Glaziers Speak Out: Finding and Retaining Quality
Finding dependable, qualified workers in the glass and glazing industry remains
one of the top challenges for today's companies. Those that can
be found come with a premium. The biggest factors impacting the
search for qualified employees are high labor costs and a shrinking
labor pool. The individuals interviewed for this column say retention
is not an issue but drawing in qualified candidates continues to
be an ongoing challenge.
When Ann Merilie Murrell purchased Giroux Glass in 1991 the company
had 10 employees. Today, this premiere glazing contractor headquartered
in southern California has over 270. "While we have a wonderful
team of talented professionals across the board, it always been
a challenge to find quality employees," says Ann Merilie Murrell,
president of Giroux Glass. "We have a good reputation backed
by 60 years in the industry. Still, we have to constantly work to
draw in new talent while cultivating and rewarding existing employees.
We provide a variety of incentives for growth and development, training,
benefits, salary and a culture that is family friendly and conducive
to building strong, long-lasting relationships. Yet, good people
remain a premium and we work very hard to get every single one of
"We utilize traditional methods of finding potential employees
through help wanted ads and job fairs as well as utilize headhunters
and tap into the local universities for apprentices," she continued.
"This is a cyclical industry. Employees are harder to draw
in when the economy is good like it is now and work is plentiful
than when the economy is slower and the work lessens."
Jack Burtis, territory manager for GE Polymershapes agrees with
Murrell. "It's hard to find good people in this industry and
it is one of our biggest challenges," says Burtis who has been
in the industrial distribution industry for nearly 20 years [as
an employee at Cadillac Plastics] and with GE Polymershapes since
2000 when it purchased both Cadillac Plastics and Commercial Plastics.
"We have a very lengthy and detailed process for hiring new
employees. It may take four months to hire an individual from the
time we post a job to the candidate's first day. There are assessments
and interviews all the way up the line to ensure we hire the right
person for the right job. While it is a time-consuming process,
when we bring someone on board they stay with us for a long time.
We have a number of processes in place including an online employee
self-system through our Human Resources Department that really makes
a difference in terms of retention. This and a number of other in-house
development programs keeping employees on track, fulfill training
needs, help move them forward in their careers at GE and allows
us to keep the talent we need to grow and enjoy success in our industry."
"Once we find somebody good we work pretty hard to keep them,"
says Roger Bierig, president Santa Fe Glass & Mirror, a mid-size
glazing contractor in New Mexico. "The challenges we face come
from the fact that our labor pool in this industry is shrinking
so we have less candidates from which to choose. Then, when we are
able to find a good fit for our company, we have to keep working
to ensure we keep them busy and challenged, especially during the
"A part of the problem with finding qualified labor is the
fact that the pool we have to choose from is shrinking," adds
Tony Baca, president of Southwest Glass & Glazing in Albuquerque.
"The workforce is aging and is not being replaced at the same
rate as the older workers are retiring. This continues to be a major
problem for our industry."
"Good employees can be tough to find," says Mark Weinzapfel
from his Evansville, Ind. office. Weinzapfel, president of Siemers
Glass, a full service glass and glazing company with four Indiana
locations and 30 employees, has found that some of his best and
most loyal employees are the ones hired in with no experience and
trained in house. "We train them to our standards," Weinzapfel
points out. "We are one of the few in the state that offer
a competitive benefits package [medical, dental and vision] and
are family friendly, which helps attract people to our business.
Being family friendly, flexible and providing opportunity have been
key factors in attracting and retaining quality employees for our