glassblog

Monday, August 6, 2018

I love to review websites. For me, it’s enjoyable to see what people do to make their website stand out and the steps they take to own their piece of the online universe. Recently, I had a chance to get ahead of the process and complete some surveys for the National Glass Association as they work to upgrade their online presence. Answering formal surveys like this was a first for me, and it was interesting to experience the process. If you are interested in being a part of that process, the NGA would love to have your insight! There’s three surveys linked below. Weigh in on one, two or all three if you like.

Thank you! I can’t wait to see what comes next and how awesome these will be once completed and launched.

Elsewhere…

It’s now August: my goodness this year has flown right on by. That means we are coming up on just one month away from GlassBuild America. I’ll have some previews coming up and I am honored to be speaking a few times during the show, so I really hope I can see everyone there! If you have not registered or booked your hotel room, I strongly recommend you do so today! 

Got very sad news last week that Fred Millett, formerly of Pleotint and most currently from Whirlpool, passed away. Fred at first didn’t like me much and I felt the same about him. But as time went on, I got along more and more with him and I really respected his knowledge, passion and personality. He will surely be missed. My condolences to his family and friends.

Big 3 Interview

Andrew Haring, vice president of marketing, C.R. Laurence Co.

Being a marketing/PR guy at heart, I really love to see when people excel greatly at it. When it comes to Andrew Haring, he’s way beyond excelling; he’s dominating. I’ve written about my admiration and respect for folks like Heather West and Rich Porayko, and Andrew slides right into that group. What he does and how he does it is simply off-the-charts awesome. I really enjoyed getting an insight into how he performs at the level he does as well as some insight on other interesting angles.

I have to admit your work rate looks to be off the charts. You’re running marketing for one of the best-known companies in our world (with probably an insane number of products) and you seemingly are everywhere: online with social, leading tours, developing marketing and communication. What is your typical day like? How do you get it all done?

Wow. High praises from a respected source—thank you. And yes, we have (approximately) an insane number of products. The upshot of working for such a massive and prolific company is that there’s always a story to tell, and I’ll talk to anyone listening. My day starts at 3:30 a.m. and goes by in the blink of an eye. I’m a big believer in project lists and even more so in accountability. Don Friese instilled a “CRL-ism” in me years ago that is simple but resonates: “Do what you say you’ll do.” Strong coffee and a strong team behind me are also essential.

Being “everywhere” is due in part to the way I’m wired, but also by design. The wheels are always turning and I’m not one to sit still or step aside. CRL lets me wear many different hats and gives me a lot of opportunities to run with the ball, which is conducive to my personality and attention span. The other component to that is simply strategy. Someone in your position can appreciate that remaining relevant takes different forms and follows a different path than it used to. Channels and touchpoints are as numerous as they are varied. While many of the fundamentals apply, I’ve found that a conventional marketing playbook doesn’t track 100 percent in this industry. The when/where/how to approach and the frequency are moving targets. Honestly, the only way to have an impact and be effective is to immerse oneself and engage with the people. Sometimes that entails continuing education, guest editorials, panel discussions or project walks. Other times it looks like stirring the pot on social media.

What’s next? What’s that hot product or hot product segment that you see taking off?

That’ll cost you (kidding). I see broad trends gradually adjusting the sails more so than a sharp market disruptor or a specific juggernaut product. The key influencers are labor and energy codes in the form of both “wants” and “needs.” There’s an all-out arms race for installer-friendly products and methods. Products that reduce labor costs and get glaziers on to the next project faster are always in high demand. I think we’re going to see a lot more in the way of unitized/modular systems, offsite construction/assembly and project planning efficiencies.

Constricting energy codes are a given. Across the board, anyone touching the exterior envelope—and who wants to retain any sort of vitality—is being responsive with product development. Innovation in fenestration is the clearest evidence. The whole “battle for the wall” is a topic unto itself for another blog entry, but the simple fact is that the performance requirements for these systems are constantly evolving. It’s up to the manufacturers to provide solutions that’ll hit the numbers and also successfully meet the design intent for the architect. I’m anticipating a slew of high performance products to be launched in the next three years ahead of the 2022 version of the California Energy Code. 2019 just got adopted with no changes to commercial prescriptive requirements; I don’t think 2022 will be as forgiving.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest challenge we have as an industry and how do we overcome it?

A common issue, which I can’t speak to directly, is the labor pool. This is a recurring topic brought up by customers. There’s a lot of work out there without enough skilled labor to sustain it. This creates opportunities for other trades/industries to encroach on traditional glazing scopes. Attracting the next generation of glaziers is the hurdle. Unfortunately, many of the kids coming out of high school are under the impression that there’s more value and opportunity in a bachelor’s degree than in learning a trade. Countering that misconception is difficult and I’m afraid there isn’t a quick fix. Lack of exposure is likely the biggest culprit. I think early outreach, education, and overall industry advocacy are the paths to success.

