Texas Glass Shops Grow as the State Leads the Nation in Construction Employment
September 1, 2011

By Sahely Mukerji

The State of Texas has been a bright spot amid all the gloom and doom in the glass industry of late. The Lone Star states' economic numbers have been higher than most others around the country. Glass company owners there understand why.

"Texas is creating construction jobs, because people are moving to this state because of jobs being created in high-tech and energy [sectors]," says Felix T. Munson, president of Anchor-Ventana Glass in Round Rock, Texas. "Austin is steadily regaining construction strength due to apartment and single-family housing demand, as well as previously funded projects in the public sector."

Tom Holman, owner/president of Dallas Flat Glass Distributors in Carrolton, Texas, agrees with Munson. "Housing demand is higher, because people move in from the North," he says. His company does retrofitting, remodeling and replacement work, and 95 percent of his business is residential, he says. This year, he is expecting to surpass his 2007 revenue numbers. "2007 was my best year, and we made $10 million in sales," he says. "Sales dropped 15 percent in 2008. In 2009, business picked up about 10 percent, and we were only down 5 percent."

People here work hard, Holman says. "Everything now is customer-service driven," he says. "I wake up at 4 a.m., get to work at 5 a.m. My partner works from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. We're family-owned, and we care about what goes out the door, unlike many corporations. I'm competing with companies owned by big corporations, and they're losing customers, who are knocking on my door."

A. William Lingnell, professional engineer and owner of Lingnell Consulting Services in Rockwall, Texas, agrees on the hard work bit. "Texas has an excellent labor force that encourages business development, along with being set up to bring in new companies that, in turn, leads to the construction of buildings for commercial, institutional, medical, educational and residential use," he says. "Texas still possesses that entrepreneurial spirit that also assists in the encouragement of construction employment."

And the innovative use of glass in these new constructions, and "the energy-efficient designs and systems that utilize glass to provide alternative energy methods will enhance the glass and glazing industry," Lingnell adds.

Numbers back up these statements. The Lone Star State added the most construction jobs of any state in the U.S. between July 2010 and 2011, a whopping 23,800 jobs, resulting in a 4.2-percent increase in its construction employment during the past year, according to an analysis of state employment data by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America in Arlington, Va. Construction employment increased in 26 states between July 2010 and July 2011 and during July, according to the analysis.

There are several reasons Texas has done better than most states in construction employment, says Ken Simonson, chief economist for AGC. "The state's population has been growing at double the national average: 20 percent from 2000 to 2010, vs. 10 percent, nationally. That creates demand for housing, schools, retail, consumer services construction, etc."

There also has been a lot of spending under the recommendations of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission to build up military bases in Texas, as well as spending on base housing at Ft. Bliss, Simonson says. "Besides traditional oil and gas-related construction, there has been a lot associated with the Barnett Shale under San Antonio, the Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas and the Haynesville Shale on the LA-TX border. And there has been a lot of wind energy and transmission line work out of west Texas."

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