glassblog

Monday, April 10, 2017

Salesperson “A” has many opportunities, and he seems to be able to move through the sales process effortlessly and simultaneously. On paper he doesn’t appear to be any more talented or intelligent than any of his peers, but he closes more deals than his peers.

Salesperson “B” is full of confidence and charisma and people naturally like him. He knows and understands the customer base and his product knowledge is good. But his sales pipeline is weak and he closes few deals.

The two salespeople work for the same company in similar territories, selling the same products for the same prices. Why the difference in sales? What would cause two individuals to achieve such different results? It might have something to do with the art of follow-up.

Salesperson “B” is always talking on the phone or texting someone, but he doesn’t have an organized system that triggers the next action. As a result, things get missed and slip through the cracks. Oftentimes he has a hard time connecting with his prospects. Because he calls randomly, he needs to call multiple times before he can connect. Or, he shows up at an unscheduled time. This leaves the impression that he is a pushy salesman.

Salesperson “A” makes regular updates on progress with opportunities. He sets up tasks and reminders and schedules meetings. He is not pushy or offensive, but more professionally persistent. When he does follow-up, he asks a specific set of questions to continue to further qualify the opportunity. He knows that if he follows a defined set of follow-up steps over time he will close more deals. He keeps his funnel full, but focuses on what he can convert.

With every step in his process and with every interaction, he is able to build report and confidence with the customer, and they begin to view him more and more as a professional.

If you are a business owner and want to increase sales this year, I suggest you find a good customer relationship management system and begin using it. You should also try to analyze the sales process, dissect each step and try to help your sales staff recognize where they are in the engagement so they will begin to know what to do next. Set up a system for following up at each stage. Insist that your staff use a calendar to schedule calls and meetings and watch your sales begin to go up.

Chad Simkins is vice president of Pleotint and vice president of sales for Thompson IG. He can be reached at csimkins@pleotint.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 10, 2017

If we boil it down, automation is simply about becoming more efficient. Businesses regularly search for ways to produce higher outputs with lower inputs because any savings go directly to the bottom line. Yet, a stigma remains surrounding automation. Many say these strategies destroy jobs. Some go as far to say they’re killing manufacturing.

Is automation truly killing jobs, or is it a window to new opportunities?

It’s up to you. Automating typically has a goal of reducing labor to produce a greater output; however, that does not mean there must be layoffs. In many cases automating one process opens opportunities to repurpose resources to another aspect of a business.

I recently attended a conference where I learned about dynamic-optimization software for cutting lines. I do not know how long dynamic cutting software has been on the market, but this type of solution will become the norm. This software uses algorithms to optimize cutting departments and achieve greater efficiency. One gentleman told me they’re now using 98 percent or more of their stock sheet glass. Efficiencies gained in their cutting department allowed them to focus resources in other areas. The people in their cutting department were not let go; they were moved to other aspects of production.

How about Ford Motor Company and the implementation of the assembly line? Henry Ford is one of the most well-known examples of automating, but there’s another thing Ford is celebrated for: how the company retained the best workers. Ford famously offered double the normal wage of that time, which allowed Ford to hand-pick the cream of the crop. The company required less labor to produce a higher output, which meant they then required people in other parts of the business, like sales. After all, there is not much sense in producing more if you cannot sell it.

Walmart is another company renowned for groundbreaking logistics and inventory systems, but is also widely known as one of the world’s largest employers. Walmart reinvented restocking capability, and the efficiencies they gain there contribute directly to Walmart’s low pricing, which of course adds value to their business. Companies like Amazon have taken these a step further, creating a billion-dollar business with no physical stores, as well as creating a standard to an entire industry of online vending. These companies provide an opportunity for millions of people around the world. I believe none of this would be possible without automation and its ability to reallocate capital to more critical areas.

There’s more competition than ever today, and if you’re not thinking ahead, you’ve probably already been left behind. Perhaps it is time to look at automation in a different light, for what it really is, which is an investment--an investment where you decide how to allocate the return. This could be less labor, or perhaps a greater volume of product, all while increasing the overall value of a business. As an investment, automation isn’t such a scary thing. In fact, it becomes integral to the survival of your business.

Pete deGorter is vice president of 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.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

There’s been a lot of buzz about the AIA’s recently released survey results, “The Architect’s Journey to Specification,” and rightly so. Numerous stakeholders are involved in the specification process, but architects typically have the final say. This survey sheds light on what drives their decision—something we building material manufacturers and suppliers constantly work to understand. 

