SIDE BY SIDE
“If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?” While that phrase is often uttered, yelled or lectured to teenagers who have or will succumb to peer pressure, it’s a fair question when it comes to business, as well. If you do what everyone else is doing, you’ll only do as well as everyone else is doing. So how do you set yourself apart and get a jump on the competition? One way is to get in on the ground floor by working with a contract glazier—or several—and landing jobs early in the construction process.
There are those who will say that window film is an aftermarket product and doesn’t have a place in the design stage; but Alan Hardt thinks they are wrong. Hardt has working with contract glaziers practically down to a science. Better yet, you could say he has it down to a business.
“We thought that with the energy crisis of the late 1970s and early 1980s, it would be a good business,” Hardt said.
“We’ve been working together a good 20 years, but it’s really taken off more now than it had 10 or 15 years ago,” said Tony Lample, senior project manager at MTH. Though Lampl.
“Back in the old days, film wasn’t as prominent as it is now … before it was just sun control [that film was used for] but lately it’s been a lot more, including more safety [applications],” Lampl added.
“Usually, they wrap it into their price when bidding on the jobs,” Hardt said. “In turn, we get a good price because it’s a larger scope of work. It’s not like turning a regular job and filming just 30 windows, it’s part of a larger project.”
“We have some sandblasters in town and they’re very independent, meaning it’ll be a four- or five-week turnaround. We don’t usually have the luxury of a long lead-time. We always try to offer an option for window film,” said Lampl. “When it’s sandblasted, it’s sandblasted at the shop, not on the field. We can offer the owner the option of having the glass in place so they don’t have to leave the job with it open and send the window film guy in later.”
Hardt’s work with MTH is not mutually exclusive; both companies work with others in the crossover business. Hardt readily admits that he works with all seven contract glazing companies in Chicago, and Lampl acknowledges that they, too, will work with other window film companies. But they work well together and promote the working relationship in a way.
In the front lobby of MTH headquarters is a bent-glass entryway that features the MTH logo—in film.
“We didn’t want to send the glass out for sandblasting. That’s the real reason we did it,” said Lampl. “We have a good window filmer that wanted to do the job and when people come in and comment on it, we can refer it to him.”
He is, of course, referring to Hardt.
“We bring them in on Friday afternoon for drinks. We don’t get involved so much with teaching, necessarily, but getting them into the shop to see what we do,” Hardt explained.
Strictly a commercial and residential window film company, the networking has paid off.
Building the working relationships that Hardt has takes time and despite knowing and working with all the contract glaziers he can in the Chicago area, Hardt says work isn’t always steady.
“We might have nothing for awhile and then suddenly four or five jobs come in,” he explained.
Without those connections, however, work would be very different and he offers this advice to others in the industry interested in building relationships with contract glaziers: promote yourself.
“Put together a binder with examples of the work you’ve done and call on all the contract glazing companies—even the small ones. You want to get your name, the company name out there, not the film name,” he advises.
Performance, of course, is important on all levels. If a film doesn’t perform it reflects on everyone involved in the job and when a film company is involved from the very beginning of a build, there is nothing more important than the job’s performance. It could make or break a working relationship.
“Repeat business becomes key as it relates to projects you’ve done. If you’re going to be in the major leagues, you’d better know what you’re doing,” advises Lampl. “You’d better not cut corners.”
Five Tips for Working With Contract Glaziers