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“What is the top question you hear from architects?” This is a question I have asked glass and glazing companies for several years when attending industry trade shows. The responses normally cover topics such as oversized glass use, aesthetics, cost or performance, and the products to fill those needs.

However, the responses to that question were different during the the 2019 AIA Architecture Expo, held June 6-7 in Las Vegas. While issues such as energy and thermal efficiency were always a part of the conversation, glass and glazing companies report that architects now more than ever seem to be asking for solutions on a per-project basis—engineered niche products—and the glass and glazing industry is rising to the challenge.

“We’re focused on the types of buildings architects are designing, asking, ‘what are you designing for,’ and then finding the right solutions, marrying materials with other product lines architects can design to,” says Colin Brosmer, vice president of sales for Kawneer.

This year’s AIA Expo showcased the industry’s major strides in finding the connection points between people and products. No matter what question architects have for glass and glazing companies, its response is to foster more conversations and training opportunities, then collaboratively engineer product solutions for connecting performance, aesthetics and cost, according to exhibitors.

Jacob Kasbrick, regional architectural manager for Guardian Glass, notes the regionality of architectural needs, and how to meet them as they change. Namely, the company’s SunGuard product line continues to expand with new coatings to meet codes and ordinances related to solar heat gain, reflectivity and visible light transmittance, which vary region by region. “We’re working with architects to navigate these shifting issues from region to region,” Kasbrick says. “It seems simple but taking architects to your plant is a great way to help them understand the product, how it’s made and what it does. It helps them with the vocabulary and knowing what they need.”

Several exhibitors indicated their effort to improve and expand current products, while also pushing messaging to improve their reach with architects, and better educate architects on product capabilities, on and off the show floor.

“We’re working on value-added and customizable tweaks to our products, to offer architects high-performance alternatives to traditional glazing methods,” says Michael Cintani, product manager, Mapes. The company showcased the Mapes SpanPanel for spandrel and floor lines and the Mapes R+, able to achieve R30. “The challenge now is to educate architects on our products and their possibilities. We need more conversations,” he says.

Tubelite hosts Lunch and Learns for AIA continuing education credit in order to educate architects on glazing systems, regional requirements and codes. In response to conversations with architects and other customers, the company launched a new hurricane impact door designed for Wind Zone 3 compliance. “Architects tend to design for Miami-Dade even in places beyond Miami-Dade County, where this testing isn’t required. This adds unnecessary expense and limits design capabilities,” says Tom Mifflin, product manager. “This door expands hardware and glazing options, opening design possibilities while still meeting large missile impact testing.”

While not everyone had a direct response to the number one topic architects are asking about, most had a response to this question: “How can the industry better serve the design community?”

The responses always called for more communication and more connection between all parts of the supply chain. Seemingly, some gaps between this industry and its ability to reach architects are closing, but the next frontier in designing and building for the future is making connections using technology and fostering transparency, exhibitor sources say.

“The point is not to push products on customers just to sell them. It’s to find solutions that actually work for each project,” says Danik Dancause, marketing operations manager for Walker Glass Co. In order to do this, “information has to be shared to help solve design issues. Ask the right questions, rely on architectural reps.”

The American Institute of Architects will be offering an online sales team training course this summer, to help manufacturers’ reps better understand and sell to architects. “Our research [from the sales rep training] shows that on one hand, manufacturers’ reps don’t think architects value them, and, on the other, architects view manufacturers’ reps as vital to their business,” says John Crosby, managing director, AIA. “The focus for manufacturers should be on a consultative relationship, rather than a transactional sales approach.”

On the trade show floor, “architects want to see, touch and feel products—we know this,” says Crosby. “We also know that architects can be overwhelmed by the expo. If they’re compressed by the show floor experience, what are we—AIA and exhibitors—doing wrong? Give them a reason to be in your booth and want to be there, to engage. They want to know what’s new and what they need.”

This is a growth opportunity for the glass and glazing industry, to continue building relationships and communicate vital product knowledge with architects. Exhibitors and industry companies can accomplish this through “technology, unique engagements and a customized experience,” says Crosby.

Brosmer calls for more technology and digitization as well, in order to improve supply chain communication and output. “A big opportunity for the industry is becoming more efficient from design to delivery. A way to do that is digitizing the supply chain, connecting one stage to the next,” he says. “Now we have a lot of passing off of documents, recreating documents and work, lots of questions. But how do you connect and understand the connection points of a project? Digitizing would get us there.”

