Sunday, July 15, 2018

Positive Index

So last week I wrote about the expectations for a strong 2nd half of the year.  That post brought some reaction my way from a cross section of people.  Some have had solid years to date, and others who are hoping that my prediction here isn’t as bad as my sports ones.  So the positive news for all was that this week another metric came through to continue the push.  The Dodge Momentum Index was up yet again and it’s now nearing a 10-year high.   This is now 5 straight months on the plus side and while the increases on each report are not huge, they are still going in the right direction.  Now lets have that translate to the day to day for those that need it!

Elsewhere....

--  Attention glazing contractor friends… there is an excellent“Thirsty Thursday” webinar coming up on the 19th on the top 10 things to look for when negotiating glazing contracts.  This is presented by the NGA/GANA and it is members only- so if you are member sign up, if you’re not, you should be joining so you don’t miss incredible education like this.  The great Courtney Little of ACE Glass will be the presenter so you know this will be good!

--  Something I never thought of but found very cool?  The tallest buildings that were ever conventionally demolished.  Who knew someone kept such stats on this approach.  And I was surprised not seeing the one hotel in Las Vegas that was taken down a few years ago (the City Center one that never opened) on the list.  Interesting stuff! 

Big 3 interview Nathalie Thibault, Architectural Sales Director at Prelco.

One of the reasons I decided to do this series was to learn more from people smarter than me.  This week, that theme absolutely applies with Nathalie.  Her approach and intelligence are off the charts and as you’ll find out below, she’s always pushing for more. 

You are very active within the industry and the trade associations including major board positions now and in the past.  So you are very knowledgeable with our world, what do you think are some of the key challenges we face as an industry and how do we address them?

I believe the number one challenge that we are facing is the globalization of our industry.  We must adapt to various standards, higher expectations, worldwide competition and complex logistics.

The wide variety and complexity of products and their different combinations is also increasingly difficult to manage.  We see more and more combinations of various high-performance low-e, several layers of glass and patterns and colors on a single unit!  That complexity makes it very difficult to ensure consistency.  And, to add to this, the expectations on the required timeline for production are almost the same as if it were simple products.  That is why education to all stakeholders in the construction and glass industry should be our number one priority.

Another major challenge that we are facing is finding labor.  Knowledgeable resources are getting very scarce and manpower is also extremely difficult to find.  Our industry will need to work on attracting young and passionate professionals.

As I have told you in person, I have always been a fan of your company.  Prelco is very diverse with products and segments, so I am curious how do you stay focused when you are dealing with so many different worlds?

A company really needs a strong vision to be able to achieve that kind of diversification.  We had to look at our business model on a few occasions to realign our efforts and prioritize certain segments in which we operate.  Some segments are changing extremely fast as well, which requires us to adapt rapidly.  There were times where we had to abandon certain efforts in order to focus on the segments where we really wish to become real leaders.  However, I must say that, in the end, it is that same diversification that has benefited the company throughout the years and allowed it to get through slower economic cycles.

Did I read correctly that you are now studying for your MBA.  I am curious with all you already know in the business arena, what is driving you to get more education?

I have indeed begun my Master’s degree in Strategy and Innovation over a year ago.  I decided to pursue these studies because I felt that I needed to push my managing skills a notch further.  I believe that having a good theoretical understanding of today’s business environment is likely to provide me with the necessary tools to strategize and innovate appropriately in our rapidly changing world.  It has been a very interesting journey so far and it made me expand my horizons beyond the glass manufacturing sector.

LINKS of the WEEK

Incredible story- Hallmark Movie like

Somewhat hard to follow story that went viral but interesting none the less!

There is just one Blockbuster video left in the US… amazingfall from when they were everywhere… 

VIDEO of the WEEK

I posted this one on twitter and I can’t stop watching it…. It unreal to me that mistakes this gigantic could be made!


Sunday, July 08, 2018

Big Second Half Ahead

With the July holidays in the US and Canada now behind us, the 2nd half of the year can begin.  There have been some frustrating feelings out there as not everyone was as “swamped” as they expected to be in the first half of the year.  Some areas of North America stayed softer into the 2nd quarter vs. others, however that all looks like old news as work is seemingly breaking free all over.  So the expectations are very high for a very strong last half of 2018.  I think that’s what we all want so bring it on!

Elsewhere…

--  Time for the monthly Glass Magazine review… I am slightly behind, it’s the June issue featuring the MGM National Harbor on the cover.  Once again jammed packed with content led by the annual Top 50 Glaziers report.  I love looking at this list each year, so many good people, doing great work.  There’s also a fabulous GlassBuild America preview (get registered and bookyour hotel if you have not yet) and Bethany Stough continues to deliver extremely helpful articles on the workforce with yet another strong piece.  Last I am big fan of Matt Johnson of the Gary Law Group and he had a very smart article on “When to Call a Lawyer.”  All of this and much more,,,  Plus if you are headed on vacation soon, you could save it for pool or beach reading... you'll look like the smartest one there! 

