G4: Industry insiders talk glass
Bill John, president InterClad, Minneapolis
*We have seen a significant increase in consultants and in field testing on standard product projects. Currently, on two projects we have three consultants -one for the contractor, one for the owner's representative and one for the owner. The difficulties that this presents when you can't get [consultants] to all agree on how to go forward, and the time spent responding, is staggering.
*The increase in hospital and clinic work has resulted in a need for higher thermal performance due to the higher humidity levels needed. Hospitals are understandably concerned with moisture and the mold that can go with it being present in operating rooms and emergency rooms.
*Condominium work boomed and then went bust. Trying to combine a homeowner's expectations with commercial industry standards was difficult. Industry standards on im perfections on coated glass can be difficult for a homeowner to accept or understand. We tried our best to educate the architect and project teams in the submittal stage and create reasonable expectations for both sides. Trends for the next 10 years should be interesting. Green building is increasing, and certain national contractors are using/requiring BIM and 3D modeling on their projects. Those of us who are baby boomers will need our more tech-savvy youngsters to lead us into that new technology."
Erica Chandler, owner Designed Glass Inc., Burnsville, Minn.
*The factor that is making the largest impact is the fuel prices. I cringe every time that gas bill comes and wonder if horses would be cheaper to feed. I struggle to keep pricing as fair as the market will allow and to hold pricing consistent for my builders and remodelers. We continue to control our fabricating cost, which allows us more flexibility in our price structure. The area where I have the least amount of control is mail we get from our vendors letting us know that there will be an increase in the uncontrollable, ever varying energy surcharge.
*The second factor would be the slowing real estate market; with the value of homes stabilizing it decreases the chances of actually getting the customer in the showroom to make an upgraded sale. When home values were increasing by 10 percent a year, the customer didn't think twice about getting baths upgraded.
*The third factor-and the best-is [an increase in] all the wonderful new extrusions and hardware choices. There is a rainbow of colors to choose from. Varieties of hardware from multiple vendors enable us to create any combination. Designing custom shower enclosures for only the "people in the big house" is definitely a thing of the past. Every customer that walks in and buys glass gets treated the same: what can we design to make your home, new or existing, unique."
Gilbert Gutierrez, senior technical adviser Equalizer Industries, Round Rock, Texas
*I believe that the ability to acquire better information about our industry via the Internet is No. 1. Potential customers can go online and find answers to their questions [such as] where should I go for the best installation job? [Techs can find out] what's new in our industry, and that's going to save us a lot of money and time getting the job done right.
*No. 2 is the use of cell phones. There aren't any more missed stops because a tech can't find his customer. He can call and remind the customer he's on his way.
*Lastly are the GPS systems used on mobile vans to get the technician from point A to point B without having to stop and ask for directions or read a map. It is finally starting to catch on."
Cliff Monroe, senior technical manager Arch Aluminum & Glass Co., Tamarac, Fla.
*Multiple silver layers within vacuum deposition coatings,
*laminated glass at multiple impact levels, decorative uses of laminated glass within commercial/ residential design and
*cost of petroleum and materials that are bi-products of petroleum.