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USGNN Original StoryImproving Efficiencies, Cross Training and Other Efforts Help See Glaziers Through Slow Market Conditions
March 20, 2009

February's Architectural Billing Index (ABI), which reflects the approximate nine to 12 month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending, was up two points from January's (CLICK HERE to read more). While the upturn was slight, AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA, says the improvement does provide hope that some stalled projects will resurface in the near future. Baker also says that the stimulus bill could lead to more project activity, but that is still dependent on how soon banks start lending again.

This lack of work in commercial construction has certainly left some contract glaziers with extra time on their hands. And though they may not be busy installing job, after job, after job, they are still finding ways to stay productive-and prepare for when the market does begin to rebound.

So, what are contract glaziers doing these days?

"Number one, we're trying to run the work we have going right now more efficiently by placing extra resources into it," says Rob Nickerson of Tower Glass Co. in Woburn, Mass., who says they have, for example, budgeted some time of existing personnel to assist staff running projects. "Hopefully it will make for a more profitable bottom line."

In addition, Nickerson says they are also trying to bid more jobs.

"Fortunately, there's a good amount of bid activity developing as it usually does pick up in the spring," says Nickerson. "Also, we would like to be better aware of the projects that best suit our niche earlier in the process and to do so, we'll have to do additional missionary work with the architects and contractors."

Rick Hamlin with Trainor Glass in Lake St, Louis, Mo., says that while there have been cutbacks, their backlog has been keeping them busy so far this year.

"In areas where the backlog is slow, we've moved some of our personnel to areas where the backlog is still strong," says Hamlin. "Bidding activity is fairly active, more so than you would think watching the news, so we've also been cross-training personnel in departments, such as estimating, that are busy."

In the future, a busier construction market is certain, though no one can say for sure when. Hamlin says cross training, among other initiatives, is helping them prepare for when the market returns.

"We are also reviewing our processes to improve efficiencies, which will be important to do early as the market does rebound," Hamlin says.

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