Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Stan RagleyTrade shows are a key place for machinery purchasing. For attendees looking to buy, it’s important to get prepared now to secure financing and make a wise purchase. If you’re prepared ahead of time, you’re able to make a better deal at the show and secure what you need in an environment when machines are in shorter supply.

Look at both your personal and business credit to ensure it’s all in order ahead of time. The worst time to find out you need to correct something on your credit is when you need it. Make sure there are no mistakes or things you should correct in advance.

To help you ensure things are in order, remember the Five Cs:

  • Capacity: Do you have sufficient cash flow to service the loan?
  • Character: What is your credit history, both personal and business?
  • Collateral: Do you have additional collateral at your disposal? This could be inventory, A/R, free and clear equipment or property that you may need to secure the loan.
  • Capital: What is the net worth of your business and personal net worth?
  • Conditions: What is the purpose of the loan and what factors should be considered? The economy, new contracts, replacing outdated equipment and employee reduction are all examples of possible factors to examine.

It doesn’t cost anything to get pre-approved. There are no fees to submit an application or do the credit check required during the pre-approval process. Additionally, there is no obligation to use the approval once it’s secured. And, while an approval generally expires after 90 days, some finance departments are able to get it quickly re-approved after that time period has elapsed. Better still, when you’re prepared at a trade show with a specific dollar figure you’re approved for already, you get immediate attention at the event. 

Be aware that small oversights can cause big problems when the time comes to move on a machine. Many customers, due to the size of their company, don’t have CFOs or accountants monitoring deadlines for simple things like paying an annual LLC fee to ensure the company remains active. If you’re in this camp, do your due diligence for credit-related issues once each calendar year. It doesn’t take long and it pays to be ready.

The biggest thing any small business can do is have both their business and personal credit in order. This can be a stressful process, so particularly for a show, you don’t want to be waiting until the last minute to be ready to buy. 

Stan Ragley is finance manager of Biesse North America. He has more than two decades of experience in overseeing the financing of Biesse and Intermac machines for America and Canada.

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, August 28, 2018

The latest forecasts are showing some slowing of momentum on the commercial building side. The question though is … are we trending downward or is this just a blip on the radar? One example is the Architectural Billings Index, which was positive again for the 42nd time in the last 49 months. But, I read that some analysts were worrying over the number.

I am not ready to fret yet given all of the other action happening right now and the positive metrics out there, but as always I will continue to keep close watch and see if anything looks out of sort in the next few reports.


  • Congrats to Bill Daubmann and the team at D3 Glass in Florida on their latest expansion news. Man, that company has continued to grow over the years, and it’s been nice to follow their continued development.
  • I saw a thread on an architectural message board recently that said architects are seeing fewer and fewer LEED projects. Is that something our industry is seeing as well? Are you getting fewer requests than in the past? I know glass is relatively minor in the big picture of LEED, but still a slowing of LEED projects would be newsworthy.
  • And we are now just two weeks away from GlassBuild America. I have told you about the Glazing Executives Forum, the Fall Conference and Express Learning. Now what about the awesome on floor ACTION DEMOS. These are seriously worth your time. Check out the line up HERE. These demos are moneymakers for you as a business owner or as a manager. Check them out. There is still time to register for the show and grab a room in Vegas. You want to be at the show and quite frankly you NEED to be at this show!

This week’s interview: Dan Plotnick, vice president, sales and marketing, Solar Seal

I have known Dan for many years, but until I got the answers from this interview, I really never knew him. My gosh his path to this business is a fun and wild one. (His wife compares him to Forrest Gump with the travels/people etc. She’s dead on!) We are lucky to have him in our industry. I enjoyed getting to communicate with Dan no matter where in the world he was stationed and always appreciated how he’s kept up with my posts. Now it’s great to have him in North America and in the commercial fab business. It’s a long one but well worth the read in my opinion!

Am I reading your past right, you were a history major? If that is correct, how in the world did you end up as such a high-powered sales and marketing executive?

Max, you are correct – my major was history with a concentration on the Middle East and a minor in political science. I went to a small liberal arts college with 1,600 students in Los Angeles and my average class size was 15 people. In class, there was nowhere to hide. While on paper I’m a history major, in reality, I was a communications major. Every exam was essay based. I didn’t have one “scan-tron” test and certainly didn’t need a #2 pencil.

