Overall, 2015 has been pretty good to the glass industry. All of us are busy, wishing we could find a calendar that would allow us to sneak a couple extra days into every week, or smoosh another week into every month. It seems, all of a sudden the pent up backlog from the downturn years was cut loose in the marketplace, and everybody’s scrambling to get their material delivered per schedule. Such a problem, right? It is a blessing, no doubt. If you have anything to suggest how we can stretch these good times out a bit, it would be most welcome.
Most of us have our heads down, focusing on the work we currently have, and trying to figure how to take on more without overburdening ourselves. Finding people to fill positions, whether in the office or in the field, is still going to be a challenge in the coming year. Attracting newcomers is one possibility, but that involves training them fast.
Big plans turned into actuality in some cases this year. The Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope(R) purchase of CR Lawrence, well, it doesn’t get much larger in terms of scope and impact. And, it was laudable that the owner of CR Lawrence cut the team in on the deal with bonus checks. Recognizing employee contributions in any organization, big or small, boosts morale. It’s certainly true in my experience.
Some big plans are still in the developmental stages. One of the big fabricators recently announced they’re going to start booking orders for very large glass lites for delivery into 2017. It will be interesting to see if the new larger sizes start showing up more in designs and if glaziers will take on such large lites. Some fabricators already have this capability, and some glaziers have been known to take on the work of installing these bad boys.
At the beginning of the year, one of the speakers at BEC said there’s a growth market in rehab / remodel / updating the walls on existing buildings – in other words, projects built back when some of us were first getting into the biz. It remains to be seen if developers and building owners will be willing to spend the bucks to do that, but there’s a large market out there. A joint effort between a supplier and glass fabricator discussed at the BEC Fall Conference showed how out-of-the-box thinking can reduce the cost impacts associated with typical remodels or upgrades, and reduce the need to disrupt the existing tenants.
Energy, energy, energy seems to be around every corner. Building envelope commissioning is still lurking out there, but I’m not sure it’s gaining any momentum, so its impact to the biz is TBD. NFRC is retooling, and how that will impact the biz is still settling out. But, the dynamic and photochromatic glazing folks seem to be gaining some traction, showing up on more projects recently. Photovoltaics haven’t made that much of an inroad into the glazing world, but there’s a lot of roof installations these days. One fabricator covered their fab facility roof with them, and expects huge returns. That may be a more realistic and efficient design strategy than trying to put them on buildings’ walls.
With this recap, Santa, the only thing I ask of you is good health to our industry stalwarts dealing with illness. Although any report of someone fighting an illness is one too many, their fortitude and example in riding these things out inspires the rest of us. Every so often, we lose some of them, and that’s always hard to bear. Peace and blessings to all and their families, please, going forward.
PS: Santa: My wife and I will be making candy cane cookies with the grandkids this weekend. If I leave some out Christmas Eve, will that be enough of an enticement if I haven’t fully been good this year?