glassblog

Monday, May 6, 2019

Gareth Francey headshotOr should that be, “A good employee is hard to keep”? I am pretty sure every employer in our industry has run into the same HR issue of trying to figure out where to find good talent and dealing with the inevitable question of how to keep these assets productive in their own company, and not in their competitors’ companies. Employees are indeed the backbone of every company and without them you have nothing. Yet investing in them is easier said than done, though the costs of recruiting, training and ramping up are becoming more expensive all the time.

So how do you keep valuable people in your company? Is it more money? Or the promise of growth potential and a bigger title? With the relative buoyancy of the glass industry these past years and with many solid glass companies growing significantly in size over a short time-frame, quality employees have been able to leap-frog up in salary and position with amazing ease. There is a high demand for high-quality people out there and employers are willing to pay the premium at the moment—or at least pass these costs on down the line. I am just not sure this trend can continue though.

Generational shift

From a cross-generational perspective, my company recently hired a few bright millennials from outside the industry a year or so ago and I was pretty interested to see how they viewed their future after a couple months on the job. It seems that this generation needs to have their career paths mapped out in front of them in advance, in relative detail as well, and the expectation of success and growth is a pre-requisite in maintaining their employment. I think these days the pressure is now on the employer to live up to promises made and to not “bait-and-switch” just to fill the HR gap at the time. This approach is definitely a lot different compared to 18 years ago when I started in the glass industry where everyone seemed to be just happy to get a start and didn’t ask that many questions up front.

Embracing tech in the workplace

I hear from glass fabricators and glaziers these days that its really challenging to find young folks to start in the industry and stick around. Working with glass is tough and many newcomers just don’t last in the high-pressure work environment. Take the glass plant for example; employees have to off-load the tempering line in hot temperatures, wearing Kevlar sweaters with 4-inch collars for their safety. In a matter of weeks, some of these same employees quit to drive for Uber, or another, more comfortable job.  

Fortunately, smart opportunists are coming up with tech solutions for these daily problems all the time, and smart employers are taking advantage of them. In this example, I now see a trend from personal protective equipment suppliers who are coming out with high performance cut-protection athletic clothing which now actually cools down the employee wearing it.

Likewise, companies are using technology to support remote access for project managers that have to manage high-pressure, complex glazing projects; these managers can manage multiple jobs from their home offices or from various locations via VPNs and webcams in a way that is highly accurate, flexible to their lifestyle and on their own schedule that totally beats sitting in traffic all day getting to the jobsite.

Training employees

 Programs such as www.myglassclass.com are also really excellent in providing newcomers the basic skillsets to ground themselves in glass and begin to start figuring things out. I highly recommend these web-based education platforms that are able to be used easily by employees on their own time, building their confidence and giving them the knowledge to be competent.

To conclude, retaining good employees these days has to be considered an ongoing process that starts at the top of the organization and works its way down. The two main ingredients to somewhat ensure this stability is to provide tools and systems that allow employees to be productive and efficient, and to provide a healthy and positive company culture that fosters growth. If you find it a challenging to retain your most valued assets, maybe you should check your recipe. Adding more money is seldom the fix.

Gareth Francey is the president of Bohle America, a supplier of glazing & handling tools, hardware, consumables, and machinery, for all levels of the glass industry. Francey has been with the Bohle organization since 2001 and led the American division since 2010. Contact him at gareth.francey@bohle-america.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, May 6, 2019

Last week I briefly touched on the story from New York City and the Mayor’s comments on glass and glazing. Since then it’s been a very interesting ride to follow the various stories and reaction to it. First, as the news got some legs, folks from the Mayor’s office tried to soften it some with some much-needed clarifications on what he meant. Then, we got some excellent takes on the issue from Glass Magazine editor Katy Devlin, View’s Rao Mulpuri, and my old pal Dr. Helen Sanders of Technoform.

But even with the smart comments coming in, the initial damage was done. The narrative that stuck was that a “ban” on glass was needed because glass is bad. So here we go again. I even chuckled when I received two emails back to back, one with the headline "Did NYC's Mayor Really Announce a Ban on Glass Buildings?" while the other included the headline, "NYC plans to ban glass skyscrapers". 

So, it is now back to us to be better at how we communicate our products and how our industry represents ourselves. This is an opportunity for us. We all know that we have great products that can meet and exceed the energy needs and provide benefits that brick and other products do not. We can rise to the challenge and show we are not the problem here, and actually bring positive solutions with us. Older buildings that desperately need energy upgrades everywhere are where this effort should start. Glass needs to be the driver and the solution. Let’s go get it.

