Pushing Forward

Contract Glazier Outlook Index Points to Another Healthy Year

By Nick St. Denis

Contract glaziers are poised for another busy year ahead, with sales expectations, backlog and hiring plans demonstrating a healthy industry. The 2018 Con-tract Glazier Outlook Index (CGOI), a numerical measurement of the optimism and current state of the glass and glazing industry, suggests that the positive momentum of 2017 will carry on through this year.

The CGOI is made up of five key drivers and measurements, weighted according to importance. Those drivers, in order of greatest to least weight, are: expected revenue changes in the coming year; current backlog; hiring plans in the coming year; previous year satisfaction; and previous year hiring.

2018’s Contract Glazier Outlook Index is 63.2. This is just above 2017’s revised figure of 62.7 and well into healthy levels, as any reading above 50 represents a positive outlook (highest possible: 96.7 / lowest possible: 3.3).

Note: the index methodology was modified from its inaugural (2017) version, and the 2017 fi gures have been revised to accurately compare year-over-year changes.

The ongoing construction expansion and a robust overall U.S. economy will keep U.S. glazing contractors plenty busy this year, according to the newly released 2018 Glass and Glazing Industry Outlook report from Key Media & Research (KMR).

Data from a nationwide survey of contractor glaziers show commercial building segments such as office, retail, and lodging were particularly strong in 2017, and the institutional sector—which includes healthcare facilities and educational buildings—is poised for a healthy 2018. On the residential side, while single-family building has taken the reins in residential construction overall, glazing contractors remain very busy with multifamily projects.

“Renovation and retrofit work across some of these sectors has also provided ample opportunities for glass businesses,” the Outlook report states.

A majority of employers in the industry hired in 2017 and are eager to do so again in 2018, though the skilled labor shortage that looms over construction has hampered their ability to find quality craft workers. Throughout the country and with firms of all sizes, the skilled labor shortage continues to be a key source of concern for glass companies. One mid-sized glazing contractor from the South Atlantic said the lack of skilled labor “is the worst problem we have, and will continue to be through the near future.”

Labor worries also ranked as the top concern among glass fabricators and manufacturers, showing that this issue is present on the manufacturing and supply side of the industry, as well.

Labor issues aside, glass suppliers are also very confident in the market through 2018 and beyond. Planned and unplanned float line shutdowns have challenged these companies, but expectations remain high for sales in architectural glass. Tighter lead times, evolving demand for glass dimensions and in-creasing costs are driving competition among fabricators and manufacturers.

“With no additional domestic float plants and limited supply of flat glass, glazing contractors must work closely with high-quality architectural glass fabricators to secure product and reserve production capacity,” a large Northeast-based fabricator said. “Early communication about glass availability, capacity and lead times helps the project stay on schedule.”According to Outlook survey respondent data, businesses on both the contract glazier and fabricator/manufacturer side are prepared to make significant investments in machinery and equipment this year.

The 2018 Glass and Glazing Industry Outlook report can be purchased at www.usglassmag.com/outlook2018

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

 

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