On the Road with USGlass

June Bugs

Can you believe that it is June already?  Depending on where you live, June is either your first glimpse of summer or your last of spring. June also means weddings, graduations and Father’s Day. But for me, June is all about something different.

For me, June is all about architects. That’s because the June issue of USGlass magazine focuses on the architect-glass industry interface, and our Architects Guide to Glass & Metal bi-monthly has its largest issue of the year. And it’s also the month we prep for and attend the American Institute of Architect’s annual convention, which will be held June 26-28 at McCormick Place in Chicago. If you are there, please stop by and say hello. We will be in booth 4455.

Having been part of this glass industry for more years than I’d like to mention right now, it’s been pretty apparent that contract glaziers and architects have a … shall we say … relationship that defies description. Let’s just say the term “dysfunctional” does come to mind. It’s my experience that, with some notable exceptions, architects and glazing contractors seem to lack trust, respect and appreciation for each other as groups in general. So for this June, I decided to try and find out way.

The cold, hard truth can be a bit harsh. So I put together a list of the top five complaints that architects have about glaziers and vice versa and I reported on the top five “things glaziers would like architects to know” in the June issue of USGlass magazine.  It’s interesting to me that the top five complaints, if you will, stem from a perceived belief that architects view glazing contractors as fungible, with their only distinguishing quality of note being price.

As one glazing contractor told me “they seduce us. They call and say they have a major project and want us in early … that we are the only ones they trust to value-engineer it with them, work through it and help with the specs. We spend hours doing so, in many cases saving them tens of thousands of dollars and enhancing the project’s look and performance.

“But when it comes time to award the job, they say ‘we have to bid it out. You understand, don’t you? We have to give everyone an equal chance.’ Really, why? I know this job better than anyone. This job you wouldn’t trust anyone else to help you with on the front end, you now will entrust to any number of companies that might offer you a lower price. You say quality matters. I am not so sure.”

“My favorite architects are the ones that continue to spec projects that have not been manufactured for at least ten years, then fight me on substitutions….”

You get the idea.

But turn-about is fair play, and I have a pretty good list developed from architects that I will share with you shortly. Again, harsh words, but words provided in an effort to increase and enhance communication between the two groups.

So how about it? Architects, have at it. Tell me what drives you crazy about the glass industry. And glass guys, do the same. Let’s get it all on the table so we can learn and grow from it.