From the Fabricator: The Next Argument


How important is energy efficiency to you? Would you pay more for it? If you were a bigwig developer and had a gaggle of new buildings to build, would you spend the extra money to make it the most energy efficient it could be? Those are three questions that have recently been bandied about, and here’s what I think the majority of owners/developers would say:

“Yes, energy efficiency is important to me. If this were a public poll then ‘yes’ I would pay more for it. Confidentially, not a chance. And as for the question of spending extra money, well, I didn’t get to the point of developing buildings by spending ‘extra’ on anything!”

This is our problem: We build the products and push the attributes, but if they cost more, a lot more, it will always be a struggle to get them into applications. We have a society right now that, no matter what it says publicly, will always defer to the bottom line when it comes to financial decisions.

Last week, issues like this were discussed at the GANA Fall Conference, and it was fascinating on several levels. First, one of the leaders of the discussion was an anti-glass industry guy. Unreal. The other fascinating thing was the codes issue. As we have seen with other battles in the code arena, the codes can have a tremendously negative effect on our industry if implemented incorrectly. They also could raise costs even more. Heck, groups like the NFRC account for additional costs now that, in my opinion, do not make sense or pay off. (Go ask a window manufacturer.) So what does this rambling rant mean?

Basically, we have to get past the money proposition by having clear and concise arguments regarding  why the new technology coming from our industry is better and how it works. It is essential that we demonstrate the improved energy modeling, be aggressive with technology and work with every component to ensure the quality of the products we deliver. As an example, people buy expensive cars all the time not because of status (though some do) but because they have a belief system that the expensive car is BETTER, will last longer, and at the end of the day, will be worth the investment. We have to convince owners that our products--the glass, the frame, etc.--offer that kind of value. Building owners will change the carpet every few years, re-paint every few years, tear out interior offices and remodel every few years, but the curtain wall will be there forever, so why not make it the best? Let’s prove it.

Elsewhere…

  • There’s more to say on the above, and in coming weeks, we’ll get to it. And with GlassBuild over, I plan on a few more interviews (with people MUCH smarter than me) to keep this discussion going. It’s an important one; it is a part of our future.
  • One of my past interview subjects and one of the most intelligent people when it comes to talking about our future, Mark Silverberg, had a great link from his Twitter account recently on the top 10 green building practices of 2013. This list was pretty interesting overall and something for everyone to be aware of.
  • Very sad news last week with the passing of Arthur Balik, retired Chairman of GGI. Arthur, along with his brother Al (who passed away last year), were pillars in this industry and were a huge part of building the infrastructure we all work in today. I’d assume Arthur had to be extremely proud of the advancements his company made over the years. My thoughts go out to the Balik family on their loss.

On the lighter side, to end this week…

  • I did see people still using a Blackberry at GlassBuild America. So I am not alone. But come May, I am moving on… very scared…
  • I saw the movie Pain and Gain. It was the re-make of an amazing newspaper series I covered here a while back. And of course Hollywood ruined it. Only Hollywood could take a story that is built for a movie and screw it up.
  • Finished the latest College Football expose by John Bacon called 4th and Long, and it was a decent read. If you are a college football fan, it’s worth looking into. By the way, I see a work stoppage or some sort of major protest coming to college football soon. Some seeds were planted this weekend, and I have a feeling these players who are being exploited badly will start to band together. And yes, that is a story for another time too.

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.

Comments

Max - you are so right about the financial bottom line. Before joining the window manufacturing industry, I built low, mid and high-end homes for 15 years. If you wanted to make any sort of living, you almost always had to go the cheapest route you could. Personally, as I've grown older and hopefully wiser, I have come to realize that, for the most part, you do get what you pay for - it's just hard to run a business that way. I think the key is in producing a quality product, offering the best customer service that you can, and then hope to be in business long enough so you develop a track record - repeat customers who understand the value/quality that you offer AND that your relationship and loyalty with them is worth a lot. How many times have I fought to be in the specifications, only to be beaten by a 'value-engineered' product. There's nothing wrong with being economical, but when you're willing to throw out the entire spec just to meet budget, how serious was the spec in the first place? And how does Mr./Ms. Architect feel about that? It's all about relationships first - developing trust and demonstrating your expertise - then educating the consumer so they can weigh the costs and benefits and make an informed decision. There's always a cheaper widget out there, but none of them belong in multi-story, multi-million dollar buildings! Thanks for the discussion!