glassblog

Monday, July 16, 2018

At the moment, I can tell you almost as much as a golf professional about the best 4-hybrid clubs out there. How is that possible when I am an average Joe? Quality information is easy to find, third party sites have hundreds of reviews, and I’ve tried them all because I happened to be looking for one (my old one may or may not have been tossed in a pond).

The point is, as buyers, we’re now willing and able to qualify ourselves with suppliers. We should be applying this new way of buying to our businesses. Add this capability with audiences larger than fathomable a decade ago and it adds up to opportunity. If prospects can qualify themselves, we should make it easy for them. It will free resources to other areas, like moving from prospect to client. But how?

Relevance is the key! Be relevant with your current selling environment and your market. For example, it is 10 p.m., and a long-standing client remembers they forgot to place an order. They can get on a competitor’s website and immediately order or wait for tomorrow to call me (if they don’t forget again). In the current arena, I expect to lose this scenario because, when it mattered, I was not as closely connected to the client. Relevance gets the top organic search on Google. How do we become more relevant? Be where the client is when it matters. Supply pertinent information quickly and generate content. A potential customer will know almost immediately if they’re going further or dismissing you never to be seen again.

A website is one of the best ways to be relevant and is often the first introduction to a company. Follow the traffic on your website. How many new vs. returning visitors does it have? What type of devices are used? What pages were visited? For how long? The time spent is a great tool for identifying areas of improvement. People won’t waste time scouring for information. Webpages must have responsive design. I still find sites that are frustrating to navigate on mobile. User-generated content, if you can get it, is an excellent means of relevance. I trust a list of user reviews more because it is not distributed by the seller.

Use consistent branding across multiple platforms to raise relevance in search engine algorithms. The more connections on the web the more search engines find your name over others. These engines are like brains where the more connections the easier to find something. Make web connections across as many channels as possible, ask suppliers and distribution channels to make a connection to your platforms, directly link all these sites. If you’re not on the five big social platforms, you’re missing an opportunity others will capture.

Max Perilstein put DeGorter Inc. on Instagram about a year ago and it has been a great tool to visually demonstrate how we help others create, plus it suggests others I’ve not heard of working in the same field. While some platforms may prove more valuable than others, the bigger picture is your footprint on the web and making it larger.   

I’ve noticed these changes over the last decade and we are integrating our marketing to become more relevant. My goal is to find ways to make it easier for others to absorb information with the intention of finding better pre-qualified leads. Time is a limited resource. Allowing prospects to qualify themselves frees resources for other avenues. If you’re wondering, I went with a Callaway Big Bertha 4-hybrid. Hopefully it stays in the bag a while longer than the last one.

Pete de Gorter is vice president of sales and marketing at DeGorter Inc. Contact him at pete@degorter.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, July 16, 2018

Last week I wrote about the expectations for a strong second half of the year. That post brought some reaction my way from a cross section of people. Some have had solid years to date, and others are hoping that my prediction here isn’t as bad as my sports ones. The positive news for all was that this week another metric came through to continue the push. The Dodge Momentum Index was up yet again and it’s now nearing a 10-year high.  This is now five straight months on the plus side, and while the increases on each report are not huge, they are still going in the right direction. Now let’s have that translate to the day-to-day for those that need it!

Elsewhere....

  • Attention glazing contractor friends, there is an excellent “Thirsty Thursday” webinar coming up on July 19 on the top 10 things to look for when negotiating glazing contracts. This is presented by the NGA and is a member-only benefit. If you are a member sign up; if you’re not, you should be joining so you don’t miss incredible education like this. The great Courtney Little of ACE Glass will be the presenter so you know this will be good!

  • Something I never thought of but found very cool: the tallest buildings ever to be conventionally demolished. Who knew someone kept such stats on this approach. And I was surprised not seeing the one hotel in Las Vegas that was taken down a few years ago (the City Center one that never opened) on the list. Interesting stuff! 

Big 3 interview

Nathalie Thibault, architectural sales director, Prelco

One of the reasons I decided to do this series was to learn more from people smarter than me. This week, that theme absolutely applies with Nathalie. Her approach and intelligence are off the charts and, as you’ll find out below, she’s always pushing for more. 

You are very active within the industry and the trade associations including major board positions now and in the past. You are very knowledgeable with our world. What do you think are some of the key challenges we face as an industry and how do we address them?

I believe the number one challenge that we are facing is the globalization of our industry. We must adapt to various standards, higher expectations, worldwide competition and complex logistics.