The most talked about takeaway from the survey is the need for more user-friendly specification tools. Architects voiced their frustration over how hard it is to quickly find the resources they need in today’s digital era, whether it’s viewing technical details, getting a handle on lead times or seeing how a product has been used in other projects. According to the AIA news release, “Architects want product websites that are clear, concise, up-to-date, and easy to navigate. They also want easy access (no sign-up to view product information) to detailed information, including building information models and objects.”

Given the prominent role glass plays in today’s building designs, it’s imperative that our industry listens to this feedback and makes changes in order to gain specification preference, as well as show glass’ value-added benefits.

The survey also generated an equally important, but less talked about, finding that we must pay attention to: approximately 75 percent of architects reuse specs from previous projects. This includes those who copy and paste from previous specs, and those who reuse previous specs in their entirety.

Why is this finding so important? In a fast-paced, demanding profession, it speaks to how much architects value reliability.

Many architects are overworked, face strict project schedules and have to source numerous building materials for a given project. They simply don’t have the time or capacity to devote hours developing entirely new specs. On the other hand, some reviewers of the study believe this is a shortcut that results from poor resources, while others say it is because architects are perennial creatures of habit. Whether it’s one or both reasons, the bottom line is these decision makers go back to what’s proved successful in past projects, time and time again. 

So, while we can (and should) improve specification tools for architects to break into their field of vision, we also need to provide reliable products and services to ensure our place in future specifications. Whether we manufacture, supply or sell glass products, it’s important our offerings are credibly tested, free of hidden limitations and perform as expected. Because the road to installation is not always straightforward as projects grow more complex, it’s also crucial to become a valuable and trusted resource that helps solve unforeseen challenges. If an architect wants to experiment with an untested product, he or she will be much more likely to come to you if they view you as an extension of their specification team, trusting the products you provide and the work you do.

It’s a win-win when we can better provide architects with the specification tools they need. But, even the easiest-to-use resources will do little to ensure future specification if all an architect remembers is a product that cost them valuable time, resources and money. So, let’s make sure we deliver on both fronts, providing architects with improved resources and reliable products.

 

Jeff Razwick is the president of Technical Glass Products (TGP), a supplier of fire-rated glass and framing systems, and other specialty architectural glazing. He writes frequently about the design and specification of glazing for institutional and commercial buildings, and is a past chair of the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Fire-Rated Glazing Council (FRGC). 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.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

In the last few weeks I have hit some heavy topics here including what an architect wants, project management and retrofits. I’ll continue on the path of importance starting this post with a look at a very scary prospect: the dwindling construction labor force. An executive at Turner Construction testified in front of congress this week that construction levels are back to the 2007 boom. BUT, we are 100,000 workers short of where we were then. That number is staggering. It was noted that younger folks do not have interest in the trades and the older workers are transitioning out. Obviously, this is not news for most of us. We all know how challenging the market is right now, but seeing the numbers is jarring.

There is no magic formula for slowing this negative trend either. Attracting skilled (or at least willing to be trained) youth to come into construction is a monumental task. We as an industry need to figure this out as well. I’ll be curious to see if this talk in front of congress spurs any development or support of programs to help.

Elsewhere…

  • One area that can help with employment and attraction? Understanding you’re the employee. And a great speaker on that subject is coming back to GlassBuild America this fall: Cam Marston His last stint in 2015 still has people who saw it buzzing. His topic on the multi-generational workforce is interesting, appropriate and needed. Make sure you don’t miss this.
  • April is here and a yearly tradition is coming up soon… the Mid-Atlantic Glass Associations MGA Glass Expo takes place April 19 in Greenbelt, Maryland. This is show number 30 for the MGA and every year it brings people from the region together to learn and network. 
  • My post on what architects want gained quite a bit of attention. Obviously, it’s a subject that people are interested in as they are determined to learn what they can do. In that light, check out this link from my friend Colin Gilboy at 4Specs.com. It is loaded with great insight and direction.
  • Tthe team at SC Railing jumped on the approach of educating architects with a great case study. I love this sort of stuff, though I will be the first to admit I don’t understand a lot of it. (I’m not the audience they want to impress!) I admire the heck out of companies that take the time and resources to create in-depth pieces. JE Berkowitz, Quanex and W&W Glass are among the folks that also come to mind when it comes to studies like these.
  • So the “hot” colors for 2018, yes 2018, are now out. Thanks to the Twitter feed of Conners Sales Group (@ConnersSales), you can see it now a whole nine months before the new year hits!
  • Last this week, a scheduling heads up. No post coming next week, so you are saved from me preaching about some major issue affecting our world. I’ll be back in this space the week of April 16. Unless big news breaks, which I keep expecting but seemingly never does…

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, March 27, 2017

Happy spring! This change of seasons means it’s almost time for warm weather and open windows. It also means it’s time to brush up on some window safety tips, as open windows can be dangerous for young children who are not properly supervised. The Window Safety Task Force, of which AAMA is a member, has put together tips and resources for Window Safety Week, the first full week of April each year, and companies can easily follow along and share them via social media.

