Friday, April 28, 2017

Building the Image

As many in our industry gathered in Orlando for the AIA show my thoughts wandered over to a subject that I have covered a few times here- the seemingly age old question of how to attract more people to our industry.  It frustrates me to no end that young people would rather have a dead end job in a gigantic company than an opportunity to learn and grow in an industry that would truly embrace them.  Evidently we are not alone in dealing with this issue as the US Chamber of Commerce is touring the country and having “listening” sessions with different business leaders to get ideas on how to make skilled trades and the less popular industry segments one that can attract the work force they need to survive and thrive.  Ideas that have come from some of these sessions include promotional campaigns from an industry standpoint and public demonstrations (at malls and other busy retail areas) of what the industries are about.  So two things to consider here… 1- We as an industry need to come together and build a campaign to promote ourselves and all the good that we do.  Hopefully the talks with NGA and GANA lead to an agreement because one strong voice there would surely help.  2- Other industries are stepping up, so not only will we be competing with the “sexy” businesses but also other trades similar to ours.  I will be curious what the US Chamber reports back when their tour is done and if anything of relevance comes out I’ll surely break it out here.   In the meantime, we need to consider the situation and be prepared to do what we can to attract the next generation of people to us.

Elsewhere….

--  The AIA show… I’ll have some more thoughts on next post as with when I am writing this I have not gotten a lot of feedback in yet.  It looked busy and loud (Guardian did a great periscope of a presentation but the music from a booth nearby was blaring) I will note it is always interesting to see which glass and glazing companies exhibit there.  Some make sense and quite frankly some do not.  But the dogged desire to get to see a real, live, breathing, architect in the flesh for 12 seconds can be pretty tough to pass up….ha ha.

--  The latest Glass Magazine review…this is the issue that has the guide to specifications that I mentioned last week.  That is outstanding.  Some other pieces to surely read.  Good reminder/best practices article from Marco Terry on “Seven Tricks to Improve Cash Flow.”  I am a fan of Pete de Gorter and he has a very level headed look at steps to take when buying equipment.  I think that is very relevant since it feels like everyone in the industry right now is looking or buying some sort of equipment.  And as always whenever Joe Schiavone of CRL writes, I’m reading it- this issue he broke down the Florida Building Code and Impact products.  So there’s all of that and much more… check it out!

--  Best ad of the month was a tough one… but I am going with Sage Glass as I thought they took an interesting approach with their ad.  Usually the dynamic guys focus on the product and what it does, but this ad was about the installation.  Different focus and it made me stop and read.  Kudos to the gang there!

--  Last this week…. The news that ESPN was letting go more than 100 people was all over social media during the week.  There were many theories on ESPN making major cuts but the biggest one that people rarely mentioned was that network got too fat.  Too many people, too many ventures, the focus was all over the place.  We see it in our industry all the time, when times are good people sometime expand for expansion sake and not with a plan.  We should always be challenging everything we do and if we diversify its with a plan and approach in mind.  I think that’s where ESPN lost its way and quite frankly they may still have more cutting to go…

LINKS of the WEEK

Searching for a hermit.  Seriously.  They exist I guess.

Nice story- hopefully this young man continues to prove the doubters wrong!

Fun one- mascot comes through in the clutch!

VIDEO of the WEEK

One in a million sort of shot here… puck goes through the slight opening in the glass!


Friday, April 21, 2017

Missing AIA

This coming week is the annual AIA show and for the first time in a while I will not be attending.  My times at that event have lessened over the years but I still liked to go to see what was new and get a feel for the attitude on the floor.  So since I won’t be there I ask you, my loyal readers, to please drop me a line and let me know what you thought of the event and if there was anything there that was newsworthy.  I truly appreciate the help!

Elsewhere…

--  The latest Architectural Billings Index finished the first quarter with a major flourish.  The index came in at 54.3 which is a massive score in the scheme of the way they track things.  So the enthusiasm and the action coming from the architectural community is obviously on a roll right now.  Let’s keep riding that train….

--  Speaking of architects, Glass Magazine has an incredible online guide to “Glazing Specifications” and I think its one of the best things that talented team there has ever done.  There is an entire in-depth 6 part series of documents and I am still going through them but I wanted to point out their “Glass and Metals 201” as agreat example of the sort of information and insight at your fingertips.  Carve out some time (like I am) to check them all out.

--  And one more Glass Magazine related note… the most prestigious honors that our industry has- the Glass Magazine Awards are back again and the process for submittals in several categories is now open.  There are some very interesting categories that will surely bring a lot of great recognition to deserving companies & people.  So please take a look and get your submittals in!

--  Last week on the Glassblog a new writer made his debut.  Gareth Francey of Bohle America had his first posting and I thought it was an excellent piece.  Welcome to the wild and wonderful world of blogging Gareth!

--  Congrats to Brad Thurman on his move to GGI.  I have known Brad a very long time and he’s one of the most intelligent guys in our industry.  He’s a super person and he’ll be great in his new position there for sure….

