Volume 37, Issue 9, September 2002

FromtheFabricator

Good News and Bad News
Timing of Price Increase Dominates Bad News
by Max Perilstein

As Iím clearing off my desk, I thought Iíd talk about some of the wild events of the past few months Ö 

After being extremely honored to be on the list of most influential people in our industry (see July USGlass, page 50), I did the talk-show circuit and had a blast. Doing the ďRegis & KellyĒ show sure was fun! Now, itís back to work with big issues all around.

Bad Timing for Price Increase
In June, the primary glass manufacturers came out with a price increase, and while there is seemingly no good time to have an increase, the timing of this one was brutal. For a lot of the country business was slow, the economy limping, the stock market ravaged, yet our industry picks this time to raise prices. Ironically, soon after the increases were announced two manufacturers pointed to line problems and other issues as the reason for the raise. However, some of the problems cropped up after the letters went out, once again hurting the legitimacy of the campaign. 

Now donít get me wrong, if we can get more money for our products Iím thrilled, I just think that the timing on this was off. The manufacturers have costs and they are rising like all of ours are, but the increases in our industry usually come off as clumsy due to back-room deals. The timing of this increase made it even worse. Yes, Iíve beaten this drum before and while I have landed on the side of the manufacturers in the past, this time Iím on the other side. If their increases come on the heels of their problems, itís a different story. 

The flip side of this whole thing is that it seems we are being introduced to even more new products everyday. While having choices is wonderful and some of the technology is downright stunning, my biggest fear is that the fabricators may not be well-enough- equipped, either equipment-wise or people-wise, to run these products successfully. New low-Eís and reflectives just canít be cut and thrown down the line, through the oven and insulating line and out the door. It takes adjustments, preparation and experience. So while we are all excited about the amazing possibilities out there Iím hopeful we can walk before we run, process the products right the first time and not have our technical people all over the country trying to deal with problems. I think the manufacturers are committed to this with their various certification/app-roved/favored fabricator programs and hopefully they will do whatever it takes to make sure these new items can be run efficiently and correctly.

Great Customer Service Story
On a positive note, I recently encountered amazing customer service and would like to give the company and its employees their due. Steve Cohen and the gang at Schott Glass went above and beyond trying to help one of my customers with an odd request. I contacted Schott through its website and truly was amazed at the reaction I got. They responded with e-mails and information from two different angles and followed up accordingly. The web portion of customer service has had a reputation for being slow, weak, unaccountable, but with its quick and strong response, Schott Glass is proving the naysayers wrong. 

Amazing Recovery 
Lastly, it has been awhile since the amazing recovery of the Pennsylvania coal miners. The nine men trapped underground, in a 4-foot-high space, submerged in icy water was truly miraculous. It is just another example of perspective: when we think we are at the bottom or a job has gone badly, it will never be like the conditions those men faced. Our country needed an uplifting, happy story amid the horrible stories that litter our news everyday. Heck, if those guys can survive conditions like that we, as an industry and as people, can beat 
anything. 

 

PERILSTEIN Max Perilstein is vice president/general manager of PDC Glass of Michigan. His column appears bimonthly.


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