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, July 31, 2018

About 100 attendees from all segments of the building industry gathered in Vancouver on July 30 for the Façade Tectonics Institute forum, The Good and the Bad: Evolving Considerations and Practices of Building Façade Glazing. The forum was hosted by the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance and was approved for continuing education credits from the Architectural Institute of British Columbia and the American Institute of Architects.  

The mission of the Façade Tectonics Institute is to promote high performance building envelopes and facades through education, dialogue and research, said Technoform’s Helen Sanders, who is the current president of the Institute. The industry “currently operates in silos, with architects, glazing contractors, fabricators and GCs separate. We don’t even speak each others’ language. We have to break down those boundaries. … These forum events are a key part of our mission,” Sanders said during her opening remarks.   

Building health, energy and sustainability performance issues dominated the presentations during the one-day educational event, beginning with the morning panel, Healthy and Sustainable Glazing: Designing for people and the planet.

“The biggest factor in health and wellbeing is the physical and social environment,” said Joel Good, senior consultant/associate, RWDI. This is primarily due to the amount of time most people spend inside. “We spend about 90 percent of our time indoors in conditioned spaces,” he said.

Creating healthy spaces that support the occupant’s wellbeing is critical. But, it presents challenges in façade design. “We have contradictory requirements,” said Vladimir Mikler, principal, innovation director, Integral Group. “We want all the views, all the daylighting, but we don’t want the glare, the heat gain, and we want to maintain thermal comfort. It’s a challenging task we need to resolve.”

Gail Brager, professor of architecture and director, UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Design Research, said to achieve health and wellness goals, the industry must provide occupants with access to natural ventilation and daylighting, but also must allow occupants to control their own spaces. This will require the industry to “move away from thermostat-based systems to people-based systems, where occupants have individual controls,” she said.

Making these changes requires buy-in from the building owner. Brager recommends that the façade industry sell the benefits of health and wellness by addressing the costs of people. “Improving the quality of the indoor environment can have a profound effect on wellbeing,” she said. “On a square foot basis, the cost of people is an order of magnitude higher than the cost of building, and two times an order of magnitude higher than operating a building.”   

Future building requirements also topped discussions. New building performance code requirements will continue to force the industry to advance and innovate in the next decade, said Monte Paulsen, Passive House specialist, RDH Building Science Inc., during the session Passive Aggressive: Pushing facade system performance with Passive House. Driving this is the rapid pace of climate change, said Paulsen. “The rate at which we are seeing climate change is accelerating rapidly. … The energy models to which we’re designing new buildings are already out of date,” he said.  

British Columbia, Canada, for example, instituted requirements that will go into effect in about 15 years to cap building energy use at 15 kWh/m2/year, Paulsen said. The rest of Canada is following suit with similar requirements, he said. “It doesn’t really matter how green you think you’re building is. If it doesn’t meet the cap, your building will be illegal in a couple of years,” Paulsen said.

The façade industry must innovate and develop solutions to achieve the new performance targets. “Most of what you install today will be obsolete in 15 years,” Paulsen said. Companies that don’t innovate will be left behind. “It wouldn’t surprise me if half of the window makers in Canada are out of business in 15 years,” he said.

In the session Enough Glazing: Balancing benefits with liabilities of façade glazing, panelists looked to answer the question: How much glass is enough glass? The key is balance. “The question isn’t how much is enough, but what we do with what we have,” said Tom Paladino, principal, Paladino & Co.

Achieving those performance goals requires building teams to use collaborative design processes and invest in high-performance systems. “If you want to use a lot of glass, you have to think about performance. And that comes with cost,” said Technoform’s Sanders.

The forum concluded with the session Beyond Glazing: Trends, drivers and what lies beyond the horizon. Panelists discussed emerging product trends, such as timber curtain wall and vacuum glazing; future performance goals, including net zero building outlined in the Architecture 2030 program; and extended service life for façade products.   

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

Monday, July 30, 2018

A story this week gave me a flashback moment. I remembered sitting in an NFRC meeting years ago when someone stood up and stated that it was just a matter of time before commercial buildings would not use aluminum or steel for framing, it would be all wood or vinyl. I, of course, being the brash, nightmarish person I was back then, scoffed loudly. Flash forward 12 years and my scoffing was right as, to date, that effort has not taken off. And recently, a push for a major wood skyscraper was placed on hold. Maybe someday wood or vinyl will find a place on the commercial building landscape, but for now, I’m still scoffing. Though, I’m surely much more mellow than I was then.

  • The Vanceva World of Color Awards were announced this week and I love the results and winners. I am sure these projects are not for everyone, but I appreciate that there were designers who went for it. Nice work! Congrats to the fabricator winners! 
  • There is more and more environmental talk in the news these days and carbon footprint is back in the spotlight. So much so that St Paul, Minnesota, announced that they want all of buildings in their city to be zero carbon by 2050. I think it’s a great goal and luckily for those who are pushing this, that region does have some of the best glass and metal minds in its backyard. Hopefully they lean on those experts, sooner than later, to start meeting the goals.

