Identifying the Opportunity During Periods of Uncertainty

It’s hard to pay attention to much else but the COVID-19 outbreak these past couple of weeks. It’s an unprecedented situation and, as such, there’s plenty of uncertainty in the industry at the moment.

My advice: Control what you can control. Stay informed through credible sources. Do what’s within your power to follow the guidance that’s been provided by our institutions to stay safe and healthy.

With that said, much of our industry’s work isn’t possible to perform remotely. Whether it’s building high-quality products on shop floors or installing high-performance glazing on new buildings, this all involves people in physical locations doing physical tasks. OSHA recently provided guidance on how to stay safe and healthy in these situations.

What else can we do at a time like this? How can we best prepare our businesses for an uncertain future? And what opportunities might there be for us to take advantage of? Here are some things to think about:

Be adaptable. I wrote recently about the importance of being resilient and adaptable as an organization, to best succeed in evolving market conditions. Code changes, shifting design trends and the availability of new technology can all impact the way we do business, and there’s no doubt that our current situation is pretty fluid. Adaptability will be key—if your company culture has prioritized this trait, it’ll come in handy now. Processes will need adjusting, job priorities may shift and we’ll need to roll with the punches as best we can.

Make the most of your time. As of this writing, much of the building and construction industry is operating under a “business as usual” philosophy. Many jobsites haven’t slowed, according to Construction Dive—major pauses have so far been the exception. But that could change, and the commercial glass industry could be facing some downtime.

We can make the most of it. Maybe it’s time to catch up on some critical maintenance tasks on the shop floor. You could work on training for employees. Take a closer look at your strategic plan. Whatever it is, you can likely find some means of strengthening your business in some way.

Keep in communication. Maintaining clear lines of communication with your customers, vendors and suppliers is always important, but especially during periods of uncertainty. Make sure you’re checking in with all stakeholders regularly to talk through how you can continue to support each other. And though we might be limited in our abilities to connect face to face for a little while, there are plenty of other ways we can connect with technology. Consider a video chat instead of a phone call, for example.

No matter what the next few months bring with them, I know that the commercial glass industry has always been resilient. We’ll come through this on the other side together.

Joe Erb is commercial sales specialist with Quanex Building Products.