Elsewhere…

  • I missed noting the annual “Take Your Child to Work” day on last week’s post. It was really cool to see so many companies in our industry showing off what they did on social media. When you think about the whole “ban” issue and also the fact we need youth in this business, it’s really important to get kids interested in our world sooner than later. So big props to everyone who brought their kids in and to all the companies who pushed and supported it!
  • Has everyone seen “Avengers: End Game” yet? Super movie. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it, but I do want to say I loved the glass usage in the movie, and I got a kick out of some of the breakage too. It looked like in some scenes the glass broke more like annealed. While others will go see that movie again to experience it another time, I’ll go back to study break patterns…
  • Travel nugget: I swear I have a Joe DiMaggio-like streak of picking the wrong security line at airports. I have the awesome TSA pre-check, but once you get through that and have to pick a line … I think I am 0 for my last 30 on choosing the faster one.  If you see me at that part of the airport go opposite of my choice!
  • Last this week: the glass industry someday could be known as the place that spawned the next awesome social media network! Check out this great article on Jeff Meyer of White Bear Glass as he and his family and partners have launched a new social and file sharing site called “The Horn.”

    This thing has incredible potential and the key is privacy. While Facebook just decided that privacy is important, Jeff’s site is all over it. Wouldn’t it be awesome that a Minnesota company with a major connection to the glass industry makes inroads in the tech world of Silicon Valley? Combined with the top story, not only is the glass world great, but we also do social media better than anyone else too. Good luck Jeff!!

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, April 30, 2019

NYC skyline

 

Katy DevlinLast week, the glass industry witnessed some jarring headlines coming out of New York City: "NYC’s ‘Green New Deal’ to ban glass, steel skyscrapers"; "De Blasio vows to ban glass and steel skyscrapers in NYC"; "NYC mayor wants to ban new glass skyscrapers to cut emissions".

The news came out of an April 22 Earth Day press conference when Mayor Bill de Blasio announced New York City’s Green New Deal. “We are going to introduce legislation to ban the glass and steel skyscrapers that have contributed so much to global warming. They have no place in our city or on our Earth anymore,” de Blasio said.

"The mayor’s anti-glass rhetoric, and the over-simplistic labeling of glass as a poor energy performer, is harmful to a glass industry that has already spent the last decade fighting the 'battle for the wall.'"

However, neither de Blasio’s opening remarks on the topic, nor the initial headlines, tell the full story. The mayor continued in his statement: “If a company wants to build a big skyscraper, they can use a lot of glass if they do all the other things needed to reduce the emissions,” he said.

“It means banning [that] all-glass high-rise construction until it meets the absolute highest energy efficiency standards,” said Dan Zarrilli, de Blasio’s chief climate policy advisor and the OneNYC director.

De Blasio’s proposal introduces the “the toughest laws of any state or city in the nation” in terms of performance requirements for buildings in an effort to cut emissions in New York City by 30 percent by the year 2030, Zarrilli said. Buildings are a key target of the plan, “because they are the number one cause of greenhouse gas emissions … in this city. It’s not the cars, it’s the buildings,” he said.  

Mark Chambers, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, said high-performance glass products, along with other performance tradeoffs, would allow for glass buildings that meet the stringent requirements. “It doesn't mean that buildings can't use glass anymore,” he said. “A perfect example is the American Copper Building right behind us. … That building does use glass, but it also uses other materials and it uses high-performance glass to make sure that the building is actually work[ing] to the benefit of our emissions reductions.”

The plan also targets existing building. It puts $3 billion into retrofitting city government buildings and will demand performance improvements in private sector buildings as well. “We're implementing new mandatory building retrofit requirements, giving building owners just five years to cut their pollution or face major fines,” said Zarrilli.

So, did Mayor de Blasio announce a ban on glass and steel buildings in New York City? No.

However, the mayor’s anti-glass rhetoric, and the over-simplistic labeling of glass as a poor energy performer, is harmful to a glass industry that has already spent the last decade fighting the “battle for the wall.”

“De Blasio’s blunt rhetoric—and the headlines—are definitely a threat to highly glazed buildings,” says Tom Culp, NGA energy code consultant and owner of Birch Point Consulting.

