glassblog

Monday, June 25, 2018

Labor. Education. Performance. Lead times. We hear about the challenges facing the glass industry—and the construction industry at large—all the time. Along with them, we've heard of the numerous product developments, training initiatives and workplace efficiencies many in our industry have pushed as a response to these challenges. 

During the 2018 AIA Expo last week in New York City, glass industry exhibitors looked to address those challenges through new, multi-faceted product innovations and developments. While in past AIA shows, exhibitors presented numerous solutions that met aesthetic demands and performance, this year was different. Companies raised the bar, showing solutions that met the needs of architects, while facing the challenges of the glass industry head on. 

The conversation was not only about products, nor was it only about architects—even at an architecture show. Here are just a few examples of how industry companies are considering product development and industry education from start to finish.

Product Development

YKK AP America is rethinking details of its products, down to mullion symmetry and system tooling, to "find methods and means to address labor concerns, beyond logistics," says Oliver Stepe, president. The company is working to capitalize on the middle market by helping smaller, less technologically advanced companies work through labor challenges with more easily understood products that still meet aesthetic and performance demands. "We can't look at product design in a monolithic plane anymore," says Stepe. 

Product Education

At Vitro Architectural Glass, Rob Struble, brand and communications manager, explained how the company is investing heavily in oversized glass production, with its seventh coater online in Wichita Falls, Texas, which produces 130-by-240-inch coated glass sheets. But, it goes beyond big glass. To ensure an informed customer base, Vitro says, "Bigger is Only the Beginning." Projects that spec oversized glass have many other factors to consider beyond wall-to-wall or floor-to-floor glass. "We are educating the architect that there's a lot more to it than bigger IG—it's heavier, more difficult to transport and install. Bigger is more than possible, but we want them to understand the tradeoffs up front through education." 

Product End-use

Technoform Glass Insulation is pushing the industry to "Spec the Edge" first before considering the center of glass, which has been the norm when considering high-performance glass products. "With a high-performing window frame and edge of glass, buildings can achieve the same performance with less advanced glass," says Helen Sanders, strategic business development. Sanders says the flow of heat is like the flow of water: it will find the path of least resistance through the edge, no matter how high-performing the center of glass is. "We must chip away at the issue of only considering energy return on investment," says Sanders. "We need to change the conversation beyond energy and into building comfort, thermal comfort. Downstream, this sells more space and costs come down." 

See much more from the glass and glazing industry in our show product video, @GlassMag on Twitter and @glassmagazinenga on Instagram. Or, browse the show product gallery below. 

 

 

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

Monday, June 25, 2018

I had some fun and interesting few days in New York last week for the annual AIA show. I gained some excellent insight and, as always, got to visit with the best and brightest in our industry. Before I get into the show review and all that came with it, I have to say just the overall vibe of the Times Square area is craziness. So many people, so much going on. It never ceases to amaze me. Also, I did trek away from Times Square for lunch at what I was told was the best pizza in New York: John’s on Bleeker. And it lived up to the billing. Also, kudos to my Uber driver who somehow crammed his car into the tightest of spaces to maneuver through the thickest traffic ever to get me out of town and to the airport. Needless to say, I could never ever drive in that city. 

Our world and the show...

The overall atmosphere within our industry and the markets was exceedingly positive. Many that I talked with were very bullish for the next two to three years, showing excellent metrics and a strong foundation of business and growth. That was exciting to hear. It didn’t hurt that the Architectural Billings Index released during the show was excellent yet again. Things are rolling and that is something to feel good about. And yes, I should add the disclaimer here that this is all good based on nothing happening at the political level, which, quite frankly, changes minute to minute anymore.

The show itself...

It was solid and better than past events, but probably still not what it should and could be. But for those exhibitors who suffered through Orlando’s mess last year, they at least had something to hang their hat on this time. Probably the issue with the show that struck me the most was the show floor was split with exhibits on the first and third floors. The third floor was huge, well lit, and featured a lot of very big names. The first floor was darker, featured lower ceilings, smaller booths, and despite having big time companies there, just felt different. There was no signage in either hall promoting the other show floor, and I know many architects and attendees had no idea that there were two floors. I know a few folks on the first floor had good shows, but I believe those on the third did much better. I just hate when trade shows break up the floor like that; just not good or fair to anyone except the trade show organizer. 

People and companies… 

NGA had its booth set up to answer code and technical questions with the brilliant duo of Urmilla Jokhu-Sowell and Dr. Tom Culp, and they were swamped. Loved the education approach because, as we all know, the more education and technical we can teach the architects, the better.

