Monday, April 26, 2010

Here comes the sun!

It seems like solar power is everywhere these days. With a lot of new competitors and the growing interest in green building, interest will continue to rise. An article in this week’s Economist weighed in, comparing solar power to the adolescent stage of a child’s development --- no longer fresh, new, and full of promise, but still a ways off from making a full contribution to society. The chief reason for framing the issue this way is, of course, cost. The article notes that the price of panels is falling just low enough to hurt manufacturers, but it’s not yet low enough to be a competitive source of energy.

The analysis is on target in many ways, but it left out an important aspect in solar’s growth --- Building Integrated Photovoltaics. Last month, consultant Steven Coonen did a webinar where he talked about the possibilities this technology offers. While the cost is higher than the standard glass normally used on projects, it’s a lot lower than it used to be and the range of projects where it can be used has increased in recent years. Is every building going to start including BIPV? Of course not. But a lot will. More than you, or the Economist, might think.

As Steve points out, the beauty of the product is that it can be part of the normal glazing supply chain. The major manufacturers, including Guardian and Schott, produce it, and it can be installed with techniques not much different than standard glazing. More product is coming into the market every day, especially from overseas. And more architects are starting to design with it.

If you missed it, you can catch the webinar recording on And as interest in this topic continues to grow, the NGA is hosting a seminar at this year’s GlassBuild America. If you’re a glazier looking to start using this technology, you’ll want to be there

Matt Rumbaugh
Sr. Manager of Education, Training, and Certification
National Glass Association

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

EPA Lead Paint Rules: Are you Ready?

This is a letter WDDA Advisory Committee member David Steele wrote to Rebecca Morley, executive director of the nonprofit National Center for Healthy Housing, in response to her quote in a recent Washington Post Article. The article, EPA rules on lead paint in home renovations will soon take effect, is by Deborah K. Dietsch.

Dear Ms. Morley,

Your comments recently printed in the Washington Post are hard to swallow. You were quoted as saying “contractors have had "plenty of warning" about the new rules”. As a small business owner, a former social worker and participant in the first Earth day I have been an advocate for conservation and a safe environment since the mid 1960’s. I’ll compare my commitment to healthy housing to anyone. What I find hard to take is the arrogance of advocates and regulators who assert opinions as if they are absolute and superior to all others. Do you think I and my peers knew by some sort of telepathy that these regulations had been passed and recorded in the Federal register? I am better informed than most of my peers and yet I knew nothing – not one hint of these new regulations until January of this year.

Only recently has the industry begun to hear of these regulations. If a grass roots effort were not active most contractors would still know nothing of this issue. Are you so callous to the well being of the millions of men and women who make a living in the remodeling industry that you are unable to admit that the EPA has horribly mismanaged this issue? Making a splash on Earth day is hardly worth the price that will paid if those of us in compliance are denied work because we’re underbid by un-certified firms, if a large percentage of these jobs are tackled by unqualified homeowners or remodelers willing to operate below the radar. More children will be exposed, not less.

EPA has grossly underestimated, in the sloppiest fashion imaginable, the cost of compliance. The estimated additional cost of $8.00 to $167.00 per job is laughable. Angela Hoffman wrote me, after promising to send me the financial analysis EPA performed, that the EPA used a “straight line mathematical formula” to arrive at the estimate of $35.00 per job (this admission occurred after she asserted in a meeting we held at OMB that “the EPA never estimated $35 per job, that the $35.00 figure was in only one misconstrued press release”). Does anyone, anyone at all understand what a “straight line mathematical formula looks like? New math was bad enough. In the parallel universe that is Washington DC this might pass for a plausible explanation ; out here in the sticks we expect more. Pray tell, what job could ever incur just $8.00 in additional cost?

I am eager to do what is right for my customers, my employees and my community I am in favor of reasonable and effective efforts to protect anyone at risk of lead poisoning. What I am against is regulation that is unclear, difficult to implement, an open invitation for ruinous litigation and the demonization of the hard working men and women who live by the sweat of their brows and the work of their hands. Despite your confident and misguided belief to the contrary there has not been sufficient time to prepare. EPA has had sufficient time. After all they have been driving this truck. The EPA’s performance, the abysmally inadequate job they’ve done is plain for all to see. Your assertion that they will have 150,000 trained by April 22, 2010 is an absurd and patently false claim designed to cover up their pitiful performance. Sadly in this age they are unaccountable. You may feel that a $37,500 per day/per occurrence fine is just, I don’t. However, I’m willing to risk all the liability this regulation exposes me to, if the EPA staff and their enablers are subject to the same fine for their failings. What do you say Rebecca? How about a little accountability in DC?

Dave Steele
The Window Gallery

Monday, April 19, 2010

Glazing Executives Forum: Improving Labor Productivity

A few weeks ago during one of our Glass Management Institute sessions, we were talking about cost management as part of our Financial Management module. Our instructor, Pepe Charles, was talking about the idea of managing costs and pointed out labor as the highest variable, noting that managing that cost was the key to profit. Lots of ears perked up.

