On the Road with USGlass

5 Ways Trump Will Affect the Glass Industry

Photo / Daniel Huizinga
Trump’s buildings have always sported a lot of glass. (Photo / Daniel Huizinga)

Triumph or Trumped? I suspect the way you answer that question will have a lot to do with how you voted in the election last Tuesday. While it’s NOT my place to comment on who won and who lost, it IS my job to provide what I believe the ramifications of that presidency will be on the glass and glazing industry. So here are my top five:

1 – Transportation construction: The good news is that a lot of money will be allocated for federal projects under an anticipated transportation bill. Trump has indicated he will be asking for $1 trillion dollars to rebuild the U.S. infrastructure. The bad news is mostly for roads, tunnels and other items that don’t use a lot of glass.

How will a Trump presidency affect the glass industry? (Photo / Michael Vadon)

2 – Institutional construction: But included in that transportation bill is expected to be significant funding for airports, hospitals and schools, all buildings that typically do showcase a lot of glass. Trump himself has often railed against the two New York airports. In one of the debates, he compared the Empire States’ airports unfavorably to the “world’s greatest airports like Dubai,” calling them airports you’d more likely find in “third-world countries.”  Odds are exceedingly high New York’s first president since Franklin Roosevelt will get this done.

3 – Government construction: By this I mean construction spending for any of the three branches of government. Trump himself has pledged to remodel the White House. “We’ll have a ballroom at the White House,” he said at a January campaign event in Souix City, Iowa, mentioning as an aside that he once offered the Obama administration at least $100 million to add an indoor ballroom to the White House. “We’ll put it someplace so it works contextually, magnificently,” Trump said.

The largest room in the White House, the State Dining Room, can only hold about 120 people comfortably. The last state dinner, for example, served 350 people—in a tent on the lawn. Look for Trump to change that and upgrade many of the government buildings around Washington through a variety of methods, including public-private partnership.

Trump commenting on a USGNN.com™ article regarding his use of Chinese product, via fax.
Trump commenting on a USGNN.com™ article regarding his use of Chinese product, via fax.

4 – Trade and Tariffs: If true to his campaign pledges, nowhere will Trump’s influence be felt more strongly in the glass industry than in the importation of glass, metal and related products from other countries.

When I started in the glass industry more than 30 years ago, there were five primary glass manufacturers here in the U.S. All of them were U.S. companies. Today, only one of those companies remains U.S.-owned.

The country also was full of independent fabricators, mirror and furniture glass manufacturers. Today, the number of independent fabricators has dwindled, mostly as a result of consolidation, and there is little mirror or furniture glass made here. It remains to be seen how a Trump administration will change this dynamic.

5 – Energy Building Codes: while it’s general knowledge that the incoming president is not a believer in global warming, the consensus among most policy watchers is that this will not signal a rapid reversal of direction for energy codes. The goals of energy independence, efficiency, net-zero buildings and more have remained in place across Republican and Democratic administrations. They are likely to continue. What is expected to change are the restrictions on America’s energy reserves. It is anticipated that Trump will lift restrictions on up to $50 trillion worth of oil, shale, nature gas and coal.

Next time: 5 Ways Trump will Affect All Industry