Volume 40,   Issue 1                             January 2005

The Farnady Files

I'll Take Vanilla
    With so Many Option, Why is Clear the Popular Choice?

by Dez Farnady

The ice-cream parlor had all of the choices you could imagine—at least the 31 flavors on the marquee and maybe some more in the freezer. So, in comes this guy for some serious dessert. After a thorough review of all of the options, from apricot sherbet, banana split, cherry-vanilla and double fudge marble, he checks out all of the toppings. From the nuts and candy and all of the special treats he retreats to his ultimate choice. He says, “I’ll take vanilla.”

I watched this performance with serious interest because I knew that from his selection process and his final decision I could determine not only the industry in which he worked, but also his actual profession. Just think about it. With all of the choices available he takes vanilla. He could have done that at the convenience store. 

Based on my long-range experience, I knew this guy worked in the glass business. And, not only could I tell that, but I knew he was a shower door salesman. 

The Blues
It has been nearly 20 years since I first put in a frameless glass tub enclosure. When I ordered the glass, had it polished and the holes drilled everyone wanted to know what I was doing with it. When I told them it was going to be a shower door they all said, “But it’s blue.” Not only was it blue, but it was blue reflective. They all thought I was nuts. The blue color went with the bathroom décor and the reflective surface not only created some privacy in the shower but the mirror look made a narrow bathroom look wider. I personally thought it was a clever coup. 

When I asked some friends in the shower door business (I had some then, even though I may not have any after this is published) what they thought about the colored glass, they all said, “Oh, no, we only use clear glass.” What about all the color options and reflectives available in quarter inch? 

“Oh, no,” they all said, “we prefer the clear. That’s what our customers usually ask for.” 
Yeah, no kidding, I said. Particularly when they can have clear instead of factrolite or maybe a bottle pattern. What about the color options? 

“Oh, no,” was the unanimous answer. “We don’t want to confuse them. They all think clear is so much better than all those pattern products.” 

Yeah, and I am sure it’s all an improvement over obscure wire.

Clear is Clear
The only thing that’s better than clear is more clear. The low iron products are the panacea because it could not possibly get any more clear than it already is. Of course, the value of the low iron products is for the heavy glass frameless shower doors. Who would possibly consider using three-eighths or half-inch tints when more clearer than clear options are available?

The heavy blues and greens are beautiful and, in the right hands, could create amazing effects with some of the modern hardware and high-end bathroom designs. But have you ever seen one? I doubt it. So sorry, you are not invited into my shower. 

What brought all this to mind was the recent renovation of my bathroom. The blue reflective finally went, along with the old tub, to be replaced by a shower with new tile and a new all-glass enclosure. When I told the shower door salesman that I wanted three-eighths blue-green he said, “You mean Starphire?” 

“No, I don’t mean star anything. I said three-eighths blue green. You know, the Pilkington product,” I said.

“The what by who?” he asked.

“That’s OK,” I told him, “Your boss knows what I want.”

So, I will have my three-eighths blue-green glass and you can have your vanilla. You would probably object to my Cherry Garcia just as I would object to seven thirty-seconds P-516. 

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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