Volume 40,   Issue 8                                  August  2005

Issue @ Hand

What’s Wrong with Us?

When I asked that question in this column just two months ago (see Issue at Hand, June 2005), I didn’t expect the deluge of opinions and outpouring of emotion I received in response—each a variation on the same theme.

“In reading your most insightful ‘Issue At Hand’ item on page 4 of the June 2005 issue, the answer was clearly evident and stated on page 92 by Mr. Hill,” wrote Jack Deyo, president of Mid-Ohio Tempering in Columbus, Ohio. “We function in an over-capacitated industry that talks value-added yet functions with lip service to profits, low bidder syndrome, high volume/low margin paralysis and an inherent attitude that will not permit a decent return. Your article and facts bear out we are a ‘negative number’ when it comes to pricing progressions. 

This is a growing economic model,” he added. “I do not know if the two articles were intended to be ‘connected,’ but the answer is certainly within both; WE are the enemy, and it will never get better.”

Mr. Deyo isn’t the only one who sees it that way. “I’ve been saying what your article said for years,” Stephen Weidner of Pilkington told me. “It’s unfortunate our industry doesn’t realize that we have the power to change things, yet we don’t.”

“Your comments are 100 percent on target,” wrote Charlie Brown, a project manager for Walters and Wolf. “... We are all so eager to be ‘competitive’ that we commit to do work we are unable to perform for a price that is insufficient to the continued financial health of our companies. I watch vendors and suppliers do it to themselves every day. I've done it myself as a contractor (no doubt a few of my colleagues and past competitors will offer a hearty ‘amen’ to that statement). 

“Worse yet,” he continued, “we don't hesitate to encourage the people around us to do it to themselves if it might give our team an advantage. By doing so, we weaken the companies that are necessary for our own survival. 

Our business is populated by some fairly sharp people, yet we continue to follow a path so self-destructive, we're often left wondering why anyone with a brain would pursue a career in the facade industry ... we have to get back to the basic principals for being successful in business.

“I could go on and on with the cliché. But these are the basics. I choose to work for a company where the owner and the management team are committed to pursuing these principals. 

They don't succeed with every goal every day, but they keep coming back to try again the next day. I hope we can find a way to do the same as an industry. The alternative is a place where Lyle Hill's ‘Laws of Contract Glazing’ truly become the rule of the day.”
Brown went on to provide a great list of how the industry can help right itself. 

You’ll see it on these pages next month. We are a bit short of room in this issue of USGlass as it is a milestone of sorts—it is the largest one ever published. Reaching a circulation of more than 31,000 qualified subscribers, USGlass is the largest and most widely requested glass magazine in the world. Thank you for letting us work for you every day.

USGlass and its sister publications will be at the show Atlanta in booth 3082. Please stop by and see us. It would be nice to spend some time with you!


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