Industry Forecasts Slow Times for 2009
With 2009 only days away, USGNN.com has asked a number of glass
industry professionals about the challenges that they predict the
new year will hold.
Bill Yanek, executive vice president of the Glass Association of
North America (GANA), makes a prediction that should not be new
to members of the construction industry. "Based upon what we are
hearing from GANA members, 2009 commercial construction will continue
to slow," he says.
"We're expecting to see a continuing decline in commercial construction
activity in 2009 as we have seen in 2008," agrees Ed Zaucha, chief
executive officer of APG International and chairman of the Finishing
Contractors Association Glazing Advisory Committee. He adds, "We
also expect the decline in commercial construction activity to be
more dramatic with the smaller sized projects. Many small glazing
contractors are really hurting right now."
However, larger glazing contractors also are feeling the impact
of construction slowdowns. "So far it appears that there is already
a significant slowdown in bidding and design for new commercial
projects," says Jeff Haber, managing partner of W&W Glass LLC in
Nanuet, N.Y. "In addition, numerous projects have been placed on
hold or cancelled that were scheduled to go ahead the second half
The challenges being predicted for 2009 are familiar, but will
be amplified by the current conditions of the country's economy.
"One of the biggest challenges for our industry will be retaining
the talent we have developed in our industry since the last big
construction downturn in the early 90s," says Zaucha. "This includes
not only field personnel but also project managers, estimators,
designers, engineers, etc."
"We believe the biggest challenge is going to be trying to keep
prices at reasonable levels that are reflective of one's actual
costs and not of a desire to just stay in business at any price,
as the latter will only fuel a further decline in prices," Haber
"Profitability," is the challenge, agrees Robert Price, director
of sales of JE Berkowitz LP in Pedricktown, N.J. "The professional
challenge will be to navigate through the economic uncertainty of
what may occur."
Russell Ebeid, president of Guardian Glass Group, sees an end in
sight, but even that forecast isn't pretty. "We are not likely to
see an improvement until the middle of 2009," he says. "We are in
for a lengthy and slow recovery and that's only for the companies
that are able to weather the storm …"
To read through solutions being offered for weathering 2009, be
sure to look for the January 2009 issue of USGlass.
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