De Blasio’s concerns should be focused on “highly glazed buildings with poor windows” along with the value engineering that eliminate high-performance façade products from a project to save money, Culp says.

“A highly glazed building with high-performance fenestration is a good thing,” Culp says. “The building can still show energy equivalence and offer other significant benefits that have been demonstrated in many studies such as increased occupant health, increased productivity, increased student learning in school settings, increased health recovery and decreased health costs in hospital settings and increased real estate values. Daylighting and views are critical to high-performance green buildings, and can help achieve sustainability and climate goals with good high-performance fenestration.”

The glass industry must fight back against de Blasio’s rhetoric before political leaders in other jurisdictions make similar assumptions. And the industry must continue to demonstrate how glass is essential to meeting building performance goals and to creating healthy spaces for occupants. 

The industry should also recognize the opportunities in NYC’s Green New Deal—opportunities to bring highest performing glass and glazing solutions into the built environment. This includes new construction, but also the city’s vast existing building stock (including 1 million buildings in Manhattan alone). Imagine the opportunities for glazing retrofits.

Demands for high-performance buildings are not going away. And glass is a critical part of the solution. How can we better tell our story? 

Katy Devlin is editor in chief of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org. Follow Glass Magazine on Twitter.

Monday, April 29, 2019

David VermeulenAnyone want to take a guess at how many green product certifications there are in the world, like Cradle to Cradle or Environmental Product Declarations?

I did a little digging to find out the answer after reading Glass Magazine’s March article on “The Green Building Maze.” As it turns out, there are an estimated 600 green product certifications globally, with nearly 100 in use in the U.S. (Sources: Whole Building Design Guide; BuildingGreen).

Let’s pause on that for a minute: there are approximately 600 green product certifications in the world. That’s no small number, and it doesn’t even factor in green building rating programs and standards.

Now, let’s take a step back. Who here remembers working in the glass biz before green building rating systems and certifications were a part of our everyday life? I sure do. And I trust I’m not the only one raising my hand right now.

To say a lot has changed on the green building front in the last 20 years is an understatement. LEED went from being an acronym that no one could define in the early 2000s, to an accepted industry term. Building codes began to evolve, addressing concerns like energy, sustainability and occupant wellbeing. Interest in high-performance, sustainable construction grew. In turn, more green building programs and certifications emerged. If you haven’t read it already, Glass Magazine put together a great recap of some of these programs and codes, touching on ASHRAE, LBC, PHIUS+, ZEB, C2C and more.

Each of these green product certification rating bodies, standards or codes has played (or is playing) an important role in setting higher benchmarks not just for the glazing industry, but the built environment as a whole. This advancement is good, necessary even. As Glass Magazine notes, these progressions are “changing the way projects are designed and built.”

But the number of organizations trying to get into the “green” game and improve the built environment is not without challenges. In fact, the rise in green building standards and organizations is creating one of today’s problems—an ever-tightening, complex maze of product/building performance criteria. Glass Magazine was right to cover the wide range of green building programs and certifying bodies as each does things differently. They each award credits for their own set of criteria, push varying performance requirements and have their own take on how to do things better. These differences are apparent even at a high level. For instance, some programs use a prescriptive path, while others award certification post construction based on actual performance data. In the same way, some programs take a holistic approach, while others evaluate just one component of the green building puzzle.

We’re seeing the trickle-down effects of this convoluted landscape more and more at Technical Glass Products. I’m sure the same goes for many of you. Customers frequently ask for green building information that stems from several different organizations. The result is confusion about which requirements they need to meet, and what information is applicable. To make matters more complicated, green building requirements often vary by state and are incentivized at different levels, creating another set of criteria. Not to mention, change is on the horizon in many states. So is it better to design for present or future codes? On that same note, what are current green building trends versus advancements that move the needle and will be taken seriously in the future?

The answers to these questions aren’t always easy. But we’re finding the glass industry is increasingly being called upon to provide a detailed level of green building support, and we’ll need to rise to the challenge. As the maze grows more complex—what are you finding successful?

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, April 29, 2019

One of the most important approaches we have going right now is the National Glass Association Advocacy and Technical Services group. It is here, where so much that can affect our day to day world, is worked on, debated, pushed, delayed, etc. This takes on a larger role when you think about the comments made by the mayor of New York last week with regards to glass buildings. (There are others in our industry, like Chuck Knickerbocker, who covered this much more eloquently than I could ever, so I’ll  let their words stand for me.)

