Sunday, March 19, 2017

Adventures in Modern Project Managing

Last month I was very lucky to be involved in a panel that featured 4 incredible glazing contractors from 4 of the best companies in our industry.  It was during that time that I learned even more about what the day-to-day adventures are for the glazing contractor in the fast paced world we currently live in.  That session really opened my eyes to challenges I did not know even existed.  So this week when I attended a webinar that featured the 37th Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study I was more in-tune than I would’ve been before my session back in February.   The big takeaway I wanted to share from the study was a poll that ran down the “Top Project Management Challenges” and based on what I knew and recently learned, I don’t think anyone will be surprised. Here are some of the big ones.

  • Competing priorities including project management, design, business etc.
  • Inexperienced people up and down the chain
  • Communication
  • Schedule viability
  • Poorly defined scope
  • Accurate project cost and timeline forecasting

I would assume everyone who either manages projects right now or has a staff that does it are nodding their heads right now.  So it’s good we know about the issues, but what in the world can we do about them? That’s a session I’d love to attend if it ever happens!!

Elsewhere…

--  Time for the monthly review of Glass Magazine and this is an issue very close to my heart because at the core of my being, I am a fabricator and this is the annual “Top Glass Fabricator” edition.  Tremendous reading and resource overall and major kudos to everyone listed- so many great organizations doing significant things in our world.   Please take some time to check it out and a tip of the cap to Bethany Stough and the team that pulled this thing together.  That much info is NOT easy to make sense of and they really knocked it out of the park.  

--  Aside from the fabricator coverage there was also another article I want to point out.  The “Succession through Hardship” piece about the family business and the transfer that follows through death, illness etc.  Obviously this is another one that I get from a personal level as well.  Interesting and heart wrenching stories for me but also very inspirational on how people dealt with it and moved positively forward into the future.  

--  The ad of the month was a tough one- a lot of very good ones and many new entries thanks most likely to the fabricator heavy coverage.  Was great to see ads from people I had never seen previously like Woonsocket, GlassFab, Glass Vice and others.  But my winner for this month is SC Railing.  I think the pictures they chose made sense.  I also thought the extra white space worked and I am usually not a fan of that style but in this case it was a winning look.  Congrats SC Railing team…

--  There was an update this week on the joint meetings between the Glass Association of North America (GANA) and the National Glass Association (NGA) and basically things continue to head down an encouraging path.  That is great to see and the feedback I am getting continues to be extremely positive.  The desire for a streamlined, focused approach is something that we all need in our world right now.

--  Last this week…  GANA wrapped up their Annual Conference last week and announced their various members of the year and also the Greg Carney Member of the Year Award. 
From GANA: 

2017 Division Award Recipients were nominated by their peers based on leadership and volunteerism with regard to their activities within the respective Division in the past year.
  • BEC Division: Jeff Haber – W&W Glass Company
  • Decorative Division: Marc Deschamps – Walker Glass Co., Ltd.
  • Energy Division: Sarah Sinusas – Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates
  • Insulating Division: Jeff Haberer – Trulite Glass & Aluminum
  • Laminating Division: Julia Schimmelpenningh – Eastman Chemical Company
  • Tempering Division: Steve Marino – Vitro Architectural Glass
  • C.G. Carney Member of the Year: Stanley Yee- Dow Corning Corporation

Everyone who was honored richly deserved the nods- great people who truly give of themselves as volunteers to the industry.  But I am so happy that Greg’s name continues to live on in the form of this award.  Such a great man that was taken from his family and us way too soon. 

LINKS of the WEEK

This story was an interesting one- lack of Uber and Lyft in Austin rankles the elite… and shows other issues.


Is there a thing possible as a balanced media diet?  No way. 

VIDEO of the WEEK

AMAZING slo mo video of a train bursting through snow… not sure why the clueless people on the stage just waited there- they had to know the snow was going to somewhere….




Sunday, March 12, 2017

What Architects Really Want

One thing that many in this industry absolutely covet beyond anything else is interaction with architects.  Obviously it makes sense on many levels because the architect can surely make a difference in the advancement of your product and services.  Bit even with all of the working of this group- do we know what they want?  Well this week, I finally got an idea after finally seeing AIA’s excellent study on the “Journey to Specification.”  One of the main keys was education and I think we all knew that- but it was the specific breakdown of the learning needs that were interesting.  Evidently a majority of the respondents want their education in shorter and more creative and coherent bursts and they want it without a sales spin.  So basically quick hits from a technical guy or engineer is the preferred method.  And they also want the ability to take advantage of apps/technology that supply the education in micro-style sessions like CEStrong (that several industry companies use) that still offer the necessary CEU’s they want/need, while getting their education in small bites.  I think the traditional “lunch n learn” will always be there and needed but I think we all know its not the most effective vehicle. 
Another point made… Architects want better website layouts from the manufacturers.  This is an area I fight and lose daily with manufacturers- so maybe seeing a survey like this will open some eyes… but anyway what the architects want is a site that breaks down the supply process in areas such as design stage, specification stage, and review and approval stage.   I believe this issue here for many companies is that they get caught up in the minutia of the site look  and they completely miss the layout (optimized best for user) and content. 
There were many other items but these to me were the highlights.  At the end of the day we can do all of what the architect wants- still getting them to spend the time, even how minimal will always be a challenge.  But at least we know some of the keys they are currently after.

