The Story in the Spread

By Deb Levy

When a full third of your readership classifies themselves as contract glaziers, every issue is a contract glazing one. In this issue, though, contract glazing businesses and their work are in the spotlight. You will read about them extensively on these pages, with a profile of the top 50 beginning on page 36.

Sometimes though, there are stories-within-the story, as there are this month. The size of the contract glazing market is one such story. Just look at the amount of sales done by the Top 20 and Top 40 contract glaziers in the market over the past 12 years.

The story, for me, is in the spread between them. Their spread was relatively consistent until mid-2015, when they started to diverge more aggressively. The visualization below shows the percentage difference between the amount of work the top 20 glazing contractors get and the top 40. As you can see, the top 20 have benefitted the most from the increase in business.

I have some theories on why the gap has gotten so large. First, the advancement in information and automation technologies has required new financial and personnel expenses. The glazing industry, for example, lags in BIM adoption and the use of robotics. The need for these investments has created an artificial line of demarcation between companies that will and will not be considered for larger jobs.

The growth of dedicated design is most likely a factor here, as architects and owners have their “go to” companies for large-scale products. Competing is impossible when you don’t even know there is a game.

Finally, the types of work that typically attract mid-range contract glaziers have slowed. Minimal amounts of strip malls and non-existent spec offices—the lifeblood of mid-range companies—are being built, putting a wider divide between the two groups.

We can never predict the future; look how different our world is post-COVID than it was before. No matter where it goes, the spread will always tell a story.

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