Glaziers Speak Out: Longer Lead Times
While a strong economy and high demand for architectural/commercial
products has been a boom to the industry, it has brought with it
an unpleasant byproduct - longer lead times. Fabricators are stretched
to capacity in many areas of the country and are scrambling to keep
up while glazing contractors must plan well into the future to accommodate
for lead-time increases.
"The economy is strong, demand is high and lead times are getting
longer," says Rick Towner, project manager at Silicon Valley
Glass, a mid-size glazing contractor serving the San Francisco Bay
area. "Our customers want their orders sooner than they are
getting them and so do we. All we can do at this point is stay on
our manufacturers to make sure they don't forget us. There is only
so much that can be done when production is backlogged. It's definitely
an issue that presents additional challenges for us."
Chris Frye, customer service manager for independent glass fabricator
JE Berkowitz, says it is their goal to try to stay within a three-
to four-week lead-time. "However, the increase in demand from
our customers along with large, monumental projects that are currently
underway, have stretched out our insulating glass (IG) capacity,"
explains Frye, who is based at the Westville, N.J., corporate office.
"At this time, we are out about five to six weeks for the standard
products and about six to eight weeks out with the high performing
low-E or reflective glass, despite the fact that we have added additional
capacity in anticipation of the peak season demands, including moving
to 10-hour IG shifts and weekends," continues Frye. "Although
we are competitive, the lead times are longer than we (and our customers)
would like but they are realistic and less than our leading competitors.
We have been able to maintain market-leading service in other areas
including monolithic tempered glass by running our three ovens around
the clock, six days a week in order to provide a 24-hour to a four-day
turnaround depending upon the thickness of the glass."
Craig Lusthoff, sales representative for Glass Professionals, an
independent glass distributor based in Des Moines, Iowa, agrees.
"Lead times have increased in our area as well," says
Lusthoff. "What normally would be a five-day turnaround time
for standard products now takes between ten and 15 days. This is
due to a very strong commercial market and an increase in large,
time sensitive (i.e., secondary and post-secondary educational facilities)
projects in our area. We are beyond capacity and are doing what
we can to increase production and improve our efficiency to try
to shorten these lead times."
"It all depends on what material you are looking at,"
points out Ronald Kudla, president of Innovative Glazing Systems
Inc., a mid-size glazing company that furnishes and installs custom
and standard glass walls in the greater Lansdale, Pa., area.
"We're past the point of standard," says Kudla, who works
closely with architects and contractors to incorporate glass into
functional and innovative building designs. "We are definitely
seeing longer lead times especially in getting glass with soft coats.
I don't know where that's coming from; if we're still feeling the
fall out from the closing of Interpane [in 2004] or if the industry
is just that backlogged because of a strong market. We are experiencing
lead times for certain types of glass extending out beyond 30 weeks."
"We're starting to see a longer lead time with aluminum as
well," adds Kudla. "They [aluminum fabricators] have their
presses going 24/7. When you wait more than eight weeks for your
order it makes it very difficult work within the contractor's schedule."
"In southern Florida everything tends to move at a slower pace,"
says New York native Michael Goldstein, president of Miami Glass
& Mirror Co., a glazing contractor. "That goes for just
about everything. In New York, when you are given a date when something
is to be done, it's done. It's just a rule of thumb around here
that no matter what timeframe anyone gives you need to double it.
For example, if a manufacturer tells you it will take ten days for
your order to arrive, we plan on between 15 and 20 days. During
the hurricane season, lead times get even longer. After the rush,
it averages out again."
"Everyone gets materials from someplace else who gets their
materials from someone else and so on," continues Goldstein.
"We know our orders will take longer, it's just how it is and
we work around it."
Terry Guentner, contract manager for La Crosse Glass Co., located
in La Crosse, Wis., just a few blocks from the banks of the Mississippi,
is one of the few who says lead times on glass and metal product
orders in his area are not getting longer. "We order quite
a bit of glass and metal from a number of different suppliers and
are pleased with the turn-around times," Guentner explains.
"In fact, on some products, such as annealed insulating units,
the lead times have shortened. Turn around on this product can be
as short as four days."
Watch for "Contract Glaziers Speak Out" every Tuesday
Got an idea for a topic? Email us at email@example.com
with "Contract Glaziers Speak Out" in the subject line.