Big 3 Interview

Dan Danese, sales representative, Thompson IG and Pleotint

I met Danny (no one calls him that anymore; it's Dan now) 20+ years ago when I first moved to Michigan. He was one of many people in the new area of my life that welcomed my family and me and made the transition so much better. Workwise, he was this incredible force of energy and passion for the job and from what I can tell nothing has changed since then! Danny is a great, caring man and I am grateful our paths crossed and that he’s still out there doing great things in our markets today.

I’m honored that I have known you for many years now, but many of my readers may not be aware of you and the path you’ve taken to the point you are at today. You just didn’t end up as the excellent sales pro you are today. How did you get here?

I enlisted in the Marine Corps at the age of seventeen; served three years, traveled the world and was out by the age of twenty. I did this to make a change and boot camp did just that! I learned that we all can do much more than we think, mentally and physically. My first “glass” job was in 1980 at B & G Glass, an upstart fabricator of insulated glass. A strong work ethic helped me to advance to supervisor positions in multiple in departments, then to the front office as production control manager, then to plant manager. During this span we had been bought out four times, the first by Perilstein Distributing Corp. This (I did not know at the time) would shape, enhance, refine and elevate my knowledge in the glass industry by association with the staff they brought with them. We all need a little luck in life and I was lucky to work alongside industry leaders like Steve Perilstein, Bob Cummings and Rob Taliani. They had a lot to give and I paid attention. In the year 2000, I was asked if I ever thought of moving into sales. I answered yes before they finished asking.

Five years ago, I came to work for Thompson IG (thanks to Margaret Brune). Here I am still in sales as well as architectural presentations. A bit more luck again as the people at Thompson IG are great to work for.

You are out on the road every day seeing glass shops and glaziers. What are they telling you is their biggest concern/worry?

The biggest concern, and this has been true for a good five to six years, is a shortage of qualified help: glaziers, project managers and estimators. A recent PM changed companies after a long stay and remarked that he hoped he didn’t make a mistake. I replied, “Don’t worry, you can fix that. There are six other companies that would hire you next week!”

I know you are big fan of innovation. What are the products that really excite you to sell? I assume it has to be easier to walk into a customer when you have something that gets your blood pumping.

By far and away it is Suntuitive Dynamic Glass. This is the biggest reason I came to work for Thompson IG. We are owned by the people (a group of chemists and engineers) that developed this technology, a laminated glass with a chemically altered interlayer that self-tints (darkens) when it feels pressure from the sun. We take this laminated glass (colored substrates included) and pair it up with the other leading technologies of the day, warm edge spacer and high performance low-E, and get one of the best performing insulated windows in the world. As an example, the new Masco World HQ completed last year with 18,000 square feet of Guardian Crystal Grey Suntuitive HS laminated / warm edge spacer / Guardian SNX-62/27 tempered. This IG construct has a starting SHGC of .25. That’s a good start. Then during the hottest parts of the day, when there is peak demand and energy costs are the highest, this glass fully tinted will have an SHGC of .12, all while maximizing daylight, preserving the view, blocking UV transmittance, mitigating glare. I call this the “smart phone” of glass; it will be everywhere. Four years ago, we had installs in two countries; today we have over 450 installs in 25 countries. I really see this as the future.

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, July 23, 2018

It was the jeans that triggered it.

You see, they were the exact same jeans that I had on as I walked into the store. The same jeans I bought there six months ago. And I love these jeans.

But, the pair I grabbed off the shelf (the exact same color, size, make, model), when I pulled them on, they didn't fit over my thighs in the dressing room. What? I double checked the size and shape. No difference.

"Perhaps they aren't marked correctly,” I said to myself.

I asked the sales attendant if he can help. “Have I made a mistake?”

"Nope,” he says. “This happens all the time. You see, we recommend you grab three or four pairs at a time when you're trying them on. They're made in like, 50 or 60 different countries so you never know what you are going to get."

Great response. Glad you don't sell for me, I thought.

He's not meeting my needs or selling well. Plus, the brand isn’t making jeans with consistent size patterns based on the country where they are assembled. Either way, both the salesperson and the manufacturer are doing a terrible job of designing experience. No, thank you. I don't expect to have to grab three or four pairs of jeans to see if one or more of them, the exact same size, actually fit. I don't care what country they are made in or what their supply chain logistics look like. Once I find a pair of jeans that works, I expect they will all be close to the same size EVERY TIME.

This company is providing a negative and inconsistent experience when it comes to sales and product quality control. I quickly placed the jeans back on the shelf and slipped quietly out of the store. I wasn't in the mood to manage my shopping experience through trial and error.

What about your company? What about my company? I know different clients can have different experiences even though they all are "shopping" at our place, in different offices, and different ends of the building. How consistent of an experience am I creating? How am I making it easy on the client? How are my colleagues and people representing our services to buyers, prospective clients and observers? Do our people know what to say and how to say it? Have they been trained in the "why” of our business? Is our product the same EVERY SINGLE TIME?

Even in professional services, it's not uncommon for clients who've had a negative experience to quietly slip away, to place the jeans on the shelf and never return. Do everything possible to prevent this from happening.

