"The best way to predict the future is to create it." -Peter Drucker
Most economic forecasters are predicting the construction industry in the United States will likely grow at a very slow rate over the next few years. Our fenestration industry sales are expected to limp along as well. However, I believe sales could improve dramatically with some active technological and production developments, coupled with appropriate pricing.
Fenestration and glass already offer many static features at reasonable price points. Combining multiple, active technologies with existing, static products could conceivably take fenestration and glass beyond the architectural envelope and transform them into multi-functioning devices that completely change the way they are viewed. Consumer awareness and demand is there. People are ready to buy now if mass production exists, the products work well and the prices are right.
Imagine combining these technologies with residential and commercial fenestration:
- Interactive touch screens
- Variable privacy film
- Variable tinting film
- Changing decoration
- Solar energy collection
- Sensor-activated functions
- Power controls
- Lighting and lighting control
I’m no scientist or industrial engineer, just a consumer. I’m impatient for the future shown in Corning’s ‘A Day Made of Glass’ video. Curtain wall as active signage like that in the classic film Blade Runner has always been an intriguing vision. It’s exciting to imagine what the world will be like when those products are out there and in common use. I’m also impatient to become a dealer for new and exciting products.
While some of these new product features currently exist, they’re either not being combined into multi-function consumer products, they’re not effectively mass-produced and/or their price point isn’t right. Manufacturers that can reliably and economically produce more of the new, active technologies in combination with existing, static glass and fenestration products will tend to profit and grow faster over time than those who don’t.
"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims." - R. Buckminster Fuller
Rod Van Buskirk is the third-generation owner of Bacon & Van Buskirk Glass Co., with locations in Champaign and Springfield, Ill. A past NGA Chairman, Rod looks quarterly at the industry from the middle of nowhere, steals ideas from anyone he can and pretends to know what he’s talking about. Rod invites your comments as you are certainly smarter than he is.