Volume 40,   Issue 4                            April  2005

The Farnady Files

The Sample Dance
Never the Right Sample When You Need It

by Dez Farnady

In the attempt to show off my ability to deal with the various products available in the glass industry, I once again pushed my ambition beyond my capacity to produce. Just like people who turn indecisive when faced with a large restaurant menu, baffled by the plethora of choices, my customer was baffled. But it was OK because I thought I knew what I was doing. My contractor described a customer of his who broke down and actually cried when facing the unlimited color and pattern options available. Unlike that contractor, I knew exactly where I was taking my customer. 

A Perfect Plan 
I was offered the perfect design project for a very long skylight. My plan was to vary the light by offering a range of glass products from the same glass family with the maximum light at one end gradually reduced to the minimum at the other. The concept was to provide the most light over the kitchen portion of the house. As the skylight stretched toward the living room, and ultimately south toward the TV area, we would reduce the light as well as the potential for heat gain. 

This is obviously a piece of cake for us “experts.” I thought so anyway until I faced the first hurdle, comparable to the restaurant menu. I am speaking of the manufacturer’s documentation. Each major manufacturer publishes an annual product catalogue with complete glass performance documentation. So I sent my customer the appropriated pages from the brochures of three companies to enlighten him and prove that I knew what I was doing. Well what I sent might as well have been the dinner menu from one of Wolfgang Puck’s fine eateries.

Which Green is Green?
A mental block the size of the Great Wall of China was instantly erected between me and my prospective buyer. I mean, how tough can it be? Each of the three manufacturers makes a light green and a darker green glass. Each one offers the same two greens with a reflective coating. These four options are within percentage points of each other in performance and appearance regardless of the manufacturer. 

He also wanted the “E” glass but didn’t know why and he could not understand the numbers. His wife said she needed to see the product and from there we descended rapidly. They all looked a little different and the numbers were different and different again when combined with low-E options. 

At first, I was not dismayed. I thought I would just show them samples and that is when everything went to heck. So, I needed some physical samples. OK, so you say, what’s the big deal about samples? Have you tried to get some lately? 

To make this as simple as possible, I figured I would get whatever my suppliers had. I did not even want eight; just get me the basic four. I would take either Solex or blue-green for the light green and evergreen or Visteon 2000 or solar-green for the dark one. I would settle for any green reflective. I never did get to the point where I was going to order what could have amounted to some 16 different units because I never even got the four. 

A Simple Sample
I called my friendly neighborhood glass supplier and asked for some 12 x 12 insulating samples. Well, one supplier has some of these and the other has some of those and nobody has all of any of them by the same manufacturer. And nobody had all of any of the four combinations. 

I was not asking Harry’s Hackout Shop for these samples. I was going to some big fabricators; but they all had “issues.” Finally when I got some samples they were the wrong ones—wrong side in or wrong side out. Anyway by that time my quarry had flown the coop. I got this poor guy so confused he went and bought the vanilla glass from the guy who could provide him a simple answer. And as for me, I was stuck with the wrong samples of glass I not only did not want but no longer needed. I did learn a lesson: I am back in the vanilla business.   

The Author:
Dez Farnady serves as general manager of Royalite Manufacturing Inc., a skylight manufacturer in San Carlos, Calif. His column appears monthly.

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