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A New Norm

Social media, relationships and the glass biz

The last few weeks of the year are (finally) approaching. And while it’s typically the season of trends and lists, closing out the year with a short and sweet look ahead or top five lineup, that just didn’t seem right this time around.

It has been a year of change—of persevering, adopting new technologies and adjusting processes midstream. We’re all now well acquainted with Zoom and Teams. We’ve learned to work wherever and however is necessary. We’ve become nimbler, whether it’s operational shifts on the production floor to meet condensed construction timelines in a stop-and-go building climate or installing glass in new ways as firms work to safeguard occupants through the built environment. I think we can all agree that December looks a lot different than we thought it would back in January.

Social media changes the game

But what’s actually changed the most this year? Beyond increased resilience, I’d wager our use of social media and virtual technology is at the top of the list. Throughout the glass biz, and every other business for that matter, there was a near-overnight switch to relying on devices, chats, video and other platforms to keep companies, employees and customers informed and in constant communication. Some of these technologies were already on their way up, like virtual, on-demand continuing education courses. Now, they’re essential.

As we head towards the coming year with new tools and platforms, we’d all be well served to have a Jerry Maguire moment and make sure that throughout these modes of communication and promotion, we’re still putting the people in our industry first.

If you remember, Jerry had an “aha” moment that led him to write a mammoth manifesto that was a literal game-changer. He vowed to step away from the hustle of sports agency life and focus on people. He goes back to his roots, repeating what his mentor once taught him: “the key to this business is personal relationships.” This approach closed some doors. But over time, it opened a lot more. The crisis of conscience in this classic never gets old.

Online platforms and personal relationships

To relate Jerry’s epiphany to some of today’s technology and available tools, I point to a recent documentary, politics aside, “The Social Dilemma.” My first thought is that my kids aren’t getting phones till they’re 30 now…unfortunately, they already have them.

To relate it to the broader industry, if you were to develop your own manifesto regarding these platforms in the glass and door industries, what would it entail?   

I have a feeling that beyond earning trust with your prospects, customers and clients, your response would be a lot like Jerry’s and mine; the key to this business is still personal relationships. This isn’t new. Since the dawn of time—long before the Internet, Zoom, Teams or even smartphones came onto the scene—we’ve realized the value of earning the trust of a potential buyer, channel partner, glazier, architect, etc.  But with the advent and ease of the Internet, it’s easy get lost in the day-to-day shuffle of technology.

Reevaluating social media strategy

Don’t get me wrong, this year wouldn’t have been possible without these platforms. They’ve done much to keep the glass and door industries, as well as overall product and project advancement, humming this year. In fact, I’m extremely thankful for their role in our industry. They’ve made major lifts like tradeshows and continuing education possible while keeping people at the forefront. And seeing faces on a computer has been infinitely better than not seeing faces in instances where office visits have been limited. In other words, “You had me at hello.”

But as we look at how this year’s paradigm shift will impact our day-to-day operations, it’s important to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. What are we better for? What could we change to better serve our customers? These are great tools, and they can be used powerfully for good. So, during these unique times, let’s make sure we don’t just get our customers to “show [us] the money,” but use the technologies available to us to provide value, earn trust and build relationships—ultimately opening more doors. We can use technology to offer better products, better service, better lead-times, better quality, and more. Let’s do it.


Dave Vermeuelen

David Vermeulen

David Vermeulen is the North America Sales Director at Technical Glass Products (TGP), a division of Allegion that supplies fire-rated glass and framing systems, and other specialty architectural glazing. Contact him at 800/426-0279.