I’ve written a lot in recent months about the ongoing influence energy performance has on the commercial fenestration space. We can’t ignore it. Delivering on the needs of our evolving market will require our collective innovation, advocacy and commitment to delivering quality commercial glass and window systems.
Of course, we’re not pursuing this mission in a vacuum. A confluence of unique circumstances continues to challenge the traditional ways we’re used to doing business. Many commercial glass professionals are focused on dealing with labor and supply chain issues, and it can seem difficult if not impossible to focus on other areas of the business.
How are you dealing with these challenges? How are you responding to lengthy lead times? Product shortages? Demand for systems that meet new building codes? Price increases? These are the questions I’ve been trying to help my customers answer in recent months, and in those discussions, some common themes have arisen. Here are a couple of them:
Choose the right components for the right reason. In the face of longer lead times, shortages or rising prices on critical components, a simple solution presents itself: Look for alternatives.
The reality of that decision, however, can be anything but simple. If you’ve been building your glass systems a certain way for a long time, a different component can potentially throw a monkey wrench into your process. Perhaps it isn’t handled or applied the same way and may require retraining your plant floor staff. Or, say you’ve switched to a component for pricing reasons. It’s important to consider whether your alternative supplier’s product has a reputation you can trust, and whether that supplier will support your team should any type of issues occur. After all, your reputation is at stake.
The point is this: The way you design and construct your glass systems should be intentional. It can be tempting to let pricing or availability guide your hand (and in some cases, it may be a short-term necessity) but it can’t be at the cost of sacrificing the quality of your systems. This is particularly true as the glazing industry contends with rising thermal performance demands. Not only must our products meet high standards for performance, but they also must demonstrate the ability to be durable.
Find a helping hand. While you’re making decisions about sourcing critical components, another consideration to make about the suppliers you choose to work with is the value they can provide beyond just the components themselves.
The new thermal efficiency demands provide a good example. Let’s say you’ve bid on a project where local codes (or perhaps the project’s architect) dictate the window systems in the structure achieve a certain thermal performance minimum. It’s a more challenging target than a lot of your recent work—but it’s a project worth pursuing, and if it’s accomplished successfully, can grant your business some extra clout.
Design assistance can be valuable here, and your supplier maybe able to help. For example, a high-performing spacer provider has likely been involved with numerous projects requiring top levels of performance and may be able to provide ideas that can help you hit the required performance numbers in a more efficient manner. They may also be able to provide training or quality assurance services to ensure every unit meets the quality levels your customer expects.
Meeting the challenges of today’s industry requires collaboration. Working with vendors and suppliers who are willing to share ideas along with quality products can be a recipe for success.