--  I am not a New York City type of guy at all- but I do really admire the constant pace of construction there and the basic evolution.  One example is what they have done with Times Square.  Making it a pedestrian only area was obviously a brilliant idea and this link gives you a ton of before an after shots.  If you look hard enough you can see one of the coolest items at Times Square, the Ruby Red glass stairs at TKTS that the fine folks at Walker Glass and AGNORA worked on.  As a glass geek- that’s surely a favorite for me.

--  Last this week I read an article recently that noted 3D printers are able to make glass.  Right now they do it with some form of liquid that can be shaped into very intricate things.  I think we are safe on the traditional flat glass side- I don’t see 3D printers making high performance Low E any time soon… but my goodness anything seems possible anymore….

LINKS of the WEEK

This story is a great marketing case study- when what looks to be a neat idea really goes off the rails.  

This is why I am a dog guy- they are too chill to try and figure out what’s going on.  Cats on the other hand….

I’m not a “juicer” guy so maybe $400 is normal for one?  I just couldn’t imagine spending that much on it

VIDEO of the WEEK

The next edition in the Star Wars movies series is coming this December… and the trailer just came out… here it is… and even if you don’t like the films the music should give you chills!


Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Freedom of Disconnection

Getting disconnected from the world is something I never thought I would do.  I am pretty positive that I have been consistently around some sort of internet connection since 1994. Even when traveling overseas I always found a way to get online.  Even slow, crummy internet is better than no internet.  Well last week I went off the grid for 2 days.  No internet.  At all.  And it was glorious.  I really enjoyed being free.  Though I will admit two things were tough to get through.  One was I am still massive sports fanatic.  So not being able to know what happened in the NHL or NBA each night was painful.  The other was that habit that I bet many of us has.  A comment would come up about a music star or a trivia question and the normal reflex is grabbing the phone and hitting Google.  Not having that was a challenge but easier to deal with than lack of scores!  In any case I enjoyed my 48 hours without e-mails or texts.  I’ll have to try it again sometime!

Elsewhere…

--  Speaking of being connected, social media is always a big piece for me and I want to give props this week to the folks at Burhans Glass.  They have done something that I have not seen a lot of online even though it’s a great medium for what we do.  They are on and all over Instagram.  For most of the industry it is Twitter and Facebook, but I have not seen many folks jump deep into Instagram.  Burhans has and they’ve done a nice job.  Kudos to them!  If you are on Instagram and posting job pictures drop me a line- I’d love to follow.  Instagram is still not a dominant place for B2B and still growing B2C but the potential is there because of the emphasis on the visual. 

--  One more note on social media… One area where I really like Twitter?  Saturday morning, back to back tweets from John Wheaton and Garret Henson with interesting links on a project and a massive Florida development.  It’s that insight and knowledge that I would probably miss otherwise.

--  See I disconnect for 2 days and half of my return blog is internet related… scary!

--  The Dodge Momentum Index continued positive with its 6th straight winning month.  Institutional work continues to lead the way there.  If there is any concern from this months results its softening commercial numbers.  Still positive but weakening.  So that is one area to keep an eye on.

--  Congrats to the folks at Vitro for their work with water reclamation.  The story that came out that broke down what they are doing at their Wichita Falls, Texas facility is really great stuff.  Efforts like that don’t usually get enough pub.

--  I know a lot of people in the industry were involved with the new basketball arena in Sacramento.  I ran across this article that did a great job of looking at the design and thought behind it.  Really good insight.

Last this week- I had run a story recently on a crazy expensive wedding that ended up NOT happening.  Well my pal Chuck Knickerbocker from TGP (also an amazing blogger in his own right) sent me this note about a wedding that DID happen and showed a positive tale of wedding planning and awesome execution.  

LINKS of the WEEK

A 2nd death recently from food eating contests.  So sad. 

My daughter Natalie was a terrible baby sleeper.  If this new awesome crib was around then, I woulda paid any amount for it…
  
Good for these kid journalists.  I hope they eventually stay the course become true “Big J’s” because we certainly need them.

VIDEO of the WEEK

Fun and light (don’t we all need that some times) a cockatoo and owner play a classic kids game…








Sunday, April 02, 2017

Workforce Worries

In the last few weeks I have hit some heavy topics here including what an architect wants, project management, and retrofits.  So I’ll continue on the path of importance starting this post with a look at a very scary prospect- the dwindling construction labor force.  An executive at Turner Construction testified in front of congress this week that construction levels are back to the 2007 boom… BUT… we are 100,000 workers short of where were then.  That number is staggering.  It was noted that younger folks do not have interest in the trades and the older workers are transitioning out.  Obviously this is not new news for most of us.  We all know how challenging the market is right now, but seeing the numbers is jarring. 
There is no magic formula for slowing this negative trend either.  Attracting skilled (or at least willing to be trained) youth to come into construction is a monumental task.  We as an industry need to figure this out as well…. I’ll be curious to see if this talk in front of congress spurs any development or support of programs to help. 

Elsewhere….