The wide variety and complexity of products and their different combinations is also increasingly difficult to manage. We see more and more combinations of various high-performance low-E, several layers of glass and patterns and colors on a single unit! That complexity makes it very difficult to ensure consistency. And, to add to this, the expectations on the required timeline for production are almost the same as if it were simple products. That is why education to all stakeholders in the construction and glass industry should be our number one priority.

Another major challenge that we are facing is finding labor. Knowledgeable resources are getting very scarce and manpower is also extremely difficult to find. Our industry will need to work on attracting young and passionate professionals.

As I have told you in person, I have always been a fan of your company. Prelco is very diverse with products and segments, so I am curious, how do you stay focused when you are dealing with so many different worlds?

A company really needs a strong vision to be able to achieve that kind of diversification. We had to look at our business model on a few occasions to realign our efforts and prioritize certain segments in which we operate. Some segments are changing extremely fast as well, which requires us to adapt rapidly. There were times where we had to abandon certain efforts in order to focus on the segments where we really wish to become real leaders. However, I must say that, in the end, it is that same diversification that has benefited the company throughout the years and allowed it to get through slower economic cycles.

Did I read correctly that you are now studying for your MBA. I am curious with all you already know in the business arena, what is driving you to get more education?

I have indeed begun my master’s degree in strategy and innovation over a year ago. I decided to pursue these studies because I felt that I needed to push my managing skills a notch further. I believe that having a good theoretical understanding of today’s business environment is likely to provide me with the necessary tools to strategize and innovate appropriately in our rapidly changing world. It has been a very interesting journey so far, and it made me expand my horizons beyond the glass manufacturing sector.

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications.E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Glass Magazine reported in the just-released Top 50 Glaziers issue that the combined 2017 gross revenues of the Top 50 Glaziers increased nearly 15 percent over the 2016 combined gross. That industry good news is bringing emerging challenges for the glazing and curtain wall industry.

At Integro, we are looking just over the horizon at specific industry-wide issues arising in the current high-growth, high-demand marketplace. Specifically, we are focusing on demand producing upward price pressures; cost pressures being exacerbated by new tariffs on aluminum; and skilled curtain wall labor becoming increasingly less available.

The challenge to our industry is that all clients need to know that their curtain wall and glazing companies are deploying strategies now that anticipate and accommodate these developments. By way of example, our company has put into place three strategies to directly address and work around these dynamics.

First, our two-country, multi-location production strategy helps mitigate or avoid increased cost surprises for clients. We order material for our U.S. jobs from U.S. extruders, and we order materials for our Canadian jobs from Canadian extruders, so tariffs likely do not come into play. Additionally, by design, we are one of few companies able to manufacture “closer-to-the-client” at any one of our geographically-diverse production facilities regardless of project location, thus keeping down costs and avoiding transportation delays.

Second, we have made sure that our production capability is properly aligned with the marketplace, regardless of the level of demand. The company has 200,000 square feet of total production and assembly capacity, with 75,000 square feet in Florida, 75,000 square feet in Toronto and 50,000 square feet in Vancouver, Canada, with additional engineering support and sales representation from offices in Cincinnati and Dallas. This allows for fast turnaround and responsiveness, and keeps costs down. 

Lastly, we established a steadfast operating principle that avoids labor shortfalls and design, engineering or production bottlenecks, as well as additional costs that frequently exist in the industry. Specifically, as part of our “Integrity-Based Performance” corporate strategy, we do not overstretch. With busy market activity, we start hiring and putting into place any additional and necessary skilled people in advance of market-driven company growth. We carefully monitor the amount of business we take on to assure delivery on time and on budget, without compromising quality.

Our industry is built on smart planning and sound execution. The issues arising now are ones we can address through these same industry-wide skills.

Jim Mitchell is CEO and president, Integro Building Systems.

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, July 9, 2018

With the July holidays in the United States and Canada behind us, the second half of the year can begin. There have been some frustrating feelings out there as not everyone was as “swamped” as they expected to be in the first half of the year. Some areas of North America stayed softer into the second quarter vs. others; however, that all looks like old news as work is seemingly breaking free all over. The expectations are very high for a very strong last half of 2018. I think that’s what we all want, so bring it on!

