I have heard of Internet of Things, but I can’t say I remember this concept and when I read more I just don’t see it… yet.

  • Vertical Cities. Isn’t New York a pro at this at this point?

  • Sustainability. It is listed as a trend, but I think it’s beyond a “trend” and more an accepted practice for most. 

If you are an architectural geek, the whole article is very interesting, though in some areas it’s deeper than I like to go. Still, it is worth the discussion of where we are now and where we are going.


  • Speaking of items that fall under “trends,” there’s been a push for timber as a curtain wall framing product. It’s evidently popular in Europe. However, a job in Oregon that was going with wood all over the project instead of conventional products had a rough go recently. This could surely slow momentum.

  • Last week, I hit on the awesome map that Glass Magazine included in its latest issue, and it reminded me of the site Tremendous site and if you are a member of the NGA, it is free with your membership. 

  • Hearing rumblings of a couple of mid-size glass company acquisitions in the industry, one on the eastern side of the country and one on the west. I think we will see a few more of these sorts of deals over the next two years with the way the industry landscape is lining up. I don't see the major monster deals happening, though. See I just did it. Watch, some massive deal will be announced tomorrow! In any case, with the economy showing some extra volatility, it could move people off the fence and into “sell” mode.

  • Last this week, the musical artist Zedd did all of the design for his gigantic home and he used tons of glass throughout. As an industry we really do make, fabricate and install an awesome product. Take a look at what he did, and obviously not only does he have musical skills but he is not a bad designer either!

Read on for links and video of the week…

The author 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, April 2, 2018

My company has been a sponsor for the Women in Design & Construction event, a leadership conference for women—of all roles, fields and career stages—within the construction industry. My experience at these conferences made me reflect more on women in the workplace. With women making up 57 percent of the labor force, according to the Department of Labor’s website, it is pretty clear that women are here to stay. And, a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review showed that “as more women joined the workforce, they helped make cities more productive and increased wages” for both men and women (between 1980 and 2010).

How can the glass industry attract and retain the most promising female workers?

I wanted to explore this from the perspective of an emerging female professional in our industry, so I reached out to Sabrina Kanaley, an architectural representative from Crawford-Tracey Corp. While pursuing a degree in Information Technology, she used her semester breaks to intern at Crawford-Tracey.

“I walked through the door with absolutely zero concept and understanding of glass, glazing and construction,” she says. “I dove right in, absorbing all the knowledge I could and along the way I realized I was developing a passion for this industry and this job.”

After graduating from college, she returned to Crawford-Tracey because of this passion, which is apparent from her explanation of her job role.

“Though I’m an architectural rep, I’ve really got my hands in many ‘cookie jars.’ I work closely with the president of CTC in our design assist department. We collaborate with our engineering and drafting team to put together project specific system details and takeoffs, which we then provide to architects and GCs interested in utilizing our system as their basis of design. I also work closely with our director of sales and estimating and I frequently estimate projects that I’ve worked on since the schematic design phase.”

As someone fairly new and developing a real passion for her work, Sabrina’s perspective on what would  incentivize her to stay and grow in this industry is interesting.

“Truly, I would like to see not only myself, but more women in roles of leadership and management. Gender needs to stop being a decision factor. Work ethic, qualifications, education and performance need to be recognized and rewarded accordingly.”

When asked what the glass industry can do to attract more women, she said, “networking is a must. The glass industry needs to make itself known. Partner with universities, be present during career days and offer intern programs for college students. Start making more of an effort, be bold and show women that there is a place for them in this industry; give them a reason to be interested!”

Sabrina’s story is not unique. There are many talented and hardworking women in our industry who thrive in their roles when given the opportunity. It is up to us as an industry to encourage women to choose the glass industry—and decide to stay.

Diana San Diego is vice president of marketing for Safti First. Contact her 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, April 2, 2018

Every month I review the latest Glass Magazine and I am always excited to learn something new. As always, the knowledge growth was there, but the amount of insight in this latest edition is stunning. The March issue is the annual Top Glass Fabricators edition and it’s loaded from start to finish. The first major takeaway is that it comes with a pull-out map of the 2018 Top Glass Fabricators. It is old school and awesome and I am sure now hanging in glass shops and glazing operations throughout North America. Next is the rundown and detail of the Top Glass Fabricators. I always enjoy the project profiles that come with it. I mentioned last week the fabulous Vitrum Glass Group job and that was joined by several other amazing pieces of fabrication. Add in the details of some of the poll questions and you get excellent visibility into the world of the fabricator. In addition, this issue had outstanding pieces on buying a tempering furnace from a finance point of view, an incredible interview with Jeff Razwick of TGP on his deal with Allegion, and a nice piece on glass in health care. And selfishly, I was pretty excited to be included in a superb piece by Olivia Parker on best booth practices for trade shows. Overall, a tremendous issue. Please make sure you check it out!


  • Ad of the month was a tough one yet again. Lots of companies really raising their game with creative pieces, but the winner was Consolidated Glass Holdings and its “line card” ad that was included in the issue in a special way: it was on thicker stock that was attached to another page, so that immediately caught my eye. And then the info on there was very in-depth. Nice work, and congrats to Angela Beach at CGH to make that all happen!

  • While I am talking about good detail and insight, I need to give credit to Rob Struble and the team at Vitro on their email blasts. Their “Vitro Glass Insider” consistently delivers quick and helpful education. I know we all get tons of emails, and it’s tough to stand out, but they do with this approach.

  • It looks like the AIA show is following the lead of Greenbuild by pushing celebrity approaches and concert settings with the news that DJ and musician Questlove will be featured at their opening party. If you watch the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Questlove is his musical leader and is pretty well-known in the musical space. Whether this helps the always-frustrating issue of a lack of architects on the floor and in your booth remains to be seen…

  • For my friends in eastern Canada, are you attending Top Glass later this month? Looks like a solid day of education and information. Two guys that I am a big fan of will be on stage. Cody Thomas of Glass Renu will be there talking on glass restoration and Chris Fronsoe of ICD Coatings will be breaking down the spandrel world. So those sessions and others will make it a good one overall.

  • Last this week, it is now baseball season and while I don’t follow the day-to-day happenings as close as I used to, I still enjoy the sport and it always signals the beginning of an awesome sporting stretch. Baseball opening, NHL and NBA playoffs, NFL Draft, College Spring Football, The Masters, and the Indy 500. Lots of great distractions from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Oh, and just for the heck of it, for baseball I’m going Yankees to win it all. That lineup is pretty awesome.

Read on for links and video of the week…

The author 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.