glassblog

Monday, February 25, 2019

David VermeulenI’m writing this blog post in the middle of a snowstorm that Seattle news reporters have dubbed “Snowmageddon.” (It’s extreme, I know. I’m from Michigan.) We normally get one to two inches of snow per year in the lowlands. Snow in the rainy Pacific Northwest is a complete and total disruptor.

So, while this snowstorm shuts down the city, let me say it’s sure making for a good lead in for this blog post. If you read my last post, you know I’m a big advocate of technology. It has the potential to push the efficiency of any industry, ours included, to levels not possible five years ago. From supply chain management software to automated loading and handling equipment, it’s adding much needed margin to a thinly stretched industry. But like snow, technology is a disruptor.  Why? It forces us to change the way we do things.

To borrow from another local example, just look at the Amazon effect and how the rise of e-commerce changed the way we shop. Convenience and on-demand customer service have led a continual stream of traditional retail store closures. It’s been such a complete, upending disruption in the retail space that you’ve probably heard people say, “Amazon killed the retail industry.” I like what Alberto Brea, founder/chief growth strategist at RISE, once so controversially said about this matter: “Amazon did not kill the retail industry. They did it to themselves with bad customer service … Technology by itself is not the real disruptor. Being non-customer centric is the biggest threat to any business.”

Let me just repeat that, “Being non-customer centric is the biggest threat to any business.”

Brea hit the nail on the head when he tied technology and customer satisfaction together. His sentiments really resonate as the glass industry steps into a new digital era. Technology is valuable. Immensely valuable. But our business is about people, from the manufacturers and glaziers to the architects. So while technology disruptions propel our industry forward, it’s important to keep in mind that they should never come at the cost of satisfied customers. They should add to their satisfaction. 

Let’s not get myopic when it comes to the people who make our industry tick.  As we consider new technology and methods for improving the way we do things here in the glass biz, are we asking the question, “Is this helping solve an underlying customer-related problem?” 

There’s a lot of ways this answer can unfold. The skilled labor gap is widening. How does the new system you implemented reduce jobsite labor and/or installation to save the customer’s resources? Budgets and job deadlines are tight. How does the new integrated modeling approach you’re using help reduce design errors and callbacks to keep the customer’s project on time and within budget? You improved automation in the factory. How is it improving speed to market while preserving the quality and craftsmanship your customers have come to expect from your products?

Instruction manuals don’t come with new technological advancements, which is why so many businesses get lost along the way. But keeping the customer at the center of it all is the sure way forward. Brea says it best in his follow-up to the controversial post: “Today, technology is at the heart of nearly every transformation, but it is still the means to an end. New technology comes and goes, but the customer-centric principle remains.”

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, February 25, 2019

A little different lead this time out: at the NAHB International Builders’ Show this past week, one of the bigger plays was showing virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) in action. I have been following this space for our world for a while, and I am huge fan of the potential. The issue is the costs are so far in the stratosphere that putting this into play is just not realistic at this point. But someday it’s going to be realistic, and when that happens, it will be a game changer. The technology is incredible, and it will allow the potential customer to see the end product in place and in action, and that excites me.

I thought about this also during a recent trip to Florida. I did the “Void” at Disney Springs, and it is a truly immersive VR experience. In this case I was in the middle of a Star Wars battle, and I will tell you…It. Was. Real. The detail was incredible. Between that and seeing some of the tests with building products, I just can’t wait. (Note: there is a Void in Las Vegas, so I may have to sneak to that before or after the Building Envelope Contractors Conference.)

If you’ve experienced the Void or have thoughts on VR or AR in our world, please drop me a line. 

Elsewhere…

  • Last week I covered the beauty of the new Glass Magazine. This week, it’s time to look at the brains of it and also give out my “ad of the month.” The articles this month feature detailed and intense reporting. The World of Glass and Industry Forecast pieces were loaded with insight, and I loved the Trendhunter piece by Ron Crowl of Fenetech. I could see that series becoming a favorite of mine. All in all, a loaded issue content-wise!

