Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Which way is the wind blowing?

For months now I have hammered the notion that economy is shaky… in shambles… a mess… but is it really? Lately I am getting conflicting signals, hearing that people are swamped and backlogs for 08 are solid. In fact even on the USGNN message board, people have noted that they’re busy and all is well. So what is it? Good or Bad? My take is that it’s both and it depends on your mix, your market, and your strategy going forward. Obviously if you are in residential it is ugly… though even a handful of those guys are holding their own… but the majority are not. If you are just a laminated supplier, then your probably feeling pain since there’s more laminated capacity than there are orders. If you are a commercial player that deals in larger projects, you are one of the lucky ones.. whether its glazier or supplier, that business is still solid and points to be that way for a while. Bottom line though is all of the major economic factors are still trending downward… the nervousness of the Fed is not a good sign, and quite frankly we’re due for a downer sort of cycle.

Elsewhere….

-- How do you know times are tough? When glaziers and suppliers leave their home markets and go thousands of miles away to do jobs. Seeing that all over… and some of the glaziers are very good friends of mine and they are doing what needs to be done to keep busy… but I do worry that is a scary slope to be on. As for the supply side, it’s never easy to do work from far, far away… but lately lots of people are trying and good luck to them cause its an adventure….

-- I have to admit the Hannah Montana movie was actually good. Yes it really was. Disney is brilliant and that girl is extremely talented…. My goodness any street cred I had in this industry just disappeared with the above lines….

-- The ambulance chase continues as I hear more and more people being pressed by lawyers to file suit against the primary manufacturers. I got a copy of an e-mail making the rounds trying to bait folks into jumping into the fray. It really is amazing… I wonder if these ambulance chasers really realize that they folks in North America are not going to take this lying down… that they won’t get cash because they think this is just like Europe… And like I said last week it’s a huge waste of resources that will eventually costs us a lot more than people realize.

-- The New York Times is reporting that thanks to inflation the communist Chinese now have to increase prices of their export material… So could the days of people buying glass and aluminum for the lowest prices imaginable will be ending??? Not likely since most Chinese companies are desperate to get material here and will and HAVE given it away basically… so even if they raise prices 20% they’ll probably be 20% low still… the thing that will slow the tide is the quality issue… poor quality, bad service, and Nickel Sulfide (they have it in bunches compared to microscopic amounts in Western style floats) will be among the factors… and so will the fact that you have no legal rights or remedies when you buy from them… so as always.. Buyer beware…

-- Great Super Bowl and congrats to the Giants… Also props to the many folks who pulled off bets on the G-Men… a glazier I know in Vegas made a small fortune on the G-Men and I hope that he’ll be in a treating mood come BEC….

-- Speaking of BEC… just a few weeks away… and the anticipation is really over the top. Man what a great event that will be!

-- And speaking of GANA… please all… Take the time to do this survey for the Decorative division…. That division has great leadership and vision and they want to be the best possible group they can be. CLICK HERE for the survey… it won’t take a ton of time and you will be doing your part to help out.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Max,
Yesterday, I contacted three major curtainwall manufacturers to see if they were able to help discuss a custom wall job with an architect that would be starting in late 2008. They all reported they were booked through 2009.

Max Perilstein said...

Right Mix, Right Markets... thats obviously a great sign... there's no doubt that amongst the gloom and doom there are people doing very well.

Thanks for the heads up and taking the time to post!

Anonymous said...

Max,
I think you hit it right, the major curtain wall contractors are very busy. The projects in their line of sight are awarded based upon design intent and not full blown multiple bidding wars. The shortage in 2008 is not glass and metal, it's capable glazing contractors and engineering. Old school general contractors will pay dearly for this as they have lost touch with the marketplace. Suppliers will be challenged to assist small contractors that have been pulled upstream to tackle these high $$ projects. It will be a very interesting 2008.

The smaller project market has plenty of capacity and thus lower margins everywhere. The hurdle for all of us is to keep our heads on straight and not bite on the "this is the last best project" and "I have to have this one" mentality.

P. Ptolemy said...

We see the same thing. Smaller contractors are getting involved in bigger more technical projects. We (Tecniglas) supply technical glass products (like fire-rated glazing) to glaziers of all sizes and we are finding that more of them are coming to us with glass projects that can be quite technical. We're happy to provide these guys with whatever technical support they need to complete the job. Training is something we support because as an industry we must make sure that are enough people with the skills to implement all these great projects. Nothing happens without a skilled and knowledgeable glazier. -Pat http://www.tecniglas.com