Volume 34, Number 1, January 1999


Future Security

Security Glazing Comes of Age

A few years ago, the demand for security glazing systems could hardly be called high — except perhaps in major metropolitan areas. Bullet-resistant glazing products barely registered as a blip on the radar screen for glazing contractors in most cities and towns.

Today, everything has changed. Businesses across the country — from Kansas City to Kalamazoo — are calling for bullet-resistant glazing products to protect their people and property. That should come as no surprise, given the violence reported daily on the evening news. Violent crime is an unfortunate fact of life, and it presents a need that glazing contractors can step in and meet.

Multiple Markets

The market for security glazing systems is broadening every year, both in new construction and in renovation projects. With this expansion, a few key industries have emerged. These industries and their common applications are as follows:

For the glazing contractor, these expanding markets present both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to understand the needs and the product that provide solutions. The opportunity? To develop new business and earn the confidence of a larger customer base.

Product Proliferation

Security glazing product solutions have multiplied as the need for security has grown. Today’s security glazing industry offers a range of product options for both the simplest and the most complex applications. The right solution depends on the customer’s need.

Some projects, such as storefront applications, call for simple components such as bullet-resistant framing materials and transparencies in stock sizes. On these jobs, fabrication and installation are straightforward. Even a small glass shop with no previous security glazing experience can do the work effectively.

Other jobs, however, require innovative designs and custom engineering. Here’s where the recent advances in the security industry take center stage. A vast array of products can be integrated into security systems, providing tremendous sales opportunities. Some of these products include:

• Integrated bullet-resistant framing systems;

• Counter-line security systems;

• Transaction area security enclosures;

• Opaque armor panels and cabinets;

• Bullet-resistant doors and frames;

• Sliding transaction windows;

• Fixed transaction windows with natural or electronic voice transmission;

• Pass-through devices;

• Turnstile package passers;

Projects incorporating these products require the capabilities of a full-service security glazing supplier — a supplier offering installation support in addition to design and fabrication services.

Certified Products

Not all security products are equal. Glazing contractors who want to offer their customers the greatest protection will sell products certified to meet or exceed ballistic ratings as defined by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Using certified products also minimizes liability for glazing contractors and their customers.

The UL 752 bullet-resisting test rates a product’s strength by level. The higher the level, the greater the protection. Typical ratings for commercial security glazing are listed below. Framing and opaque panels have similar ratings.

Level I – Protection from medium-power small arms (nine mm).

Level II – Protection from high-power small arms (.357 Magnum).

Level III – Protection from super-power small arms (.44 Magnum).

Level IV –Protection from high-power rifles (30.06 rifle).

Selecting a Supplier

If you’re ready to invest in the security glazing market, your next decision will be the choice of a security glazing supplier. Consider your business needs first. Then look at the products and services offered by the manufacturers. I’d like to suggest six questions to use in your evaluation:

1. Does the supplier carry UL certified products?

2. Does the supplier have design and engineering capabilities?

3. Does the supplier follow quality manufacturing practices?

4. Does the supplier have field support to help with installation and training?

5. Does the supplier have a reputation for on-time delivery and service?

6. Does the supplier offer glazier training?

By entering the growing security glazing market, you’ll be positioning your business to respond to the needs of existing customers and to develop new business. Now that the security market has come of age, can you afford not to?

Fred Gebauer is director of business development at Insulgard Corporation, a national manufacturer of integrated bullet-resistant security systems.


Copyright 1999 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.