Glass Shops Recall How 9/11 Changed Business, Market Demand
September 9, 2011

By Sahely Mukerji

As they approach the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11, glass shop owners in the New York City and Washington, D.C. metro areas remember how that day impacted their companies and the glass industry.

“Certainly, there was a downturn in our business following 9/11, partially because people’s minds were not in tune to buying,” says Marcy Karpel, vice president of Crosstown Shade and Glass in New York City. “In addition to glass, I do custom window treatments and decorations. People were not in the mindset to do that kind of thing. A big bulk of my business comes from the Wall Street people. They were heavily affected by 9/11, so, my business took a downturn. It was at least 6 months before people got over the trauma and tried to get back to normalcy.”

For David Majewski, president of Jerome Aluminum Products in Westbury, N.Y., the nature of the business slowed down and changed, as well.

“In the following weeks, my business slowly started to roll again, but beat to a different drum,” he says. “From that day on, everything changed. The incoming projects to bid on slowed down considerably. Communication with clients was compromised, which in turn caused a chokehold on our economic state. It did take quite some time for the noose around our neck to slowly loosen, millimeter by millimeter. Unfortunately or fortunately, we did learn to tighten our belt and to run a leaner business.”

The most visible change for Thomas Chen, president of Crystal Window & Door Systems in Flushing, N.Y., was in the nature of the demand. “The most notable change to the fenestration industry attributable to the events of 9/11 has probably been the uptick in demand for more ‘rugged’ glass, window and curtainwall systems,” he says. “It is now not uncommon to see tempered, laminated, impact- and blast-resistant glass being specified for major new construction or renovation building projects.”

Michael Z. Nicklas, business development manager at JE Berkowitz LP in Pedricktown, N.J., agrees: “[Since 9/11] overall, we have seen an increase in blast-[resistant] glass applications.”

The D.C. metro area, being a seat of government agencies, experienced the same change in demand, too.

“There was an increase in the amount of blast-mitigation material that we supply to the military vehicles,” says Ed Turner, sales representative at Hawkins Glass Wholesalers in Stafford, Va. “We supply the glazing in those vehicles directly to the military. In the architectural end, there was an increase in the projects that are on bases or in close proximity of the bases. D.C., being the seat of political power, the use of blast-mitigation glass went up. There was probably a 35-percent increase in sales of the vehicle and architectural glass over the next year. Embassies started to beef up their glazing. I don’t think there was a decline in the use of glass.”

A lot of GSA buildings now require blast-resistant glass, but the change wasn’t immediate, says Steve Bouchard, president of Glass Distributors Inc. in Bladensburg, Md.

In a different vein, the way to do business also changed for Bouchard. “Some of the orders we had for the government were canceled,” he says. “One job for the Smithsonian for a bunch of glass inside the museum could not be shipped, because of the fallout from 9/11. Security stopped everything going into government buildings. We had to get security clearance for our drivers.”

Back in the NYC area Paul Bieber, USGlass columnist and blogger, experienced the same with his drivers. “We were loading our trucks full, and it took us a long time to get into NYC. The security and the traffic were delaying us, and it took us take 3 to 4 hours to get there, instead of an hour or hour and a half. It impacted the drivers the most. They were pulled over for security check three-to-four times. They had to carry their IDs.”

Look for the September USGlass Magazine for more on the changes in protective glazing over the last ten years.

Need more info and analysis about the issues?
CLICK HERE to subscribe to USGlass magazine.