    As for the ad of the month, I mentioned last week that the ads just “popped” more. This month it was tough to pick just one winner, so I have a few. I really liked Swisspacer’s piece showing cold and warm—really excellent use of an image and story. I have no idea who deserves the credit from Swisspacer, so please if you are reading this and you know the person, pass along my kudos! I liked HHH Tempering’s new ad. It used color and image perfectly and jumped off the page. Props to Melissa Blank and Mike Synon! FuseRocket from Diamon-Fusion International was a fabulous ad. Stopped me in my tracks. Syndi Sim, well done! Last but not least, the creative Q&A by Consolidated Glass Holdings caught me perfectly. Great work by Angela Beach from CGH, who nailed it on a cool two-page spread. Overall, this may have been the best magazine for ads I have ever seen. May it continue!

  • The latest Architectural Billings Index came out and reported a huge positive jump last month. A massive score of 55.3 was posted and folks. I will tell you, I am stunned. That is an amazing and unexpected report. Obviously, I’m thrilled with it. It’s the highest total in quite a while, but I surely did not expect it. Let’s keep rolling.

  • Fellow road warriors: how about these new airplane seats? I am always seeing these articles and wondering which major airline will jump in and take a chance with something radically different.

  • A list of the richest cities in the U.S. came out this week, and you know me, I love lists like this. The rankings are pretty static from last year, but a few things jumped out. Rumson, New Jersey, jumped 19 spots this year to being the 19th richest city in the U.S. Which one of you glass superstars moved in there (I have never heard of that area)? I was surprised to see my former home of Ohio have a few spots in the top 50, including Village of Indian Hill at No. 11. I was also surprised that Malibu, California, was at 43rd. I thought it would be higher, just my perception always made me assume that. Anyway, the entire top 50 is here

  • Last this week, a hearty congratulations to John Wheaton. Twenty-five years ago this past week, John started his incredible firm Wheaton Sprague. John is a wonderful, smart and positive voice in our industry and I am happy to see him celebrate the silver anniversary. Well done John, and here’s to many, many more successful years ahead!

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, February 19, 2019

Tom O'MalleyAs a new blog contributor, I wanted to take this opportunity to give you a look at my past, the chances I took in business, and the partners who supported myself and the business along the way. It seems like only yesterday that, at the age of 43 and with three kids, I ventured into this new challenge, founding Clover Architectural Products. My company is coming up on five years in business and we have had some great successes and many challenges. It has not always been easy by any means, nor should it have been.

What always got us through the day was our partners. The word partner meant many different things to us:

1) Customers

There are countless people in our customer base to thank for the success we have had. What is so great about our industry is that so many of us have started a company or worked at a start-up in some form or fashion. They remember someone gave them a break they needed, and they tend to want to repay the favor. I think we tend to pull for the “little guy” as many of us see ourselves in those companies. The people we did our first jobs with are the same people we worked with before we started Clover and that we continue to work with. It shows that a good relationship is worth its weight in gold.

2) Vendors

Starting Clover would also not have been possible if not for the vendors who had confidence in us. Many were there to extend us credit from day one. That was huge, as it allowed us to instantly take on large, challenging projects. These included fabricators, extruders, painters, engineers, marketers and many more. There were some that were more understandably cautious and wanted to “wait and see” how we were doing down the road. We have always tried to remember who was there with us at day one and reward them with our loyalty. These are people I have worked with for over 20 years, and I am so appreciative they trusted and believed in us.

3) Employees

I am probably the most visible person at Clover, and that is because I have traveled around for the last 23 years seeing customers and attending industry events. What should be clear is the success of Clover is due to the people back at the office, who took a chance on a new company and left a job in order to come be part of something special. I am not sure what they were thinking, but I know we are forever grateful they had that short lapse in judgement. We are so lucky we had such good relationships with them.

4) Business partners

Finally, I could not have moved forward on this journey without my partners Ed Kearney and Jim Stremplewski. To start a new company at age 43 is crazy enough, but these two guys were older than me. That told me they really believed we could do it. Together the three of us have had many a sleepless night, but we have navigated our way through it.

I hope you can see the common theme of each group is partnership and respect for each other. This business is all about having a great relationship. It’s about treating people with respect, doing what you say you are going to do and having some fun while doing it. That’s the perfect recipe for success in whatever you do. 

Tom O’Malley is a founding partner at Clover Architectural Products and is vice president of sales. He has been in the aluminum and glass industry for 23 years. Currently he focuses his time on working with architects, helping to bring their ideas to fruition. He also travels and meets with the top glazing and metal subcontractors to partner with them to help make their project a success.