Like with engineered product solutions, along with technology, finding and maintaining connection points throughout the supply chain requires more communication and openness. “Consumer buying habits with instant product information and purchasing options from retailers like Amazon are transferring to the B2B world,” says Steve Schohan, marketing manager, YKK AP America. “Sharing about what makes us great makes us more reachable. We can build on each other and improve each other.”

Read about the NGA's presence at the AIA Architecture Expo.
See coverage of the show on Twitter. 

Bethany Stough is managing editor of Glass Magazine and content manager for the National Glass Association. Contact her at bstough@glass.org. 

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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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There was a sense of optimistic uncertainty as GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window & Door Expo opened its doors just a day after Hurricane Irma, then downgraded to a tropical depression, moved through western Georgia and into Alabama. Uncertainty coupled with determination to make the event—no matter the circumstances—worthwhile for exhibitors and attendees. And while the storm caused travel delays and forced some attendees to stay home, the event served as a prime display of the current strength of the North American glass and glazing industry. Exhibitors filled the floor with new advancements and innovations, and attendees came looking to invest.  

“What was shaping up to be the second largest GlassBuild in its history, was thrown a curve ball when first Hurricane Harvey hit in Texas, and then Hurricane Irma hit Florida and Georgia just days before the show. Not surprisingly, those events took a toll on the exhibits and attendance number, but the industry’s resilience and passion made sure the show was far from a wash out,” show organizers said in a statement. The event hosted 458 exhibiting companies occupying 180,395 net square feet on the show floor, and just under 6,000 attendees. 

Check out daily news from the show floor, and listen to industry voices discuss successes and challenges.

GlassBuild America 2017 Opens

GlassBuild America Offers Learning Resources, Extended Hours on Day Two

GlassBuild Closes Strong on Day Three

 

 

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

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Now in its sixth year, the Glass Magazine Top Metal Companies list spotlights the largest metal fabrication companies in North America. Highlighted in the November issue of Glass Magazine, the Top Metal Companies include those that manufacture, fabricate and sell curtain wall, storefront and entrance, commercial interior and exterior railings, aluminum composite panels and exterior sun-control products to the glass and glazing industry.

While the Top Metal Companies list ranks companies by sales volume, it will also provide timely information regarding the state of the metals market as a whole, based on market statistics related to sales volume, product demand and acquisition plans.

The 2017 list will showcase the successes, challenges, changes and opportunities within the commercial metals industry. Featuring specific metal company achievements, including recent projects, the list provides an up-to-date look at the metal industry landscape.

If your company belongs on the Top Metal Companies list, be sure to complete the survey by Sept. 5, and contact me if you have any questions about participating.

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

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Every day, Glass Magazine editors receive announcements of new hires, company expansions, product introductions and recent project completions. The glass industry is developing and growing, and we love hearing about and sharing its advancements. We want to make sure we're hearing from you.

To that end, we have made it even easier to promote your company's growth and innovation through easy-to-access online submission forms.

Please consider sharing your news and great ideas with us. Read on for details of the content types we regularly publish in print or online. And click through to submit your information. And, if you have an idea for content, or any comments about the content we publish, please feel free to reach out directly.  

Products.

In every issue, Glass Magazine runs an Industry Products section that features descriptions and photos of new product offerings. Find examples here

Submit your new product here.

People.

Glass Magazine runs news items about new hires and promotions as news at GlassMagazine.com, in the e-glass weekly newsletter and in every issue of the magazine. Find examples here

Submit your personnel news here.

Great Glazing.

Glass Magazine runs a Great Glazing project feature weekly in its e-glass weekly newsletter and on GlassMagazine.com. The Great Glazing project features will also be considered for publication in the magazine. Find examples here

Submit your recent project here.

Here's an Idea...

The Here's an Idea... series of articles, which runs in every issue of Glass Magazine, gives the proper recognition to industry businesses that are implementing great—though possibly small—ideas. What is your company doing to improve customer service? Employee morale? Organization? Reputation? Help us showcase your company's behind-the-scenes, innovative ideas. Find examples here.

Submit your great idea here.

Bethany Stough is managing editor for Glass Magazine, GlassMagazine.com and e-glass weekly. Write her at bstough@glass.org.

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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Glass and glazing exhibitors at the AIA Expo 2017, held in Orlando, April 27-29, used the show to make connections and promote themselves to architect customers. But, to reach customers, particularly in the architect and design community, exhibitors expressed the need to do more than offer a great product. Instead, they are working to be industry resources to customers, asking: what can glass do for you? 

“It’s hard to set yourself apart, where [customers] remember you. We have to do more than offer products to reach architects and customers,” said Leigh Anne Mays, national architectural services manager for Guardian Glass, during the show. The company launched its Solutions Hub in Orlando, where attendees could sit down in a relaxed space for five-minute tech talks covering common glass specification questions. 