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.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Here’s something for everyone reading to take in: with everyone coming to GlassBuild America, please seriously look at attending the Fall Conference there. More info is HERE with more details to follow, but you will see the conference now integrates with the show. If you want to get involved and learn about all of the things going on with regards to technical happenings, codes, advocacy, etc., you need to sign up and attend. You’ll still have plenty of show time as well. If you have any questions, reach out to me, as I would love to see you there.

Elsewhere…

Big 3 Interview

Dan Wright, president, Paragon Tempered Glass

Dan Wright has worked with some of the most talented and, in some cases, legendary people our industry has ever had. My hope with this interview was to get him to open up about it because he’s been on a pretty epic ride. He did not let me down (never has on any level, so not surprised). Really good stuff below, and his answers to question two are amazing.

I think most people who recognize your name associate you from your past stint at Guardian. You are now president at Paragon Tempered Glass. Can you tell me more about how you got there and what you are doing now? 

Well, it’s been a long road to my current role. In 1995 I was about six months away from graduating college and my sister was in town with her family. My sister and I had grown closer while I was in college because she was very ill and needed a kidney; I happened to be the right match. Her husband, Tony Hobart (former group vice president of Guardian Industries) took a keen interest in my future and when they were at our house, Tony asked me to take a walk. He asked about what kind of career I was looking for and, honestly, I had no idea. I was getting a finance degree and thought I might go the route of a financial planner. He asked if I was up for an adventure, and I was intrigued. He said, “you would start in inside sales in Richburg, South Carolina, from there it’s what you make of it. Guardian is growing rapidly, and you don’t have to stay in sales; if you are willing to take moves, there are opportunities all over the world.”

So that was the first real turning point in my journey. I was in Richburg for a year, then took every opportunity that was offered to me. DeWitt, Iowa, to open a float plant was next. After a few years I was pretty close to bailing out of the glass business, but Tom Marsh (former Midwest regional manager at Guardian) took me under his wing and taught me forecasting and sales planning and then put me out on the road in 1998, covering Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota, all by car. This was the second turning point in my career and I am forever grateful that he gave me the opportunity. The market was exploding, and I followed a sales representative in part of the area that was not well liked. Sales grew quickly, and we lost a regional manager, suddenly, in Detroit. I was offered that role, and from there I found my stride in finding talented sales people who were better than I was, not only as sales people, but managers. Each time we lost a regional sales manager, I had a replacement ready to fill my role, so I was asked to take on the vacated position. Guys like Dave Zawisza (Carleton plant) and Ryan Sexton (Richburg plant), were both complete professionals and superstars at Guardian. I fit the Bill Davidson/Russ Ebeid culture very well, but the times were changing. And at the same time, I went through a personal crisis, so my path at Guardian ended, abruptly.

In 2011, I received a call from a recruiter for a position in Elkhart, Indiana. It turns out one of my former sales representatives, Nick McLay, was contacted about the position and thought I was a better fit. I interviewed with StateWide Aluminum in Elkhart and was offered the sales manager job there the next day. I took the family from Charlotte to Indiana. StateWide was the main supplier of windows for the truck cap industry, brands like LEER, Jason, Unicover and Lakeland. But they were still in the throes of the recession and had not recovered. Their business was down significantly. But, slowly we started to get stronger. We rebranded our company as StateWide Windows and worked hard on developing our culture. This was really the third turning point in my career. I was working with a vice president at StateWide, Jim Johnson, that was my complete opposite. He was a taskmaster and extremely detailed. He saw potential in me and was not going to let me waste it. Some of our shouting matches were legendary, and I slammed the door on the way out a few times. To his credit, he never held a grudge and he pulled me through the eye of the needle. He challenged me at every turn and held my feet to the fire. At the time, I cursed him and looked for new career opportunities (none of which panned out, luckily). He worked with me on writing five-year business plans, researching and presenting M&A opportunities to our ownership, as well as forecasting and reporting. He was the toughest coach I ever had, but I came out all the better for it, even though I couldn’t see it while it was happening.

Jim was approached by one of our suppliers about being part of their succession plan because their president was ready to slow down a little. Jim said, “I’m not your guy, but I’ve got your guy.” That is when I was introduced to Paragon, and it truly was a match for both of our futures. I came to Paragon as the vice president of sales and marketing in January of 2017, and after a year of strong growth, I was offered the role of president at Paragon Tempered Glass.

You’ve worked for and with some unbelievable people in your past. Legends, really. Any tidbits of advice or knowledge that one (or more of them) gave you that you would like to share? 

Oh man, I came into the glass industry in a golden age. Many of the people I worked with had worked side by side with Russ Ebeid, and Mr. Davidson knew most of their names!  I learned a little (or a lot) from all of them. True legends within the glass industry and within Guardian. Let’s see if I can rattle off a few…

From Bill Davidson: It’s all about leverage, someone is always leaning on someone else, so you better know which side you are on.

Also from Mr. D.: Those individuals that are accomplishing the most usually have to say the least, those that are not achieving their goals feel the need to explain in great detail. Instead of all the explanations, just improve; the results will speak for themselves.