With 15 students on average per class, all lectures were discussion based with open debate based on assigned reading or current events of the day. If you went to class unprepared, you were embarrassed by the professor and other students. You had to digest large amounts of information, have a clear point of view and defend it. In short, it was analogous to sales: take in large amounts of information, ask a lot of questions, listen and understand other people’s points of view so you can come up with solutions to their problems.

After university I was in film and television production in New York City—communications. Oddly enough, my old babysitter and family friend opened the door to get me into the business and I worked on feature films and commercials. I didn’t like the industry. I got into the business because a friend put in a kind word to her contacts and helped me get interviews. I quickly understood that to move up in the film industry it was all about networking and ultimately, nepotism. I enjoyed the networking and was too idealistic at the time to appreciate the nepotism!

One successful film producer who liked me took me aside and we had a heart to heart talk. Basically, in a kind way he told me that if he had to do it all over again, he wouldn’t. Chasing film work destroyed two of his marriages, his family life was in shambles and he had no free time. Being an idealistic 22-year-old who was on the fence about film, this talk reinforced my beliefs. I have no doubt I could have worked the system and been successful, but I didn’t want to sell my soul in the process to get there. An interesting aside: my family friend who introduced me to the business was an accountant on motion pictures. She has been incredibly successful and has produced the “Sopranos” and “Girls” for HBO among other projects.

With film in my immediate past, I had to look for something else to do. I was an athlete and I played tennis for my college team. I wanted to be involved with tennis and I got a job with the largest tennis court and running track surfacing company in the West. It was Denver based with offices throughout the Rocky Mountain Region and Far West. This is where I learned specification-based selling and where I really started to develop a career. One thing that has been consistent is that I had a lot of decision-making power and autonomy at a young age. I was able to make mistakes. At 26, I ran a sports flooring division and was able to create a distributor network of installers in multiple states. To keep this from running 30 pages, the company was eventually purchased by the same group that owned Astroturf. After the sale, I didn’t think the company had a future as Astroturf had lawsuits pending for patent infringement and subsequently went bankrupt. My wife had a great job opportunity in Seattle. and we decided to move to the Pacific Northwest.

I had a career in construction specification-based sales and wanted to continue with it. This led me to Pilkington.

You’ve had a heck of a career already and you are still pretty young. Can you walk me through what it’s been like working for the biggest companies in our industry in roles that took you overseas for years at a time?

I started in the glass industry at Pilkington as a territory manager in the Pacific Northwest, covering that part of the country, the Rocky Mountain Region and Western Canada. My work history in glass is clearly marked as entering companies during internal transitions or seeing through major economic booms and busts. I got used to living in a blurry world and have always been able to cope well with change. As a newcomer to a company, change is easy to deal with as you aren’t defined by historical constraints or enamored with certain totems from the past.

When I joined Pilkington, there was major restructuring right before I started. There were employee layoffs in many departments, a new CEO was hired and my boss, Steve Weidner was transitioning back into a sales VP role. I was hired because of my sales and specification experience. At this time, the PNA sales reps had a role change and were being asked to make sales calls and architectural presentations.

Our North American division was successful under Steve’s guidance. As a result, PNA was asked to send people to attend a two-week Pilkington global management identification training program in the UK. I was picked. This was a turning point for me. At this program I was identified as someone with leadership skills and the temperament to work and lead people from other cultures. Working for a multi-national, these were desired traits. Steve Weidner was an excellent person to work for, and he took my career development seriously. In late 2004 he gave me a chance to work in another culture to help grow our overseas sales efforts. The country? India.

I was one of the first North American employees to be sent to India for the architectural business. I had a simple mandate, which was: “figure it out.” At the time, we had one direct sales rep and an independent agent. India was booming, and figuring out a sales and marketing plan was easy once culture shock wore off. I visited five cities over three weeks, met with glass processors, architects, glaziers, took part in a trade show in Bangalore and subsequently went back to India to work with the team two to three more times for similar durations in 2005. Because of our efforts, we restructured sales and marketing and divided the country into four zones with direct sales coverage as well as establishing a central office in New Delhi. We established new routes to market, created a team of sales people and technical reps—in other words, duplicate what made us successful in other parts of the world and localize it appropriately. It was an amazing experience. The team was our new local employees, our export manager from the UK and myself running a program comprised of enthusiastic people, all in our 20s and 30s, running around India like a bunch of headless chickens. We got our glass specified in projects, sold tons of glass into premier buildings throughout the country, while upsetting a global competitor who had major operations in the country. We were a small focused machine with a narrow highly profitable target segment—a nice position to be in. Working overseas we had a lot of autonomy, which continues throughout my career. I always end up in positions where I must “figure it out.”

