Contract Glaziers Continue to Grow; Which Companies Benefit the Most?

The U.S. contract glazing industry is continuing to grow. In fact, from 2017 to 2018, revenues increased by roughly 10%. However, there have been changes in terms of the companies seeing the biggest increases. An analysis of data provided by KMR Research, a division of USGlass publisher, Key Media & Research, provides a look at the shifts in the contract glazing business.

From 2013 to 2018 the total value of contracts was more than double what it was at the lowest points of the Great Recession, which began in 2008-2009. The total annual revenue of the top-40 glazing contractors from 2013 to 2018 more than doubled, going from $1.86 billion to $3.97 billion (see top chart).

Despite this growth, the percentage claimed by some individual companies didn’t—in particular, the top five firms. Those companies’ total sales, as a percentage of all revenue, was slightly less in 2018 than 2017. Where did that work go? Mostly to the next 35 companies.

In 2013, the top five contract glaziers accounted for a 46-percent share of the revenue of the top-40 firms (see middle, bottom charts). By 2018, that dropped to 39 percent. Likewise, those ranked 21-40 accounted for a 17 percent share of the entire revenue in 2013, and increased to 23 percent in 2018.

While the overall market grew, the relative size of it, historically claimed by the top five, did not. These shifts will likely continue for the next three to five years. These firms have had several years to become established, credible and understand the U.S. market. This has brought increases, both in the number of jobs they’ve been awarded, and the dollar volume of those jobs.

Chuck Mowrey “Shakes Things Up” as the New CEO of JPI Glass

Since JPI Glass founders Jim and Sherri Plunkett retired in August 2019, the company has been on an ambitious path. It was sold to 3P Equity Partners, which placed Chuck Mowrey in the role of CEO. He joined the company May 21, 2019 with the goal of transforming JPI Glass from a local player to a regional one. Though he has an extensive background in the
glass and glazing industry, including eight years as CEO of Harmon Inc., the Kansas City, Mo., area is not one in which he had worked before. The main difference in taking on this roll is that JPI is a non-union company.

“It’s one of the reasons I took the role,” he says, adding that he has the opportunity to create a better retirement and benefits package [for non-union employees].

JPI’s new eight-point vision includes goals such as building a safety culture and improving the communities in which the company works. His two most important points are the company’s focus on providing employees and their families with “best-in-class benefits” and being transparent and honest with all employees, vendors and customers. According to Mowrey, the focus on benefits is already creating recruiting success for JPI, which has hired ten new employees in the past three months.

“It’s more meaningful for millennials and the next generation of the workforce to have good benefits and vacation time than their base salary,” he says.

Another of JPI’s recruitment strategies is its in-house apprenticeship program.

“We have to recruit and train our own people,” says Mowrey. “We’re going to team up with Associated Builders and Contractors so they can handle the administrative aspect and help train our trainers. We want to grow one of the best apprenticeship programs in the country.”

Recruitment will be important for JPI in the years to come as Mowrey and his team focus on expanding the company’s reach and scope. Currently the company has around 100 employees, a number Mowrey expects to double in the next three years. This growth includes a shift from stick-built to unitized curtainwall systems, which will change the ratio of in-shop mechanics to field installers, with the number of in-shop mechanics increasing to accommodate the shift toward unitization and larger-scale projects. Mowrey says that with his experience and the experience of COO Jake Wagner, previously with Steel Encounters, he’s not afraid of the transition.

JPI’s growth plan also includes an expanded scope outside of just glass, such as a metal panels, as well as a geographic expansion. The company will need a larger facility in order to fabricate unitized curtainwall. But that’s not all.

“[3P Equity Partners], the private equity company that hired me, has big plans and financial backing,” says Mowrey, adding these include a national roll-up/acquisitions. “Our plan is to offer the same quality as leading national union firms but by tackling the hiring and recruiting problem another way—through high school and technical school recruiting, best-in-class training and safe and secure 401K plans and benefits packages.”

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