It's not uncommon during GMI that as the instructor works through his presentation, students use the chat function to exchanges questions, thoughts, and ideas. As Pepe raised this point, lots of people chimed in that this was a major issue in their company. It seems that there's no easy way to forecast and manage your labor costs. Someone even asked "Does anyone out there have some tips for doing this?" Silence.

That made me think we had a solid topic on our hands for this year's
Glazing Executives Forum (GEF). So the next day I did some searching and found myself looking at the offerings from FMI, a consulting group that specializes in construction-related companies. They offer a program on Improving Labor Productivity. I gave them a call to see if they'd be willing to present on this topic for us in Vegas and thankfully, they agreed.

We've made this the lead session at this year's GEF, and if you're like most businesses in our industry, this is a presentation you'll want to hear. We're even following it up with a breakout discussion group so you can go into more depth and hear the experiences of your fellow glazers. With this, economist Jeff Dietrich, and the chance to network with the best and brightest in the industry, the 5th Annual Glazing Executives Forum needs to be a highlighted event on your calendar. The event takes place September 14 as part of
GlassBuild America.

Matt Rumbaugh
Sr. Manager of Education, Training, and Certification
National Glass Association

Thursday, April 15, 2010

When Your Customer Says “NO!”

Life is easy when our customers are ready to buy from us and they have no objections. The hardest part of a transaction typically comes when the invitation to buy or purchase is offered, and the customer turns us down.

The “no” can be many different responses. Here are some examples of the answer “no” from a customer:
  • “Let me check my schedule and get back to you…”
  • “I am just looking around right now.”
  • “I need to call around and get some other prices.”
You will notice that the exact verbiage is not “no,” but rather a phrase or statement that the customer does not make a commitment. This is a “no.” Most sales people end the conversation at this point and do not pursue any further dialogue.

We have found that this is an incredible opportunity resolve your customer’s objections and give them a reason to buy your product or service. There are four (4) basic skills that we have found that make this possible:
  1. Find out Why the customer is not willing to commit
  2. Acknowledge and Restate the customer objection
  3. Share additional Features and Benefits
  4. Ask Again
In the upcoming Webinar offered through the National Glass Association, ContactPoint will be discussing these four (4) steps in detail. We have seen company close ratios jump from 37% to over 80% using just one of the above skills! Find out which one…

The session will take place May 4, 2010 at 1:00 pm ET. The cost is $50.00 for NGA members; non-members can attend for $100. Register now! For more information, call 866/342-5642 ext 182.

Mitch Wasden
Executive Sales Trainer
ContactPoint: NGA WDDA

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Good Old-Fashioned Networking

In this day and age, we communicate with people everyday online.  With email, face-to-face interaction is getting to be rare even in the workplace.  I know that I will often email a question to a colleague instead of picking up a phone or (heaven forbid) walking down the hallway and actually talking to them.  In this dog-eat-dog marketplace, we are all trying to get work done quickly and efficiently – at the expense of interacting with our coworkers, customers, and industry peers. Whether we’re emailing or using Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, we are talking to people around the country with the touch of a button.  We tweet, message, and email all day long - expanding our networks further than ever before -  but are we building lasting relationships?

Good old-fashioned networking is still an asset to your business and your career.  Building a network of people you can call to discuss issues with, or ask for advice, is crucial to success in any industry, and the hard part is knowing where to go to meet your industry peers.

GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window, and Door Expo is the gathering place for the entire glass, window and door industries in North America. This expo, being held September 14-16, 2010 in Las Vegas, offers opportunities on and off the tradeshow floor, including receptions and educational seminars.  This year’s tradeshow will also feature the 5th Annual Glazing Executives Forum and the 1st Annual Window and Door Dealers Forum. If you are a company owner, executive, or project manager, these forums offer invaluable networking opportunities.  Come to GlassBuild to connect with your industry peers in a way you can’t through a computer screen.

We’ll see you in Vegas!

Alyssa Kirkman
Sr. Manager

Monday, April 5, 2010

Is Your Business Being Represented?

Every day when I look at the news, I see reports on how the economic recovery is progressing. One day, unemployment is down, and the next the housing market is continuing to suffer. With all of this unhappy news, it's hard to focus on the present and the future of the glass and window and door industries.

Last week on glassblog, Katy Devlin wrote about collectively facing the dangers out there. Devlin is right - the industry does need to band together to fight issues like the EPA lead paint rules and ASHRAE 90.1.

As an industry, we need to work to make sure our voices are heard as new standards and regulations are made, and right now, industry associations are making sure they are. Both the NGA and WDDA have letter writing campaigns for the EPA Lead Paint Rules, and the WDDA just had a meeting in Washington to discuss the rules with officials. The NGA is also involved in the ASHRAE 90.1 appeal.

Is there an issue your business is concerned about? If so, contact the NGA and/or WDDA and make sure you are being represented.

Alyssa Kirkman
Sr. Manager