Crunch Time

Has the North American contract glazing industry recovered from COVID? A quick crunch of the numbers says it has. Overall, 2021 sales volume for top contract glaziers was up significantly over 2020. Here’s the aggregated sales volume for USGlass magazine’s top 50 contract glazing companies in 2020 vs. 2021:

That’s a healthy 13.6 percent increase in sales volume. Now let’s take a look at where the pieces of that larger pie went:

Source: USGlass magazine

This means the top 10 contract glaziers increased their sales volume 9.6%. The top 25 increased their sales volume 12.8%. The “top ten” usually work off backlog committed years earlier. The next 15% do as well, of course, but are more likely to have additional short-term capacity available. So it makes sense that they would have picked up a larger share of the upturn in sales volume. Knowing that 2021 still reflected a very unsteady economy due to COVID means that 2022 should be significantly better, right? Well … maybe, as we have some new conditions with which to contend. Most notably among them is inflation. Inflation is eating into everyone’s profit margins, as few materials cost the same as they did when the contract was written. I’ve heard many reports of material price re-negotiation with general contractor support. Higher fuel and energy costs are also of major concern.

Glass manufacturing is an energy-intensive process (for some interesting energy news on what Saint-Gobain is doing, here’s an article we ran in USGNN™ ), and glass must be transported to be used. All that cost must be recouped. Supply chain issues are among the most demoralizing and difficult to resolve. I say demoralizing because, really, is there anything worse than having customers lined up, looking for your product, only to find out you don’t have the parts to make it? Such challenges have led to time delays and more costly secondary markets. Sales and profit are two very different things, of course, and it will be interesting to see how 2021 ends up.