The event was held in conjunction with GlassBuild America: The Glass Window and Door Expo and kicked off with a panel discussion about the state of the industry, featuring field leaders Mic Patterson, director of strategic development for Enclos Corp., Jay Phillips, commercial segment director, Americas, for Guardian Industries, and Oliver Stepe, senior vice president of YKK AP.The group led with discussions of the rebounding economy. “What a difference the last 12 to 18 months has been,” Stepe said. “However, the level of market, even with this growth, is still far below peak.”“We still have a long climb.There is momentum; nonresidential has picked up,” Phillips added.
The industry emerging from the downturn is a different industry, the panelists said, as companies that survived did so by adapting and changing. “All of you have survived, but you all have changed your business. You learned to do more with less,” Phillips said.
“You are stronger than you were two years ago. You’re better, but so are your competitors,” Stepe said.
Glass companies need to continue to innovate and improve to remain competitive, Patterson added. During the recession, “you made technology improvements. You made operational improvements. You can’t get slack now that things have slowed,” he said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, with market development and product development. We have to innovate like crazy.”
As the market improves, capacity for glass and glazing will become strained, the panelists said. “Companies have been hesitant in investing [in new facilities], and capacity hasn’t increased. Lead times are increasing considerably,” Phillips said.
In order to be successful as strains on capacity affect the industry, companies in all segments, from glaziers to fabricators to manufacturers, will need to have better planning. “The successful companies will be those that have the best handle on the supply chain,” Phillips said.