Volume 40,   Issue 4                                April 2005

Issue @ Hand

Not All Talk Is Cheap

I admit it: sometimes I talk too much. I have been known to ramble on aimlessly, often forgetting or digressing from my original point. In elementary school teachers would comment on my report cards, “Ellen talks too much.” By junior high teachers no longer sent the notes home to my parents. Instead I spent a few afternoons after school banging erasers together to clean them from chalk dust—a painless, but embarrassing punishment. 

By the time I entered the working world I was still chatty. At an early job after college a co-worker bet me a dollar I couldn’t be quiet for 10 minutes. I won that dollar, but I do believe that 10 minutes was the longest I’ve ever known. 

In February I put that “gift” to the test in Las Vegas at the Glass Association of North America’s Building Envelope Contractors conference (see related article on page 64). More than 300 people attended. During the conference I gave a presentation on the USGlass 2003-2004 contract glazier survey. 

The survey was sent to more than 8,000 glazing contractor subscribers to USGlass. Respondents could either mail their questionnaire back to us or fill it in online. Overall, we had a 23-percent response rate, which, for this type of survey, is amazingly good. The questions asked dealt with demographics, business trends, working with architects and supplier relations and other concerns. 

When looking at respondents’ overall demographic information, there were no big surprises. Most contract glazing companies are small-to medium-in size, and the majority of companies surveyed (84 percent) have been in business for more than ten years. As for the individual respondents, which included owners, presidents and top managers, 85 percent have been in the industry for more than ten years. And, while the fact that results showed most contract glaziers are men was no surprise (90 percent), what we did find interesting is that this number decreased from 95 percent the last time we conducted this survey, meaning more women are entering the contract glazing industry.

What more did we learn about glazing contractors? The following are a few highlights of the results.

• The majority of respondents (39 percent) said their companies have between two and ten employees; 6 percent said they have more than 100 employees.
• The majority of respondents (51 percent) said their annual sales were between $1 million and $ 5 million; 1 percent reported sales of more than $50 million annually.
• The top three items that most adversely affect business were: 1) Competitors who don’t know their true costs; 2) Finding qualified employees; and 3) Slow payment for jobs and high worker’s comp costs (tied).
• The three items that least adversely affect business were: 1) Unions/labor problems; 2) Minority set-asides; and 3) Bonding problems.
• When dealing with architects, 55 percent said architects were moderately educated on glass and metal; 40 percent said they were poorly educated.
• Contract glaziers also spend a lot of time training architects. Of our respondents, 24 percent told us they spend 20-30 percent of their time training architects; 19 percent spend more than 40 percent of their time training architects.
• When it comes to getting a specification changed, 28 percent said cost is the number-one determining factor; improper usage, with a 14-percent response, was least important.

Plans are now in the works for our 2005-2006 survey, which will be done later this year. To learn more about this program, contact me at echilcoat@glass.com. 
—Ellen Giard Chilcoat

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