glassblog

Monday, November 11, 2019

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” sounds great, and I’m not one for presumptions. However. If I am honest, I’m guilty. I judge some things positively, and others negatively, but I have noticed these days my judgement is routinely related to websites.

You’ve seen the Instagram vs. Reality memes, right? Perhaps earlier generations recall when Sprite famously said, “Image is nothing.” How can a marketing campaign with the most recognizable athletes say, “Image is nothing,” and why are we concerned with presenting an image better than reality? This got me thinking, how much truth remains in this idiom? If we aren’t going to judge on appearances, we wouldn’t use resources that tailor images, which is literally a multi-billion-dollar industry.

Whether right or wrong, image appears to be significant in commerce. After all, there is another saying, “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” Though the glass industry may trail tech trends, glass businesses will also be judged by the way they present themselves, and especially online. If your webpage was built in 1995 or even 2005, do not expect it to be appropriate today; instead, think to yourself, is it reflecting an image I want? With my limited experiences, I can tell you disastrous websites are more easily recalled than nicely designed ones.

I’m technically a millennial, and as part of the generation that’s primed to steer the ship, I promise you we millennials will move on quickly from an archaic webpage. Many of us never needed Encyclopedia Britannica to find a few paragraphs relevant to our quest; there were always faster ways to find the information we needed; we’re also accustomed to speed. We in the industry must remember, we are all looking to catch someone’s eye in business because, without partners, there is no business. If we’re planning to attract fresh talent or new opportunities, an image can spark new ideas, and in today’s world you better move quickly.  

Maybe you’re thinking, why does this matter, we don’t need an updated image or social platforms. I vividly remember that when I came onboard DeGorter Inc. 13 years ago, my big idea was to update our logo. I got a lesson from the two previous generations, my father and my grandfather, on how businesses cover expenses and determining what provided real value. But I won the battle, and I’ll tell you how; by asking, what happens when decision-makers are replaced by someone with different expectations? I explained I wanted to update our image to present a company keeping up with modern trends. My Dad had a similar conversation with his father over software to replace paper ledgers. They both agreed change is necessary, so we changed, because if you’re not using the tools of today’s world or meeting today’s expectations, you’re less relevant than those who are. And you better believe you’re being judged.

Ending on a high note, and to spark ideas from those I think are on the right path, find below a few Instagram handles to check out. Be sure make a profile for your business if you don’t have one: yes, I’m talking to you!

#jcmoag, #woontechglass, #bendheimglass, #andrewpearsonglass, #nathanallanglassstudios, #galaxy_glass_stone, #fireratedglass, #myshowerdoor

Check out instagram.com/woontechglass/ for a well-curated Instagram.

Pete deGorter is vice president of 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, November 11, 2019

And here we go: it is officially now Glass Industry MVP season, so next month I’ll release our winner and runners up, but here is where I give the background on this process and also salute those recognized in the past. 

For those new to this blog, each year as the calendar wraps up, I announce the winner and runners up of my industry MVP award. This recognition is something I created back in 2013 to show my appreciation for those folks and companies who are always pushing for the best in our industry. What I am looking at is people and companies that are active in the industry at the trade and technical levels. Folks that are always promoting glass and glazing and are constantly hustling to push the greatness of what we do to the forefront.

As a look back, here are the wonderful people who have been recognized previously in this program and pretty much all of them are still very active in advancing the glass world. 

Past Industry MVP’s

  • 2013 Tracy Rogers
  • 2014 C.R. Laurence
  • 2015 Jon Kimberlain
  • 2016 Chuck Knickerbocker
  • 2017 Joe Erb
  • 2018 Nathalie Thibault 

Previous Runners Up

2013

  • Dr. Tom Culp
  • Mark Silverberg
  • Ed Zaucha
  • Mic Patterson
  • Oliver Stepe
  • Dr. Helen Sanders
  • Scott Thomsen 

2014

  • John Wheaton
  • Rick Wright
  • Tom O’Malley
  • Bernard Lax 

2015

  • Walker Glass
  • Garret Henson
  • Dip Tech
  • Kris Vockler

2016

  • Mike Albert
  • Thom Zaremba 
  • Urmilla Jokhu-Sowell
  • SAPA

2017

  • GCI Consultants
  • Darijo Babic
  • Cathie Saroka

2018

  • Felix Munson
  • Jeff Haber
  • Glenn Miner/Rob Struble
  • Greg Oehlers 

Now over the next month, I’ll be looking at our world to see who’s next and if you have any recommendations or nominees please do not hesitate to reach out to me. 