What was exciting for Pilks in India is that we were identifying sites to build a float line in the country, and my team and I were establishing routes to market once we had a float. As I stated earlier, I enter companies during transitions. NSG bought Pilkington. The float project was scrapped.

From the success of the Indian experience, Pilkington was looking to extricate from our Hong Kong office, and I was chosen to lead our commercial efforts based in Shanghai, China. I was the first commercial employee based locally new office in 2006. My role was to help grow sales in China to a broader customer audience, learn more about our [joint venture] partner, SYP, and sell products from our global facilities throughout all of Asia.

You asked what was it like working overseas with large players in our industry? It truly accelerated my learning curve because I had access to our global leadership team, took part in presentations to the Board of Directors and was part of the decision-making process at the highest levels for our efforts in Asia. Coming from flogging float in Seattle to understanding the dynamics of working in China where one city, Qinghuangdao, has more float plants than the whole of North America really tested my strategic abilities, helped me put convoluted routes to market in perspective, and understand channel strategy/segmentation as a very small player in such a complex and ever changing environment were our keys for growth.

In addition, being close to Japan, I had the pleasure of taking part in the first commercial interactions between Pilkington and our NSG counterparts. I was our commercial face to the market in Asia. My intellectual curiosity helped me learn and understand as best I could an ancient culture. I asked a million questions, learned the language, experienced many other points of view and synthesized the information overload into action. Bringing this full circle, my “history/communications” major uniquely helped prepare me for these roles.

One of the most interesting, challenging and rewarding roles was the National Sales Director for Pilkington China. I was in charge of sales and marketing from our Changshu float and coating factory. Without getting too specific, I was the leader of a domestic Chinese sales and marketing team who were technically employed by SYP but worked with me. Fortunately, China wasn’t really affected by the financial crisis, or as the NSG employees in Japan called it “the Lehman shock,” whose 10-year anniversary is today. It was an amazing time to be living in Shanghai—a true economic powerhouse that was undergoing a tremendous rate of change. To be involved in many prestigious projects in the country, working with the major Chinese domestic and foreign curtain wall companies was eye opening and humbling. For people involved in the building industry, China was candy-land. Working with our JV partner certainly wasn’t without major challenges, such as training a domestic Chinese sales force about corporate compliance and anti-corruption as expected by a multi-national company. I’m proud that I was the “bridge and shield” between our respective organizations and that we had cultivated a local team capable of working anywhere in the world.

I was in China for over six years and was going to transition back to the USA with Pilkington in 2012. The Guardian Asia team found out about my role change and contacted me—they were looking to buy a large float and coating company in China and they offered me a role I couldn’t refuse—Sales and Marketing Director for all of Asia Pacific based in Hong Kong. We lived there for four years. I was specifically tasked with growing the coatings business in the region as well as helping qualify new investment opportunities. Guardian Asia had a traditional sales link to our UAE facility for coatings, but my team helped to further open sales from Europe and the USA. We were involved in hundreds of very large jobs, some we won—the new Abu Dhabi airport terminal, Apple’s R and D headquarters in Japan, as well as some we lost—the two spectacular buildings at Changi airport in Singapore, to name a few.

In addition, there was more change to work through. Within three to four months of starting this role, Koch Industries became Guardian’s partner. I remember being in one of our rep’s cars in Perth, Australia, huddled around the speaker on his mobile phone to listen to the global announcement about Koch. Again, change management and flexibility were required skills. I joined Guardian post Russ Ebeid and I had the privilege of working under Scott Thomsen through the start of the Koch transition.

This role was interesting because we had teams from New Zealand through all of Asia and I was truly a road warrior. If you saw the George Clooney movie, “Up in the Air” that lifestyle wasn’t far from my work life at the time. From this role, I was asked to eventually move to Bangkok, Thailand, to take the lead for all sales in Asia Pacific, including float from our Thailand factories, managing the inside and outside domestic Thai sales teams as well as the architectural teams throughout the region. This gave me a broader industry view as we had a challenging Thai domestic market to work through as well as exports to all the countries throughout the region. I got to make sales calls in diverse economies, like Myanmar, where tinted glass was a big purchase to promoting and writing code for the most sophisticated triple silver coatings and laminates to the governing energy departments in Singapore.

