Interior Glazing Offers Opportunities for Some Glazing Contractors
April 12, 2010

As commercial work remains slow, some glazing contractors are moving inside for the first time to take a look at interior glass work.

"The exterior market has almost come to a halt except for big projects, the institutional stuff," says Al Leonard of Trainor Glass' Chicago branch. "But the interiors have not slowed down that much."

Tom Huff, president of Go-Glass Corp. in Salisbury, Md., is starting to see more sales in residential and interior glass projects. "This year we're seeing people who maybe came to us last year and got some pricing and weren't quite ready to do it then or saved their money and now they're saying, 'oh, you came out last June, now we're ready for it.'

"We do expensive projects in high-end malls that still have work," says Gene Lomando, general manager of Tropical Glass & Construction Co. in Miami. "There's always turnover and business from the high-end shops that come in. Although business is down we still have found our niche to be very profitable."

These glaziers say that service is particularly important in this particular market and some professionals moving into interior work may not realize what it takes.

"Service is the name of the game," Leonard says. "Because the time constraints are so tight for interior work, as far as completion is concerned, [new contractors] don't have the manpower or the ability to do the submittal process, order the glass, get it surveyed and get it in on time."

Knowing the timelines is an important consideration-as well as knowing the site restraints on these interior jobs.

"Some of these people who bid these jobs have no idea of how long it's going to take to get the glass in … They don't realize, for example, in an office building how difficult it is to get into the dock, all of the time lost down there waiting to get your trucks in to get your glass in," Leonard says.

Andrew Canter, Jr., president of Ridgeview Glass Inc. in Upper Marlboro, Md., agrees that the time schedules are different for the interior jobs. "The interior work is much quicker and much easier," he says.

Cathie Saroka, marketing director of Goldray Industries in Calgary, notes that the definition of "interior glazing" can be wide-ranging, so a vast skill set may be required. "Interior decorative glass is often more functional as there are so many different applications in which it can be used, so knowledge of many different installation methods is critical," she says.

"The market that we serve really requires you to be a generalist," Huff adds. "Generally there aren't large enough segments, especially right now, to be able to specialize too much.

"The general contractors pursuing interior work are usually not the same as the general contractors pursuing base building work," Canter says. And, these glazing contractors agree, forming relationships with those contractors-and store owners-is essential.

For more on interior glazing, look for the April USGlass.

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