Volume 46, Issue 9 - October 2011


Gauging Confidence


As anyone who has been in this industry for a while knows, getting your hands on good industry research is not easy. And when you do, it is almost always proprietary information that isn’t shared readily.

And as anyone who has been in this industry a while also knows, getting a sense of how its major players feel about the future—a consumer confidence index for the glass industry, if you will—has not existed. Until now.

Last spring, USGlass magazine commissioned Keytech North America to create a confidence index for the industry. The idea was to develop a measure of how various segments of the glass industry view the future and how much confidence they have in it. Keytech has spent the past several months developing such an index for USGlass. It will appear in these pages on a regular basis beginning with this issue (see related story on page 28). USGlass has commissioned Keytech to provide this research in five market segments on a semi-annual basis, beginning with contract glaziers. Indices for retailers, manufacturers and fabricators also are planned. We also plan to track changes and trends over time.

It is our hope to provide the glass industry, and its suppliers and customers, with a look at how the various market segments are approaching the future. For contract glaziers, the USGlass Contract Glazier Confidence Index was developed after extensive research focused on five major areas:

Measure one: Anticipated backlog change during the next six months;

Measure two: Anticipated changes in number of employees in the next six months;

Measure three: Overall confidence in the construction industry during the next six months;

Measure four: Anticipated purchases of equipment and machinery in the near future; and

Measure five: Anticipated change in profit margins during the next six months.

A look at the results, available on page 28, show an industry very much in flux, with wide variations depending on geography.


This month’s issue also contains two detailed investigative reports. The first, by editor Megan Headley, delves into the “controversy” surrounding the incidents of glass breakage that seems to be increasing in balconies. I am not so convinced there is a higher incidence of such breakage; I am convinced there is a higher incidence of reporting of such incidences. And the question of cause—nickel sulfide vs. improper design or installation vs. under-engineering—has been around for more than 30 years. Megan’s report begins on page 32.

The second article, titled “Could They or Couldn’t They?” by contributing editor Tara Taffera appears on page 42. It attempts to answer the question of whether or not the prismatic glass specified for 1 World Trade Center could have been made. It details the rise and fall of the use of prismatic glass on the podium wall of the building. The article explains much of the behind-the-scenes intrigue that went on as prismatic glass was spec’d on, then off, the wall.

Both editors attempt to answer the questions about what went wrong. One thing is for sure: there is enough finger-pointing going on to send a man around the globe. We hope all three features prove enlightening for you.


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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.