Volume 41, Issue 11 - November 2006

theBUSINESS

A Christmas List – 2006

by Lyle R. Hill

Several years ago … I think it was either 1993 or perhaps 1994 … I publicly shared what I referred to as “My Christmas List for the Glass Industry.” It was not particularly well received. In fact, the only calls I got about it were from people who called to pretty much tell me to mind my own business. Because I am much more sensitive than anyone would ever imagine, I have stayed away from this type a thing for several years. But a couple of weeks ago, an old friend asked me to help him pick out an appropriate gift to send to his banker who had just dashed his hopes of making what he thought was a timely, appropriate and yet not-too-risky acquisition. My friend felt that the acquisition would strengthen his supply chain, while also making his existing operation much more efficient. His banker turned him down, but never actually gave him a solid reason why. The banker told him only that they were worried about the economy going into the New Year and that the timing was not good. My friend had been with this bank for 17 years. I told him that I thought the only appropriate gift would be a letter to the bank saying he had found a new bank.

While we were talking, we also started bantering a bit about what gifts might be appropriate for other people with whom we deal … not just the bankers. So, not being able to resist and always in need of column material, I’m gonna try this one more time.

For our health insurance providers … prosperity even beyond their imaginations so they won’t have to go on endlessly raising prices. And can someone explain to me how an industry gets away with double-digit price increases year after year?

For our customers … the ability to differentiate between price and value. Some get it, but most do not.

For our elected officials … a change of heart and attitude. Like most, my opinion of them has reached an all-time low. 

For the consulting community … a reality check! It’s not that some of what they say doesn’t make sense, but to actually have the nerve to charge money for a lot of the amateurish nonsense they throw out is almost obnoxious.

For our glass suppliers … the courage to break free from the frustrating and addictive drug known as the energy surcharge. The last couple of years should have been good for you … isn’t it now time to figure out what your costs really are and like other grown-up industries put out price schedules that are understandable and reliable? Or, is the whole energy surcharge game an even bigger moneymaker than we realize?

 For our metal suppliers ... continued improvement in the year ahead. It’s getting better so let’s not lose momentum. There are, however, a few of you who really should take up another line of work altogether.

 For our architects … a dose of commonsense and some concern for the people who pay their bills. Why continue to insist on costly, hard-to-service-or-replace products when better alternatives are available? Some of you also need to get up-to-date … some of the stuff you continue to draw and specify hasn’t been made for more than 20 years.

For our contact glaziers … survival. A comparison of a list of the industry’s top 25 glazing contractors from 15 years ago to today’s top 25 indicates that only seven are still hanging in there. That’s a 72 percent failure rate.
For the glass industry in general … a renewed call for meaningful educational and training programs that will address all areas of the business. It’s getting worse, not better.

For the world … peace! I know, but let me dream a little anyway. 

the author
Lyle R. Hill is president of MTH Industries of Chicago.
lhill@mthindustries.com

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