Volume 47, Issue 2 - February 2012

feature

Fab Trends for 2012
Fabricators Cast Predictions for This Year’s Trends

Are things turning around? After showing struggling business conditions for most of 2011, the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Architecture Billings Index (ABI) held to positive numbers in November and December 2011. This economic indicator of construction activity reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. AIA reported the December ABI score was 52.0, following the exact same mark in November. This score reflects an overall increase in demand for design services, and any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings. The new projects inquiry index was 64.0, down just a point from a reading of 65.0 the previous month.

“We saw nearly identical conditions in November and December of 2010 only to see momentum sputter and billings fall into negative territory as we moved through 2011, so it’s too early to be sure that we are in a full recovery mode,” says Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA, AIA chief economist. “Nevertheless, this is very good news for the design and construction industry and it’s entirely possible conditions will slowly continue to improve as the year progresses.”

Glass fabricators large and small are preparing for modest increases in demand for their products by adding new value to their existing product lines and new capacity and organization to their facilities. See what these fabricators think 2012 might hold, and then send your predictions to pstacey@glass.com, Subject: My 2012 Forecast.

What product(s) do you expect to see more demand for in the year ahead?

Kirk Johnson, director of sales for Hartung Glass Industries in Seattle: “Dynamic glazing such as solar, building integrated photovoltaics and alternate energy will continue to be a growth area. We have also seen steady demand for specialty and decorative product … There is a general consensus that residential and commercial will remain soft yet highly competitive for at least another year, with a greater emphasis on coated products … ”

Eugene Negrin, president of Galaxy Glass & Stone in Fairfield, N.J.: “We expect to see increased demand for architectural decorative glass for interior applications. We are working on offering increasingly more technical glass. One example would be printing direct to glass with conductive inks to allow electrical energy to power some of our new product designs.”

Kevin Anez, director of marketing for Viracon in Owatonna, Minn.: “The architectural community has expressed greater interest in designing buildings with products that increase thermal performance to offset energy costs while maintaining a mid level light transmittance to control glare.”

Pete Chojnacki, president of Peninsula, Ohio: “We see more demand for pre-glazed systems of all types. With the time pressures on virtually all jobs, customers want anything that can be done in the shop to be completed.”

Matt Vasquez, architectural product specialist for Cristacurva in Houston: “People are trying to do more with less … any glass that has additional functions besides filling a hole will be considered by designers. We expect an increase in demand for dynamic, privacy and decorative glass types throughout 2012 and beyond.”

Joe Carlos, director of sales and marketing for TriView Glass in City of Industry, Calif.: “I think we’re going to see a lot more fabricated laminated glass being used in structural applications. You’ll see more exposed edge type situations, whether it’s handrails, or glass flooring or even shower door glass … We’re seeing insulating glass (IG) being used more in structural type applications where we get asked to prep these for special hardware to be used in point-supported systems or even butt-glazed curtainwall applications.”

Garrett Ames, vice president of sales and marketing of Dillmeier Glass Co. in Van Buren, Ark.: “Specialty glass is no doubt in more demand. We expect to see more custom glass jobs versus big runs on clear. Our customers continue to … present us with projects using more patterns, colors and acid-etched glass.”

Bruce Cooke, director of North American fabrication for Guardian Industries in Auburn Hills, Mich.: “We expect to see increased demand for the following products: heavy fabricated glass … more light transmission and/or with polished edges and other fabrication services, heat-treated laminated glass for multiple applications … back-painted glass, acid-etched glass and switchable glass. All of the above is increasingly applied in interiors … ”

Gary McGrory, vice president of McGrory Glass in Paulsboro, N.J.: “Although not a new product, anti-reflective glass is constantly being utilized in new applications … Today [we] see an increasing number of inquiries and projects requiring anti-reflective glass in retail storefronts and other non-traditional applications … ”

Are there any relatively new products you expect to see more of in the year ahead?