What I liked the most—it was a different challenge every day. On Monday I could be in Seoul specifying triple silvers for the Hyundai headquarters curtain wall and the next day we would be at the Hyundai auto factory negotiating the tinted auto glass buy for the new Genesis. The glass industry has a myriad of challenges, a lot is self-inflicted. Yet, there are so many applications for the product, every sale presents its unique aspects, therefore it never gets boring. Moreover, I had interactions with key Guardian leaders, including Kevin Baird, Chris Dolan, Joe Butler and Bruce Milley, whom I’m still friends with today.

I was very lucky those 11 years abroad. I lived in three of the world’s great cities: Shanghai, Hong Kong and Bangkok, traveled to over 30 countries for the role. Because I was always with local people, had an open mind and enjoyed travel, food and karaoke in different cultures, my life was like an Anthony Bourdain episode of “No Reservations” every day I was on the road. My wife and I could have been “lifers” in Asia, but I lived away from family and friends for almost 30 years and it was time to come home.

How has the transition into the commercial fabrication world with Solar Seal been? This is newer territory for you correct?

My transition to VP of Sales and Marketing for Solar Seal has been fun. The role change takes me from working with the major float companies calling on processing customers to going to work directly for a processing customer. While I understand the industry, products and how the parts fit together, learning the personalities, the challenges of working downstream, and our operational constraints is certainly difficult. That stated, my approach to leadership and how we treat customers remain the same. The over-riding theme for me is to project to the customer that we are taking an outside-in approach to their business—trying to be the best solutions provider for them in their marketplace that we can be, which really is the essence of marketing and what being a true partnership supplier is all about.

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, August 20, 2018

Now in its seventh year, the Glass Magazine Top Metal Companies list spotlights the largest metal fabrication companies in North America. Highlighted in the November issue of Glass Magazine, the Top Metal Companies include those that manufacture, fabricate and sell curtain wall, storefront and entrance, commercial interior and exterior railings, aluminum composite panels and exterior sun-control products to the glass and glazing industry.

While the Top Metal Companies list rank companies by sales volume, they will also provide timely information regarding the state of the metals market as a whole, based on market statistics related to sales volume, product demand and acquisition plans.

The 2018 lists will showcase the successes, challenges, changes and opportunities within the commercial metals industry. Featuring specific metal company achievements, including recent projects, the list provides an up-to-date look at the metal industry landscape.

If your company belongs on the Top Metal Companies list be sure to complete the survey by Sept. 5, and contact me if you have any questions about participating.

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

Monday, August 20, 2018

I am a big fan of zero net energy building and was pretty excited to see a quick profile on the Vans Headquarters. I pay close attention to the way glass and glazing is shown and utilized, and this project does show us at our best. The one thing not mentioned in this piece was who manufactured, fabricated, and installed the glazing. If it was your company, please let me know. Would love to pass that along to my readers and give a deserving pat on the back! Good stuff overall and we as an industry need to really keep pushing our involvement in projects like this!


  • GlassBuild America. I know I am always promoting, but I am too excited about it not to keep yapping away. One of the bigger draws each year is the Glazing Executives Forum and this year the agenda is jam packed with excellent presentations.  Starting with a piece on safe handling of big glass (big glass is the trend now, so getting insight on handling techniques is crucial). Next up are incredible expert presentations on exit planning, recruiting, getting paid and managing cash flow. With these, you have the opportunity to gather an insane amount of education. Plus, I’m moderating a panel with representatives from YKK AP, Guardian and Viracon, which will provide visibility into the supply chain world. Seriously a great event. Sign up today!

  • Speaking of signing up, there is still plenty of time. So get that registration done and accommodations completed.  Time is flying, and it will be Labor Day before you know it. Don’t delay.

  • Glass Magazine review of the August issue, which feels like an old-fashioned phone book, checking in at almost 150 pages. A majority of this edition is a GlassBuild America preview, and that has obvious value to the thousands prepping to attend. Other items to note, a trends piece looking back at what drove the market in 2017, and of course, must-read info from the great Dr. Tom Culp on the energy codes coming down the pike. For me though, the best piece was from the excellent legal mind of Matt Johnson. Matt is always brilliant in his writings and this piece on marketing tactics is very timely given the biggest show in North America just a month away. If you have not checked it out yet, please do so!

