It’s Deja Vu on Deja Vu

What’s the popular culture definition of insanity? Doing things the same way and expecting different results. Well, glass industry plus annual AIA Convention = insanity because sometimes I just feel like Bill Murray in Ground Hog’s Day.

Or at least I think so. I have never actually seen the movie all the way through, but I’ve caught enough pieces of it on cable to know it’s about a guy who keeps living the same day over and over, determined to make the outcome different, yet frustrated when he can’t. Yup, I’m Bill. Here’s why.

Last year, in discussing the AIA ’13 show in Denver, I raised a familiar flag about our industry’s lack of work together. Specifically, I wrote:

“Shame on us, again. It was a nice show floor. The stone industry had a great pavilion, the wood industry had a joint message, I think even the brick guys had a group marketing effort. But the glass industry …. uh, not so much. Not at all, in fact. If ever there were a group before which the industry should put forth a common message of energy-efficiency and cohesiveness, it’s the architects. But this was not to be and this is why we get pummeled by groups like ASHRAE. They count on us to be disjointed. I talked to a few manufacturers about it and most liked the idea but each, in their own way, said the same thing “Oh, wait ‘til our lawyers get a hold of this; they will never let us do it.” And that is a real shame.”

Henry Taylor of Kawneer deep in architectural conversation at his company's booth.
Henry Taylor of Kawneer deep in architectural conversation at his company’s booth.

Well, it’s one year later and exactly the same. All those groups—and some new ones—have increased their presence, but not the glass industry. A number of glass manufacturers and suppliers had their own booths for sure. Yet there was no way for glass as a building material to quench the thirst of other building materials that want a bigger piece of the building façade. And, while each manufacturer surely has a right to get its message across to architects, I think we are generally stronger when we jointly promote the materials.

Consider this: our editors who were intent on covering the seminars at the show about glass or related topics found none to cover. Zero. Nada. Zilch. That will go a long way toward educating the architects. Any attendee could attend up to four sessions about building subfloors, but general industry education about glass was not available. Manufacturer-specific education was.

I don’t blame the manufacturers for this. Actually, I blame the state of our legal system that makes it so hard and cumbersome for different manufacturers to communicate without being accused of untoward acts. Yet the wood producers and the brick makers and a seemingly infinite number of other building material manufacturers have been able to do so. Shouldn’t we be too?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Because next year, as AIA 2015 in Atlanta comes to an end, I don’t want to be sitting here writing this same blog again with no hope for different results. Insane.