While the number of falls from windows is generally small compared with other recorded child injuries, a fall from a window can result in serious injury or even death. Window Safety Week (April 2-8 this year) serves as a reminder to recognize the importance of window safety and fall prevention year-round. Window Safety Week is designed to heighten the awareness of what parents and caregivers should do to help keep their homes and families safer from the risk of accidental falls or injuries through windows. The Window Safety Task Force has a Twitter account and a Facebook page, and social media updates are tagged with either #WindowSafety or #WindowSafetyWeek. Both accounts will be sharing window safety tips and best practices throughout Window Safety Week, so be sure to follow them and share their posts.

Though Window Safety Week is an important annual reminder, window safety education should be ongoing, occurring throughout the year. Window companies can find resources catered to them in the Window Safety Week Tool Kit, and media outlets are invited to view and download a separate media kit for publication use. A gallery of downloadable images pertaining to Window Safety Week can also be found on Flickr.

Or, quickly access all these resources in one place at aamanet.org/windowsafety. AAMA and the Window Safety Task Force appreciate all efforts to assist in getting the word out about this important, but sometimes under-covered, home safety concern. Luckily, social media makes sharing links and tips with homeowners and customers incredibly easy. Have a special request? Let us know, and we’ll work to make it happen!

Share how you’ll be recognizing Window Safety Week by posting a comment below.

Meryl Williams is the Communications Coordinator for AAMA. She produces national and regional newsletters, writes editorial content and helps lead AAMA’s social media outreach, including the Socially Speaking blog. She has seven years of professional communications experience in both journalism and public relations. 

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, March 27, 2017

One of the big issues we face with energy is old, energy-sucking buildings. Structures that were built before quality materials became available or mainstream. I am confident that every new building that goes up at least pays some mind to energy efficiency (would like more, but I will take what I can get, for now), but we need to make sure old buildings are brought up to speed. One such structure I read about recently is in Rhode Island, and major congratulations are due to everyone involved. This building was originally constructed in 1973 with the classic concrete bunker look. The building sat empty for many years until a smart developer jumped in and decided it was time to rehab the structure. By gutting the inside and outside, the work done to it was absolutely transformational—so much so that the building achieved LEED Gold status. Simply amazing. And, it offers proof it can be done. If you supplied or installed material for 1301 Atwood in Johnston, Rhode Island, drop me a line. I would love to hear more about your experience and even share it with my readers. At the end of the day, we need to do this more and more. Get old buildings renewed and energy smart. It’s good for our planet, and obviously, our industry. 

Elsewhere…

  • A big deal in the industry this week with Saand purchasing Guardian’s Webster, Massachusetts, fabrication facility. The guys at Saand are sharp folks and they continue to make very savvy moves. In the long run, this will really be a nice acquisition for them.
  • It was very busy week in terms of deals. Greco Railings, Chelsea Building Products, Atlanta Commercial Glazing and two UK-based Pilkington factories all changed hands. And, folks, there’s a few more to come. We are certainly in transaction season. 
  • The Architectural Billings Index bounced back in February, finishing above the break-even line at 50.7. Even better, the new project inquiry index was its best mark in more than two years. So some very positive reporting this month from the ABI world. I have to assume the big run on Wall Street may have had something to do with the new project trend. I guess we will see. 
  • Want to read a fantastic piece on commercialization? Check this one out. Really required reading for everyone trying to build a product line. 
  • I can’t believe this is my last blog of March. Q1 is done. 2017 is absolutely moving way too fast. I swear I think I am going to blink my eyes and I’ll already be at GlassBuild.
  • Last this week, I am absolutely humbled to announce I will be speaking at the Texas Glass Association’s “Glasscon 17” event in May. I love speaking to groups like the TGA, and I am excited that the TGA is really working hard to build a great event for their members. If you can get to Waco on May 19, I’d love to see you there. Plus, you’ll also hear from Nicole Harris, the president of the National Glass Association, Yuwadee Senamontree of Guardian, David Linhart of Vitro, and one of my all-time favorite speakers, the legend Greg Oehlers of TriStar. The theme of the overall session is “Improving the Future Together,” and I think that really is appropriate. We really need to be working together to bring the best insight and education to our industry to keep moving it forward. Learn more here.

