theBusiness  
So What’s Next???  
b y L y l e R . H i l l  
’m regularly asked where I think our  
I have all kinds of opinions about all and new ways of doing old things will  
industry is going. What’s next? The kinds of things … some may even be put new demands on the glazing con-  
great writer Somerset Maugham worthy of consideration. But I’m not tractor community. Some will adapt  
I
once said,“It is bad enough to know the going to pretend to know any more than and prosper; others will not. The ques-  
past; it would be intolerable to know the the next person, although I do think tion here might be can the firms cur-  
future.” Maugham was considered one there are a few simple matters (glass rently dominating the installation side  
of the best and brightest writers of his and labor shortages,pricing trends,and of our industry keep up, knowing that  
era and was reportedly the highest paid things of that nature) that can be seen the past few years have not been too  
author in the world in the 1930s.I think pretty clearly if we ask the right ques- kind to them? There’s a lot of demand-  
I understand what he was trying to say tions of the right people.But I don’t want ing work coming and I’m not so sure  
with his remark about the future but,for to go that route; it’s too easy. Let’s look we’re ready for it!  
any number of reasons, we love to pre- instead at a couple of major trends I be-  
The second trend is what I will refer  
dict, speculate and dream about what lieve will have a huge impact on the to as the European invasion. It’s been  
might happen next. From a pure busi- façade industry.And while“trend is not happening for a few years now, but the  
ness perspective, this is a necessity.  
destiny” (Rene Dubois said that in case pace is accelerating. Lead by a handful  
I have had the good fortune … at least you are wondering),I think these trends of technically strong German firms, the  
I think it has been good fortune … to at- are worth consideration and discussion. industry is being influenced more and  
tend conferences and luncheons where  
First, the world of architecture as it more by European organizations that  
all kinds of predictions have been made deals with the glass industry has are several years ahead of the domestic  
about the future.I’ve also read a number changed, is changing and will continue manufacturers in energy efficiency and  
of well-written articles about what cer- to change.My reasoning is based on the technical expertise.The large and highly  
tain knowledgeable people believe is recent past. When the recession hit successful architectural glass and metal  
ahead for those of us in the construction North America, our most talented and firms from Europe have landed and they  
industry in general and in the façade stable architectural firms found work are not going back. Just as the Japanese  
field in particular.Not everyone sees the in Asia and the Middle East.Look at the automakers made North American car  
future in the same light. There are pre- names of the firms involved in the pro- manufacturers better,so too will the Eu-  
dictions of a“bust”following the“boom” gressive, creative and often “cutting ropeans make the glass and metal in-  
we find ourselves in today.There is spec- edge” buildings erected around the dustry better. And heaven knows we  
ulation about the lack of competent field world (but not in North America) over have room for improvement.  
labor and talk about material shortages the past few years. The architectural  
and price spikes. The financial people community did not have the same con- to the question at hand … So what’s next?  
talk about money policy and the devel- straints in these foreign countries that My favorite Somerset Maugham  
But now we should probably get back  
opers talk about changing demographics they would have had here. They were quote … and because we started with  
being brought about by the wave of mil- able to ply their trade with much more him it just somehow seems appropriate  
lennials now joining the workforce. freedom. Add to this the fact that a to end with him ... goes like this: “It  
There is all kinds of speculation,count- number of European architectural wasn’t until late in life that I discovered  
less analysis, warnings and predictions firms are now settled successfully into how easy it is to say I don’t know.” s  
with a great deal of disagreement about North America and I think we are  
what is heading our way politically, so- going to see a new wave of façade  
cially, and economically. I often wonder design and construction that  
L y l e R . H i l l is the managing  
if anyone really knows what they are we’ve not necessarily experienced  
director of Keytech North America,  
talking about or are they just making here before. In fact, it’s already  
a company providing research and  
what they think are intelligent guesses? here and some of what we are see-  
technical services for the glass and  
In recent months I’ve had the oppor- ing is marvelous.The“glass enve-  
metal industry. Hill has more than  
tunity to sit on panels that have asked lope,” so to speak,is being pushed  
the participants to discuss where we’re like it has never been pushed be-  
heading,and I have also been quoted in fore. New products, new systems,  
40 years experience in the glass  
and metal industry and can be reached at  
lhill@glass.com. You can read his blog every  
other Monday at lyleblog.usglassmag.com.  
articles dealing with these issues.  
new technologies,new efficiencies  
80  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | May 2016  
www.usglassmag.com