EFCO was back in the show with a very impressive booth, and I loved visiting with Joseph Holmes for a few minutes there. Very good guy!

It’s been a while since I have seen Jerry Schwabauer and Patrick Muessig of Azon. They had an incredible product that they are working with Quaker Window on that featured extremely high performing numbers thanks to Azon’s product. It’s a new release from them and you will surely be hearing more about that in the future. I love the continuing innovation path there!

More innovation was on display at VIG Technologies. They had a very interactive display showing their vacuum insulating glass in a heat box as well as a cool acoustical box that really showed the performance of the product.  

Vistamatic also had really amazing pieces on display that impressed me on several levels. Their booth was striking and I give them credit for making it work since much of it got damaged on the way from the holding area to their booth spot. 

It was fun meeting up with Ted Bleecker at the busy SuperSky Products booth. Also seeing Brian Thomas there was a bonus. Good company and great bunch of folks.

Obviously, when it comes to people I consider great, that is usually everyone associated with Viracon. Nicer to me than I deserve. Their show performance (busy and interesting exhibit) was impressive. 

It’s absolutely awesome to have Dan Plotnick back in our industry. Dan has been a favorite of mine for many years and after spending a decade-plus overseas, and time on the residential side, he’s back at Solar Seal and the CGH companies. Great add there for them, and I will be doing a Big 3 interview with Dan later this summer because his story is fascinating. 

I always love seeing the float people and seeing how they’ll be moving the needle product wise in the next few years. The Guardian Glass booth was fabulous, and they had at least three pieces of very big news (bird deterrent glass, VIG, jumbo) that will be positive disruptions in the industry. Thanks, as always, to the great Chris Dolan and team for being so welcoming.

Vitro also was making news with their Acuity product (love the name, logo and look; don’t doubt the talented Rob Struble as he nailed it again) as well as their push into bigger sizes. Plus, seeing my old pal Steve Cohen there was very cool.

Over at AGC there was a bunch of activity happening, but all I cared about was saying hi to my old pal Matt Ferguson. Just hearing that voice again, that very distinctive sound and drawl, made the show for me. Good to see him and everyone else there.

Wrapping up, I saw James Wright, and his energy and positive approach is infectious. Same with my old pal Danik Dancause of Walker. They debuted a new booth that was so beautiful and impressive that no one noticed that incredible suit Danik rocked on day one. Folks, that’s a good booth when that happens.  

I am sure I am missing a few that I should be noting, but I think my head is still trying to acclimate to being back in my sleepy Michigan town vs. the bright lights of New York City. Overall, very good stuff. Now all eyes turn to GlassBuild America. That’s next, and it’s going to be incredible. I am completely confident about it, and you’ll be hearing more from me in the coming weeks for sure. 

Elsewhere....

  • Because this review is so long, there won’t be a Big 3 interview this week. But stay tuned. The ones I have coming up I believe are outstanding and I am so thankful for all of the positive reaction so far. I really appreciate those who read and especially those who are being interviewed for sharing their insights.

  • Quick major congrats to Dan McCrickard. Dan is a classy man and friend and he just landed an excellent gig at Assa Abloy. Strong company adds talent, love it! Happy for you, Dan!

  • Last this week, just a programming note. No blog next week as Canada Day and the Fourth of July will be upon us. I will be back in this space the week of July 8th with the latest Glass Magazine review, Big 3 interview, and more. I sincerely hope you and yours enjoy whichever holiday you are celebrating, and please stay safe! (I hate fireworks. Please be careful if you are messing with them!)

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.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Supply chain management is a massive part of doing business. Yet, for many managers, it does not get the focus or appreciation it truly deserves. In addition, with supply oversight comes one of the scariest words: inventory!

That word and needed process can bring an absolute panic to those who don’t have systems or regular checks of goods and materials in place.

I have found success in my career by making organization and communication a priority when it comes to supply and inventory. Too many times I have seen siloed business approaches where each group fails to ensure everyone needed in the process is involved from the start. Why is it so important to communicate heavily, even to the most basic of details? 

Take Bohle for example. The amount of inventory under our roof right now is monumental, but because of the business we are in, we really don’t have a choice. We have over 3,600 SKUs listed in our Charlotte facility and a little over 4,800 in our Portals warehouse in Kansas City. We serve an extremely diverse customer base: a one-person art glass boutique, a shower door dealer, contract glaziers of all sizes, primary float glass manufacturers located all over North America. In some cases, there are materials that all of the various segments can use, and in other cases it’s more focused.