Elsewhere…

--  Alex Carrick, the Chief Economist for Construct Connect is one of the best follows on twitter.  There are always a few pieces to keep you informed on the economy and forecasts.  One example was a link to his blog on one of my favorite indicators to follow- the “put in place” spending study.  The details are a bit concerning as its showing some weakness out there on the non residential side.  When I see words like “softening” and “backsliding” it makes my stomach turn.  This is surely one to continue to monitor.

--  A few weeks ago I mentioned that “Measure S” in Southern California was up for vote and there was quite a bit of debate on it.  The voters now have spoken, defeating the measure significantly- at almost a 2-to1 margin.  (though voter turnout may have been amongst the lowest ever there)  Developers seemingly are the big winner on this one but from everything I read and heard on it, there’s still great need to get the area up to speed with planning, zoning, and codes.

--  The designs and plans are coming out for the new Los Angeles Rams stadium and this is one for my façade geeks out there.  They are promoting a breathable façade that will respond to the climate so the need for HVAC won’t be there.  Hmmm.  I am not smart enough to compute that.  Here’s the article- interesting stuff.

--  From the how far we have come files… the Apple II computer came out in this month of 1987 and sold for $7000.  That would be like $15,000 in today’s dollars.  There is no question that part of the world has made incredible advancements.

--  Last this week- I failed to mention last week that the amazing show “The Americans” is back.  If you have not seen it- start at season 1 and go from there.  The show will end in 2018, so conclusions are coming…

LINKS of the WEEK

This is a depressing blow to the solar community in the UK…

This would be huge- but I am not holding my breath.  Breakthroughs on medicine seemingly never happen.

This is justice… carjacker hopefully thrown in jail for a long time.

VIDEO of the WEEK

So I tweeted this one out… this was simply the funniest thing of the week.  And anyone who has worked from home has had this happen.  By the way the little girl and her swagger while walking in is the best.


Sunday, March 05, 2017

Disruption to the Process

Do you ever wonder if some of the tried and true ways of doing things will ever get disrupted?  A few years ago a speaker at GlassBuild America brought up the possibility of “leasing” the building products installed into buildings.  Presumably allowing the payments to be spread differently and if necessary opening that area up for upgrades.  Obviously that’s MUCH easier said than done and that was the last I have heard of that.  Recently another approach started to gain steam- breaking the traditional funding of buildings from the bank model to a crowd funded one.  Crowd funding or crowd sourcing is a popular way to get things going in different parts of our world- especially on the entrepreneurial side.   But a building investment?  That’s surely a different game.  Yet it is happening and you start to wonder could this be a true way of getting structures built- and if so how will it change our approach on the building product side- if at all.  I’m curious if anyone has had to work on a project like this and if there were any noticeable differences….

Elsewhere…

--  So a new thing that happened to me for the first time in all my years of travel… through tons and tons of nights away… I was a part of a hotel evacuation.  Not a fire drill and return to the room, but an actual evacuation.  Oh and all of it with no power too.  So the hotel I was at lost electricity around 10PM.  It did not phase me- I don’t watch TV usually and had enough juice in my phone to use that as flashlight and for reading.  I fall asleep and all is well until 3AM when I hear loud banging on the door.  I’m thinking its gotta be for another room down the hall- someone drunk needing back in their room.  But the banging continues and then I hear “hotel management…open up” as well.  So I drag myself to the door and find the hotel manager and 3 firefighters.  They tell me hotel is being evacuated, everyone must go now.  And take everything with you….  Oh and the power is still out too… anyway you can only imagine the adventure from there.  Trying to gather everything while still trying to get my bearings etc.   I get it all together and go down to the lobby where I am told a room at a hotel a mile away is available for me.   So off I went… still amazed this was happening.  Made it to new hotel, checked in and got another hour of sleep before having to start my very tired day.  Evidently at the evacuated hotel they were thinking there was a gas leak so thus the urgency but I am not sure if anything ever was found.  But this was surely a first (and hopefully a last) for me.  

--  Interesting issue in Ohio where a bill going to the General Assembly there would give cities the right to decide if they want to pay prevailing wages on taxpayer funded projects.  So obviously if you are a glazier there this gets you one way or another. 

--  Use of wood in tall curtain walls had a few hits in the media this week.  Wood has always been a player on the residential window side and there’s been some folks pushing hard for timber curtain walls for commercial projects (large and small) but it’s been a true niche play really.  This blog post really dives deep and paints a picture for growth.  So I’m curious industry folks… what do you think?  Are timber curtain walls big players in our future?

--  If you have not seen the latest from the new Apple headquarters building, please check out my video of the week.  Good one for the glass and metal geeks out there.

--  Last this week- great tweet heads up from Thomas Lee of Lee & Cates Glass pointing out a story from Norway.  NRK a broadcaster there instituted a new commenting policy on their stories.  You now have to answer 3 questions about the story before you can comment on an article.  It’s meant to deter “trolls” from taking over the comment section.  Obviously trolling still will happen but hopefully with less frequency.

LINKS of the WEEK

--  The most bizarre sports story of the week- both teams trying to lose the game.

--   This story gets the range of emotions going- and go to the comments and get flared up again.  Bottom line, good work by a judge dealing with lack of respect…

--  This is insane- parents in North Carolina can decide to put their concussed kids back into the game if they want?  No.  Please no. 

VIDEO of the WEEK

The new Apple HQ are almost done and looking amazing.   The plan is to open to employees next month.  New video was just released… so for those of you who haven’t seen yet- check it out