Harris Talks About his Career and Future Plans upon Departure from
Oldcastle® Glass Engineered Products
October 9, 2009
After 34 years in the glass and glazing industry, Tom Harris announced
his departure from Oldcastle Glass Engineered Products (previously
known as Vistawall), in Terrell, Texas, on October 2. Over the course
of his 34 years, the majority of his career has been with the same
architectural metals company, though throughout that time it has
had different owners including Butler Manufacturing, BlueScope Steel
and most recently Oldcastle.
While his departure may be surprising to some, Harris says he made
the decision simply because he felt as though he was ready for a
Plus I think Im young enough to do other things and
I have a lot of experience that could also be helpful to others,
he told USGNN.com in an exclusive interview this afternoon.
Harris took the time to share some thoughts on how the industry
has changed and where he sees it going, as well as plans for the
Q. In 34 years, what are some changes youve seen happen
within this industry?
A. A lot has happened and much has been within the past few years
and a lot involves the speed at which we work. It doesnt necessarily
mean the project gets built any faster, but the time to execute
our work has been reduced. Also, the complexity of the products
has changed. Today theres glass for hurricane, blast and seismic
applications as well as glass to meet energy codes. It used to just
be a decision of ¼-inch or 1-inch glass. This complexity,
though, is great because the better our products are the better
we as an industry get.
Q. What are some of the other differences you see today compared
to when you started?
A. Were moving to a point where the architectural community
has to depend on the installers and the manufacturers for their
expertise. Because of the complex products we have now, architects
are not always fully aware of the materials. This is an opportunity
for us to bring value to the entire building team.
Q. What are some of your concerns about the industry?
A. In the short term, I think this economy could be detrimental.
Every business in any industry has to adjust their cost line to
meet their top line. Im also afraid that we may see a lot
of our talent disappear because [its the people] that can
really bring value to a business.
Q. What are some things youd like to see happen in 2010
A. Id like to see this industry step up in areas such as
sustainability and energy and to really have a leadership role.
Weve got to get the message out that architectural window
systems provide a great benefit to a project in terms of sustainability,
daylighting, energy savingswe want to push that in a strong
way. At some point I expect photovoltaics will also become a big
asset to our industry.
Q. Is there anything youd like the industry to know about
A. Ive enjoyed my 34 years and have had a wonderful career.
Ive particularly enjoyed the sales and marketing side and
the activities of building relationships. And thats one thing
I missed as I began to advance in my career because it takes you
away from it a bit. Looking forward, Im open to opportunities
outside of the industry, but Im also not opposed to those
inside the industry.
Q. What are your future plans, both personally and professionally?
A. Personally, I owe some things to my parents and my wife to take
some trips. So we will take time to do those things, but have not
made specific plans as of yet. For my next career step, when I came
to this decision I had no idea of what the next step would be
I do know I would like to be in a sales-oriented position, but Im
also not ruling out a management role either.
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