We are used to people taking shots at our industry and livelihood, and we will continue to fight on all fronts, but we surely could use more people involved and following along. Go to the NGA’s Advocacy and Technical Task Group Activity page to see what’s happening currently and reach out to add your help to it. If we don’t keep working together as an industry, comments that are directed at building with less glass will start to become more real than we want them to be!  We can’t sit still, so please get involved!

Elsewhere… 

  • Ad of the month choice was tough yet again, in a very thick issue with a lot of contenders. My winner this month is Sika. I usually don’t like text heavy ads, but the Sika ad jumped out at me because of the awesome picture they chose and the way the color matched Sika logo. The picture was a very sophisticated structure that made me want to study it. When you stop on an ad like that, it’s a winner. Kudos to whomever at Sika did this—I think I only know the great Kelly Townsend there, so Kelly you can take the credit, LOL! 
  • The Texas Glass Association Glass Conference II is coming up quickly. If you are involved in this industry and in Texas, you need to consider getting there for it. More info can be found here. Personally, I am looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new people. As I previously noted, I am honored to be speaking at the session, and I’ll be sharing some interesting forecast news amongst other nuggets.

    In addition, the other speakers and topics are very strong. Learn more here.
  • I have been hearing that black, matte hardware, of all styles and applications, is getting extremely hard to find. I’m even hearing that from the millwork side of the business. That look is hot right now and maybe too hot for everyone to keep up.
  • GlassBuild registration is now open. Don’t procrastinate, register now and also grab your hotel room. By the way, my Philadelphia friends, both the Eagles and Phillies will be in town during the GlassBuild run up and show, so you can mix a little sports with your show of the year.
  • Last this week: one of the coolest things to see architecturally in Michigan is at Michigan State University and the Broad Art Museum. The exterior is stunning thanks to a great design by Zaha Hadid and glass from Guardian Glass. This summer, on the inside of this amazing structure will be an incredible glass sculpture in the exhibition named Oscar Tuazon-Water School. Instead of me screwing up the description I’ll just use this from Guardian Glass:

    Tuazon’s ‘water window’ uses more than 200 square feet of monolithic, tempered lites provided by Guardian Glass. The four trapezoidal shapes, which weigh in excess of 800 pounds, are installed in a steel frame connected to a post and bearing, which allows the water window to also rotate, further transforming the window into a door. A digitally printed image—a reference to the original water window by Baer—was placed on the third surface and fired into the glass.”

    More info can be found here, but if you find yourself in the great state of Michigan this summer, this is worth seeing!

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, April 22, 2019

Norah Dick The Mid-Atlantic Glass Expo, hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Glass Association, hosted a 163 exhibitors this year. Held in its usual location at Martin’s Crosswinds, in Greenbelt, Maryland, the regional show welcomed 943 attendees. Here are a few highlights from the trade show:

1)     Bohle’s Mobile Showroom

Bohle at the Mid-Atlantic Glass Expo
This year, Bohle America took its products on the road, showcasing its new mobile showroom at the Mid-Atlantic Glass Expo. The truck is equipped to show Bohle’s general hardware products, and includes a video display showcasing the company.

“It adds value to the customers,” says Connor Leahy, national sales director, Bohle. “They can touch and feel the products for themselves.”

“We’ve had a great response,” says C. Scott Welch, director of hardware products. The mobile showroom began visiting customers two weeks ago, he says.

2)     Education and training

This year, the MGA Expo also included MyGlassClass.com educational presentations, hosted by Jenni Chase, content director of the National Glass Association.

MyGlassClass at the Mid-Atlantic Glass Expo

“The Mid-Atlantic Glass Association Annual Glass Expo is always a terrific event for networking and seeing advanced products and services,” says Chase. “New this year was the addition of a learning theatre, where attendees learned how to use MyGlassClass.com to train employees.” The online training portal now offers over 60 courses for training new personnel in the glass industry.

“I like the new NGA education offering. It’s an innovative part of the show,” says Lauren Conners Anderson, sales representative for Conners Sales Group, who has been attending the expo for about 13 years.

3)     Networking

As usual, the show featured an atmosphere congenial to networking. For several exhibitors, the show is an opportunity to see longstanding customers. 