  • Ad of the month is a really tough call because there were TONS of them to choose from.  I am noting two of them. First, a small and smart ad from Yorglas. Really cool ad that I could not stop looking at thanks to the “legend” theme.  The other one is for the two-pager from IUPAT. The left side of the ad stopped me cold and then led me to dig into the text on the right. Super effective use of the space. Kudos to the design minds behind both efforts!

  • It’s been a while since I did a book review, mostly because I am so far behind on my reading. “Conspiracy” by Ryan Holiday is about the big court case between Hulk Hogan and the website The book was an extremely deep dive into the case and the characters involved. If you followed that case at all, the book is absolutely worth it. If you love a case of revenge, this one will work too. Great read overall.

  • Last this week, no interview for this post. I am hoping to do two more and then shut it down until next summer. The interview series has really been tremendous for me and the feedback I have gotten has really blown me away. Thank you to all of the awesome people who did this with me so far and to all of you who have been reading and sharing your thoughts. I am excited to continue this next year!

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, August 13, 2018

Things seem to speed up in the construction industry in the summer. Add in family vacations and kid activities, and many of us find ourselves with more work and less time. With all the work-life demands of the season it can be easy to miss the midway point of the year and the opportunity to look back, take stock of what we’ve learned and make any necessary course corrections. 

Before the calendar rolls too far into the third quarter, here’s my take on five things we’ve learned so far in 2018.

1. Just because we can doesn’t always mean we should

Buildings are growing more complex, and that’s led to some awesome innovation in the glazing industry, from both the installation and design side of things. But at the end of the day, we need to make sure our products are still doing what they are intended to do, be it adding fire safety or reducing electrical lighting loads. So as we push the envelope, let’s make sure we get involved early and work together on realistic, quality solutions. 

2. The shrinking labor pool will require creativity from all of us

The labor shortage is here to stay for the foreseeable future, which means it’s up to us to make the best of it. This may mean more frequent communication with the design and build team, educational events at your facility or hands-on training and practice mock-ups for those new to your products.

 3. Conversations about school safety are heating up

School tragedies continue to reinforce the need for improved school safety. I’ve always seen this as an important issue, but after listening to the DHI Conference keynote speaker, Michele Gay, who lost her daughter during the Sandy Hook school tragedy, it became very real to me. It’s encouraging to see companies respond with glazing solutions. The challenge is understanding the requirements being established by governing bodies (local municipalities, school administrations, etc.) and corresponding these requirements to available products. In some cases, these solutions may not be used much until mandated by legislation (like the gradual outlawing of “traditional” wired glass in hazardous locations). Whatever the process, expect conversations about this issue to keep heating up.

 4. Retrofits are here for the taking

By some reports, there are more than 5.6 million existing commercial buildings, and only a tenth of these have seen window replacements. New construction starts may remain king, but let’s make sure we aren’t overlooking retrofits and renovations. From enhancing security to improving energy efficiency, updating the glass in these buildings is a win-win from a performance and profitability standpoint.

 5. The time is now to reinvest in your business

There have certainly been growing pains as the industry adjusts to its ever-quickening pace, but it’s also generating some good, strategic long-term changes. According to Glass Magazine’s 2018 Top 50 Glaziers Report, numerous companies are “taking the long view by reinvesting in their businesses.” Whether companies are purchasing new equipment to streamline operations or reconfiguring programs, these investments will pay big dividends down the line, even if they are causing some temporary discomfort now. As I talked about earlier this year, there is great value in thinking beyond the immediate win.

What else would you add to this list? How do you see these lessons shaping the rest of 2018?

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, August 13, 2018

I thought I was dreaming when I saw a headline recently that asbestos could now legally be used again in manufacturing. Amazingly it was not a fantasy. It is true, and I am pretty thrown by it. Obviously, for years the push to remove it and deal with it has been a major task and one that has caused significant issues beyond the serious health risks that kicked the whole ban into motion. To see it back was jarring. I was, however, relieved to see at least a solid initial push back by the architectural community. It has begun on social media and I look for it to keep growing.  This is going to be one to watch on the building side, because I just can’t see it having legs no matter what the argument for bringing it back is. I guess we will see.