Because of this vast approach, it’s crucial at all times to understand our supply chain, our inventory, our usage and our approach. 

Thankfully, technology can make this approach so much easier. We are able to utilize systems that track everything coming in and going out, and the visibility it allows opens the line of communication with all of the stakeholders in the process. I want to make sure that our sales team is in the loop on supplies, and they all have the freedom to note inventory levels and changes to our buyers. This communication also lets us know if we need to work closer with our supply base to make necessary changes. On the opposite side, I can watch and see if items are not moving at the pace they need to and press on our team to communicate with our customer base, so the products can be sold versus sitting on the shelf.

Inventory is always going to be a grind, even more when you have many items, especially smaller ones. It is, however, crucial to do it right and consistently stay on top of it. Once you start to cut corners on this process, it will only get harder and more problematic. And the one area that your finance people will surely get frustrated with you is if your inventories are a mess. That’s the last thing I want to deal with!

Obviously, this is not an exact science; we all get stuck with materials we struggle to move and sometimes we’re short when orders exceed expectations. But, if we stay on top of the process and constantly communicate and update, we minimize those situations.

Gareth Francey is the president of Bohle America, a supplier of glazing & handling tools, hardware, consumables, and machinery, for all levels of the glass industry. Francey has been with the Bohle organization since 2001 and led the American division since 2010. Contact him at gareth.francey@bohle-america.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, June 18, 2018

New York City is this week’s destination for many in our industry headed to the annual AIA show. As I have mentioned many times before, it is always intriguing to see how this show is because, as an industry, we long to get in front of architects. But more often than not, this show leaves the exhibitors wanting. And this year, with education happening outside of the building and 200 walking tours going on at the same time as the expo, it will be interesting to see and experience the floor action. I had noted previously that I was not attending, but moons aligned, and I now will be there. I look forward to seeing everyone there and reporting back here next week.

Elsewhere….

Those of you coming to New York may see this sign. Not one that any of us should be a fan of!! Thanks to my friend Ian Patlin of Paragon Architectural Products for the picture. Stil, from the website it promotes, I am seeing a lot of glass. So interesting yet confusing hook for me with being "anti-glass," as it should be more focused on not being cookie cutter since that is the end message vs. glass usage.

Also related to New York, the first request for modular construction is out. This is a trend to watch. I am seeing it a lot on the residential side, and just a bit with commercial, but I think it may gain momentum quicker than you think.

Last this week, congrats to my friend Deron Patterson of Vitro on his new position as architectural market manager for Mexico. Deron is such a fascinating and bright person and has been a major success in his career, something I foresee continuing with this new role!

The Big 3 Interview

Maure Creager, building science manager, SageGlass

Maure is a brilliant and talented person and the industry can surely use many more like her. I wanted to find out how someone with her background made it into the glass world and get her perspectives on the always-evolving dynamic glass market, of which I am a huge fan.

When you were growing up, what did you want to do for a living and then once you got the mechanical engineering degree? Did you ever in your wildest dreams think you’d end up with a long career in the glass business?

An Astronaut! Didn’t everyone after watching the movie Space Camp? Side note: I had a friend who was able to attend the camp. Those dreams were dashed when I got glasses, so I decided to plan for the next best thing and go for mechanical engineering with a master’s in aeronautical. But the job market was amazing when I finished my BS, so I decided to work for a while first. I had amazing mentors and learned a lot about commercial and industrial design and construction during my work experience in college and in my first post-grad job. A few years later led to my husband being transferred to the frozen tundra (I mean Minnesota), which meant finding a new job, which was with SageGlass. The product was so cool, and the people I was going to work with were brilliant, mind-blowing smart. At the time, I had no idea I would end up with a career in the glass business. SageGlass was still a startup when I joined, which meant I had the opportunity to learn a lot and work in many different areas of the business and with the product.

You were one of the first people I met that was involved with dynamic glass. How much has that world changed since you started at Sage Glass in 2004?