Evening activities at the Mid-Atlantic Glass Expo

“You see the customer base you normally can’t see at a national glass show,” says Jacob Bowser, inside sales manager, Standard Bent Glass.“This is a great networking show,” says Mike Nicklas, director, engineered glass systems, J.E. Berkowitz. “It’s a close-knit market.”

The relaxed evening also included brownies, pretzels and a few games of foosball.

Norah Dick is the assistant editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at ndick@glass.org.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Busy industry week for those on the East Coast. Both the Top Glass event in suburban Toronto and the Mid Atlantic Glass Expo in Maryland were packed and attracted a great range of glass professionals. I was lucky enough to be in Maryland and experience what the fine folks at the Mid-Atlantic Glass Association put together. A good, large layout made it easy to work the room and network. There was great representation of industry companies overall, and a pretty positive attitude towards the market though the event happened before the latest ABI came out—more on that below.

For me, the networking possibilities are the driver, and I got to meet some new people and re-connect with others. In the new category, it was great to visit with Joe Sennese of Vitro Architectural Glass. Good guy for sure, and he was working their stand with my old friend Nathan McKenna who gets congratulations on his latest promotion inside the walls at Vitro! Kudos, Nathan!

I also got a chance to talk to Trevor Elliott of Kawneer, but it was too quick—I wanted to talk longer, but he was the man in demand, being the outgoing president of the MGA and all. Hopefully during the next show we can catch up more, but I’m glad I put a face with the name. 

Meanwhile, it was an awesome trip down memory lane for me at the Trulite booth. I got to see three people that I worked with closely at various times of my professional career, but really had not seen any of them once I started Sole Source. Debbie Lamer and I go very far back, and it just was incredible to see she is the same awesome, focused force she was back in the day. I worked with her when we were both young pups in the business and I look and feel like I am 70 years old, and she looks 24. April Oakley and I worked together at Arch Aluminum and Glass—now Trulite—and she was one of my favorite customer service reps ever, as well as one of the first people to ever read this blog way back in 2005. I loved catching up with her, and the fact her skills and talents are being perfectly utilized by Trulite was a daymaker.  Last but not least. I worked with Ken Passmore when I was at Vitro and he has not changed a bit—still smart, sharp and just an all-around solid guy. It was a great thrill for me to see and visit with these three.

Of course, I am now very fired up about the next two events on my calendar: The Texas Glass Association conference, May 17, in Waco, Texas, and of course GlassBuild America in September. I can’t wait to see people and keep the networking and education going. This week just helped keep those fires burning!

Elsewhere…. 

  • Speaking of GlassBuild: get ready, registration opens this week! Keep an eye out for notification of the open and get registered. Even bigger: go get your hotel rooms locked down. Atlanta will be busy, so get in the hotel blocks sooner than later. This show will be off the charts, you will not want to miss it.
  • Some sad news this week on the people side. John Lang passed away. John was a fantastic sales professional in our world for years and I worked with him when he was at Arch in Kansas City. Funny guy, great sense of humor and timing. He retired from the industry a few years back and traveled the world and enjoyed himself. I am so sorry to see him go; my thoughts, prayers and condolences to John’s family and friends. 
  • Back to the industry world, I teased above that the Architectural Billings Index hit a big roadblock this month: the ABI posted its lowest score in seven years at 47.8.*

    A few things to look at. First, we knew that the crazy January score of 55.3 was a bit of an outlier, and so the lower scores are corrections for sure. The labor shortage, as we all know, already is very real and now the analysts pointed to that as a reason the index was underwater. On the good side, work and future activity is still pointing to a strong year and economic experts are waving off any thought of a recession at this juncture. We’ll keep monitoring it all, though, and see if we get a bounce back.

    *Note: the ABI has changed formulas, so the 47.1 posted in 2012 may not be an exact match to this month’s low score, but there’s no conversion chart to use otherwise.
  • On the flip side, other metrics were up in March so, again, we have a lot of data at play here and it all bears watching closely. I think those scarred by the recession happen to be more keenly interested in every data point—I am one of those for sure.
  • Last this week: you may have seen this, plans for a big floatable city that is big-time sustainable.

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, April 15, 2019

Hard to believe it is more than a quarter into 2019; time flies when you’re having fun. What is more fun than to think about where we can go in the next decade, and what we have to look forward to?

Solar power
I was thinking about this while traveling across the country recently. I couldn’t help but notice how much land is occupied with solar farms, so I started counting them. A few short years ago I may have seen two to three large facilities heading out of Charlotte; this trip I counted eight large plants before reaching the Appalachian Mountains and I loved every second of it. 

