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The Future of Labor in the Glazing Industry

We’re all familiar with the core challenges that plague our industry, perhaps the most top of mind being the ongoing labor shortage. While it’s not news to us, it continues to be a trending topic as we ask ourselves questions like how is the industry coping, what creative solutions exist to address the issue, and how will it impact our companies and the industry in the coming years?

Earlier this month, Dodge Data & Analytics released a study showing the continued rise of prefabricated and modular construction. According to Retrofit Magazine, the report shows that architects, engineers and contractors plan to increase their engagement with these construction methods. Gone are the days when shop-glazed projects were only for large-scale buildings in big cities. Contractors are becoming more adept in prefabrication techniques, particularly for healthcare facilities, hospitality and multifamily projects, college buildings and dormitories, and residential. The driver? Shorter project schedules, labor shortages and sustainability.

When projects are shop-glazed, materials are precision cut, walls are assembled with tighter tolerances, and more consistency is achieved for the products, materials, and the project overall. This type of construction equates to faster building close-ins, reduced need for field labor, and a more sustainable built environment with reduced waste.

These certainly were primary drivers for YKK AP when we acquired Erie Architectural Products in late 2019. And today, we see many contractors expanding their businesses with prefabricated capabilities for these same reasons.

In addition to prefabricated construction, many contractors are also turning to technology to address these challenges. Building information modeling and automation are just a couple of the technologies that can help to overcome these challenges, speeding up the construction process and helping a building operate more efficiently.  

Manufacturers, contractors, and equipment companies aren't the only companies innovating to solve problems and ensure a bright future for our industry. Organizations like Glaziers On Demand are crowdsourcing inside and outside the glazing industry with an emphasis on training, recruiting and deploying installers to meet project needs all over the US. 

Whatever the challenge, one thing is for sure—we are at a transformative time in the history of our industry. Innovative technologies and prefabricated construction techniques will be a core part of how we move forward together to make our industry bigger and stronger than ever before.


Steve Schohan

Steve Schohan

Steve Schohan is marketing and communications manager at YKK AP America, where he develops marketing strategies and leads research efforts on emerging markets and trends, with an emphasis on driving industry product evolution and innovation. Schohan has more than 25 years of experience in the construction, home improvement, retail, and consumer products industries.