Oh, my goodness. Well, for starters, we can make units larger than 18x35 inches! Back then, we were excited to ship five units per week that we hand packed in custom-built and padded crates, and we could ship them via UPS. Needless to say, our volume has increased exponentially. In 2004, the iPhone was still three years away from being debuted, so I never would have imagined we would be controlling the glass from an app or Amazon Echo. But I think the most interesting aspect has been the building science and occupant health research. For example, we all knew we loved sunlight, but the biology of it hadn’t yet been proven. Now we know we humans absolutely need daylight to regulate our circadian rhythms. We are still striving for changes for healthier people and planet, but we are getting there. I hope a right to light mandate will be incorporated into our building and employee health and safety standards sooner rather than later. 

What ideas would you have to encourage college graduates—whether engineers or sales or marketing—to get them to come to the industry?

There are so many different types of work you can do within the glass industry: façade engineer, process engineer, design engineer, test engineer, R&D, product development, the list goes on and on. Glass may seem simple, but it can also be incredibly complex and interesting. But what I have learned over time, is that what you do is only part of it; who you work with is also important. What I love about the glass industry are the people, both within SageGlass and Saint-Gobain, and within the industry as a whole. Within the industry organizations I am part of, I can clearly see the sharing of knowledge across the industry, and [a focus on] mentoring new professionals. It truly is a small world and we are all working together to move the glass industry forward. 

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.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018
 

It’s a familiar scenario: your sales and marketing team got together and strategized all the best traits of the ideal customer. They updated all the messaging and marketing support materials to attract this perfect prospect. Upper management agreed that, yes, this is the customer we want and need.

Next, you gathered your sales team and got them on board with the ideal customer profile, and then sent them out into the world to find this elusive prospect. After a few weeks, some sales opportunities came back with a potential ideal customer who was mildly interested in your offerings.  However, there was also a prospect who was a less-than-perfect fit but expressed a lot of interest.

Your team is very busy and only has time to focus on developing one of these prospects. Did they choose the right one?

Your direction to the team was to bring in the ideal customer, because if the ideal customer fits exactly with your capabilities, then surely, he or she would buy from you, and all would be right with the world.

However, it’s been my experience that enthusiasm and eagerness to do business should trump actual fit. Both factors matter, but customers that show initial eagerness, even if they don’t appear to be a perfect fit, are more likely to become buyers and long-term customers, compared to a perfect match with only a slight interest.

Other sales tactics to consider:

  • The speed of your response will be a critical factor in your ability to achieve success with any prospect. Don’t wait for days to prepare the most beautifully crafted response. A quick response is best—even if it’s to let your prospect know you’re researching the question and will follow up soon. 
  • Do not worry about who you speak with at the prospect business. Many salespeople look down on leads when the contact is a junior or mid-level person and not the ultimate decision maker. I have found that often the junior person has been tasked by the executive to get the ball rolling. If you can win them over, they can become your champion. 

Ultimately, your ideal customer is the one that fits your operational capability and is willing to work with you.

Chad Simkins is director of sales and marketing, Guardian Glass Fabrication. He can be reached at csimkins@guardian.com

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

I am a sucker for lists of all types and this one really got me going. The latest report from the U.S. Census Bureau was released and it featured the fastest growing cities by population from 2016 to 2017. The great state of Texas keeps growing. Three of the top five growth areas were from the Lone Star state. Here’s the top 10 with some comments:


1.   San Antonio: I would’ve bet Austin; they were 12th
2.   Phoenix
3.   Dallas
4.   Ft. Worth: I seriously always just considered Dallas and Ft. Worth as one.
5.   Los Angeles: I guess we’ll see if all of the reports of people fleeing California this year is true when updated reports come out.
6.   Seattle
7.   Charlotte
8.   Columbus: Grads from Ohio State have to live somewhere I guess.
9.   Frisco, Texas
10.  Atlanta

Elsewhere…

  • Congrats to all of you out there who have high school and college graduation celebrations happening right now. Exciting and nerve-wracking times for parents and kids alike!
  • Kudos out to the team at Britt & Tilson Glass in Asheville, North Carolina. They do not let things like horrible weather and massive floods slow them down. Billy Britt posted this picture on Twitter from outside of their shop, but also posted an awesome kitchen and shower enclosure just completed. That’s what I love about so many in our industry: nothing can stop them from getting the work done!


Big 3 interview series, week 2

Syndi Sim, vice president marketing & business development, DFI

I am truly touched at the reaction I got from last week’s interview. I believe everyone I have lined up will keep that momentum going. This one features Syndi Sim of Diamon-Fusion International. Syndi has this incredibly positive and upbeat approach that truly is something to admire. And I especially loved her last answer; such a great lesson there.

You have been in marketing for what looks like a majority of your professional life. How is marketing in the glass and glazing world different than other areas?