Glass industry media
I’m also looking forward to the next episode of the Edify Studios Podcast, a new glass industry related podcast for the passionate glass enthusiast. If you’re like me and “The Brads,” as the hosts call themselves, you stop to inspect the glass products you’re familiar with in the world and, at times, criticize these products because they may be a reflection of an industry you, and I, are proud to be a part of. Of course, we know 99 percent of the population doesn’t even register what we see, yet we simply can’t help ourselves. We all share a fascination with glass and a passion for our industry which, clearly comes through in the first episode of the podcast. Who would have thought I’d be looking forward to downloading a glass podcast?

GlassBuild America 2019
This morning I read Max Perilstein’s blog, “From the Fabricator,” always insightful, and as usual it got me thinking. Max is right; we’re expecting this year’s GlassBuild to surpass any I’ve attended (2019 will be the 12th year for me and that is two years less than Max has been writing his blog!). As an equipment supplier we’ve been focusing on GlassBuild for at least 6 weeks, and after 2017’s Atlanta show (the hurricane we won’t name) we expect to make it count. As always, GlassBuild is packed with top vendors from across our industry. Plus, enough access to networking and educational forums to make you feel like you’re cramming for the bar exam. If you love the glass industry there is nowhere else to be that entire week. This year, GlassBuild is held in Atlanta, Sept. 17 – 19.

Glass tech
Personally, I am looking forward to seeing advances in technological glass products. I am a firm believer that future glass products will be integrated with electronics, and that glass will be thinner and stronger. Recharge your battery with Corning Incorporated’s YouTube channel if it’s running low.

It is an exciting time to be a part of these changes. Together the possibilities are limitless and like a chain, our industry is no stronger than the weakest link. Time to show what we’re capable of; where we are today is only the beginning. I look forward to seeing you around and being a part of a glass revolution. Onwards and upwards!   

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, April 15, 2019

Yet another week with lots of news bits around the industry and beyond. Let’s take a look.

  • Coming and going: two very good people made the news this week with updates on their careers. First, my old friend Marty Biskup was named sales director at Gamco in New York. Marty is a great guy, and this seems like a perfect spot for him and his energy. Though I must say, when I saw in the news piece he was listed as Martin, and the picture showed a guy without a mustache, I had to wonder if that was really him! LOL. Congrats Marty! On the flip side, Steve Morren of Walker Glass announced he’s retiring effective at year-end. I don’t know Steve that well—I have interacted with him on a few occasions and those times were really interesting and helpful for me. I do know that Steve has a reputation as one of the more brilliant architectural minds in our world, so him hanging them up will leave a hole. Congrats Steve on your retirement, enjoy the next phase of life!
  • One of the hottest subjects/exhibits at the BEC show was MyGlassClass.com and this week I noticed a pretty cool pitch on LinkedIn about it:

    MyGlassClass.com was originally created for glazing professionals. Now the curriculum has expanded to more than 60+ on-demand courses designed for fabricators, installers, sales reps, customer service reps and more.”

    Preview the free courses here. Really good stuff, and major steps for the industry.
  • The latest Dodge Momentum Index stayed steady—in fact the report said the index moved “sideways.” The analysts point to many major projects being in the late stages of work for the “sideways” quote. In any case, it stayed in positive ground and the focus on public buildings and schools for the rest of 2019 should keep it in plus territory.
  • This piece of news usually comes up a few times a year, but it’s been a while since my last mention; surging gas prices are back, and this pain at the pump is returning just in time for summer driving/busy season. What’s frustrating for me is there’s usually never any rhyme or reason for the price maneuvers, but here you have it. 
  • Last week I mentioned Chris Phillips’ incredible shower door page. This week he had me on his podcast.  A ton of fun for sure, and I really enjoyed the questions Chris asked. Thank you, Chris, for having me on! I’ll be posting a link here and on my social pages as soon it is live! (Feel free to listen on that next commute or whenever you take in podcasts.)
  • I love brands and I love lists, so how about a cool story that lists the most-loved brands? This is for 2019, and it's a fun breakdown, but, man, I have disagreements all over the place. Check it out for yourself, but never in my wildest dreams would I expect the U.S. Postal Service or Subway in the Top 20. Well worth the read.
  • Last this week; my wife often calls me a “travel snob” because I have no patience for other travelers since I am on the road a ton. (Honestly, I try to be very patient with non-travelers, I just fail a lot. LOL.) Well, this week I got my comeuppance making the ultimate rookie mistake. I left my iPad behind on the plane, safely nestled in the seatback in front of me. So. Stupid. This is one of those things I am always usually 100 percent focused on— “do I have everything” —and I check everything three times before I leave the plane. This time, I completely blew it.

