When Will They Learn?
By John Linder
There was a popular song by Pete Seeger back in the early 1960s titled
“Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” In the song was a refrain that repeated
itself: “When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?” I feel
that this refrain is demonstrative of some of the thinking and, yes, even
some of the actions of many in the glass industry these past few years.
For the past many years our commercial construction has seen rampant growth.
This is true almost across the board, east to west and north to south.
The biggest headache for many was finding the time, and the qualified
workers, to accommodate the plethora of work, and get the work completed
on time. Presently, much of the work in progress is finishing up and,
in many areas, there are almost no new projects being initiated as we
move forward. “Where have all the flowers gone?”
Words of Wisdom
This past November, at the 2009 Buildings and Infrastructure Conference
in New York, Oldcastle Glass chief executive officer Ted Hathaway acknowledged
that commercial construction has enjoyed 15 years of unprecedented growth.
One of Hathaway’s statements in particular speaks well of the situation
at hand affecting us all: “Last year  I was talking about staying
close to our customers. This year, I can’t find any customers.”
Mr. Hathaway went on further to suggest this downturn is not just another
cycle, but rather it is cutting to the core of our industry and our traditional
business models. In many instances, this extended downturn is going to
lead to fundamental changes in our business as we move forward. If ever
there was a time to rethink our business plans, that time is upon us now.
And, as Mr. Hathaway so aptly stated, “It’s now time for innovation and
revolution,” and the survivors will “really have to think totally out
of the box.”
Adapting for Survival
As a small business owner, I share many of the difficulties and challenges
that are also impacting many of you. Our business did recognize the writing
on the wall and began reaching outside the box as early as May 2008. We
just simply did not consider how deep and how very long this downturn
was going to reach. That being said, we continue to learn and strive to
be flexible in developing new business strategies that will sustain our
company moving into the future and into more prosperous times ahead. It
is my fervent hope that many others “will be able to learn” and adapt
for their survival as
John Linder is the president and chief executive officer of Calibre
Door Closers Inc. in Orange, Calif. Mr. Linder’s opinions are solely his
own and not necessarily those of this magazine.
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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.