Volume 35, Number 11, November 2000



Survivor II ...
The fabricator speaks out on surviving
in the glass industry

by Max Perilstein

The Fabricator has Spoken
If you have a television, you know that this summer’s hot pop culture phenomenon was the show Survivor. The show captured the nation’s attention and really made people think of what it would be like to be one of the 16 contestants. So being the pop culture guy that I am, I was actually tempted to try out for “Survivor II.” However comical that attempt would have been, it won’t happen because surviving in the glass industry is sometimes more brutal than spending 39 days on a deserted island.

The Glass Industry’s Version
The whole concept did make me think about how we can use the patented “voting off the island” process in our industry. Now I know some of you are thinking, “Yeah, there are some people I would have no problem voting out of the industry”—myself being some folks’ choice, that’s for sure.
However, that is not where I’m going. We do need something similar to the Survivor concept to vote off some of the overabundance of glass choices in our industry. While having many choices is a great thing, it causes a horrible nightmare (for the fabricator). Inventories swell and you find yourself with several styles and colors of glass that gather dust in efforts to service the customer.

Just a quick look through the available products on a medium- to low-performance angle shows staggering numbers. (The high-performance market suffers from this same problem but because they make everything custom onto eight different substrates, it’s a totally different issue.) While you have to carry the standard tints, the darker and reflective tints, along with low-E’s, these can all take up a city block. So if money grew on trees on any certain day in your plant you could have:
•    Ten versions of green and green reflective;
•    Nine versions of blue and blue reflective;
•    Four versions of clear reflective;
•    Four versions of dark gray and dark gray reflective;
•    Fifteen versions of low-E glass;
•    One massive, throbbing headache.

Narrowing the Options
As most parents learn while raising their children, you don’t want to give a child too many options. You want the choices to be as narrow as possible. The same method would apply to architects. Giving them so many products that can be made into an inordinate amount of combinations is akin to asking your toddler to pick out only one item from the toy store during the holidays. It is virtually impossible. I’m an adult and I would have trouble with that choice. Just do the math. If you had all of these products on your floor at the same time, you could offer your customer base 84 possible combinations of these products alone.

Back to the main point. We have way too many products from which to choose. Some-where down the line, the herd has to be thinned. I’m all for choices, and some of the newer products are my personal favorites, but they are getting lost because older, less successful or poor-performing products are not being phased out. So it would be great to send a few of these products to a deserted island, allowing us to say “The fabricator has spoken ...”

Anyway, if I was brave and daring enough to go on Survivor, I have a feeling that (despite being on a secluded island 18 time zones away) an architect would still find me. He would drop me a note from a plane asking why we don’t carry one of the 42 different specialty products available on the market. My tribe mates may not like the fact that I have no real survivalist qualities. Unless it becomes “Survivor—39 days at the Red Roof Inn” you won’t see me anywhere that far from indoor plumbing.

wpe2.jpg (2313 bytes)Max Perilstein is vice president/general manager of PDC Glass of Michigan. His column appears bimonthly.


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