From Russ Ebeid: If you are not developing the next leaders of your company then you are working on the wrong things.

From Jim Walsh: Never take your coat off at customer or plant; it implies you are staying.

From Don Tullman/Gerry Hool: You must win over the hearts and minds of the people to have a successful culture.

From Ron Nadolski/Jay Waite (I learned this after I fetched Dove bars from the hotel store for these two): “Kid, have some fun while you do this job; it’s only glass and we will make more of it tomorrow!”

From Ted Hathaway: It’s okay to treat your suppliers sometimes; this isn’t a one way street.

From Mike Robinson (plant manager at Guardian-Richburg): If you do the right thing every time, you will eventually be rewarded (Mike waited his turn for longer than anyone I know to be named a plant manager, and when he was, I was so thrilled).

I truly was lucky to work with people like John Thompson, Tom Ricker, Matt Hill, Vince Westerhof, Dennis Carroll, Bruce Cooke, Steve Patience, Rosie Hunter, Dean Campbell and Sarah Wansack. They all taught me something along the way and I am very appreciative of that.

You were/are a seriously talented athlete that I also just found out has a gift for writing, too. Do you look back and wonder where your life would’ve been if you chased golf, baseball or sports writing? 

You are way too kind, Max. To tell the truth, keeping my mom out of the equation, I was the worst athlete in the family. My dad was all-state in Pennsylvania in football, basketball and track back in the 1940s. My oldest brother, Lee, swam at LSU. My sister, Debbie, won the Florida High School State championship in the backstroke as a sophomore in high school and went on to swim at Alabama. My most talented sibling, Greg, may have been the best swimmer in his age group in the country at 12 years old. He went on to swim at Alabama as well. So, I had big shoes to fill in my house growing up.

I was the baby by 12 years, so my parents were done with swimming. Baseball was my first love, and I was very good from about 7 years old to 13 years old. I was a dominant pitcher at 12 and 13. There was one game where I struck out 20 out of 21 batters; the one that got away bunted it back to me. But I tore my triceps at 13 and my arm was never as strong as it once was. Everyone caught up to me physically, and though I was good enough to play some college ball, I didn’t have the talent to take it past that. My competitive outlet became golf, and though I loved it, it took me a long time to get to where I wanted to be. My dad introduced me to the game when I was seven, but I never focused on it. He and Lee had a strong bond with golf, and I knew it was something I wanted to get better at, but I truly had to “dig it out of the dirt” as Ben Hogan said.

I had two magical days in 2001. Both my dad and sister were still alive and my parents were visiting and staying at her house, and I lived nearby. My dad was past his playing days but came out to watch me play a couple of practice rounds leading up to our club championship that weekend. He said, “Dan, I’ve never seen you hit it better; go have some fun.” My family was all at my niece’s softball game on the first day of the tournament, and I went out and shot a 69; I was just unconscious. I rushed from the course to her game to share the news, and my dad said, “I didn’t know you were THAT good!” The next day I was four under par for the day (seven under for the tournament) and had a nine-shot lead standing on the 15th tee, where I proceeded to fall apart and give back five shots over those four holes, but held on to win a club championship. As much as I did in baseball (we won Florida senior major league state championship in 1989, and I was named the defensive MVP for the tournament for the three games I pitched in), that club championship was probably my proudest athletic moment. In my foursome that day were 1) A four-time Michigan Amatuer champion and five-time U.S. open qualifier; 2) a two-time club champion, and senior club champion; 3) a three-time club champion, and at the time course record holder (64). I was in rare air and met the challenge when on the inside I was a nervous wreck. Unfortunately, I think my best golf is behind me. I just don’t play enough anymore, and for me, I have to play and practice to be competitive.

Finally, with regards to sports writing, I was a finalist for the Grantland Rice scholarship at Vanderbilt, and had I won that I would have quit baseball and followed that path. The funny thing is, I hated deadlines, still do to this day. I always waited to the last minute and then banged it out under the gun. I finally learned that’s pretty much how the business is, and I probably would have excelled at it because I worked best under that pressure. One of my best friends in high school, who followed me as editor of the school newspaper after I graduated, went on to write for the sporting news, so I got to see the “inside” of sports writing, and though I may have enjoyed getting into the broadcasting side of things like Stephen A. Smith or Tony Kornheiser, writing day to day just wasn’t for me.

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, July 16, 2018

At the moment, I can tell you almost as much as a golf professional about the best 4-hybrid clubs out there. How is that possible when I am an average Joe? Quality information is easy to find, third party sites have hundreds of reviews, and I’ve tried them all because I happened to be looking for one (my old one may or may not have been tossed in a pond).

The point is, as buyers, we’re now willing and able to qualify ourselves with suppliers. We should be applying this new way of buying to our businesses. Add this capability with audiences larger than fathomable a decade ago and it adds up to opportunity. If prospects can qualify themselves, we should make it easy for them. It will free resources to other areas, like moving from prospect to client. But how?