Bruce Cooke, director of North American fabrication for Guardian Industries: “While not new, we expect to see increased interest in solar mirror: mirror fabricated to meet the unique needs for performance and durability within the solar community. There is the potential for this product to be a large impact mover in the year to come, as part of the increasing tendency to energy efficiencies and alternative energy sources…”

Garrett Ames, vice president of sales and marketing of Dillmeier Glass Co.: “If the prices come down I imagine we will see liquid crystal sheets that switch to privacy glass gain in popularity. We are hearing more and more customers talk about it. Glass flooring and glass stair systems are also popular specifications I see continuing in the New Year.”

Joe Carlos, director of sales and marketing for TriView Glass: “We’re seeing a lot more low-iron glass … We’re bidding jobs with soft coat on low-iron [and] we can see that people want a higher light transmittance but at the same time they want performance…”

Pete Chojnacki, president of FabTech LLC: “There is talk of more ‘preglaze friendly’ storefronts and pressure curtainwalls.”

Kevin Anez, director of marketing for Viracon: “Viracon expects to introduce several new products in 2012, including a new coating and other new capabilities that will allow architects to design with new aesthetic and performance options.”

Kirk Johnson, director of sales for Hartung: “We firmly believe that the architecture and design and glass communities will continue to gravitate towards new products and color options … Using laminated glass in a whiteboard application has been around for several years; however being able to use magnets for color coding or hanging paper has really been a game changer.”

Are you looking to invest in any new fabrication tools in 2012?

Joe Carlos, director of sales and marketing for TriView Glass: “I would say we’ve added new equipment. I think that if I had my wish list what I’d have is we’ve been looking at the possibility of getting into heat soaking. We’re seeing a lot more specs for heat soaking and we’re considering the possibility of getting into that. But we’re seeing more specs for the structural glazing where the glass is required to be heat soaked so we’re investigating that right now.”

Bruce Cooke, director of North American fabrication for Guardian Industries: “Guardian has made a substantial investment in capital upgrades at our North American fabrication facilities over the past 18 months in edging, tempering, laminating and mirror applications. We have also added back-painted glass and an array of acid-etched inventories to our fab operations. We will continue to enhance our fabrication processes and customer support services throughout the year.”

Kirk Johnson, director of sales for Hartung: “With the recent launch of Hartung Dallas and subsequent consolidation with Agalite Arlington, throughout 2012 HGI plans on installing new and upgraded equipment in multiple locations allowing for more product offerings, enhanced service levels and additional local market capabilities. In addition, HGI has started the first phase in a series of controlled ERP software implementations.”

Eugene Negrin, president of Galaxy Glass & Stone: “We have steadily invested in capital equipment all through the downturn in both 2010 and 2011 and will continue upgrading our capabilities and plant efficiency throughout 2012. We have also taken this opportunity to upgrade our staff and are actively reviewing new software to further increase our efficiency.”

Gary McGrory, McGrory Glass: “McGrory Glass recently made a large investment in solar panel rooftop project and expects to have it running in the next three to four months. [We] have always looked to be not only fiscally responsible, but also environmental stewards. This investment will allow us to run virtually all of our equipment and electrical needs using solar energy. One of the primary questions we get asked as a supplier of technical and decorative glass products is how ‘green’ the product is. We wanted to take this to the next level and exemplify how eco-friendly the actual processing of glass products can be.”

Matt Vasquez, architectural product specialist for Crista-curva: “Cristacurva invests in new machinery and equipment every year but we prefer to emphasize the importance of the people operating them and the products they produce…”

Garrett Ames, vice president of sales and marketing of Dillmeier Glass Co.: “We need to have the right equipment in place to continue competing in such a price competitive market for the long run. Between 2008 and 2010 we purchased new and used equipment in the United States. We saw the used machinery market dry up somewhat last year. We are looking oversees this year where the secondary market is still strong and are making our first 2012 purchase next week.”

 

USG
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