It’s been a week since I did it and while the lost and found forms have been filled out, there’s been no sign of it.  I have the tracking technology on it but so far nothing has been turned back online, and there’s no sign of someone trying to get in. Who knows, maybe it’s in a bin at gigantic warehouse somewhere waiting for some awesome employee to find it, but I am not feeling too confident. This travel snob obviously doesn’t have all the skills.

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, April 9, 2019

“John. Wait, stop right there.”

“What?”

“Stop right there and go back to that prior statement.”

“What statement?”

“The one where you mentioned lack of experience in the supply chain; I think it may be the biggest issue of them all as to why so many projects take longer, and require more work and energy to get completed. I don’t think you can overstate it. It’s a real issue that I deal with constantly. In fact in my view, it’s the biggest issue we face in getting these projects moved forward and completed.”

It was this conversation with my client, with whom we’ve collaborated over the last 25 years, that helped trigger more public recognition of this topic for me. It’s one that I, and we in the industry, experience frequently. It’s not an isolated discussion. It is common in the industry. The discussion started like this:

“John, what’s your experience on project work these days? It seems like everything is taking longer to get done.”

“Yes, that’s our experience as well. Projects seem to take longer and require more project management, more time and more inputs.”

“What do you think are the reasons for that from your point of view and experience?”

“Well, there are multiple reasons on any given project. But, generally, there’s more complexity in buildings, less detail in architectural drawings, more reliance on modeling, inconsistency in specifications vs. drawings —that’s always been the case—lack of experience in the design community and the decision-making supply chain …”

That’s where my client said, “STOP.” He sees the lack of experience in the supply chain as the No. 1 issue he has to confront and deal with.

And frankly, I am not sure where to go with this. I am just putting it out there. I have more questions than answers. And I have no complaints either. I’m glad to be in an expanding industry, with more required due diligence, where more professionals have entered at various stages in their career, particularly young professionals. We’ve all been there before at some point. I think collaboration from a crowd, a managed and controlled crowd, or project group, is better than the isolated solution of one person or small group. But someone has to make a decision. Someone has to be the initiator of a solution or approach, or a set of solutions; a context. This takes experience. Someone has to be able to take the lead. But that’s where it then can get challenging. Experience then often meets inexperience.

To start with, on any project, we need to ask for clear information. It’s often not initially provided. We need to get clarity on vagueness or conflicts that we find in the drawings and specifications. Sometimes this is perceived as a criticism and is not received well by the design community. Then decisions have to be made. Lack of experience enters here where the approver may not be comfortable with the decision, or may not have the breadth of the full picture in order to provide a clear and timely decision. Let’s not forget that, in the meantime, schedules need to be met. Then the GC enters and the schedule can be used like a hammer, but on the wrong nail.

On the other side of the table there’s also, at times, issues with inexperience in the subcontracting and glazing team. Their inexperience shows and gets exposed to the delegated design professional, to the AEC/AOR team or to the GC. Then there are breakdowns, and more messes can happen.

There are two aspects to any supply chain. There is the material part; the physical supply and logistics of material and goods. And then there is the decision making part; those decisions that impact everything downstream. Both are required to be managed well. If the front end decision-making breaks down or is delayed, then it impacts the tangible material supply chain, the schedule, and the closure of a building exterior.

We need to do a better job as people, as collaborators, as businesses, in working together; building trust; respecting each other’s positions of responsibility, and relationships with each other. We need to be clear, succinct and truth-telling in all circumstances. Inexperience creates challenges, but it also creates opportunity. We’ve got to find ways to better deal with and approach the issue.

John Wheaton is the founder & co-owner of Wheaton & Sprague Engineering, Inc., also known as Wheaton Sprague Building Envelope. The firm provides full service design, engineering and consulting services for the curtain wall/building envelope/building enclosure industry, and works at “Creating Structure” for clients. He can be reached at jwheaton@wheatonsprague.com and on Twitter, @JohnLWheaton1. 

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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