Seizing Opportunities to Forge Meaningful Connections

I’ve spent more time this July traveling than I have in the past year. It’s been a refreshing change of pace—dinners with customers and colleagues, face-to-face conversations, time on the shop floor. These are all things many folks may have taken for granted prior to the pandemic. Now, I’m more thankful than ever for these kinds of opportunities to connect.

Collaboration and information sharing are foundational to our industry. And as I wrote a few months ago, it’s how designers and architects gain the confidence to specify innovative products and components for cutting-edge building design. And while I expect that virtual presentations, CEU courses, and other digital venues for information sharing will remain important in the coming years, sometimes there’s no substitute for seeing things with your own eyes.

Consider the following: Building materials like steel and lumber remain at high prices, and supply chain challenges continue to cause construction delays, but the overall outlook for the commercial construction market is optimistic. Amidst these headwinds, architects must consider a few things when drawing up specifications: Availability, cost-effectiveness, and proof of performance.

Technical documentation can help verify these criteria for architects and designers, but sometimes real, physical demonstrations can have a bigger impact. Commercial glass fabrication offers a good example. Because of the efficiency they can deliver in the fabrication process, specifying automatically applied warm-edge spacer systems can help strike the right balance between cost-effectiveness and high levels of thermal performance. Here, automated systems can both speed up production and reduce the number of workers required to make high-quality units, and may contribute some cost efficiencies on a new project. Especially considering today’s labor crunch, other non-automated systems can lead to lengthier production times and may ultimately drive up per-unit cost.

Examples like this might be illuminating for an architect that doesn’t typically spend a whole lot of time in commercial glass production facilities. And as the design community works diligently to maximize value for every dollar spent, they’ll appreciate the opportunity to identify new areas to achieve performance and cost benefits without sacrificing their vision on a new project.

What I wrote in April remains true. It’s incumbent upon the commercial glass and glazing community to make ourselves open and available to architects and designers, and to advocate for our ability to meet their needs. Building strong relationships is more important than ever. And adapting in a marketplace that will forever be more virtual is critical.

But post-pandemic, I think it’s important our industry seize some of these regained opportunities for plant tours, in-person presentations, and other venues to demonstrate the kind of performance forward-thinking glass technology can provide. In addition, these are great ways for us to continue building build trust and rapport with the architecture and design communities.

I’m looking forward to more in-person interaction and collaboration in our industry in the coming months. Are you? I’d love to hear your thoughts at Joe.Erb@Quanex.com