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, February 19, 2019

One of my favorite things is getting latest industry trade magazines and reading them cover-to-cover. I love the news and the advertisements, and I always want to see who may have switched jobs without me knowing. Plus, for the last few years I have been faithfully reviewing the latest issues of Glass Magazine here on the blog, so that added to the enjoyment.

This week, my excitement was brought to a whole new level with the release of the new look and feel of Glass Magazine. Switching up a look or a brand is always a challenge—I have been a part of a few re-branding efforts and I know it’s not easy. On this one the Glass Magazine team nailed it. The look is incredible. Modern and sleek. The color scheme really works nicely, and I’m not sure how they changed the layout, but the stories and ads pop off the page more. It really is a beautiful piece, and full congrats to the team at Glass Magazine who I am sure worked tirelessly on it. So now not only can you get incredible insight and information, but it’s laid out in such an advanced way. Next week I’ll do my ad of the week and story review, but for now I just wanted to pay homage to the new look! Well done! 

Elsewhere…

  • This was a week filled with big moves: aside from the launch of the updated Glass Magazine we had two major industry figures announce new employment. First Tracy Rogers, past Glass Industry MVP, joined up with OmniGlass out of Canada as their new director of US sales and marketing. He will do a fabulous job and I hope that position gets him back involved in the overall industry scene.

    Next was the news that Gus Trupiano was going to GGI as national sales manager for its specialty division. Gus is a very good friend of mine and I am excited to see what this next chapter brings. GGI has amassed some serious talent in the last handful of years, and so Gus just adds to that overall firepower. Like Tracy coming back into the national industry scene, I hope Gus is able to still be active for the industry in his new role, though I know he’ll have his hands full getting up to speed with this new position. In any case I loved seeing two excellent people land in great places. Congrats to both!
  • I was a big follower of the Amazon HQ2 search and when they picked New York City as one of the sites, I was honestly stunned. To me it made no sense. Terrible fit on so many levels. In the end I was right, as Amazon decided after various levels of pushback to reverse field and not make New York City a site. It will be interesting to see what happens now because since Amazon had picked New York, many competing proposals were made more public. Will other cities, now knowing what all the bids were, step up their approach? This one will still be a fun one to watch. 
  • Just a reminder that BEC is coming, and a quick story on that. So I am a big fan of Steven Brooks of SmartLift Equipment. He is an absolute media/marketing machine. He reached out to me because he had an interest in BEC and wanted to learn more. After we went back and forth, Steven will attend the conference. He saw that the value of learning and networking is an absolute must-have in our world. So, if you are on the fence, hop off and register today!  And by the way I must admit that I was thrilled to help push Steven’s decision to a yes as I may be the worst sales guy ever. (My brother got every single sales gene in our family)
  • For my dynamic and blinds between glass folks, this news on “corded window coverings” being phased out has to be positive news right?
  • Last this week: is anyone headed out to the International Builders’ Show show this week? I’d love a recap if you are. I did see though that Las Vegas jumped the prices for hotel rooms this week. When there’s a captive audience, supply and demand change, “poof,” welcome to $400 a night rooms. Anyway, those that are going, enjoy and feel free to drop me some insight please! 

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, February 11, 2019

Katy DevlinGrowing up, my dad was the king of do-it-yourself fixes. He used to say that, provided with enough duct tape and a hanger, he could create a quick, temporary repair for almost anything that went amiss around the house. Those handy DIY fixes, however, are not for the glass plant.

Last week at the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance Winter Conference in Austin, Texas, glass industry safety guru Mike Burk offered strong words of warning about DIY fixes on the factory floor. Burk is the North American technical representative for Sparklike Oy and has been a leader of the IGMA Glass Safety Awareness Council for many years.

Examples of dangerous work-arounds at glass plants.

While DIY fixes are common and often successful at home, they present a major risk to safety in a factory environment, Burk says. Plant managers and maintenance leaders should keep a close watch for DIY fixers in their facilities.

Burk has a term for people who attempt to implement DIY fixes: “jigglers.” (The term references jiggling the handle to stop a toilet from running.) “You have to watch for the ‘jigglers’ in your plant.” he says. In the glass plant, those “jigglers” take shortcuts or workarounds in an effort to make machinery run better or faster, or in an attempt to fix a problem with a piece of equipment, Burk says. “They think they know more about the machine than the maintenance guy,” Burk says.

In glass plants over the years, Burk has identified a number of common shortcuts and workarounds instituted by “jigglers.” “I’ve seen start switches held in with wire or a paper clip, bypasses to the safety switch. Sticks and pokers and poles used to get product moving along the line,” he says.

