Where it’s Hot, and Where it’s Not

Coast to coast, region to region, fabricators across the country are facing opportunities and challenges. While some fabricators are finding growth in new markets, most also point to obstacles such as increasing competition, price concerns and labor struggles. We checked in with a few fabricators around to country to learn more about what they’re seeing in their own regions.

Northeast: CT, ME, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT
Midwest: IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, SD, WI
South Atlantic: DE, D.C., FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV
South Central: AL, AR, KY, LA, MS, OK, TN, TX
West: AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, NM, OR, UT, WA, WY

West Coast

Glasswerks LA, South Gate, Calif.
John J. Medel, Vice President, Marketing and Sales

The past three years have been marked by the far-reaching effects of the pandemic, supply chain disruptions, increased cost of energy and transportation, wage increases and labor shortages. While supply chain challenges persist in glass and glazing supplies in general, the latest threat we face as an industry is the shortage of structural laminated interlayers. Regrettably, the scarcity of interlayers comes at a time when demand for laminated and security products is surging. Our team devotes a great amount of time and resources to sourcing the materials necessary to meet our customers’ needs and maintain the highest level of service possible under these challenging circumstances.

Midwest

Midwest Glass Fabricators, Highland, Mich.
Kyle Zink, Monolithic Product Manager

As a fabricator we produce monolithic, laminated and insulating units. Monolithic glass is our bread and butter and it is what we see the most of. That stays fairly consistent throughout the year. Laminated and insulating glass have more ups and downs. Over the last couple of years, insulating glass has really taken off for us, but the market is the most competitive in this area. We have worked hard to widen our territory as well as our client base, which has helped us keep work throughout the year more consistent. As some territories or clients slow down, we have made sure our mix keeps us consistent through the year. Winter is the slowest time in our area and April through October is our “busy” season. 2022 was our best year ever and outpaced every month in our previous 33 years in both throughput and revenue. We are starting out 2023 the same way compared to 2022. With our diverse client base we are seeing both commercial and residential work, new builds and remodels, from the Midwest to the East Coast.

Northeast

Consolidated Glass Corp., New Castle, Pa.
Madison Miller, Marketing Coordinator

Consolidated Glass Corp. (CGC) is a fifth-generation, family operated glass fabricator. Originally a fabricator of jalousie door glass, the last five decades have directed us into new markets that now include high-end shower enclosures, interior office partitions, glass railings and retail store fixtures. We also expect our new glass lamination line to be running within the next month.

Being located within a day’s drive to many large cities such as, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago and more, allows us to stay a strong competitor in the industry. Our location has provided us great opportunities to grow into new markets traditionally not found in a small town. We also have our own three-truck fleet, giving us the ability to deliver to a 350-mile radius.

Even with an opportunistic location, CGC faces many challenges. Like most businesses today, finding adequate labor has been one of our tougher challenges. With a smaller town population, workers are harder to come by. Also, being located within hours of the East Coast, competition is much fiercer in the region. Dealing with competitors who import their glass, pricing within the market can be a challenge. Though these challenges can be difficult, CGC prides itself on its “diamond level standard” and will stand by its ability to create high quality glass with exceptional lead times.

Southeast

D3 Glass, Fort Meyers, Fla.
Bryce Holbert, Plant Manager

In the Southeastern United States, specifically South Florida, fabricators face a number of challenges unique to our region. One of those challenges includes understanding and adapting our business to meet the needs of our customers in an area where building codes change regularly. Additionally, the Southeast is home to some of the largest shipping ports in the United States and our area sees a tremendous amount of imported glass. The availability of lower priced imported products drives down glass pricing in our region and makes fabricators like D3 Glass, which predominately use domestically sourced products, struggle to maintain competitive pricing. The Southeast also sees a large number of seasonal residents. This presents a challenge in maintaining even levels of production throughout the year. We see large demand in the monolithic sector during winter “in season” months, with elevated demand for laminated and performance glass during periods of exterior renovation in the summer “off season” months. As an area of the country that sees a large annual influx of residents from all over the country and world, we live in a design-forward area that constantly pushes the limits of both tech and decorative glass. In many ways, glass has transitioned from a basic commodity to an arena of art and design and forced fabricators in our region to find new ways to meet the wishes of our customers. As the Southeast, and Florida in particular, host such a large number of affluent seasonal residents, our region tends to be more insulated from economic pressures than other areas of the country. This fact affords us the ability to grow our businesses annually, and provides us with a favorable outlook for not only the coming year, but for years to come. As such, D3 Glass is proud to be at the forefront of an ever-changing landscape and we are very excited for the future of glass manufacturing across all sectors in the years ahead.

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