Volume 38, Issue 9, September 2003


The Pressure Points — To Architects
   Often with Architects, the Pressure is On

by Max Perilstein

Once a year, I go to the doctor for a physical. I get myself in a positive state of mind so when it’s time for the nurse to take my blood pressure, I’m a million miles away from the glass business and the hustle and bustle we go through each day. I have never, despite at a time being grossly overweight, had high blood pressure. On the drive over I was ready, but then the phone rang and my blood started to boil.

The calls were about an issue that had consumed me: the contradiction of the modern-day architect. Nearly every time I talk to architects or read an article interviewing architects, they exclaim “No one educates us anymore” or “Years ago PPG and LOF had a guy in to see me weekly,” and that’s why they are seemingly out of the loop. Sounds right, but when you try to educate or communicate, a majority of architects don’t want to hear it. 

And the Dilemma Is …
I was on the phone with a customer who needed a clarification of a specification on which I had been working for more than a week. Early on in the process I asked Lowell Rager, Visteon’s legendary architectural manager, for his help in trying to get an explanation. The spec called for a product neither of us had ever heard of, so Lowell offered to call the architect for clarification. He called and left messages for most of the week. When he asked if there was anyone else handling the job, he was told no, and that no one at the firm knew anything but the person for whom he was asking. Lowell hadn’t yet gotten an answer, so I had to tell the customer that I was still empty-handed. This was not good for the old blood pressure; I was just steaming inside. 

Then my phone rang again and it was another architectural issue. While submitting insulating samples for a job, the architect rejected the samples based on what he considered the wrong performance values on the label. He sent a copy of the label to me and I was stunned when they matched number for number the proper performance. I called the architect and left a message for him so I could see what his thinking was. On the phone now was this architect, who stated that in his opinion we did not match the performance he wanted. I pulled over and grabbed the brochure of the glass manufacturer in question and stared at the numbers. I thought to myself, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ The architect then re-read the numbers for which he was looking, and as I flipped through that brochure I noticed the numbers … on the monolithic performance page. I told him I found what he wanted but it was for single-lite performance. He huffed hurriedly in my ear that there had to be some mistake on my end and he’d get to back to me with exactly what that was.

I’m feeling great at this point. If you believe that, you’ll believe that I look exactly like Tom Cruise. Oh, well, so much for a positive state of mind. 

Getting Things Straight
Anyway, to wrap up the loose ends from above, the first architect finally called Lowell back after almost two weeks. He said he had no idea why the specification said what it did, and he’d have to get with the guy who wrote it. Wow, someone else at the firm did actually know what was happening on that job, color me shocked!

As for the second architect, he too got back to us and went with what we had proposed in our original rejected samples. He also blamed a counterpart saying that someone else in his firm was convinced those numbers were good for an insulating unit.

As seen in some past letters in USGlass, I’m not the only one who is suffering with these dilemmas, though I may be the only one who can blame his high blood pressure on them. My readings were the highest they ever were—which set off alarms all over. The good news, though, is when I went back two weeks later, on a Saturday, my blood pressure was again normal.

 Max Perilstein 

Max Perilstein
serves as director of marketing for Arch Aluminum and Glass. His column appears bimonthly.


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