  • We are now one month away from GlassBuild America and the anticipation for this year’s event is growing nicely. I am expecting very strong attendance and I am loving the diverse range of exhibitors. So much to see there for sure.  In addition, action demos are all “must see” types of events along with Express Learning. I seriously recommend you look at the GlassBuild America website and familiarize yourself with everything that is happening because it’s a lot different than it was in the past. Next week, I’ll start breaking down specific items to see to help you in your planning process.
  • The latest updated website on the market features one of the best upgrades yet. Diamon–Fusion (DFI) launched a new site that is heavy on video right out of the gate (bold and daring in our usually conservative industry), and it truly blew me away. Congrats to the entire team at DFI for a job well done! 

Big 3 Interview

Alissa Schmidt, technical resources manager, Viracon

I was very excited that Alissa accepted my request for an interview in this series as I wanted to get a feel for not only her career journey but also to get her insight on the technical and project side. She certainly did not disappoint with her answers. Alissa has easily one of the most talented technical minds and approaches in our industry.  Overall, I continue to be amazed at the incredible amount of personal talent that is amassed at Viracon; obviously Alissa fits in there perfectly.

Your career started in marketing (I had a boss tell me no one needs marketing, so good for you for getting out) and then you seemed to settle into the design and technical side. What was it like to go from promotion of product to having such a crucial hand in the way the product is placed and performs?

I guess I’ve never really thought of my transition as anything more than natural growth with the company in knowledge and experience that led to the role I’m currently in. I love promoting Viracon regardless of whether I’m helping our marketing department with content development, having a conversation directly with an architect or writing a letter to a customer to explain something they need more details about. At the same time, my move to the technical side has allowed me to gain a better understanding of our product development process and how product characteristics tie to performance in the field.

Although I came to Viracon with an interior design degree and experience as a kitchen designer, I also spent four years after college as a marketing coordinator. When I read Viracon’s job posting for an architectural design specialist, I saw they were looking for someone who had design OR marketing experience. Since I had both, I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about the company and position. I recall arriving for the architectural design interview only to be notified that I was going to be interviewing for the position I applied for as well as a marketing position. This was due to my prior experience in marketing and potential reorganization that was going to happen in the department. In the end, I was offered the design position and started with Viracon in that role. The architectural design department was, however, very integrated into the marketing department so my first several years at Viracon included quite a bit of marketing support.

As Viracon grew, the design team grew, and we restructured it as a separate entity from our marketing department. Changes in leadership around this same time led to a design management opportunity. I had been with Viracon seven years, had learned a lot about helping architects design with glass, and was ready to take on the challenge of managing the architectural design team. A short time after I moved into the management role, a retirement on the technical side provided an opportunity for me to manage both the design and technical teams. This is the role I’m currently enjoying today.

I also enjoy the challenge of finding ways to improve, both personally and within the departments I manage. I discovered a communications program specifically targeted at communicating technical information to a non-technical audience. This is a great fit with my current position, so I am currently working on my master’s degree through this program and anticipate graduating in 2019. 

With your position, and the company you work for, I’d say you are positioned perfectly to be on the cutting edge of the industry. What are you seeing out there that excites you and conversely keeps you up at night?

The electronic design tools architects have at their hands today are incredible. These tools have facilitated increased complexity of building shapes and forms. I wouldn’t say the complexity was previously impossible, but the speed and accuracy of today’s software have expanded its use to a much broader audience.

While this explosion of complexity is super exciting for me as a designer, it keeps our manufacturing and technical experts on their toes. Complex building forms create glass shapes and sizes that were once reserved for high-profile, high-budget projects. Today, it is common for mainstream projects to include glass that poses a variety of fabrication challenges. The twists and turns of the unique building forms also change the way a building interacts with its surroundings. There might be five or 10 wind loads on a building rather than one corner and one typical load of a basic, rectangular building. This can require extensive glass strength analysis, deflection and sightline calculations. In some cases, the complexity requests finite element analysis because the traditional strength analysis programs do not suffice.

What’s the most fun you’ve had on a project in your career? Was it something that you had a hand in from the start or maybe a massive signature project that you helped make sure everything clicked? Or maybe something else that you can point to as memorable to you?

I hate picking favorites so choosing a single project over all others is nearly impossible. I’ve definitely had many fantastic experiences while I’ve been with Viracon. When I first started, Seven World Trade Center had been recently completed. I remember receiving a lot of calls from architects who wanted to talk about the glass. Even though I hadn’t personally worked on the project, these conversations were a quick introduction into how much fun it can be to talk about glass that comes from a small town in Minnesota and makes its way to a distinctive New York City building.

