Contract Glaziers Speak Out: Are Lead Times Getting Longer?
While a strong economy and high demand for architectural/commercial products has been a boom to the industry, it has brought with it an unpleasant byproduct: longer lead times. Fabricators are stretched to capacity in many areas of the country and are scrambling to keep up, while glazing contractors must plan well into the future to accommodate for lead-time increases.
“The economy is strong, demand is high and lead times are getting longer,” says Rick Towner, project manager at Silicon Valley Glass, a mid-size glazing contractor serving the San Francisco Bay area. “Our customers want their orders sooner than they are getting them and so do we. All we can do at this point is stay on our manufacturers to make sure they don’t forget us.
Chris Frye, customer service manager for independent glass fabricator J.E. Berkowitz LP in Westville, N.J., says it is their goal to try to stay within a three- to four-week lead-time. “However, the increase in demand from our customers, along with large, monumental projects that are currently underway, have stretched out our insulating glass (IG) capacity,” explains Frye.
“At this time, we are out about five to six weeks for the standard products and about six to eight weeks out with the high-performance low-E or reflective glass, despite the fact that we have added additional capacity in anticipation of the peak season demands,” continues Frye. “The lead times are longer than we (and our customers) would like but they are realistic and less than our leading competitors. We have been able to maintain market-leading service in other areas, including monolithic tempered glass, by running our three ovens around the clock, six-days-a-week in order to provide a 24-hour to a four-day turnaround, depending upon the thickness of the glass.”
Craig Lusthoff, sales representative for Glass Professionals, an independent glass distributor based in Des Moines, Iowa, agrees.
“Lead times have increased in our area as well,” he says. “What normally would be a five-day turnaround time for standard products now takes between ten and 15 days. This is due to a very strong commercial market and an increase in large, time-sensitive (i.e., secondary and post-secondary educational facilities) projects in our area. We are beyond capacity and are doing what we can to increase production and improve our efficiency.”
“It all depends on what material you are looking at,” points out Ronald Kudla, president of Innovative Glazing Systems Inc., a mid-size glazing company that furnishes and installs custom and standard glass walls in the greater Lansdale, Pa., area. “We’re past the point of standard,” says Kudla, who works closely with architects and contractors to incorporate glass into building designs. “We are definitely seeing longer lead times especially in getting glass with soft coats. I don’t know where that’s coming from; if we’re still feeling the fallout from the closing of Interpane [in 2004] or if the industry is just that backlogged because of a strong market.”
“We’re starting to see a longer lead time with aluminum as well,” adds Kudla. “They [aluminum fabricators]
have their presses going 24/7. When you wait more than eight weeks for your order it makes it very difficult to work within the contractor’s schedule.”
“In southern Florida everything tends to move at a slower pace,” says New York native Michael Goldstein, president of Miami Glass & Mirror Co., a glazing contractor. “That goes for just about everything. In New York, when you are given a date when something is to be done, it’s done. It’s just a rule of thumb around here that no matter what timeframe anyone gives, you need to double it.
Terry Guentner, contract manager for La Crosse Glass Co., located in La Crosse, Wis., is one of the few who says lead times on glass and metal product orders in his area are not getting longer. “We order quite a bit of glass and metal from a number of different suppliers and are pleased with the turn-around times,” Guentner explains. “In fact, on some products, such as annealed insulating units, the lead times have shortened. Turn around on this product can be as short as four days.”
— by Peggy Georgi
“Most Recent Edition” No Longer Works
As the American Institute of Architects (AIA) nears the end of its ten-year revision cycle for revising its A201 and A401 documents, glazing subcontractors should pay close attention to how contracts—whether their own or their customers’—read when referencing these two documents, reports the American Subcontractors Association (ASA). AIA A201 is the General Conditions of the Contract for Construction and AIA A401 is the Standard Form of Agreement Between Contractor and Subcontractor. Once the new documents are published, accurate information and references will be critical since both the 1997 and 2007 versions will be in use at the same time.
A contractual reference, for example, to “the most recent edition” of one of these AIA documents, or a reference that does not specify the year of the edition, could leave a glazing contractor working under conditions different than originally expected.
Glazing contractors can prepare for these changes by being specific about which editions of these AIA documents are being used and also asking for clarifications in writing.
GANA “Finds” 10 Items Often Missing From Shop Drawings
The Glass Association of North America (GANA) has released the latest in a series of Glass Information Bulletins aimed at providing technical information and education to the architectural fenestration industry.
The newest bulletin, Top 10 Items Commonly Missing from Fenestration System Shop Drawings, was developed by the GANA Building Envelope Contractors Division. GANA now offers a dozen bulletins free of charge on its website at
“The bulletin is intended to highlight important items that are frequently not detailed in commercial glazing system shop drawings,” explained Greg Carney, GANA technical director. “Our members hope that the bulletin will serve as a reminder to include items such as joinery details, installation instructions and the path for water drainage in project shop drawings.”
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