Much of what glass and glazing companies are doing is listening, and building trust with architect customers as industry experts. “We’re here to listen to architects, to ask them what they need, and provide it in a cost-effective way,” said Joe Erb, commercial sales specialist, Quanex Building Products

“We want to create a relationship with architects, so that they come to us to solve their building problems,” said Steve Schohan, marketing and communications manager, YKK AP America.

To directly confront these problems, Kawneer revamped its AIA booth to showcase its focus on solutions for urbanization challenges. “The mega trend is urbanization. We’re asking what are the challenges in vertical markets, and what innovations can we bring to customers to address specific urban challenges?” said Karen Zipfel, director of marketing, Kawneer. 

During the show, exhibitors stressed the importance of partnerships, for industry companies as well as with architects.

Dip-Tech exhibited at AIA for the first time, emphasizing the possibilities of glass through partnerships, over glass printing technology. They shared booth time with customers, including GGIM3 Glass Technologies, Cristacurva and Downey Glass, to connect architects with glass fabricators to get the look they want. “Our goal is to increase product demand for our customers by directly reaching architects,” said Eyal Porat, architect manager, Dip-Tech.

Viracon’s architecture design team focuses on education over sales to build customer partnerships. “[The team] stresses the importance of picking the right partner, what to be mindful of,” said Annette Panning, director of marketing and product management, Viracon. “Glass on a building is our reputation for years to come. We need to be a resource, to ensure architects do it right.”

Beyond expanding their reach to become a resource for architects, companies are also expanding product offerings to provide options for architects. Quanex expanded its Mikron line to offer 20 colors. Guardian now offers back-painted interior glass. YKK AP launched the YHW 60 TU unitized window wall to mimic curtain wall at a lower cost. Technoform reformatted its TGI Spacer with a steel reinforced wire embedded into the plastic to withstand the added weight of oversized glass lites. The spacer is also available in a variety of colors to meet aesthetic needs. 

To learn more about the integrated, expanded product lines from glass industry exhibitors, check out the show floor photo galleries, and review the @GlassMag Twitter feed. 

 

Bethany Stough is managing editor for Glass Magazine, GlassMagazine.com and e-glass weekly. Write her at bstough@glass.org.

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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"Are you a Doritos or an Emerald Nuts commercial?" asked Janine Driver, best-selling author and body language expert for the Body Language Institute, during her keynote address at the 80th Annual Conference for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, held Feb. 12-15 in Phoenix. Driver explained that a primetime Doritos commercial caused increased brain activity in viewers, while the Emerald Nuts commercial didn't have the impact. The reason? When evaluating brands, "consumers use emotions over information when making decisions," said Driver. 

"I'm here to prove to you that of everything you put on today, what will be judged the most is your body language," said Driver. During the conference, Driver shared tips on how to read and use body language to develop and maintain good relationships with customers.

Are you using and interpreting body language successfully with your customers?

Because customers interpret body language and make decisions about you, it's important to understand what you're communicating. Driver says that body language shows up seven seconds before your brain realizes what you're doing—but other people in the room have already noticed.

"Even just a couple minutes of interaction can make a big difference when it comes to your body language," said Driver. She says that words, our speech and how we speak to people, matter. But, equally, so does body language. The two go hand-in-hand when presenting ourselves and the products, services, businesses, and the industry we represent. 

"We leave money on the table when we don’t understand verbal and non-verbal cues," said Driver.

Driver emphasized the importance of asking your customers questions. If you sense they may be withholding information, intentionally or otherwise, gently let them know you sense there may be something they're not saying. For example, seeing someone shrug their shoulders often communicates an incongruency with what thay're saying. 

Don’t make hasty decisions based on your interpretation of a situation, said Driver. If something seems off, ask about it, then WAIT, which stands for "Why Am I Talking?". Stop talking and wait for an explanation.

"This step of due diligence is very important," said Driver. "Think like a CIA operative and investigate when something in someone's body language is inconsistent with their speech."

Another tip for successful communication with customers is when greeting them, face your body toward the person you're shaking hands with. It's easy to accidentally give them the cold shoulder with your body language, according to Driver.

Finally, Driver told those at her presentation that they need to think about body language all the time. It takes awareness and practice to improve what you're saying—and not saying—to customers.

"This industry matters," she said. "Watch how you present yourself to better represent the importance of the industry."

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

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Ron Crowl of FeneTech Inc. and Angela Dickson of AAMA share their post-show thoughts and perspectives on GlassBuild 2016 for this week's glassblog. Read on to see what each appreciated about the event.