I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in the design process for everything from our local arts center addition to the Dallas Cowboys Stadium to One World Trade Center. My career here at Viracon has also offered a lot of fantastic opportunities to see our glass in-person. One of the most memorable is a trip where I was able to visit One World Trade Center under construction, near the holidays. From the ground the glass looked great, from the 56th floor, the view was beautiful. But the best vantage point of the building during that trip was from across the street where the construction lights were turned into multi-colored lights for the holidays. This little touch made me think about how a building really does interact with, and influence, people. 

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, August 6, 2018

This year, glasstec, Europe’s prominent glass products, manufacturing and technology show, returns to the Düsseldorf Fairgrounds, Oct. 23-26. It is one of the few places that you can further your glass education in almost an accelerated fashion. Four days of glasstec is like years in the glass business as it relates to your exposure to new technologies and things you never knew existed.

Despite all this, if you're hesitant to attend glasstec because you are unsure how to navigate the logistics of a foreign trade show, here are my best tips for making the experience comfortable and convenient.

Book early. Getting rooms should be done early in the year and for me I generally fly to Frankfurt and take the train up to Düsseldorf. It's faster overall and a less stressful way to get to Düsseldorf. For an American unfamiliar with using trains, it is also different and fun. You can catch the train at the airport and end up right in the middle of Düsseldorf on your arrival close to your hotel.

Plan your days. Usually around the end of the second day you feel like you are walking in circles. Most of the architectural glass vendors are in certain halls. Study the floor plan and hit the priority halls first. Don't spend too much time trying to have important discussions the first day. Take your notes about places you want to spend more time. This gives you some time to really think about good questions you want answers to and go back to these exhibits on day two or three to spend serious time. There are a lot of halls with bottle-making companies. You should see it just to expand your experience, but don't spend a whole day in those halls.

Arrive early. Try to arrive a couple days before the show, if possible, and acclimate to the time change. You can find yourself hitting the wall on day one early in the evening, going to sleep too early and then repeating the same thing the next day. Try to stay awake with no naps until around 10 p.m. each day. You will feel more refreshed and ready to walk your 18,000 steps a day.

See the art. Spend some time in Hall 9. This is the arts hall, and some of the glass art will blow you away. I have learned techniques from some of this art that we still use in larger products that we make.

Go paperless. Download the show app. This is the same information you will find in the 3-pound catalog. Try not to take too many brochures. Use as many electronic tools as you have, otherwise you will carry back 20 pounds of paper and then leave it in a bag in the corner of your office (where it will end up living for a year before you throw it out and wonder why you even kept it).

Travel light at the show. Leave all of your things, except business cards and maybe a small bag, at the coat check. They charge a couple Euro to check your stuff, and you will be thankful you left it all behind. The only drawback is you need to arrive and leave out of the same entrance each day. There are plenty of trains to take you back into the city and because the crowds leave from different places, do not feel the need to beat the crowds.

Find the right entrance. There are many entrances to the show. Study which is the closest to you before the morning of the show and work out how to get there the night before. The trains to the show are free with your entrance ticket, but you technically must have that ticket if you use the train, at least for your first day. In 22 years of shows, nobody has ever asked to see my ticket on the metro trains, but there is always a first time. These trains are on the honor system with the idea that you purchase a ticket.

Eat well. If this is your first show, you will see small food stands around the halls that serve European-style sandwiches (not what you might call a sandwich). These are not your only eating options. There are sit down restaurants upstairs in some of these halls, as well as food stands outside in the main plaza between the halls. The halls are U-shaped and the space between them on one end has some good Bratwurst stands. If it is a nice day, this is where you will find the crowd.

See Glass Magazine's glasstec coverage here

Bernard Lax is CEO of Pulp Studio.

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, August 6, 2018

I love to review websites. For me, it’s enjoyable to see what people do to make their website stand out and the steps they take to own their piece of the online universe. Recently, I had a chance to get ahead of the process and complete some surveys for the National Glass Association as they work to upgrade their online presence. Answering formal surveys like this was a first for me, and it was interesting to experience the process. If you are interested in being a part of that process, the NGA would love to have your insight! There’s three surveys linked below. Weigh in on one, two or all three if you like.

Thank you! I can’t wait to see what comes next and how awesome these will be once completed and launched.


