glassblog

Monday, August 19, 2019

David VermeulenHow do you get spec’d by an architect? It’s the building industry’s million-dollar question.

There are approximately 113,500 licensed architects in the U.S., according to the National Council Architectural Registration Boards. That might not seem like a big number, but think about it this way. Between 2008 and 2012, those architects helped design and specify materials in over 300,000 commercial buildings. That’s a whole lot of purchasing power when you consider the sheer volume of materials needed to make just one building come to life.

The problem, as we all know, is that it’s hard to figure out how or why a particular architect chooses one product over another. Some architects work for small one-person firms. Others, large 100-plus person firms. Each architect—and firm, for that matter—has different preferences and project goals driving specification. So, how does your product make it into their spec? Numerous subscription services are out there offering to increase your specification rates. Are they the answer? The whole process is such a mystery that the American Institute of Architects allocated some research dollars to shed some light on the issue a few years back.

There are a lot of good takeaways from the study that are worth revisiting in the glass industry, but none more important than relationships. The survey found that almost 60 percent of the time an architect already knows the materials manufacturer he or she will use. Getting further into the weeds, seven in 10 architects said they prefer to go with a supplier they’ve already worked with before.

So, while I may not know the answer to the million-dollar question, my takeaway is this: developing a solid foundation of mutual respect with the architect is key to gaining repeated access to the project vision and goals. As we head into the second half of the year, here are a few thoughts on how to keep building relationships that last.

1.     Let needs drive the conversation

In the push to design the latest and greatest building, basic project needs can get overlooked. Is the product expected to meet certain fire-rated requirements? What about energy performance or resilient design standards? Making sure these crucial needs are met first, then addressing the bells and whistles, can help set realistic expectations about how your product fits into the project. It also leaves time for creative problem solving if codes or performance requirements impact aesthetics.

2.     Go beyond the transaction

It’s easy to fall into transactional relationships when schedules are busy. But there’s a lot of truth to the adage, “out of sight, out of mind.” To set yourself up as a reliable and trustworthy partner that stays present, consider what you can do to make the architect’s job easier. This can be a simple as providing assistance in understanding building codes or as involved as helping with the design-build phase.

3.     Show, don’t tell

It’s one thing to talk about your product. It’s another to build credibility and show what it can do. I was reminded of this basic principle during a recent interview. The firm in reference needed a fire-rated glazing solution for a historic retrofit. They wanted to preserve sightlines to a prominent dome, and traditional, opaque fire-rated materials would block the view. When we were able to show the firm how another company had solved a similar problem using our fire-rated glass floor system, it put the entire situation into context. Moving forward was quick and easy. The firm could visualize exactly how our product could meet their needs, and we were able to validate our work and build trust.

4.     Prioritize quality

Few things undermine a relationship with an architect like getting to the end of a project and finding out that a poorly constructed material is compromising the overall design. Whether it’s on the shop floor or in a sales pitch, think beyond cost. Under delivering can lead to re-ordered products, project delays and onsite custom work that cost more than the relationship in the long term.

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 12, 2019

Tom O'Malley

I have been traveling for 25 years and I have learned many things. First, travel is not as exciting as it may appear. Usually, I am in a hotel off the highway and no one is carrying my bags up to my room for me. My kids think I stay in the same hotels that I use all my hotel loyalty points for on family vacations, and wonder why I am so cranky after a work trip.

People often ask why I travel so much, except for my wife, who asks why I don’t travel more. The answer is simple: I feel it is the best way to get to know my customer and the marketplace. I don’t travel just to chase a specific job but also to stay in touch with my customers. I had someone say to me once, “Why are you traveling there? We have no jobs there.” Exactly—that is why I am traveling there, I am going to make sure they know who we are.

Having done this for so long I am fortunate that I have so many customers I can go see and they welcome me in. They have become friends who I look forward to seeing and grabbing a meal with. This did not happen overnight though. It took a lot of hard work, rejections and miles.

I think for anyone starting out as a traveling salesperson you need to learn some key things.

