A strong majority of U.S. contract glaziers anticipate either no change or an increase in all major building sectors relevant to the architectural glass and metal industry, according to the new 2020 Glass and Glazing Industry Outlook. The annual report is produced by Key Media & Research (KMR), parent company of USGlass magazine and USGNN™.

Positive Vibes

Contract glaziers entered 2020 with a high level of optimism, as a strong majority anticipate sales and profit increases versus the previous year. Glass retailers, defined as smaller glass shops and busi­nesses that sell products such as shower enclosures, mirror and glass furniture to the end user, also expect 2020 to be fruitful.

On the supply side, architectural glass fabricators and manufacturers have similarly positive expectations in sales and profits this year. Like glazing contractors, glass fabricators and manufacturers view the labor shortage as a key concern, albeit to a lesser degree. In terms of industry trends, demand for larger sizes remains the biggest one, though it is not quite as hot of a topic in 2020 as it was in 2019.

Manufacturers and suppliers of architectural glazing systems, such as curtainwall, storefront, com­mercial windows and other related products, remain confident as the year kicks off. The demand for shorter lead times from clients is the top concern among manufacturers and suppliers of glazing systems.

Jobs … If You Can Find Workers

Employment of nonresidential specialty trade contractors has increased year-over-year every year since 2011. Glazing contractors in particular have been on a hiring spree—at least when they’re able to find quality craft workers and trainable skilled workers.

The skilled labor shortage has ranked as the No. 1 concern among glazing contractors in all four years that KMR’s Outlook survey has been conduct­ed. While the smallest to largest glazing contractors in the nation have continued to add employees, 2020 appears to be the year when many will begin to slow down in this regard.

Costs and Machinery Plans

The cost of materials and products used in the architectural glass and glazing industry continues to increase in waves, though prices have begun to settle over the last year following a notable spike. Ar­chitectural glass fabricators and glazing systems manufacturers expect an increase in material costs in 2020, though not all plan to raise their prices as a result.

Transportation-related purchases continue to be the most common investment glazing contractors are making in machinery and equipment. Meanwhile, 2019 was a strong year for glass fabrication machinery invest­ment, and 2020 looks primed to follow. Nearly three-quarters of glass fabricators plan to make signifi­cant machinery purchases in the year ahead.

This article was derived from the 2020 Glass and Glazing Industry Outlook. For more information on the 45-page report, click here. Use the promo code USG20 for 20% off.