--  Last before my interview this week- kudos to my friends at Trex Commercial Products (I still want to type SC Railing) on some of their amazing recent work.  I am a big fan of creativity with glass and what these folks did with the glass railing portions on the new soccer stadium in California was sharp.  Congrats on a job well done!

Big 3 Interview: Scott Rowe, Principal & Glass Geek at Rowe Fenestration

This was a really fun interview.  I only recently met Scott at the past GlassBuild America, so getting a chance to do this with him was very cool for me.  With just getting to know him, the more I follow Scott and his company the more impressed I get.   Manufacturers representatives can get a bad rap (some deserve it, believe me) but guys like Scott and his group surely do a fantastic job of making the companies they represent and our industry look good!

Did I read your profile right that you were a math major in college?  How did you end up in the glass world from there?

I actually ended up in the glass business well before college.

It was the summer of 1969, as a sophomore in high school I took a summer job at a tiny upstart glass company that was soon to move to my hometown in the Midwest. I started as a loader on the line and moved up to glass cutter, before automated cutting, stoce, and optimization. I moved through the plant working many of the stations - until the day that changed my life.

It was a hot humid corn belt kinda day in the factory. A group of five or six coolly sophisticated looking guys came in the side door. They wore pink and purple madras shirts, penny loafers with no socks, and were all sunburned. “Who are those guys?” I had to know. They were a couple of our customers and the sales guys after a day of fishing and golf. I knew in that moment that I wanted to be like them - their freedom, style of communication, and that footwear. I continued to work in the plant all through high school and during every college break. “Scotty, Bring a clean shirt, run to the airport to pick up our vendor/customer/architect.” Every opportunity presented brought me closer to connecting with people, talking to them, learning about them - and ultimately to sales. I started full time as a management trainee in 1975. But back to your original question - I did use my trigonometry knowledge to figure out the algorithm for the stretch factor on a vertically tong held tempering furnace using a slide rule.

You started your manufacturers rep firm in 2005, which was when things were rolling, but then the recession hit pretty quick after that- what kept you going and then eventually growing?

By 2005 I had been in the business over 30 years at many different levels of the industry and had the opportunity to learn from some great mentors. People are the core of our business, and I am fortunate to have been surrounded by an innovative and hardworking team, a brilliant business partner, and have the support of my incredibly smart and patient wife. Like many of us, we have the urgent need to eat, sleep out of the rain and cold, and support our families. When you are a small business you are not necessarily tied to national trends. With insight and effort we can influence and affect our own reality. We have built a small team of talented people from different backgrounds, and they are leading us to continued success as the world evolves.

A lot has obviously changed in the industry from when you started, is there anything specific (products, plants, people etc.) that make you laugh at the way things were vs. the way they are now?

Life is change. The technology of the products, the design, the process, the systems, the applications, and methods of communication have all changed greatly. The need for top quality, dependable, honest, and timely transactions and communication is as relevant as it has ever been. The speed with which things happen now is nearly in real-time. The days of the traditional library and catalogue are virtually gone - you need to have a digital footprint, social media and an online presence with a positive user experience. Technology facilitates these opportunities - as they say, “there’s an app for that.” Transition into this new world is vital.

Many of the “shazam” type products and organizations that we have expected to be over night phenomena take far longer to develop than first expected. I liken it to a Bonnie Raitt interview I heard the year she won Grammys in four categories - “How does it feel to be an overnight success?” She replied “Amazing, and it only took me 25 years.”

Our business has changed in many ways. We can now build better buildings with greater energy efficiency and more innovative design options as we continue to evolve toward net zero facilities. What has not changed is the need for humanity in the process. The need to develop understanding and a collaborative spirit between the ownership/design, the corporate manufacturing entities, the GC’s and the specialty subcontractors remains a vital challenge for a successful outcome.

Madras shirts are back (for some of us never gone). I still love fancy socks and a great pair of velvet shoes, but I do stay out of the sun now on advice of my dermatologist. I was able to do it, and I still love what I do. We truly respect and enjoy the culture of this wonderful industry, and are extremely fortunate to have the support of excellent vendor partners. We continue to get up every day to assist our customers as they work to complete successful projects.

LINKS of the WEEK

--  Back to the site of Woodstock and Archeologists are searching.  Will be interesting to see what they find!

--  There are people I just don’t understand… like those who want to pet a Lion….

--  Excellent news on the aftermath of a cruel ripoff of a 112 year old man

VIDEO of the WEEK

The World Cup has had some wonderful moments so far but the public is also having fun with all of the acting that comes with every foul.  This video does it perfectly!!