America’s Next Glazier: Today’s Youth Could Be Your Employees Tomorrow

By Dustin Anderson

My general manager, Dylan, came to me a couple of months back and told me about a mentoring program in which he was involved. His request was simple: “Can I bring a bunch of kids here and show them what we do?”

The answer, of course, was “Yes!” Give me any opportunity to discuss options other than college with kids who only hear about how they have to go to college, all day every day, and I’m in!

While I haven’t given up on millennials, I’m also a huge advocate of getting
in front of the next generation as early as possible. The oldest of Generation Z are now 18 and those who choose not to go to college are ready to learn a trade … that is, if they’ve been told about trades. The youth of America have been told their entire school careers that after they finish high school they need to go to college. This mentality is fine for some but shouldn’t, and doesn’t, work for everyone. There will be young people who finish school and decide to join the workforce and where they choose to work will likely be based on businesses they know about and/or businesses where they know somebody. Either way, it makes perfect sense to get our trade in the conversation with this generation.

Career Day

Every high school in the country hosts a career day. There is time allotted for business professionals to speak to the youth of America and give a bit of insight into the career path of each of those professionals. Each and every glass company across the board should take advantage of this opportunity. Create a presentation that shows our industry in the light that it should be shown. The discussion should layout our industry’s creative side while showing completed jobs that reflect the impact that most young adults desire today. The fact that our work is rarely redundant is huge in regards to shaping our industry as one that isn’t boring. Discussing the amazing technology that is taking place in our field is another way to get young minds to take notice of our ever-evolving trade. Spending a couple of hours once a year speaking about your livelihood to our youth could very well change our workforce in the next few years.

Mentoring Tours

After Dylan discussed the opportunity to host a tour of young adults, he went to work on presenting and ensuring the event would be fun and highly interactive. We thought it would be important to tell our stories of how we both came from different walks of life, but ended up working in the same field. We showed our young attendees how we cut glass; they responded with the sounds of “Whoa!” and “That’s lit!” (By the way, “lit” now means something is amazing or awesome.) We also broke some glass in front of them, which is always an interesting experience. We toured our entire facility and ended with selfies in front of a full sheet of mirror and had each young person write a thought on the glass walls of our conference room. Two of those comments really made me feel like this “thing” we just did was making an impact. One wrote: “Best tour I’ve ever been on … Thanks!” This not only told me that we held their attention through and through, but that they were appreciative of our time.

“The person we battle the most in this world is ourselves” was written in
bold green Sharpie. This was so obvious and so simple, but resonated with me. You see, we discount the youth of our country and throw them all in a group … entitled and lazy are often our words. But that comment showed me our youth is defined by what our generation thinks of them and they should not be disregarded as the future of our industry.

I guess the moral here is simple: take a few moments a couple times a year and go meet our future where they hang out and then have them meet you where you hang out. You might find that very next glazier or office manager who will change your business for the better.

Dustin Anderson is the owner of Anderson Glass in Waco, Texas, and also served as the resident glass guy on the hit HGTV show Fixer Upper. He is also the official spokesperson representing Glass.com® on its website and at industry events.

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