The Other Side of the Story
b y L y l e R . H i l l
ack in the day … and by this I forward to the project. I had worked garding some information he was look-
mean that time some years ago previously with them in Chicago, and ing for.But after just a little while,I asked
when I ran a pretty good-sized they were always pleasant and easy to him how the hurricane had affected him.
glass shop on Chicago’s north side … deal with.A plum assignment,I thought. “Let me tell you, Lyle, it has not been a
nothing got my mind racing or my heart But when the forecasts came out for good thing for me. My biggest job … the
pumping quite like the prospect of a Hurricane Harvey, my travel plans were one I thought would carry me through the
good wind storm. Chicago is known for quickly cancelled. Harvey hit harder fourthquarter…hasbeenshutdowndue
them, and many years ago a somewhat than expected and was soon followed by to ﬂoodwater damage and may not start
famous song by Lou Rawls referred Hurricane Irma in Florida. Both caused up again for at least another month.I have
to the wind in Chicago as “The Hawk” massive destruction and widespread a couple of other jobs that are scheduled
because it swept in so fast and showed ﬂooding. The damage was nothing like to start in January, and I had planned on
no mercy. I certainly never wished any what Puerto Rico has had to deal with, beingoff of theonesoIcouldstarttheoth-
harm to anyone,and I didn’t want to see but certainly severe enough.
ers by then.Add to this the fact that some
excessive property damage, either. But Soon after, I had the occasion to call of mybestinstallershaveleftme,andIcer-
wind storms were the friend of those in a contact of mine in South Florida, and tainly don’t blame them,and you can see I
the glass business in the “Windy City.” of course, it didn’t take long for the have some serious problems.”
The only thing better for business than conversation to turn to the hurricane
There are those in our industry who
a wind storm in those days was a winter and its aftermath. After asking about are smiling broadly these days at the
blizzard. When the forecast came out, any damage to his home or shop, I said thought of increased demand for their
the trucks that handled board-ups were to my glazing contractor friend, “So I products. Demand was already up,
loaded to the maximum with plywood guess this hurricane thing is pretty and the natural disasters we have ex-
and 2-by-4s, and the loading crews and good for business, right?”
perienced will push that demand even
glaziers were put on notice to expect
some long work days ahead.
“Lyle,” my old friend began, “it may higher at a time when shortages of
put me out of business. I don’t do a glass are already being claimed. Short
That was the era before safety glazing whole lot of replacement work, and supply + increased demand = price in-
codes, and those oversized plate glass I have a warehouse full of fabricated creases. The smile grows even broader.
storefront windows set in old cast iron framing and expensive glass that I can’t And honestly, I am happy for them.But
or rotting wood frames were usually install because of damage to the project they are only part of the story.
no match for the winds once they came where it is to be installed.In addition to
There is an old Chinese saying that
howling through the streets of Chicago. this very large job, I had two others that translates loosely to “One man’s good
The insurance companies and retail- were to start in mid-September. I can’t fortune often equals another man’s
ers hated them … the glass shops that get to work on any of them, and the misfortune.” And this might just be the
did replacement work loved them. Code bills for the materials on the big job are other side of the story. n
changes, along with the replacement of due. Half my crew has left me to
iron and wood framing with aluminum work for a roofer who is paying
that neither rusted nor rotted, changed them more than I did and letting
L y l e R . H i l l is the managing
all of this, and actually changed it pretty them work all the hours they
director of Keytech North America,
quickly. But there was a time when want. He’s also told them he has
a company providing research and
technical services for the glass and
glass-replacement work in the larger cit- work in Puerto Rico if they want
ies was a huge and proﬁtable business.
to travel. Not sure if I’ll ever see
metal industry. He also provides
glass-related advice on Glass.com.
Hill has more than 40 years’ experience in the
glass and metal industry and can be reached
at email@example.com. You can read his blog every
other Monday at lyleblog.usglassmag.com.
I was scheduled to go to Texas in early them again. If my bank doesn’t
September to meet with a developer on help me out, I’m in real trouble.”
an upcoming eight-building complex.
Just two days after that conver-
I was working with them as their cur- sation, I got a call from a glazing
tainwall consultant, and I was looking contractor out of Houston re-
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | October 2017