Relevance is the key! Be relevant with your current selling environment and your market. For example, it is 10 p.m., and a long-standing client remembers they forgot to place an order. They can get on a competitor’s website and immediately order or wait for tomorrow to call me (if they don’t forget again). In the current arena, I expect to lose this scenario because, when it mattered, I was not as closely connected to the client. Relevance gets the top organic search on Google. How do we become more relevant? Be where the client is when it matters. Supply pertinent information quickly and generate content. A potential customer will know almost immediately if they’re going further or dismissing you never to be seen again.

A website is one of the best ways to be relevant and is often the first introduction to a company. Follow the traffic on your website. How many new vs. returning visitors does it have? What type of devices are used? What pages were visited? For how long? The time spent is a great tool for identifying areas of improvement. People won’t waste time scouring for information. Webpages must have responsive design. I still find sites that are frustrating to navigate on mobile. User-generated content, if you can get it, is an excellent means of relevance. I trust a list of user reviews more because it is not distributed by the seller.

Use consistent branding across multiple platforms to raise relevance in search engine algorithms. The more connections on the web the more search engines find your name over others. These engines are like brains where the more connections the easier to find something. Make web connections across as many channels as possible, ask suppliers and distribution channels to make a connection to your platforms, directly link all these sites. If you’re not on the five big social platforms, you’re missing an opportunity others will capture.

Max Perilstein put DeGorter Inc. on Instagram about a year ago and it has been a great tool to visually demonstrate how we help others create, plus it suggests others I’ve not heard of working in the same field. While some platforms may prove more valuable than others, the bigger picture is your footprint on the web and making it larger.   

I’ve noticed these changes over the last decade and we are integrating our marketing to become more relevant. My goal is to find ways to make it easier for others to absorb information with the intention of finding better pre-qualified leads. Time is a limited resource. Allowing prospects to qualify themselves frees resources for other avenues. If you’re wondering, I went with a Callaway Big Bertha 4-hybrid. Hopefully it stays in the bag a while longer than the last one.

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, July 16, 2018

Last week I wrote about the expectations for a strong second half of the year. That post brought some reaction my way from a cross section of people. Some have had solid years to date, and others are hoping that my prediction here isn’t as bad as my sports ones. The positive news for all was that this week another metric came through to continue the push. The Dodge Momentum Index was up yet again and it’s now nearing a 10-year high.  This is now five straight months on the plus side, and while the increases on each report are not huge, they are still going in the right direction. Now let’s have that translate to the day-to-day for those that need it!

Elsewhere....

  • Attention glazing contractor friends, there is an excellent “Thirsty Thursday” webinar coming up on July 19 on the top 10 things to look for when negotiating glazing contracts. This is presented by the NGA and is a member-only benefit. If you are a member sign up; if you’re not, you should be joining so you don’t miss incredible education like this. The great Courtney Little of ACE Glass will be the presenter so you know this will be good!

  • Something I never thought of but found very cool: the tallest buildings ever to be conventionally demolished. Who knew someone kept such stats on this approach. And I was surprised not seeing the one hotel in Las Vegas that was taken down a few years ago (the City Center one that never opened) on the list. Interesting stuff! 

Big 3 interview

Nathalie Thibault, architectural sales director, Prelco

One of the reasons I decided to do this series was to learn more from people smarter than me. This week, that theme absolutely applies with Nathalie. Her approach and intelligence are off the charts and, as you’ll find out below, she’s always pushing for more. 

You are very active within the industry and the trade associations including major board positions now and in the past. You are very knowledgeable with our world. What do you think are some of the key challenges we face as an industry and how do we address them?

I believe the number one challenge that we are facing is the globalization of our industry. We must adapt to various standards, higher expectations, worldwide competition and complex logistics.

The wide variety and complexity of products and their different combinations is also increasingly difficult to manage. We see more and more combinations of various high-performance low-E, several layers of glass and patterns and colors on a single unit! That complexity makes it very difficult to ensure consistency. And, to add to this, the expectations on the required timeline for production are almost the same as if it were simple products. That is why education to all stakeholders in the construction and glass industry should be our number one priority.

Another major challenge that we are facing is finding labor. Knowledgeable resources are getting very scarce and manpower is also extremely difficult to find. Our industry will need to work on attracting young and passionate professionals.

As I have told you in person, I have always been a fan of your company. Prelco is very diverse with products and segments, so I am curious, how do you stay focused when you are dealing with so many different worlds?

A company really needs a strong vision to be able to achieve that kind of diversification. We had to look at our business model on a few occasions to realign our efforts and prioritize certain segments in which we operate. Some segments are changing extremely fast as well, which requires us to adapt rapidly. There were times where we had to abandon certain efforts in order to focus on the segments where we really wish to become real leaders. However, I must say that, in the end, it is that same diversification that has benefited the company throughout the years and allowed it to get through slower economic cycles.

Did I read correctly that you are now studying for your MBA. I am curious with all you already know in the business arena, what is driving you to get more education?

I have indeed begun my master’s degree in strategy and innovation over a year ago. I decided to pursue these studies because I felt that I needed to push my managing skills a notch further. I believe that having a good theoretical understanding of today’s business environment is likely to provide me with the necessary tools to strategize and innovate appropriately in our rapidly changing world. It has been a very interesting journey so far, and it made me expand my horizons beyond the glass manufacturing sector.

