Volume 43, Issue 1 - January 2008

From the Fabricator

Picking Your Friends 
Knowing When the “Trend is Your Friend” 
by Max Perilstein 

The quote “The trend is your friend” was, I think, first said to me by one of my co-workers. Roger, who also happens to be a professional poker player, used it in the context of gambling and how you have to ride that hot hand until it finally gives out. Well, in our industry, sometimes the trend is your friend, but other times it’s not.

We are seeing plenty of trends in the industry these days. Being “green” is one of them. If you are not green and not promoting that fact like crazy you are simply missing out. To me that is a good trend and a trend that, as Roger would say, “is your friend.” Being green has forced people to understand, sell and promote products that are better for the environment and better for energy efficiency. So getting behind that process really has had a ton of extra benefits. The funny thing is, I knew people that were promoting green before it got popular and they were scoffed at and abused for coming up with such notions. Now, if you don’t have a green plan and details to back it up, you are the outcast.

Another positive trend is the move to promoting the high performance neutral low-E glasses. They are great products that perform better than anything we’ve ever seen, with a color that won’t make designers queasy. Add to it the new wave of thermally-improved/broken spacers that seem to pop up in specifications all the time now and you have yet another cool development.

The Not-So Friendly Trends
But there are the bad trends too. You know, like when you are playing blackjack and you are constantly dealt 13’s and 14’s. And that one time you get dealt the 20, the dealer either turns over a blackjack or makes you suffer while he pulls six cards that add up to 21. (Side note, this happens to me way too much. Meanwhile, my brother Steve always sits on the other side of this; I have never seen a better blackjack player—ever.)

The trend that is most worrisome to me is that architects and designers want to go bigger and bigger on their glass spans. They want glass as big as can be made. I have seen sizes ranging from 96 by 160 to monsters measuring 120 by 185. Even worse, I see sizes of the aforementioned low-E glass that are nightmarishly large for several reasons.

So why don’t I like this trend? After all it’s more glass, bigger pieces and higher profile projects, usually. Well, first and foremost, the designers rarely ever take into account the issues that come with making glass bigger. First, as anyone who deals with glass knows, it’s dangerous. Making a piece that is “oversize” just ratchets up that situation even more. In addition, the heat treatment of the product takes on a tougher role. While most fabricators feel comfortable with meeting the specifications, it’s still a disruption to the way the plant works. And in the case of the low-E’s, it does take a real expert to understand how to set their ovens to be able to be able to run successfully. In addition, people are even using measuring equipment to ensure that they are within spec, and that, too, just adds to the adventure.

Now, I see the reasons that those in the design community want bigger pieces and respect their ideals, but the problem is that sometimes their ideas are not as simple as they think. It really changes the way everyone in the chain (from fabricator to glazier) has to work. Don’t get me wrong, I am not scared of it, but as a trend, I count it on the “not good” side because when you have so many issues working against you, the odds of success are diminished. 

Bottom line is there are always good and bad trends, and the key is taking advantage of the good and minimizing the bad. Plus, there probably are many people who would prefer to make oversize tempered insulating units to using a high low-E or a thermally-broken spacer, so it’s truly to each his own. 

Max Perilstein serves as the vice president of marketing for Arch Aluminum and Glass. Mr. Perilstein’s opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of this magazine. His column appears bi-monthly.

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