Volume 35, Number 2, February 2000



Help Me Help You

        what contract glaziers can do to improve
        communication with manufacturers

by Doug Penn

The need to communicate effectively has been the subject of countless articles, seminars and books, and yet it remains the one area of business upon which we all need to improve.

As a manufacturer of architectural aluminum, YKK AP America Inc. is always looking for ways to improve communication with our industry. So when Debra Levy, publisher of USGlass magazine, approached me about participating in a panel discussion concerning communication, I naturally jumped at the opportunity. Panel discussions were held at regional glass shows sponsored by USGlass in Texas, Ohio, and New York. Although the turnout at each of the shows was very good, we did not get the participation at each session that we had hoped for. The dialog that did take place among the manufacturers, suppliers and our customers at each of the seminars was very constructive and certainly reinforced the notion that we all have a lot to learn about effective communication. I definitely encourage you to attend your regional glass shows and to participate in the seminars, as they are educational and rewarding.

Our ability to convey detailed information has improved dramatically over the last few years. Information delivery has evolved from the three to five days required to send documents via the U.S. mail, to overnight delivery services. Additionally, fax machines and the Internet allow us to communicate almost instantaneously with one another. But, despite all of our advancements in communication techniques, we still are not communicating as effectively as possible.

Just what do I mean by communicating effectively. Simply put, “effective communication” contains all of the pertinent information required by the person that you are dealing with to complete the required task or make the proper decision. Please note that I used the phrase “pertinent information” in the above definition. Effective communication contains only the information required: do not overwhelm or cloud the issue with unnecessary information.

Requests for quotes and orders are two key areas in the building industry that require effective communication among customers and manufacturers/suppliers. These requests must be timely and need to contain the following information:

• Project name, building type (school, office building, etc), location, and exact shipping address for project site

• Bid or ship date required. Never use ASAP (as soon as possible) as you may end up waiting longer than you

• A complete copy of each relevant section of the architectural specifications, including the general conditions, is preferred by all manufacturers to complete an accurate and timely quote:

a. A complete copy is required because information that appears to you as irrelevant may actually affect the price;

b. Only send copies of the appropriate sections;

c. If you are unable to obtain a copy of the architectural specifications then you need to include:

i. Type of system that the architect is requesting (storefront, curtainwall, window wall,
operable windows, etc);

ii. Building code that is being used as a basis for the

iii. Performance characteristics required such as:

• Air and water infiltration;

• Thermal performance
(U-value and CRF);

• Design load and allowable deflection;

• AAMA performance classification for windows and sliding doors.

iv. Material Finish:

1. For orders, you must include the exact finish required. Painted finishes require both the paint manufacturer and the appropriate paint code number or approved color chip.

2. For quotes, be as specific as possible as the type of finish will dramatically impact the value of the quote. For painted finishes please include the actual paint code if possible. If the architect simply specifies “color to be selected,” then you need to list the type of paint (Acrylic or 70 percent Kynar®), if it is an exotic or metallic finish, and the number of coats required.

v. Entrance doors:

1. Type: narrow, medium, or wide style, heavy duty, or hurricane resistant.

2. Door number from the architectural drawings.

vi. Door Hardware:

1. Complete list of all required hardware for each door.

2. Name of party responsible for supplying the hardware.

3. If hardware is supplied by others, are the doors to be prepped only, or is the hardware to be installed?

4. Finish of each hardware type.

vii. Required warranty (please provide the exact text as both warranty period and requirements will affect the cost).

viii. Are shop drawings and/or engineering needed?

1. Is an engineering stamp required?

2. For stock length material, an exact part number and quantity takeoff is preferred, but YKK AP will prepare a quote based on elevation takeoff.

a. Elevation takeoffs:

i. Must be legible and easy to read.

ii. Contain all of the pertinent information:

1. Overall width and height of each frame elevation and the dimensions of the building.

2. Vertical and horizontal member spacing.

3. Quantity of each frame

4. Location of each frame elevation on the building:

a. Floor level.

b. Corner or interior zone.

5. Anchor locations for curtainwall frames:

a. Provide architectural detail.

b. Indicate who is to supply the anchors.

6. Thickness of glass or infill material (1/4-inch, 1-inch, etc), especially at spandrel locations.

iii. Clearly indicate if frames are to be segmented and include radius of the opening if required.

iv. For curved topped frames include the required radius.

v. Provide details of all trim members, flashing, interior stools, and break metal and clearly identify who is responsible for providing it.

vi. Is material to be fabricated or supplied in stock lengths?

vii. Include a detail of all special conditions that require additional engineering, material, or fabrication.

viii. Stock length quotes are based on a specific quantity of material derived from optimizing the requirements for the entire project. If frame dimensions or quantities change, the quote will need to be revised.

When sending orders always use a purchase order number, as this will help the manufacturer track the order. Also remember to list the manufacturer quote number on the order form. Lastly, ensure that all of the necessary information, including credit information, has been submitted.

Construction schedules are getting shorter and shorter and manufacturers need your help to ensure that we, as a team, meet the project requirements. While the list of requirements for quotes and orders seems to be rather long and complicated, adhering to these guidelines will actually help to increase both your backlog and profits by:

1. Receiving competitive quotes from vendors that contain only the material wanted;

2. Ensuring that each vendor is quoting “apples to apples;”

3. Reducing errors that may end up costing you money;

4. Reducing lead times for both quotes and orders. Remember, the clock does not start ticking until all of the questions have been answered.

As stated at the beginning of this article, we all have a lot to learn about effective communication and that certainly applies to manufacturers. We understand that we need to respond promptly, thoroughly and accurately to your questions and inquiries, that we need to quickly acknowledge receipt of your orders, and that you want reliable shipping dates. We attempt to meet your requirements by faxing you order acknowledgements (with an estimated shipping date) and shipping notices that contain the pro number once the material is ready to leave. Orders that contain non-standard material (profiles, finish, hardware, etc.) pose the most difficulty in scheduling, as a shipping date is often dependent on receiving material from outside vendors or suppliers.

We are working on ways of providing better and more up-to-date information to you. In the future it will be possible for you to check the actual status of your order via the Internet. If you have suggestions or comments on how we can communicate with you more effectively, we are always interested in receiving them.

Our goal is to help your company grow and prosper by providing you with the best possible service on all of your quote requests and orders. We need effective communication to accomplish this. Please share this article with your employees and co-workers and help us to help you.

Doug Penn serves as marketing manager for YKK AP America, based in Atlanta, GA. Glaziers Guild appears monthly with rotating authors.


© Copyright 2000 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.