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, March 20, 2017

What does the industry want to see in future codes? This was the question posed by Tom Culp, owner of Birch Point Consulting, during last week’s 2017 GANA Annual Conference, hosted by the Glass Association of North America. The conference was held March 14-17 in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

The code cycles for the various national energy and green codes have wrapped up or are about to wrap up, which means the industry needs to look ahead. “There’s a unique alignment of the planets, where all the national energy and green codes are nearly in conjunction. It’s a fresh start for all of them,” Culp said.

ASHRAE 90.1-2016 and the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code are now complete, Energy Star version 6 is in full effect, and ASHRAE 189.1 and the 2018 International Green Construction Code will wrap up in the fall.

Work now begins on the next iteration of the codes and standards. “These are the codes that will go into effect in 3 to 8 years. But, we are talking about them now,” Culp said.

Because these codes and standards will have an impact on the glass and glazing industry, companies should consider what they want, and what they don’t want, to see in the next versions of the codes and standards, Culp said.

For example, calls for more stringent U-factor requirements will most likely come up in future code discussions, which could mean more triple insulating units in more areas of the country. “Are we ready for triple glazing in the north? Do we want to push that?” Culp asked.

Also on the table could be lower solar heat gain coefficient requirements in some parts of the country. “Are we ready for .22 or .20 [for SHGC]? Those are the two numbers that have been thrown out in discussions,” Culp said.

With recent product advancements and the emergence of new glazing technologies, the industry is now capable of achieving increasingly stringent energy-efficiency and thermal-performance requirements. The question is, “how far do we want to push the envelope [in terms of codes]?” Culp said.

So, what do you want to see in future codes? Leave a comment or send an email. Culp also encouraged industry representatives to reach out to him or to GANA officials to provide input regarding the next cycles. 

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Last month I was very lucky to be involved in a panel that featured four incredible glazing contractors from four of the best companies in our industry. It was during that time that I learned even more about what the day-to-day adventures are for the glazing contractor in the fast-paced world we currently live in. That session really opened my eyes to challenges I did not even know existed. So this week when I attended a webinar that featured the 37th Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study, I was more in-tune than I would’ve been before my session back in February.

The big takeaway I wanted to share from the study was a poll that ran down the “Top Project Management Challenges,” and based on what I knew and recently learned, I don’t think anyone will be surprised. Here are some of the big ones:

Competing priorities including project management, design, business etc.

  • Inexperienced people up and down the chain
  • Communication
  • Schedule viability
  • Poorly defined scope
  • Accurate project cost and timeline forecasting

I would assume everyone who either manages projects or has a staff that does are nodding their heads right now. So it’s good we know about the issues, but what in the world can we do about them? That’s a session I’d love to attend if it ever happens!

Elsewhere…

  • Time for the monthly review of Glass Magazine. This is an issue very close to my heart because at the core of my being, I am a fabricator and this is the annual “Top Glass Fabricator” edition. Tremendous reading and resource overall, and major kudos to everyone listed. So many great organizations doing significant things in our world. Please take some time to check it out. And a tip of the cap to Bethany Stough and the team that pulled this thing together. That much info is not easy to make sense of, and they really knocked it out of the park.
  • Aside from the fabricator coverage, there was also another article I want to point out. The “Succession through Hardship” piece about family business and the transfer that follows death, illness, etc. Obviously this is another one that I get from a personal level as well. Interesting and heart-wrenching stories for me, but also very inspirational on how people dealt with it and moved positively forward into the future.
  • The ad of the month was a tough one. A lot of very good ones and many new entries thanks most likely to the fabricator-heavy coverage. Was great to see ads from people I had never seen previously like Woonsocket, GlassFab, Glass Vice and others. But my winner for this month is SC Railing. I think the pictures they chose made sense. I also thought the extra white space worked, and I am usually not a fan of that style, but in this case it was a winning look. Congrats SC Railing team…
  • There was an update this week on the joint meetings between the Glass Association of North America and the National Glass Association, and basically things continue to head down an encouraging path. That is great to see and the feedback I am getting continues to be extremely positive. The desire for a streamlined, focused approach is something that we all need in our world right now.
  • Last this week, GANA wrapped up its Annual Conference last week and announced various members of the year and the Greg Carney Member of the Year Award.
  • From GANA:

    2017 Division Award Recipients were nominated by their peers based on leadership and volunteerism with regard to their activities within the respective Division in the past year. 
    • BEC Division: Jeff Haber – W&W Glass Company
    • Decorative Division: Marc Deschamps – Walker Glass Co., Ltd.
    • Energy Division: Sarah Sinusas – Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates
    • Insulating Division: Jeff Haberer – Trulite Glass & Aluminum
    • Laminating Division: Julia Schimmelpenningh – Eastman Chemical Company
    • Tempering Division: Steve Marino – Vitro Architectural Glass
    • C.G. Carney Member of the Year: Stanley Yee- Dow Corning Corporation

Everyone who was honored richly deserved the nods. Great people who truly give of themselves as volunteers to the industry. But I am so happy that Greg’s name continues to live on in the form of this award. Such a great man that was taken from his family and us way too soon.

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, March 13, 2017

One thing that many in this industry absolutely covet beyond anything else is interaction with architects. Obviously, it makes sense on many levels because the architect can surely make a difference in the advancement of your product and services. But even with all of the working of this group, do we know what they want?

Well, this week I finally got an idea after seeing AIA’s excellent study on the “Journey to Specification.” One of the main keys was education, and I think we all knew that, but it was the specific breakdown of the learning needs that was interesting. Evidently a majority of the respondents want their education in shorter and more creative and coherent bursts, and they want it without a sales spin. So basically, quick hits from a technical guy or engineer is the preferred method. And they also want the ability to take advantage of apps/technology that supply the education in micro-style sessions like CEStrong (that several industry companies use) that still offer the necessary CEUs they want/need, while getting their education in small bites. I think the traditional “Lunch n Learn” will always be there and needed, but I think we all know it's not the most effective vehicle.

Another point made: architects want better website layouts from the manufacturers. This is an area I fight and lose daily with manufacturers. So maybe seeing a survey like this will open some eyes. Architects want a site that breaks down the supply process in areas such as design stage, specification stage, and review and approval stage. I believe the issue for many companies is that they get caught up in the minutia of the site look and they completely miss the layout (optimized best for user) and content.

There were many other items from the study, but these to me were the highlights. At the end of the day, we can do all of what the architect wants, but getting them to spend the time, even however minimal, will always be a challenge. But at least we know some of the keys they are currently after.

Elsewhere…

  • Alex Carrick, chief economist for Construct Connect, is one of the best follows on Twitter. There are always a few pieces to keep you informed on the economy and forecasts. One example was a link to his blog on one of my favorite indicators to follow, the “put in place” spending study. The details are a bit concerning as it's showing some weakness out there on the nonresidential side. When I see words like “softening” and “backsliding,” it makes my stomach turn. This is surely one to monitor.
  • A few weeks ago I mentioned that “Measure S” in Southern California was up for vote and there was quite a bit of debate on it. The voters now have spoken, defeating the measure significantly, at an almost 2-to-1 margin (though voter turnout may have been amongst the lowest ever there). Developers seemingly are the big winner on this one, but from everything I read and heard on it, there’s still great need to get the area up to speed with planning, zoning and codes.
  • The designs and plans are coming out for the new Los Angeles Rams stadium, and this is one for my façade geeks out there. They are promoting a breathable façade that will respond to the climate so the need for HVAC won’t be there. Hmmm. I am not smart enough to compute that. Here’s the article. Interesting stuff. 
  • From the "how far we have come" files, the Apple II computer came out this month in 1987, and sold for $7000. That would be like $15,000 in today’s dollars. There is no question that part of the world has made incredible advancements.
  • Last this week, I failed to mention last week that the amazing show “The Americans” is back. If you have not seen it, start at season 1 and go from there. The show will end in 2018, so conclusions are coming…

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, March 13, 2017

It's time to submit your company for consideration in Glass Magazine’s annual Top 50 Glaziers program. The June 2017 issue of Glass Magazine will feature the highest-earning contract glaziers of 2016. The comprehensive market report recognizes leading North American glazing firms, based on annual sales, features notable projects from the past year, and presents an extensive look at the market and trends.

As the special 25th Anniversary edition, the section will also include a look back at the changing landscape of the glazing industry.

We want to feature the glass industry's achievements. In order for us to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information, we rely on direct submissions from the industry. If your company should be included in the Top 50 Glaziers report, please complete the nomination form. The submission deadline is March 27, 2017.

Please contact me with any questions or comments.

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

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