Fabricators must train their maintenance personnel to be “jiggler catchers,” Burk says. “Your maintenance guys can spot these [workarounds]. … If they see duct tape somewhere on a machine, something is wrong.”

For more information, read an article that Burk wrote for Glass Magazine outlining shortcuts and workarounds to avoid.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Time for my annual pitch about the value of attending the Building and Envelope Contractors Conference next month—but wait! This year, I am going to focus on it a little differently. In the past I really played up the networking and deservedly so; this event is off the charts in that area. Seriously if you don’t believe me, ask one of the over 500 people who consistently attend. 

No, this time my focus is on the group of people that the conference is built for—the glazing contractors. If you are a glazier, you need to attend. Simple. The access to 1 ½ days of targeted educational content that was developed passionately by your peers and the ability to advance your business awaits. I know many of you are very busy and the thought of taking a few days out of the office is not something you relish, but believe me this is worth it. Take a look at the agenda.

If you want to learn more and want to talk to a fellow installing company that attends to get more insight, let me know, I’ll broker introductions. This truly is a conference that deserves your attention. And as for the non-glazier folks out there, obviously you deliver the networking and additional flavor that makes this event complete. In any case that’s my plea, and while I stand proudly on the fact that I oversaw the largest BEC in history several years ago, I would love nothing more than to see that record shattered. Check it out and make plans to join your peers March 3 in Las Vegas.

Elsewhere…

  • I’ve noted here in the past I am not a fan of LEED at all, but I do enjoy stats about the process and the one I always like to run is the top 10 list of adopters of the program. This list is for the top 10 states for LEED building in 2018, and the rundown is based on green square feet per resident. To my surprise, the No. 1 state was Illinois, and furthermore No. 2 was Massachusetts. I really expected Washington state and Colorado to be No. 1 and No. 2, but they were No. 3 and No. 6. I was shocked to see the great state of Texas check in at No. 5. I don’t think people associate Texas with sustainable building and obviously those folks are wrong. The rest of the top ten was Hawaii, Virginia, California and Maryland. 
  • I am probably alone on this one, but it bums me out that the movie named “Glass” is a bizarre and intense horror movie. Plus, people use the hashtag #glass on social media and it’s killing my searches for interesting stories about our industry.
  • With both of my kids now residing in Florida I have had to spend some time here and there in that state and I am floored over the fact that seemingly no one uses turn signals there. The biggest stunner—I was following a school bus, and the school bus failed to use a turn signal! A school bus, where signals for safety are the law, yet even this driver failed to throw on his left turn signal. Insanity.
  • An important post a few days ago from the always-great Kerry Haglund, Efficient Windows Collaborative, on LinkedIn. She linked to the news from the Department of Energy that 42 million dollars will be earmarked for study into innovative building products. Windows are a part of this. My sincere hope is that people like Kerry, or other organizations that can take advantage of this, are involved in the development. In the past, we’ve seen grants come through the DOE that to me were not put in the best and most capable hands, glass-wise. I’ll be following this the best I can and keep everyone updated, and if you are reading this and are involved, good luck and make positive innovations happen!

  • Last this week: I do still try to enjoy the commercials shown during the Super Bowl—Congrats to the Pats fans out there! —but each year the batches get worse. This year a few were fun and enjoyable, but most weren’t. The oddest one? Burger King with an Andy Warhol look-alike working a sandwich for 30 seconds. That was 5 million bucks. Why?

    Also while everyone in the media seemed to love the Washington Post spending 10 million for an ad, personally I thought that was a terrible waste of money. Obviously, the Post is flush with cash, so the whole “please subscribe or we’ll go away” narrative is wrong.  Anyway, I guess it is what it is these days, but I’ll at least note the four that were solid in my opinion were the Hyundai one with Jason Bateman, Avocado’s, Planters’ and Google/Queen’s commercials. Time for everyone else to come to the glass industry and steal brilliant marketing brains like Tessa Miller, Mary Olivier, Rich Porayko to get better commercials!! 

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, February 4, 2019

The start of a new year is a great time to reflect and evaluate. For DeGorter Inc., total growth in 2018 was not what we saw in 2017, but we did experience exceptional growth related to laminated glass products. Likely you experienced growth in some way as well and I am sure we all want to keep that momentum rolling into 2019. However, there are two specific areas we’re going to keep a close eye on this year: labor and the current political environment. 