Marketing in the glass and glazing world is not much different than other products/services I have marketed. The key is truly connecting with people, in ways they want to be communicated with. People engage and receive messaging in various forms: some like to use LinkedIn while others prefer phone calls or face-to-face conversations. If you can find out what is important to your audience, how they want to receive information, and most importantly, learn how to connect on a human level, then you will begin to develop solid relationships. This will inevitably open the door to more honest, conductive conversations.  

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment to date at DFI?

Having worked at DFI for almost five years, my greatest accomplishment has been strategizing with new and current customers about the marketing leverage DFI’s FuseCube offers. My team and I have worked tirelessly on creating various marketing models that have differentiated the recipient’s glass coating business. In my eyes, not only is the glass fabricator receiving … [the] application system, but a team that will stop at nothing to help them succeed.

We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all strategy for our customers, but instead take the time to learn about each company’s marketing/sales demands, then formulate a tailored model that best fits those goals. This concept has really positioned us as a reliable business partner.

You are very active with shows and also customer visits (I see you on LinkedIn all over the world). From being out there so much and seeing so many different ways of doing things, what are some takeaways you can share that we as an industry should be doing more of to become better?

This is an exciting time to be in the glass industry. People are sharing ideas and glass is becoming more ingenious. My best piece of advice would be to just spend time with customers. Ask questions. Learn. And above all, listen. You wouldn’t believe how effective having an open, honest conversation really is.

My passion and, coincidentally, my success have come from face-to-face opportunities—whether it is attending shows, meeting with customers at their fabrication facilities or, at the very least, sharing successes/stories via LinkedIn. For many years, the industry really did not market or interact as much as they are doing now. Seeing and talking with the customer at their plant is a great educational process and opportunity to find out firsthand the customers’ needs and wants.

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 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, June 4, 2018
 

I can’t recall where we were going, but in an unusual turn of events, my whole family was in the car and we were waiting for my dad. After a few minutes of waiting in the driveway, my mother sent me in to see what was taking my father so long. When I got in the house, I heard laughter from upstairs. I checked to see what was so funny, and saw my dad in front of the TV. He was still laughing when he said, “The fact that someone could write a movie that made these two guys brothers is amazing.”

What was my dad watching, you may ask? “Twins,” with Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger. A physically perfect and super intelligent Julius Benedict, developed from a science experiment, was on a search for his long-lost, less-than-perfect, twin brother, Vincent Benedict, who was the accidental bi-product of the same science experiment.

Well, 20 or so years later, I had a similar movie moment and was struck by a storyline about two unlikely people crossing paths, in “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” Benjamin Barry is an advertising executive and ladies' man. To help land a big campaign, he bets his boss that he can make a woman fall in love with him in 10 days. Andie Anderson covers the "How To" beat for "Composure" magazine. Her assignment is to write an article on "How to Lose a Guy in 10 days" using classic dating mistakes. The two meet in a bar shortly after the bet is made, and the rest is rom-com history.  

These two movies have taken on a life of their own in my household, and my sons never pass up an opportunity to poke fun at me when “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” comes on TV. But, what do these movies have to do with a blog post for Glass Magazine? Not much, really. But, they are a good, comical segue into how we find ourselves in our current profession or career.

In “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” Andie Anderson didn’t want to cover the “How To” beat for the fictitious “Composure” magazine. She went to journalism school and wanted to write about subjects and topics she cared about. 

A couple of years ago, TGP hosted an editor tour. I remember speaking to one of the young editors who had recently graduated from a prestigious university with a graduate degree in journalism. She reminded me of Andie Anderson. The editor went to school and graduated with a journalistic skillset. She talked about her dreams and aspirations of winning a Pulitzer Prize. I hope she does. But for the time being, she finds herself in the glass business like so many of us. Sure, for some, a family business led them to the glass industry. But more often than not, life happens and we fall into these niche industries, or get pulled in one direction or another as our careers progress. In our case, it’s glass, windows, doors, curtain wall and fenestration.

How did you find yourself here? How long did you think you would stay? It’s interesting to think about where we all started, what our ultimate goal is, and how it has changed with time. Amazon’s workplace challenge comes to mind. Once a year, the company offers to pay full-time associates at their fulfillment centers up to $5,000 to leave. But if they accept, they can never work at the company again. The counter-intuitive offer sounds risky, but according to Amazon, few people accept. According to CEO Jeff Bezos, “The goal is to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want.” This, the company believes, actually helps enhance employee engagement.

