Volume 44, Issue 12 - December 2009

GuestBook

 

Commercial Meltdown
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 [2008] 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
well.


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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