It’s now August: my goodness this year has flown right on by. That means we are coming up on just one month away from GlassBuild America. I’ll have some previews coming up and I am honored to be speaking a few times during the show, so I really hope I can see everyone there! If you have not registered or booked your hotel room, I strongly recommend you do so today! 

Got very sad news last week that Fred Millett, formerly of Pleotint and most currently from Whirlpool, passed away. Fred at first didn’t like me much and I felt the same about him. But as time went on, I got along more and more with him and I really respected his knowledge, passion and personality. He will surely be missed. My condolences to his family and friends.

Big 3 Interview

Andrew Haring, vice president of marketing, C.R. Laurence Co.

Being a marketing/PR guy at heart, I really love to see when people excel greatly at it. When it comes to Andrew Haring, he’s way beyond excelling; he’s dominating. I’ve written about my admiration and respect for folks like Heather West and Rich Porayko, and Andrew slides right into that group. What he does and how he does it is simply off-the-charts awesome. I really enjoyed getting an insight into how he performs at the level he does as well as some insight on other interesting angles.

I have to admit your work rate looks to be off the charts. You’re running marketing for one of the best-known companies in our world (with probably an insane number of products) and you seemingly are everywhere: online with social, leading tours, developing marketing and communication. What is your typical day like? How do you get it all done?

Wow. High praises from a respected source—thank you. And yes, we have (approximately) an insane number of products. The upshot of working for such a massive and prolific company is that there’s always a story to tell, and I’ll talk to anyone listening. My day starts at 3:30 a.m. and goes by in the blink of an eye. I’m a big believer in project lists and even more so in accountability. Don Friese instilled a “CRL-ism” in me years ago that is simple but resonates: “Do what you say you’ll do.” Strong coffee and a strong team behind me are also essential.

Being “everywhere” is due in part to the way I’m wired, but also by design. The wheels are always turning and I’m not one to sit still or step aside. CRL lets me wear many different hats and gives me a lot of opportunities to run with the ball, which is conducive to my personality and attention span. The other component to that is simply strategy. Someone in your position can appreciate that remaining relevant takes different forms and follows a different path than it used to. Channels and touchpoints are as numerous as they are varied. While many of the fundamentals apply, I’ve found that a conventional marketing playbook doesn’t track 100 percent in this industry. The when/where/how to approach and the frequency are moving targets. Honestly, the only way to have an impact and be effective is to immerse oneself and engage with the people. Sometimes that entails continuing education, guest editorials, panel discussions or project walks. Other times it looks like stirring the pot on social media.

What’s next? What’s that hot product or hot product segment that you see taking off?

That’ll cost you (kidding). I see broad trends gradually adjusting the sails more so than a sharp market disruptor or a specific juggernaut product. The key influencers are labor and energy codes in the form of both “wants” and “needs.” There’s an all-out arms race for installer-friendly products and methods. Products that reduce labor costs and get glaziers on to the next project faster are always in high demand. I think we’re going to see a lot more in the way of unitized/modular systems, offsite construction/assembly and project planning efficiencies.

Constricting energy codes are a given. Across the board, anyone touching the exterior envelope—and who wants to retain any sort of vitality—is being responsive with product development. Innovation in fenestration is the clearest evidence. The whole “battle for the wall” is a topic unto itself for another blog entry, but the simple fact is that the performance requirements for these systems are constantly evolving. It’s up to the manufacturers to provide solutions that’ll hit the numbers and also successfully meet the design intent for the architect. I’m anticipating a slew of high performance products to be launched in the next three years ahead of the 2022 version of the California Energy Code. 2019 just got adopted with no changes to commercial prescriptive requirements; I don’t think 2022 will be as forgiving.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest challenge we have as an industry and how do we overcome it?

A common issue, which I can’t speak to directly, is the labor pool. This is a recurring topic brought up by customers. There’s a lot of work out there without enough skilled labor to sustain it. This creates opportunities for other trades/industries to encroach on traditional glazing scopes. Attracting the next generation of glaziers is the hurdle. Unfortunately, many of the kids coming out of high school are under the impression that there’s more value and opportunity in a bachelor’s degree than in learning a trade. Countering that misconception is difficult and I’m afraid there isn’t a quick fix. Lack of exposure is likely the biggest culprit. I think early outreach, education, and overall industry advocacy are the paths to success.

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.