Elsewhere…

  • We are now fully into construction industry economic forecast season. Between now and the end of the year, more and more data will be released on what the analysts are seeing in their crystal balls. Glass Magazine had a recap of the Dodge release that you can read here if you missed it. In the meantime, I was on the annual ConstructConnect webcast and they’re looking at a slight decrease on the nonresidential side in 2020 with a bounce back in 2021. That is similar to what we heard at GlassBuild America and from other experts out there. Still more details to come, but it continues to look like we need to be smart and proactive with regards to where our business landscape is concerned.
  • One way to be smart? Get involved with events to advance yourself and company. On the fabrication side, I am dumbfounded by the amount of companies who are tempering and insulating glass but yet do not attend the NGA Annual Conference. How can you battle in a challenging world without the knowledge that is presented at events like that one? It’s amazing. Anyway, if you have an interest, check out this link and if you want more insight contact me.
  • I’ve mentioned John Wheaton’s blog before, but I guess if I am on the path of pushing people to be “smart” a good start is checking out John’s posts. He’s got a gift: quick and interesting posts that are extremely helpful. Funny looking above at 2014 where John was a runner up in my MVP that year and knowing he could easily win the award yearly given his dedication to the causes. In any case, if you haven’t checked his work out, please do.
  • Next week, I’ll have a take on our industry getting some good notice in what was otherwise a rough—but true in a lot of cases—opinion piece. 

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. 

Monday, November 4, 2019

Last week I mentioned preferring old-fashioned approaches to new technology, and it dawned on me that I needed to clarify that. I am old fashioned or even the “get off my lawn” sort of guy at home. But in the workplace, give me all of the innovation you can get.

When I was at glasstec in Germany last year, I was so blown away by the automation and technology and that feeling continued at GPAD earlier this year. Seeing the high-performance machinery working at the highest of levels and the visibility that it afforded the company, well I was on board. And I still am. I think that is an area that many need to look at as we head into some tougher sledding. More automation and more efficiency is crucial. And with the fear of “what happens when it goes down” minimized by the technology itself, well, I can’t see any reasons not to make the jump. Obviously, this takes investment but it’s absolutely worth it.

So, I may not have a fancy thermostat in my house and no Alexa to shut the lights off on demand, but if I ever have a say in outfitting a fabrication plant, it will have serious automation in it!

Elsewhere….

  • When I started Sole Source I was traveling to New Jersey often for client work. On those trips, I would pass this massive monstrosity on the side of the highway. Local folks told me one day it will be a mall, or a water park, or a convention center or something. Well that hulking structure finally came to life this week with the opening of the three-million-square-foot Mega Mall, The American Dream—I hope it does well and was worth the wait! Hat tip to my pal Ted Bleecker for the heads up on Twitter that this thing opened, and congrats to him and everyone else who has products on it: there's a good video here showing the overview.
  • Really cool collaboration announcement with Guardian Glass and the University of Michigan Taubman College getting together looking at advanced glass materials. Obviously I love it for a bunch of reasons: it’s in my backyard—so maybe I’ll get a heads up on breakthroughs!—but more importantly, it could bring serious new data into our world to allow us to keep advancing the needs of the marketplace. Kudos to everyone involved on this and I look forward to the updates in the future!
  • Another very cool glass mention in pop culture; just started watching the TV show “Ozark,” and in the very first episode the star of the show Jason Bateman actually dips into talking about glass performance in a high-rise office he’s looking at. Loved it. I’m three episodes in on it now and so far not bad. But hey, any show that pays respect to high-performance insulating glass units is a winner for me.
  • Friends in Indianapolis: would love insight on this one. The iconic gold reflective glass building in downtown is getting rid of that gold glass. I think we are going to see a lot more of this in the next decade, as the heavily reflective but poorly performing glass jobs installed in the mid 70s to mid 80s need to get energy facelifts badly. The article on it just noted the gold glass would be replaced by “transparent” glass. Obviously we know it’s not going to be straight clear, but good for whomever is involved in this one. I hope it goes great so we can see more of these needed retrofits!
  • Last this week: the California wildfire situation is not good, and it’s not going to get better any time soon. My thoughts and prayers to all out there in the path of these events. It’s frightening and I can only hope the weather can somehow cooperate and get some rain and cooling to try and keep this under control. 