  • Always be respectful of your client’s time. They are fitting you into their day; things happen, and you could be running behind. If that happens, just let them know and give them a timeframe. They will understand and appreciate your communication, and it will show them how you would handle a job when things that come up.
  • Allow yourself time and plan your day accordingly. Believe it or not you can’t go from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore in 45 minutes even though it is just 45 miles. Just because it is convenient for you to see someone at 10 a.m. because your last appointment is just down the street doesn’t mean that is best for them. Unfortunately, they will be inconvenienced.
  • Make the effort to get the client out of the office. The obvious is lunch, but sometimes people’s schedules are more conducive to breakfast, drinks after work or dinner. Be flexible even if it means an early wake up or less free time at night. When they are not in the office their attention will be on you. Do not be discouraged as it takes a while to get someone to spend their free time with you.
  • Have a goal for the trip. This could include meeting a new customer, closing a job, taking someone out, doing a presentation or seeing an architect. You do not always close a job on a trip, so you need small wins that help you build your confidence and sense of accomplishment.
  • Foster relationships. Relationships are what makes the world go around. What you need to realize is these relationships don’t happen overnight. I have learned about relationships from many people and have emulated many things in fostering these relationships/partnerships along the way.
  • Attend industry events. I have faithfully been attending our industry trade shows from year one. This allowed me to meet key people outside of the office where they may be a little more relaxed. I would then follow up when I was traveling to their city and I had an instant connection. The key is to get out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to as many people as possible.
  • Make cold calls. An appointment is always preferred but sometimes you have some extra time in your day. It is easy to use that time to finish your day early or have a longer lunch. I try and stop in and meet with someone, or at least leave a card and get some names of key people. I have landed many a project from this initial step. Even if it was two to three years later and they remembered me.
  • Ask for a referral. Once you are in with one person at a company, do not stop there. Ask them to walk you around to other key people. It is easier to get an introduction while you are in the office then trying to call or email later. People do appreciate the time and cost associated with travel and I have had many customers say they have never met my competition other than a local rep. They recognize the effort you made to come see them and usually want it to be a success for you.
  • Network with other industry people. I have become friends with other people that handle different products. In the end we often have similar customers. I laugh when I hear people say, “Look at those two sales guys talking, what a waste of time.” I have done introductions for these other salespeople, and vice versa. This helps get you past the “gatekeeper.” Good people like to help good people.
  • Respect the privacy of a lead. My philosophy is only bid those leads that come to you. If you start calling others on a prospective bid, they may appreciate it but will most likely not trust you with a confidential bid. If people trust you it will lead people to only get a number from you. That will increase your sales more than chasing everyone and having no loyalty.

When the customer thinks of you as a partner, that is when the relationship changes. You are not looked at as a supplier but as a valued team member. You win and lose jobs together. You build your businesses together and you solidify the friendship. All of this takes time and effort but you will be amazed as you look back and see all the progress you have made.

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.

Monday, August 12, 2019

It was an uneven past week economically in our world. This certainly could possibly be the “bump” in the road that was predicted earlier this year for some time in 2019. If you remember, when I wrote about my speech in Texas earlier this year, I noted that analysis coming down the pike said we’d soften but eventually bounce back for 2020. Looks like we are there now, as seemingly every forecast or update I see is showing weakness and even more convincing is a slowing in the residential setting. That has always been the alarm bell: when residential slows up, look out. We will see how this all progresses. Obviously so much of this is fluid. The tariff issue rocked the markets this week and we still have a very fragile geopolitical landscape, so hold on tight folks.

Elsewhere…

  • Speaking of past topics, that webinar I noted from the NGA and Architectural Record which was so amazing is now available for all and worth checking out. You can find it here.
  • Thanks to everyone who wrote in last week on the GlassBuild for Glaziers angle. Most people gave me positive insights, but I did get a note that said the show felt light on items for the glazier. All I could say is, come on back this year and check it out. I think you’ll come away impressed.  
  • This month’s Glass Magazine review: wow what a freaking cover! Beautiful and eye catching. Grow Your Business at GlassBuild America is the very appropriate and accurate headline. So, of course, it is the preview edition for the show and the issue is packed with insight and info. I especially like the product previews. I can never get enough of those. In addition, a must read from Stephanie Miller on EPD and HPD. Why is it must read? Because so many people have questions on those processes and Stephanie answers them perfectly! 
  • Ad of the month: since this is one of the more popular issues of the year, more ads end up in it which makes my giving out this ultra-prestigious honor so much harder! There are actually three ads to recognize:
    1) Quanex with a cool future play.  
    2) TGP using “SPEC” smartly while promoting their products, and
    3) SoftSolution with that eye of the Tiger—I assume a Tiger?—staring you down. 