From Ron Crowl's blog:

Tradeshows are a large part of FeneTech's marketing efforts, and consume much of our marketing budget. Therefore, during each show where we exhibit, we have high expectations for the return on our investment. GlassBuild America exceeded those expectations.

Read more...

From Angela Dickson's blog:

When asked what I love most about my job (and there's a lot), I always respond, "our members!" These amazing industry representatives strive to make a positive impact on our industry, and that was never more evident than at GlassBuild America last month. 

Read more...

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

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Three key concepts trended on the show floor during GlassBuild America 2016, held last week, Oct. 19-21, in Las Vegas: innovation, automation and investment. It seems markets are trending positive, companies are getting more jobs, and money is available again for big business investments. 

"Now that the economy is better, companies are becoming more quality oriented," says Jack Van Meerbeeck, president, Matodi. "There's money again."

Many of the exhibiting companies at the show debuted new products that answered specific challenges facing the industry—machinery that helps offset labor shortages; handling equipment that increases safety; products that are advanced, yet cost-effective. The new offerings are truly innovative. They have been reconsidered, re-engineered, streamlined and automated to help industry companies capitalize on the positive momentum and continue to profit. 

"I'm excited about the automation options and interest within the industry," says Mike Willard, CEO, Salem Distributing Co. "Companies are trying to take out the human component to reduce quality issues, offset labor challenges. But, they can use their headcount assets elsewhere within the business."

Business leaders from across the industry see growth and a positive economic climate sticking around for the next 18-24 months. Officials from GED Integrated Solutions are "overly optimistic" instead of cautiously optimistic for the first time in several years. And while a downturn may come again, industry companies are pushing to stay ahead of the curve. "We're continually pushing fresh automation. That's our safeguard against a downturn," says Bill Briese, engineering manager, GED. 

For more latest news from GlassBuild, click the links below. 

NGA\WDDA Names Board Leaders for 2016-2017

Economist Ken Simonson Forecasts Growth, Addresses Labor Concerns

IGMA Hosts Preventing Insulating Glass Failures Seminar in Las Vegas

Guardian Glass ​Brings Diverse Products and Services to GlassBuild America​

Vetrotech Saint-Gobain North America to Promote New Products, Expertise at GlassBuild

Vacuum Technology from Schmalz at GlassBuild

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A number of times this year on glassblog, I have discussed the generational aspect of the glass industry. And as generation after generation comes on board, glass industry businesses are tasked with successfully passing the baton and transitioning the company to a new generation of owners. 

Glass Magazine's Exit Planning & Succession series covered the financial and business details of many types of business exits (see the features in the Jan/Feb, April, May, June, July and August issues), along with company profiles from industry companies with exit and succession experience. While we have concluded our series in the magazine, stories on navigating the exit and succession process from all types of industry companies continue to come in. I recently spoke with two glass business owners out of Florida who are preparing to transition management to the next generation. 

The first was Shower Doors & More co-owner Page Giacin, who runs the first generation shower door fabrication company with her husband Larry in south Florida. When they first started the company, Page answered phones and took orders while their son Tyler played in a corral made of shower doors. Now he is pursuing a degree in business and working at Shower Doors & More on school breaks. The Giacins plan to pass the business along to Tyler within five years.

"Tyler knows how to do grunt work, whatever needs to be done. We want him to get experience and then apply it at the business," says Giacin. "We have always had a very grassroots process with him because to run this business you have to know how to do it all. [A transition] has to be a longer process in a family business, and he has to earn it. He'll take care of it better."

The next business owner I spoke with runs a family-owned contract glazing company in Florida. "[The company] was started in 1992 out of our house," said the owner, who wishes to remain anonymous. "It was us in a truck doing whatever we could to eat. We had no savings, a house and car payment and two adolescent children that we had no idea how we were going to get through college. We took on any job with a commercial focus and even did board ups in the middle of the night. When we started no one would give us a job over $3,000. We now employ 40 people and are embarking on an expansion."

The company owner began training their young son 10 years ago, when they helped him open his own business. "Together, we started a hurricane protection company in 2004," the owner said. "He learned to bid, sell and install. He continued to run [the business] until 2009 when we gave him 5 percent of [the glazing firm] with the plan for him to learn our business from top to bottom. We wanted to be sure it was something our son loved to do and wanted to take on as an owner in the future."

The son is poised to take over the company within five to ten years.  

Bethany Stough is managing editor of Glass Magazine. If you have an exit or succession planning story to share, write her at bstough@glass.org. 

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