Volume 44, Issue 2 - February 2009

Contract Glazing

Lower Gas Prices … Good News for Glass Shops

Just a few months ago gas prices in many parts of the country were more then $4. But that has changed recently, with prices in some places quickly falling below $2. Just as glass companies had to change their businesses to accommodate the added expense of high gasoline costs, they are now adjusting to the lower costs—as well as slower market conditions.

Keith Harvey is a co-owner of J&R Glass Co. Inc. in Moody, Ala. His company does commercial storefront and curtainwall work in Northern Alabama, Northeast Georgia and parts of Eastern Tennessee. He says that back when gas costs were high he chose to accommodate the added expense much in same fashion as his suppliers—with a fuel surcharge.

“I determined that cost based on the number of days of the work and the distance to the jobsite,” says Harvey. “I didn’t call it a fuel surcharge, though; I called it a travel charge.”

And now that gas prices are down he says he’s still using the travel charge, though he has adjusted the cost.

Likewise, surcharges from suppliers have not gone away, either.

“We still see them, but they are about half the cost of what they were,” says Harvey.

Ashley Bohannon, a manager for Crystal Glass Co. in Birmingham, Ala., agrees.

“They [surcharges] have dropped by about 5-7 percent,” says Bohannon.

Like many construction companies, Crystal Glass has felt the pinch of these tough times. Bohannon says her company had to let two of its employees go in the past month.

“But business is slowly starting to pick up again; and now that fuel costs are down it has helped, too,” she adds.

While his company does have a good backlog of work, Harvey says business is still down.

“We did do a lot of negotiated, retail work, but we don’t see too many retail jobs right now,” says Harvey. “We’ve taken to doing schools, churches and more of the open-bid work.”

And in order to try and save on expenses during these tough times, Harvey says his company is doing a lot of the work themselves that they would have outsourced in the past. 

“Also, we don’t stock as much ¾-inch glass and we’ve started cutting more of our own,” says Harvey, who adds, “Like everyone else, we’re just trying to weather the storm.”

Sound Glass Relocates

Sound Glass in Tacoma, Wash., has relocated and expanded its corporate office and showroom to a new facility that’s located just two blocks from its previous operations. The company is now operating in more than 22,000 square feet of space; the retail portion and shop area each have more than twice the space that they had previously and the office section is three times the size of the older facility.

“The company had grown so much we needed more offices, workspace and warehouse space,” says Damon King, marketing director.

According to King, one of the most exciting aspects of the new facility is the expanded showroom, which features a switchable glazing wall that can go from clear to opaque.

The majority of the company’s commercial work is done at a separate fabrication facility a few miles from the new location. The new facility will serve mainly as a distribution hub. 

In all, Sound Glass has three locations; however there are no definite plans to expand the others at this time. But King adds, “There are always discussions about what we can do to become an even more efficient business environment.”

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