--  One area that can help with employment and attraction?  Understanding you’re the employee.  And a great speaker on that subject is coming back to GlassBuild America this fall. Cam Marston will be the keynote speaker and his last stint in this role in 2015 still has people who saw it buzzing.  His topic on the multi generational workforce is interesting, appropriate and needed.  Make sure you don’t miss this.

--  April is here and a yearly tradition is coming up soon… the Mid Atlantic Glass Associations MGA Glass Expo takes place April 19th in Greenbelt, MD.  This is show number 30 for the MGA and every year it brings people from the region together to learn and network.

--  My post on what architects want did quite well… Obviously it’s a subject that people are determined to learn on what they can do.  So in that light check out this link from my friend Colin Gilboy at 4Specs.com.  It is loaded with great insight and direction.  Check it out.

--  And obviously the team at SC Railing jumped on the approach of educating architects with a great case study.  I love this sort of stuff, though I will be the first to admit I don’t understand a lot of it.  (I’m not the audience they want to impress!) I admire the heck out of companies that take the time and resources to create in-depth pieces.  JE Berkowitz, Quanex, and W&W Glass are among the folks that also come to mind when it comes to studies like these..

--  So the “hot” colors for 2018… yes 2018…. are now out.  Thanks to the twitter feed of Conners Sales Group (@ConnersSales) you can see it now a whole 9 months before the new year hits!

--  Last this week… a scheduling heads up…no post coming next week, so you are saved from me preaching about some major issue affecting our world.  I’ll be back in this space the week of 4/16.  Unless big news breaks… which I keep expecting but seemingly never does….

LINKS of the WEEK

I gotta imagine this is an effective way to slow speeders…

A real Sharknado.  Seriously.

I read about this one a while ago and it came up again… I just can’t fathom the money and the whole deal here.

VIDEO of the WEEK

Funny and irreverent show… Silicon Valley back with a new season later this month… here’s the trailer…


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Awesome Retrofit

One of the big issues we face energy wise is old, energy sucking buildings.  Structures that were built before quality materials became available or mainstream.  I am confident that every new building that goes up at least pays some mind to energy efficiency (would like more, but I will take what I can get- for now) but we need to make sure old buildings get brought up to speed.  One such structure I read about recently is in Rhode Island and major congratulations are due to everyone involved.  This was a building that was originally constructed in 1973 and it was that classic concrete bunker look.  The building sat empty for many years until a smart developer jumped in and decided it was time to rehab the structure.  By gutting the inside and outside, the work done to it was absolutely transformational- so much so that the building achieved LEED Gold status.  Simply amazing.  And proof it can be done.  The project was 1301 Atwood inJohnston, Rhode Island and if you supplied or installed material on it, drop me a line- I would love to hear more about your experience and even share it with my readers.  Anyway at the end of the day we need to do this more and more- get old buildings renewed and energy smart- it’s good for our planet and obviously our industry.

Elsewhere…

--  A big deal in the industry this week with SAAND purchasing Guardian’s Webster, MA fab facility.  The guys at SAAND are sharp folks and they continue to make very savvy moves.  In the long run this will really be a nice acquisition for them.

--  It was very busy week deal wise- Greco Railings, Chelsea Building, Atlanta Commercial Glazing and 2 UK based Pilkington factories all changed hands.  And folks there’s a few more to come.  We are certainly in transaction season. 

--  The Architectural Billings Index bounced back in February finishing above the break-even line at 50.7.  Even better the new project inquiry index was its best mark in more than 2 years.  So some very positive reporting this month from the ABI world- I have to assume the big run on Wall Street may have had something to do with the new project trend- I guess we will see. 

--  Want to read a fantastic piece on commercialization?  Check this one out… really required reading for everyone trying to build a product line.

--  I can’t believe this is my last blog of March.  1Q is done.  2017 is absolutely moving way too fast.  I swear I think I am going to blink my eyes and I’ll already be at GlassBuild.

Last this week… I am absolutely humbled to announce I will be speaking at the Texas Glass Association’s “Glasscon 17” event in May.  I love speaking to groups like the TGA and I am excited that the TGA is really working hard to build a great event for their members.  So if you can get to Waco on May 19th, I’d love to see you there.  Plus you’ll also hear from Nicole Harris, the President of the National Glass Association, Yuwadee Senamontree of Guardian, David Linhart of Vitro, and one of my all time favorite speakers, the legend Greg Oehlers of TriStar.  The theme of the overall session is “Improving the Future Together” and I think that really is appropriate.  We really need to be working together to bring the best insight and education to our industry to keep moving it forward.  Learn more by clicking HERE.

LINKS of the WEEK

How in the world does this happen?

So help me out here- I think this guy got what he deserved right?

Heads up- yet another scam to be aware of….

VIDEO of the WEEK

As some of you know I am involved with a wonderful charity called the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes.  It is run by former NGA VP David Walker and it does amazing things for our veterans.  So for the video this week- a look inside this charity from the folks behind.  If you are in a charitable mood, please consider donating to this group- great people who are really doing a lot of life saving things.