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, July 9, 2018

Glass Magazine reported in the just-released Top 50 Glaziers issue that the combined 2017 gross revenues of the Top 50 Glaziers increased nearly 15 percent over the 2016 combined gross. That industry good news is bringing emerging challenges for the glazing and curtain wall industry.

At Integro, we are looking just over the horizon at specific industry-wide issues arising in the current high-growth, high-demand marketplace. Specifically, we are focusing on demand producing upward price pressures; cost pressures being exacerbated by new tariffs on aluminum; and skilled curtain wall labor becoming increasingly less available.

The challenge to our industry is that all clients need to know that their curtain wall and glazing companies are deploying strategies now that anticipate and accommodate these developments. By way of example, our company has put into place three strategies to directly address and work around these dynamics.

First, our two-country, multi-location production strategy helps mitigate or avoid increased cost surprises for clients. We order material for our U.S. jobs from U.S. extruders, and we order materials for our Canadian jobs from Canadian extruders, so tariffs likely do not come into play. Additionally, by design, we are one of few companies able to manufacture “closer-to-the-client” at any one of our geographically-diverse production facilities regardless of project location, thus keeping down costs and avoiding transportation delays.

Second, we have made sure that our production capability is properly aligned with the marketplace, regardless of the level of demand. The company has 200,000 square feet of total production and assembly capacity, with 75,000 square feet in Florida, 75,000 square feet in Toronto and 50,000 square feet in Vancouver, Canada, with additional engineering support and sales representation from offices in Cincinnati and Dallas. This allows for fast turnaround and responsiveness, and keeps costs down. 

Lastly, we established a steadfast operating principle that avoids labor shortfalls and design, engineering or production bottlenecks, as well as additional costs that frequently exist in the industry. Specifically, as part of our “Integrity-Based Performance” corporate strategy, we do not overstretch. With busy market activity, we start hiring and putting into place any additional and necessary skilled people in advance of market-driven company growth. We carefully monitor the amount of business we take on to assure delivery on time and on budget, without compromising quality.

Our industry is built on smart planning and sound execution. The issues arising now are ones we can address through these same industry-wide skills.

Jim Mitchell is CEO and president, Integro Building Systems.

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, July 9, 2018

With the July holidays in the United States and Canada behind us, the second half of the year can begin. There have been some frustrating feelings out there as not everyone was as “swamped” as they expected to be in the first half of the year. Some areas of North America stayed softer into the second quarter vs. others; however, that all looks like old news as work is seemingly breaking free all over. The expectations are very high for a very strong last half of 2018. I think that’s what we all want, so bring it on!

Elsewhere…

Time for the monthly Glass Magazine review. It’s the June issue featuring the MGM National Harbor on the cover. Once again, jammed packed with content led by the annual Top 50 Glaziers report. I love looking at this list each year. So many good people doing great work. There’s also a fabulous GlassBuild America preview (get registered and book your hotel if you have not yet). And Bethany Stough continues to deliver extremely helpful articles on the workforce with yet another strong piece. Last, I am big fan of Matt Johnson of the Gary Law Group and he had a very smart article on “When to Call a Lawyer.” All of this and much more. Plus, if you are headed on vacation soon, you could save it for pool or beach reading. You'll look like the smartest one there! 

Last, before my interview this week, kudos to my friends at Trex Commercial Products (I still want to type SC Railing) on some of their amazing recent work. I am a big fan of creativity with glass and what these folks did with the glass railing portions on the new soccer stadium in California was sharp. Congrats on a job well done!

Big 3 Interview

Scott Rowe, principal and glass geek, Rowe Fenestration

This was a really fun interview. I only recently met Scott at the past GlassBuild America, so getting a chance to do this with him was very cool for me. With just getting to know him, the more I follow Scott and his company, the more impressed I get. Manufacturers’ representatives can get a bad rap (some deserve it, believe me), but guys like Scott and his group surely do a fantastic job of making the companies they represent and our industry look good!

Did I read your profile right that you were a math major in college? How did you end up in the glass world from there?

I actually ended up in the glass business well before college.

It was the summer of 1969, as a sophomore in high school, I took a summer job at a tiny upstart glass company that was soon to move to my hometown in the Midwest. I started as a loader on the line and moved up to glass cutter, before automated cutting and optimization. I moved through the plant working many of the stations, until the day that changed my life.

It was a hot, humid corn belt kinda day in the factory. A group of five or six coolly sophisticated looking guys came in the side door. They wore pink and purple madras shirts, penny loafers with no socks, and were all sunburned. “Who are those guys?” I asked. They were a couple of our customers and the sales guys after a day of fishing and golf. I knew in that moment that I wanted to be like them: their freedom, style of communication, and that footwear. I continued to work in the plant all through high school and during every college break. “Scotty, bring a clean shirt, run to the airport to pick up our vendor/customer/architect.” Every opportunity presented brought me closer to connecting with people, talking to them, learning about them, and ultimately to sales. I started full time as a management trainee in 1975. But back to your original question, I did use my trigonometry knowledge to figure out the algorithm for the stretch factor on a vertical tong-held tempering furnace using a slide rule.