All good ads that worked nicely. Overall though this was an incredible batch of work by many companies. Some excellent marketing folks really raising the bar to bring brand awareness to the forefront!

  • Please check out my video of the week. It came via the great John Wheaton and it’s worth the watch. It’s “the man behind the worlds ugliest buildings,” and if you don’t chuckle several times I’ll be stunned!
  • By the time I write again here, college football will have started, and I will tell you I love college football. Sleeper team this year? Going to be my pal Steve Cohen’s Penn State Nittany Lions—and right now Steve is cussing me out for putting the jinx on. Sorry Steve. Winning it all though is going to be Alabama; no way Nick Saban allows his team not to win it all after losing last year.
  • Last this week: no blog from me next week. I will return to this space the week of Aug. 25. If news happens, though, I will cover on Twitter and LinkedIn. 

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, August 5, 2019

In our business, we know the importance of details and how even the smallest of mismeasurements can cause long-term headaches for a project.

One often-overlooked detail is how nominal differences in glazing thickness can impact multiple aspects of installation, as well as the overall performance of a structure. Today’s framing systems typically have very tight tolerances that limit the pocket variance to within 0.012 of an inch. So if the glazing thickness is off, even by just a nominal amount—think of a one-inch glass requirement versus a .946-inch glass delivery—the installer may have to use bigger gaskets to retain proper compression as a work-around since the glass would be considered outside the tolerance designed into the system to perform as expected.

Utilizing a makeshift solution to account for inaccurate glazing thickness may work for a short period of time, but in the long run it can lead to serious issues. Without proper gasket compression through standard installation, gaskets could become disengaged and create the potential for failure in water and/or air performance.

Overlooking this one small detail can lead to a cascade of issues down the road. So how do we avoid this situation?

Nominal no-go’s

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association actually provides a general voluntary standard for glazing thickness that says one-inch glass can be delivered within a certain nominal size range. While there are many products ordered and installed in our industry that can utilize these guidelines around nominal sizes, when it comes to glass and fenestration—as stated in the example above—these products have much less flexibility to overcome that nominal variance.

This makes it incumbent on glazing contractors to be overly diligent when placing orders with manufacturers. While an architect may specify a nominal size, glazing contractors and manufacturers must work together to ensure whether or not nominal sizing could compromise a project.

Delivering through diligence

The bottom line is, to get the performance that you desire from the glass and window, you have to have the right glass. Long-term issues with the system, such as over-compressed and failing gaskets, deformed and improperly functioning pressure plates, or varying levels of compression throughout the glass, can be easily avoided with some simple due diligence up front.

Because of this responsibility, communication between glazing contractors, glass fabricators and manufacturers is more crucial than ever. Be sure to specify the precise glazing thickness required for each project to take the guesswork out of the equation. And during installation, check the torque or the pressure to make sure it is correct. 

These are simple ways to ensure our projects are being completed to the highest quality possible. When a building’s performance is at its best, it is a true win-win all around.

Terry Carespodi is a National Sales Manager at YKK AP America Inc. His background in the architectural aluminum fenestration industry serves as an asset to his role, in which he is responsible for implementing strategic initiatives to further the company’s long-term goals.

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 5, 2019

Curious on what everyone else thinks on this; obviously by now you all know I am all about GlassBuild America, the show has been a client of mine for years, so of course I am going to be in heavy promo mode. Anyway, I had someone tell me they are not coming to GlassBuild because, “GlassBuild is a machinery show and there’s nothing for the glazier.” That threw me, because I know better, but I think not enough people in our world do. GlassBuild is the ultimate annual show for everything in our industry. Yes, machinery has a big and impressive part, but there is so much more to it, and for the glazier there’s a massive amount of growth and opportunity waiting at every turn. 

