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Prepare for What's Next

If 2020 taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected—to learn to thrive despite uncertainty and find opportunity in the face of extraordinary challenges. Economic forecasters project an uneven and unstable recovery in 2021, while acknowledging that continued uncertainty will present additional and perhaps unknown challenges. 

So, how can glass companies prepare for what’s next? I asked some of Glass Magazine’s expert contributors to weigh in, and they offered insights on everything from legal and contract best practices to labor concerns. 

How to meet this year's challenges

1. Maintain flexibility

Matt Johnson, Gary Law Group

Delays are a big concern; full cancellations less so. I am telling clients that flexibility remains a key operating dynamic for 2021. It appears that markets and regions will respond and restart unequally, regardless of vaccine accessibility. Flexibility will be a business-essential to managing risks that will appear with shifting labor, materials, lockdowns, and compliance requirements throughout the coming year. 

Project addenda were added to many contracts in 2020 to address performance, payment, and excuse due to COVID-19. Refining those terms in new and coming agreements may help ensure financial and performance flexibility, and likely prove among the most essential project-risk mitigation points in 2021.

2. Find opportunities for savings and growth

Marco Terry, Commercial Capital LLC

Deploy efficiency improvements that can lead to savings, better services, and higher client satisfaction. And keep a careful watch on your company’s finances. Make sure your credit and collections departments are running smoothly. 

Look for organic growth opportunities by either expanding services, deploying new lines of business, or considering projects outside your area of comfort. These efforts can also help diversify your revenue base, which improves financial stability. Additionally, recessions provide growth opportunities through mergers with other companies or outright acquisitions. 

3. Keep up communications

Max Perilstein, Sole Source Consultants

We will still be virtual for a while, so don’t lose sight of best practices that you may have installed at the start of the pandemic: ramped-up networking, an optimized website, and social media (if you use it) tuned up for maximum brand exposure. 

Proactive communication is a major key during challenging times. Those who do it best at each step of the process will reap the benefits during the tough times and be best positioned as we emerge out of it all.

4. Strategically address labor variability 

Joe Erb, Quanex Building Products

From a business perspective, I think successful companies will shift from the “firefighting” we saw in 2020, in immediate response to the pandemic and the associated labor challenges, to something more strategic. Implementing durable, high-performance products and production strategies that are less impacted by labor variability can help drive more dollars to the bottom line. Evaluating our responses to 2020 disruptions, reassessing, and then implementing solutions to become more resilient to future disruptions like COVID will be key. 

5. Collaborate with industry partners

Tim Finley, T.Fin Building Solutions

Installer/vendor relationships matter. As more competition arrives to chase the same work, the value created together is key. How can you approach a given key project together to make sure you have all aspects covered, identified the pros and cons and put your best proposal forward? Pricing is always going to be a topic, especially now. So, together, how can you arrive at the best solution? 


Katy Devlin

Katy Devlin

Katy Devlin is content director for the National Glass Association and editor in chief of Glass Magazine. E-mail Katy at