You started your manufacturers rep firm in 2005, which was when things were rolling, but then the recession hit pretty quick after that. What kept you going and then eventually growing?

By 2005 I had been in the business over 30 years at many different levels of the industry and had the opportunity to learn from some great mentors. People are the core of our business, and I am fortunate to have been surrounded by an innovative and hardworking team, a brilliant business partner, and have the support of my incredibly smart and patient wife. Like many of us, we have the urgent need to eat, sleep out of the rain and cold, and support our families. When you are a small business you are not necessarily tied to national trends. With insight and effort, we can influence and affect our own reality. We have built a small team of talented people from different backgrounds, and they are leading us to continued success as the world evolves.

A lot has obviously changed in the industry from when you started, is there anything specific (products, plants, people etc.) that make you laugh at the way things were vs. the way they are now?

Life is change. The technology of the products, the design, the process, the systems, the applications, and methods of communication have all changed greatly. The need for top quality, dependable, honest, and timely transactions and communication is as relevant as it has ever been. The speed with which things happen now is nearly in real-time. The days of the traditional library and catalogue are virtually gone; you need to have a digital footprint, social media and an online presence with a positive user experience. Technology facilitates these opportunities. As they say, “there’s an app for that.” Transition into this new world is vital.

Many of the “shazam” type products and organizations that we have expected to be overnight phenomena take far longer to develop than first expected. I liken it to a Bonnie Raitt interview I heard the year she won Grammys in four categories. “How does it feel to be an overnight success?” She replied, “Amazing, and it only took me 25 years.”

Our business has changed in many ways. We can now build better buildings with greater energy efficiency and more innovative design options as we continue to evolve toward net zero facilities. What has not changed is the need for humanity in the process. The need to develop understanding and a collaborative spirit between the ownership/design, the corporate manufacturing entities, the GCs and the specialty subcontractors remains a vital challenge for a successful outcome.

Madras shirts are back (for some of us never gone). I still love fancy socks and a great pair of velvet shoes, but I do stay out of the sun now on advice of my dermatologist. I was able to do it, and I still love what I do. We truly respect and enjoy the culture of this wonderful industry and are extremely fortunate to have the support of excellent vendor partners. We continue to get up every day to assist our customers as they work to complete successful projects.

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, June 25, 2018

Labor. Education. Performance. Lead times. We hear about the challenges facing the glass industry—and the construction industry at large—all the time. Along with them, we've heard of the numerous product developments, training initiatives and workplace efficiencies many in our industry have pushed as a response to these challenges. 

During the 2018 AIA Expo last week in New York City, glass industry exhibitors looked to address those challenges through new, multi-faceted product innovations and developments. While in past AIA shows, exhibitors presented numerous solutions that met aesthetic demands and performance, this year was different. Companies raised the bar, showing solutions that met the needs of architects, while facing the challenges of the glass industry head on. 

The conversation was not only about products, nor was it only about architects—even at an architecture show. Here are just a few examples of how industry companies are considering product development and industry education from start to finish.

Product Development

YKK AP America is rethinking details of its products, down to mullion symmetry and system tooling, to "find methods and means to address labor concerns, beyond logistics," says Oliver Stepe, president. The company is working to capitalize on the middle market by helping smaller, less technologically advanced companies work through labor challenges with more easily understood products that still meet aesthetic and performance demands. "We can't look at product design in a monolithic plane anymore," says Stepe. 

Product Education

At Vitro Architectural Glass, Rob Struble, brand and communications manager, explained how the company is investing heavily in oversized glass production, with its seventh coater online in Wichita Falls, Texas, which produces 130-by-240-inch coated glass sheets. But, it goes beyond big glass. To ensure an informed customer base, Vitro says, "Bigger is Only the Beginning." Projects that spec oversized glass have many other factors to consider beyond wall-to-wall or floor-to-floor glass. "We are educating the architect that there's a lot more to it than bigger IG—it's heavier, more difficult to transport and install. Bigger is more than possible, but we want them to understand the tradeoffs up front through education." 

Product End-use

Technoform Glass Insulation is pushing the industry to "Spec the Edge" first before considering the center of glass, which has been the norm when considering high-performance glass products. "With a high-performing window frame and edge of glass, buildings can achieve the same performance with less advanced glass," says Helen Sanders, strategic business development. Sanders says the flow of heat is like the flow of water: it will find the path of least resistance through the edge, no matter how high-performing the center of glass is. "We must chip away at the issue of only considering energy return on investment," says Sanders. "We need to change the conversation beyond energy and into building comfort, thermal comfort. Downstream, this sells more space and costs come down." 

See much more from the glass and glazing industry in our show product video, @GlassMag on Twitter and @glassmagazinenga on Instagram. Or, browse the show product gallery below. 

 

 

Bethany Stough is managing editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at bstough@glass.org. 

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