From the Fabricator: How to Attract Workers and the Big 3 Debut

 

It’s a longer post this week with the debut of my new interview series. Not every post will be this long but thank you in advance for checking it all out!

First, a few quick hits.

  • A subject we hear a lot about (and will be below in the interview, too) is attracting workers to our industry. At BEC, the highest-rated presentation was on the matters of the workforce and this article recently had some nice tips on recruiting and retaining the next generation to our industry.
  • Congrats to Brian Leizerowicz on his new gig at Western Window Systems. I have been a huge fan of Brian’s for years, talented guy and good to see he’s continuing to climb up the ladder in our industry. He’ll do great things with the product line at Western.
  • This week saw the end of my favorite TV show of recent times, “The Americans.” It was an amazing ride and the finale was fabulous. It made me think about how I got into that show: the one and only Greg Carney tipped me off, in this email from Jan. 31, 2013.

Hello Max,

Just a quick note to see if you watched "The Americans" on FX tonight? If not, knowing your enjoyment of shows such as 24, I would highly recommend checking it out (Wednesday nights @ 10:00 pm). Awesome premiere tonight.

I think of Greg often, and with this show ending it’s another connection we had going away. He lives on, though, in all we try to do to make this industry the best it can be!

Now on to my new interview series: The Big 3.

To kick off this segment, I went with the person responsible for me being in this business. Steve Perilstein. My brother Steve is the guy you can get mad at if you hate me; it’s all his fault. Anyway, I thought this would be the best person to start with as my brother is a fascinating guy and has had amazing success through his lifelong (and I mean lifelong) career in the glass business. He was also way ahead of the trends with pushing into tempering and insulating glass, developing sales people and building businesses overall.

Steve Perilstein, executive vice president, WA Wilson

Because I know you so well, I know you wanted to be a “glass jobber” since you could walk. What was your path like always wanting to be in this industry and going from those early days at the original Perilstein companies all the way to WA Wilson?

It started with me in preschool when I drew a picture of me with window glass. It was just something that I always wanted to do. When I was growing up I always looked forward to Saturdays so I could go into work with Dad. I just wanted to be around it all. When I was in high school I worked every day after school in the warehouse and learned something new daily. When Dad started Perilstein Distributing Corp. in 1977 I was there to help get it started and after a year away for college I came home to work full time while pursuing my degree in night school. It was amazing to work with my Dad. He was and will always be my hero. 

Eventually I gained more and more knowledge and leadership responsibility and it was important as my Dad fought off some health issues. It was during those times that I moved the company forward. When he had cancer, we bought an IG line; when he had open heart surgery, we purchased a tempering oven. Sounds funny but it just worked out that way. We grew the company no matter what and pushed into underserved areas. 

Family businesses are tough, but I wouldn’t change a thing in my life. In fact, at this point in my career I have a soft spot in my heart for family operations and do whatever I can to help those there. After we sold PDC I moved on to Arch and then to GGI. Both were incredible experiences where I was able to work with the best [people] our industry had to offer. I will always be grateful for those times. I count myself as very fortunate and blessed to now to be a part of the ownership group of WA Wilson and to get to work with a true class act and great man in Bobby Hartong. Bobby and the folks at Wilson are really wonderful and I am honored to be working alongside of them.

What’s the biggest change you have seen in the glass fabrication industry since you started?

I have been in and around the industry for more than 50 years, working full time the last 41. The biggest change: [in the past], ¼ tempered glass was three to four weeks lead time and was very expensive. It was run on a vertical line that left tong marks on the glass. Those marks that would absolutely be rejected by customers today. Also, when I started, no one knew or was producing much insulating glass. In addition, the product mix now is so vast. We went from mostly selling only clear and two tints to seemingly having thousands of varieties of glass makeups that can go into structures.

Biggest industry challenge?

Finding labor to do it all. Too many people think the industry is not “sexy” enough. I wonder, will my grandchildren want to be in the business? What will attract the youth? It’s worrisome. When I visit companies, I am noticing that we are not getting young people in the business, not getting kids out of school to get in here.

At WA Wilson, we’ve tried to engage trade schools and they have no desire to work with our industry. It’s very frustrating that career placements don’t consider the glass world.

I am excited that the new NGA with the single voice may be a great road for addressing this. We need to find people to get in our industry and stay in the industry to keep it going.

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.

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