So, take a moment. What is your end goal? How has it changed and what are you working towards? Frost yourself.

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, June 4, 2018
 

It’s a longer post this week with the debut of my new interview series. Not every post will be this long but thank you in advance for checking it all out!

First, a few quick hits.

  • A subject we hear a lot about (and will be below in the interview, too) is attracting workers to our industry. At BEC, the highest-rated presentation was on the matters of the workforce and this article recently had some nice tips on recruiting and retaining the next generation to our industry.
  • Congrats to Brian Leizerowicz on his new gig at Western Window Systems. I have been a huge fan of Brian’s for years, talented guy and good to see he’s continuing to climb up the ladder in our industry. He’ll do great things with the product line at Western.
  • This week saw the end of my favorite TV show of recent times, “The Americans.” It was an amazing ride and the finale was fabulous. It made me think about how I got into that show: the one and only Greg Carney tipped me off, in this email from Jan. 31, 2013.

Hello Max,

Just a quick note to see if you watched "The Americans" on FX tonight? If not, knowing your enjoyment of shows such as 24, I would highly recommend checking it out (Wednesday nights @ 10:00 pm). Awesome premiere tonight.

I think of Greg often, and with this show ending it’s another connection we had going away. He lives on, though, in all we try to do to make this industry the best it can be!

Now on to my new interview series: The Big 3.

To kick off this segment, I went with the person responsible for me being in this business. Steve Perilstein. My brother Steve is the guy you can get mad at if you hate me; it’s all his fault. Anyway, I thought this would be the best person to start with as my brother is a fascinating guy and has had amazing success through his lifelong (and I mean lifelong) career in the glass business. He was also way ahead of the trends with pushing into tempering and insulating glass, developing sales people and building businesses overall.

Steve Perilstein, executive vice president, WA Wilson

Because I know you so well, I know you wanted to be a “glass jobber” since you could walk. What was your path like always wanting to be in this industry and going from those early days at the original Perilstein companies all the way to WA Wilson?

It started with me in preschool when I drew a picture of me with window glass. It was just something that I always wanted to do. When I was growing up I always looked forward to Saturdays so I could go into work with Dad. I just wanted to be around it all. When I was in high school I worked every day after school in the warehouse and learned something new daily. When Dad started Perilstein Distributing Corp. in 1977 I was there to help get it started and after a year away for college I came home to work full time while pursuing my degree in night school. It was amazing to work with my Dad. He was and will always be my hero. 

Eventually I gained more and more knowledge and leadership responsibility and it was important as my Dad fought off some health issues. It was during those times that I moved the company forward. When he had cancer, we bought an IG line; when he had open heart surgery, we purchased a tempering oven. Sounds funny but it just worked out that way. We grew the company no matter what and pushed into underserved areas. 

Family businesses are tough, but I wouldn’t change a thing in my life. In fact, at this point in my career I have a soft spot in my heart for family operations and do whatever I can to help those there. After we sold PDC I moved on to Arch and then to GGI. Both were incredible experiences where I was able to work with the best [people] our industry had to offer. I will always be grateful for those times. I count myself as very fortunate and blessed to now to be a part of the ownership group of WA Wilson and to get to work with a true class act and great man in Bobby Hartong. Bobby and the folks at Wilson are really wonderful and I am honored to be working alongside of them.

What’s the biggest change you have seen in the glass fabrication industry since you started?

I have been in and around the industry for more than 50 years, working full time the last 41. The biggest change: [in the past], ¼ tempered glass was three to four weeks lead time and was very expensive. It was run on a vertical line that left tong marks on the glass. Those marks that would absolutely be rejected by customers today. Also, when I started, no one knew or was producing much insulating glass. In addition, the product mix now is so vast. We went from mostly selling only clear and two tints to seemingly having thousands of varieties of glass makeups that can go into structures.

Biggest industry challenge?

Finding labor to do it all. Too many people think the industry is not “sexy” enough. I wonder, will my grandchildren want to be in the business? What will attract the youth? It’s worrisome. When I visit companies, I am noticing that we are not getting young people in the business, not getting kids out of school to get in here.

At WA Wilson, we’ve tried to engage trade schools and they have no desire to work with our industry. It’s very frustrating that career placements don’t consider the glass world.

I am excited that the new NGA with the single voice may be a great road for addressing this. We need to find people to get in our industry and stay in the industry to keep it going.

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 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.