Only two months into the new year, and we’ve experienced a partial government shutdown with the uncertainty of another looming. We also face the possibility of tariff increases in the first quarter, and a strong labor market which is often a double-edged sword. Additionally, we expect fluctuations in the USD’s strength, which can influence our industry and the economy. This translates to a year with more uncertainty than we prefer. 

But it is not all doom and gloom. This uncertainty may contribute further to a potential employment trend, a buzzword I was hearing more and more during the last quarters of 2018: onshoring, or the return of domestic employment. For the manufacturing and service sectors we operate in, some of this uncertainty in the global market may create opportunity. As the cost of manufacturing outside our economy is being wholly reevaluated, companies are looking at bringing back operations that left long ago.  

Despite the possibility of onshoring, the current labor market continues to be one of the more difficult areas to navigate, and wages, supplies and costs look like they will continue to rise in 2019. With current unemployment rates as they are, finding the best people to fill open positions may continue to be a challenge.

However, securing and keeping talent does not have to come down to a higher wage, greater benefits or a higher total compensation. In our experience at DeGorter, there are other matters which drive employees, especially those in younger generations. Flexibility is one advantage to retain people, and we’ve found that giving employees freedom to make decisions contributes to better quality and a more fulfilled person. We’re not putting in table tennis and kegs just yet, but we are listening to what is most important to keep turnover low in a labor market more favorable to the talent.

There are absolutely items to keep a keen eye on for the coming year, but overall, we are feeling optimistic about opportunities for 2019. Manufacturing remains strong, investment in operations are continuing, and glass remains one of the most versatile building products in the world with continuous development of new products. We feel 2019 could be another excellent year for our industry and look forward to reflecting next year, around this same time, on what we accomplished together.

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, February 4, 2019

I have hit this before, but a great post on LinkedIn by Tim Widner of Lippert Components got me going again. Tim shared a story about high school students doing a “signing day” ceremony for kids joining the trades. If you are not a sports fan, signing day is a big event in high schools for students picking a college to continue their athletic careers. Some of the events are very lavish and the kids make it a show, but in the end it’s a very cool way to announce what is next for them. Until now, it’s been limited to sports scholarships, so it’s nice to see a group pushing something new.

We as an industry have to find our way into that mix; we need to keep promoting the greatness of the glass industry and the incredible opportunities we have throughout our ranks. This continues to be a goal and something to work on—building our image as an industry so we can attract youth. I am open to any ideas. Tim, thanks for the post, good stuff!

Elsewhere…

  • Did everyone survive the polar vortex? I checked with many of my Minnesota friends and when people from Minnesota say, “It’s cold,” it must really be cold! That was a tough week for the Midwest and East, and I am sure it will have an effect on business levels. I have heard of delays on jobsites that became significant so there will be some backlog jams coming up.
  • While not everyone is a fan of Apple, as glass people you should probably at least like them. The latest news is they filed for a patent for a glass sheet keyboard. Obviously, that’s something none of us will be into, but could it grow the glass brand? Will it allow the public to see our product in yet another very functional place? It also made me think of the video that Guardian Glass had on display at glasstec that showed glass in a myriad of different ways for the future. More publicity and recognition for our product can only help!
  • In case you missed it, the Annual Conference keynote I heard raves on was perfectly reviewed by Katy Devlin. You can read the review here.
  • Heads up: the best hotel rates for Building Envelope Contractors Conference end on Feb. 8. Get yourself booked ASAP. The agenda of this event is off the charts, and as always the networking is awesome. 
  • Want to get stopped in your tracks? Check out this headline and story on vacuum insulating glass growth. Wow. Huge prediction of upside here, and surely one to monitor.
  • I really do love the “Great Glazing” section by Glass Magazine and the recent one on the Oregon Zoo is a favorite of mine. What Walker Glass and Vitro did there with the bird-friendly glass was fabulous. Super looking job!
  • Last this week: a great read about Bagatelos Architectural Glass Systems. Presented as a case study, the article provides a great insight into one of the top glazing contractors in our world. I will wholly admit I am biased because I really like Chris and Nick Bagatelos, but this story is a fantastic look at the approaches they took to improve a company that was already doing quite well. To me, the lesson is that you can always get better and you should never settle. Good stuff here and props to Chris and Nick for opening up and sharing! 

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.