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. 

Friday, November 1, 2019

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Michael and Valarie Gomm, the husband-and-wife team behind the new The Glass Guru franchise in Wichita, Kansas. Michael and Valarie first became aware of, and interested, in the franchise when they experienced a failed window of their own. We discussed Michael's background in the aerospace industry, Valarie's work as the family "CFO," the recession--averse nature of the community-based glass business, and more.

Can you tell me a little about your professional backgrounds and what made you both pursue a Glass Guru franchise?

Michael Gomm: I had 20-plus-year career in aerospace, in sales and marketing, and I'm a licensed pilot. In that aerospace community, I learned a lot about the customer-service side of the business and the professionalism, being gregarious and talking to folks, going in and listening, as a good salesperson does, and diagnosing the problem in a way that meets their needs. These skills transfer to my current role at The Glass Guru.

Valarie spent the early part of her professional life in retail and banking, before we started a family. She had the harder job, and focused her exceptional organization to become the CFO and COO of our home. As I was travelling for work, she was running the household and our three boys.  

What is your role in the business right now?

MG: Valarie manages the office, and she is the voice to our customers when they call in. She’s also the backbone of the operation managing our supply chain, scheduling and back office tasks. In addition, she is the majority-owner of the business, making the business officially woman-owned.

I’m the head of sales and marketing. I go out and do estimates, as well as offer solutions to customers.

I also do the networking. I go meet people at their door, their place of business. People want to do business with people they trust.

You have characterized this business as “recession averse”—can you explain that further, what that means and what lead you to feel that way, based on your professional experiences?

MG: When we started, we had a list of considerations; target investment, potential return, our roles in the business, etc. But one of the items for me was, “What’s this business’s risk? What kind of exposure does it have to economic downturn?”

Having worked in aerospace for more than 20 years, I have been through the ups and downs of economic cycles. Wichita is the Air Capital of the world and its economy relies heavily on that aerospace manufacturing base. During a downturn, most non-discretionary spending is put on hold. I didn’t want to immediately get started, then the R-word happens. I wanted something meat and potatoes.

In addition to all the other factors, there’s glass everywhere—if you have broken glass in your home, you need to get it fixed. There will still be swings, but the core of our business is IGU replacement. Fixing glass is the heart and sole of our business, and it’s pretty low on the risk scale.

There are good glass companies here in town. There are bigger glass shops, but they’re going to focus on bigger jobs. As we started evaluating the opportunity, we found there was an underserved market here, of residential IGU replacement, and that resonated with us.

What do you see as the business opportunities for this type of glass shop? How do you expect to grow in a year? In 5 years?

MG: In the short term, we want to make lots of business friends – in the first year of business, the most important thing is to become top of mind to people. With our commercials running, people will hear our jingle, and when they have glass issues, The Glass Guru will be top of mind.

In a year, we hope to have a couple full-time glaziers, a helper, as well as someone to help cover the phones for scheduling.

In five years, we’d like to be working ourselves out of operational roles, into ownership roles. Then we’ll evaluate what we want to do at that time, maybe open another franchise. A longer-term vision has us owning several franchise territories in the region, and maybe flying our own airplane between them, in ownership roles.

Norah Dick is assistant editor and researcher for Glass Magazine. She can be reached at ndick@glass.org