As a glazier, coming to GlassBuild America allows you to own your supply chain. Everyone you need is either exhibiting or walking the floor. Every single item that a glazier uses on a daily basis will have multiple supply groups there to talk to … how can you pass that up? Then you look at the technology with lifting and labor? Folks like Smartlift, Ergo, Sydercrane, Quattrolifts, and more exhibit—my gosh its impressive who is there!

Everyone wants more efficiency in the field, and GlassBuild America has those answers on the floor thanks to many different excellent exhibitors. How about software for estimating or project managing? Check. And how about if you want to see how these technologies work? It’s all there either in an exhibit or at the Action Demos. Put the seminars and speeches on top and you have everything you need to grow and advance your business. So, I turn to you dear readers; doesn’t this seem to be enough to get a glazier to the show? Should I try a different path?

Elsewhere…

  • Big congrats to old friend Michael Schmidt on his new position at Glaston. Very excited to see what he’ll do with the vast product lines at his fingertips and I look forward to standing in line to see him at all the shows. I say this because there is always a crowd around Michael at the shows.
  • Also congrats out to the folks at AAMA and IGMA for their news on the combination of those organizations. A lot of very good people involved there, and I expect this be a positive for the industry.
  • And last this week before the Big 3 interview, one more set of congrats—this to the fine men and women who achieved AGMT Glazier Certification. Our industry now has 177 newly certified professionals and that is an excellent start in that process! Kudos to the folks behind AGMT for tireless work in getting this going.

Big 3 Interview: Michael Blackmore, president, Ballistic Glass and Armor Solutions

I believe this may be the first interview I have done with someone I have not met in person yet. But after I saw the video embedded below, I just had to reach out and interview. Security and protective glazing is a growth area and I truly admire men like Michael who are determined to protect lives and property. Fascinating guy, and I look forward to meeting him person someday. Until then, you got to watch this video and then check out the interview, it is a fun one! 

Your videos, in which you literally stand behind your product, are super. How did you come up with the idea to do this and did you have any fear at all in the product not holding up?

The idea to do the “shoot me” videos was simply an “old school” approach to business that is the core of our approach to everything. We only put products on the market that we know will work, every time. I couldn’t think of a better way to communicate that, so I said, “Shoot me.” As far as fear, I was petrified, but not for the reason you may think. I knew our products would reject the rounds, I didn’t flinch when the shots were fired. I was petrified that the cameras wouldn’t capture the event on first take. It had taken 12 hours to setup the stage as a shooting booth, and we didn’t have time to re-set for a second take. Thank God, the cameras worked fine.

Your company has a very strong relationship with law enforcement organizations all over the country. How has that helped you and BGAS as you develop protective products for the glass industry?

Thank you for recognizing that. We absolutely support the “Thin Blue Line.” The vast majority of law enforcement is comprised of exceptionally good and committed individuals. Unfortunately, this sometimes gets lost when the spotlight is directed at the rare “bad apples” in this community.

Having good relationships with law enforcement has definitely helped our efforts. We were honored to be chosen for all ballistic aspects of the NYPD Times Square Station and BGAS is the specified supplier for all ballistic glazing, framing, doors, and walls for NYPD in all five boroughs.

Law enforcement relationships are particularly important in rural America. Whenever a concern develops there—for banks, utility payment centers, check cashing locations, pawn shops, schools, car dealers, and of course government buildings, and the police station—the first call made is to the police chief to take him/her for a cup of coffee to see what they think. This leads to an invitation for BGAS to consult and help develop the right solution to defeat the threat they are concerned about, such as forced entry, pistols, all rifles, and even blast and explosions.

Looking back to when you were a kid or teen, what did you initially want to be when you grew up? Did you ever think you’d be protecting people and saving lives with products you invented and/or innovated?

What did I want to be? Well, I rode my first bull in a rodeo when I was 14 and turned professional at 17. That is a young man’s sport and I retired at 21.

It is a long journey from the rodeo arena to our state-of-the-art glazing plant in Addison, Texas, and fabrication plants in Oklahoma.

I will tell you, Max, it is very rewarding pursuing our primary objective of “saving lives and protecting assets,” and providing out clients with true peace of mind. 

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.