Elsewhere…

Time for the monthly Glass Magazine review. It’s the June issue featuring the MGM National Harbor on the cover. Once again, jammed packed with content led by the annual Top 50 Glaziers report. I love looking at this list each year. So many good people doing great work. There’s also a fabulous GlassBuild America preview (get registered and book your hotel if you have not yet). And Bethany Stough continues to deliver extremely helpful articles on the workforce with yet another strong piece. Last, I am big fan of Matt Johnson of the Gary Law Group and he had a very smart article on “When to Call a Lawyer.” All of this and much more. Plus, if you are headed on vacation soon, you could save it for pool or beach reading. You'll look like the smartest one there! 

Last, before my interview this week, kudos to my friends at Trex Commercial Products (I still want to type SC Railing) on some of their amazing recent work. I am a big fan of creativity with glass and what these folks did with the glass railing portions on the new soccer stadium in California was sharp. Congrats on a job well done!

Big 3 Interview

Scott Rowe, principal and glass geek, Rowe Fenestration

This was a really fun interview. I only recently met Scott at the past GlassBuild America, so getting a chance to do this with him was very cool for me. With just getting to know him, the more I follow Scott and his company, the more impressed I get. Manufacturers’ representatives can get a bad rap (some deserve it, believe me), but guys like Scott and his group surely do a fantastic job of making the companies they represent and our industry look good!

Did I read your profile right that you were a math major in college? How did you end up in the glass world from there?

I actually ended up in the glass business well before college.

It was the summer of 1969, as a sophomore in high school, I took a summer job at a tiny upstart glass company that was soon to move to my hometown in the Midwest. I started as a loader on the line and moved up to glass cutter, before automated cutting and optimization. I moved through the plant working many of the stations, until the day that changed my life.

It was a hot, humid corn belt kinda day in the factory. A group of five or six coolly sophisticated looking guys came in the side door. They wore pink and purple madras shirts, penny loafers with no socks, and were all sunburned. “Who are those guys?” I asked. They were a couple of our customers and the sales guys after a day of fishing and golf. I knew in that moment that I wanted to be like them: their freedom, style of communication, and that footwear. I continued to work in the plant all through high school and during every college break. “Scotty, bring a clean shirt, run to the airport to pick up our vendor/customer/architect.” Every opportunity presented brought me closer to connecting with people, talking to them, learning about them, and ultimately to sales. I started full time as a management trainee in 1975. But back to your original question, I did use my trigonometry knowledge to figure out the algorithm for the stretch factor on a vertical tong-held tempering furnace using a slide rule.

You started your manufacturers rep firm in 2005, which was when things were rolling, but then the recession hit pretty quick after that. What kept you going and then eventually growing?

By 2005 I had been in the business over 30 years at many different levels of the industry and had the opportunity to learn from some great mentors. People are the core of our business, and I am fortunate to have been surrounded by an innovative and hardworking team, a brilliant business partner, and have the support of my incredibly smart and patient wife. Like many of us, we have the urgent need to eat, sleep out of the rain and cold, and support our families. When you are a small business you are not necessarily tied to national trends. With insight and effort, we can influence and affect our own reality. We have built a small team of talented people from different backgrounds, and they are leading us to continued success as the world evolves.

A lot has obviously changed in the industry from when you started, is there anything specific (products, plants, people etc.) that make you laugh at the way things were vs. the way they are now?

Life is change. The technology of the products, the design, the process, the systems, the applications, and methods of communication have all changed greatly. The need for top quality, dependable, honest, and timely transactions and communication is as relevant as it has ever been. The speed with which things happen now is nearly in real-time. The days of the traditional library and catalogue are virtually gone; you need to have a digital footprint, social media and an online presence with a positive user experience. Technology facilitates these opportunities. As they say, “there’s an app for that.” Transition into this new world is vital.

Many of the “shazam” type products and organizations that we have expected to be overnight phenomena take far longer to develop than first expected. I liken it to a Bonnie Raitt interview I heard the year she won Grammys in four categories. “How does it feel to be an overnight success?” She replied, “Amazing, and it only took me 25 years.”

Our business has changed in many ways. We can now build better buildings with greater energy efficiency and more innovative design options as we continue to evolve toward net zero facilities. What has not changed is the need for humanity in the process. The need to develop understanding and a collaborative spirit between the ownership/design, the corporate manufacturing entities, the GCs and the specialty subcontractors remains a vital challenge for a successful outcome.

Madras shirts are back (for some of us never gone). I still love fancy socks and a great pair of velvet shoes, but I do stay out of the sun now on advice of my dermatologist. I was able to do it, and I still love what I do. We truly respect and enjoy the culture of this wonderful industry and are extremely fortunate to have the support of excellent vendor partners. We continue to get up every day to assist our customers as they work to complete successful projects.

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.