Glaziers Speak Out: How Important is the Internet to Daily Operations?

The early beginnings of the Internet can be traced back to the late 1960s. Today, the Internet is the most widely used network protocol in the world with an estimated 229,138,000* users in North America alone [70 percent population penetration]. Between 2000 and 2006 Internet use in North America is reported to have grown by 112 percent. Access to the Internet has changed the way the world does business, and the glass industry is no exception. Companies are online and taking advantage of this technology to enhance their business operations.

Jesse Zea, president of A Bob's Glass Service in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., says the Internet is pretty important to the company's day-to-day operations. "As a small glazier serving a four-county area, the Internet allows us to gain more knowledge, access to company catalogues and the ability to order products and supplies from a variety of sources. This, in turn, gives us more opportunity for work because of our ability to get needed materials in a timely manner." "We estimate around five percent of our business comes from online listings," continues Zea. "To increase this number, we are currently developing a company website for greater exposure."

"The Internet is a very valuable tool for our company," explains Anna Witthaus. Witthaus, secretary for Enclos Corporation's Millersville, Md., office, recalls there were no computers when she first joined the company some 18 years ago. "As an international company, we utilize the Internet for so much these days: communication, instant messaging, research, reports, UPS and just about anything you can imagine during the course of an average day. I would be lost without my computer."

The Internet is definitely utilized at City Newark Glass, a more than century old glazing and architectural metals commercial construction company in Bayonne, N.J., located across the bay from Newark. "Personally, I am just learning about the computer and Internet for my job," says long-time bookkeeper Verna Garrison. "It's a way of life all around us. Here our guys use the Internet to look up various suppliers, compare prices, order materials and download maps for job sites among other things."

Aloha Glass, a family-owned and operated residential glazing company, only recently brought in computers and access to the Internet to its Beaverton, Ore., office. Employees just started using their new computer system a couple of months ago and are in the process of converting company records and files to the hard drive. For three decades, the company did things the old fashioned way--by hand. "We're catching up with the times," says receptionist Colleen Eshom, "and it's going pretty well. I think our new system and access to the Internet will be a boost to company operations."

"We have Internet access and have had a web presence for about a year," says Carrie Foster, corporate secretary for Heritage Glass and a member of the family-owned and operated company. "Currently, we use it for ordering products and supplies, e-mail for communication and transmitting bids. We were looking to the future and the impact the website would have on our Portland-based commercial and contract glazing business by giving potential customers a virtual showroom and information about our company, products and services they can access 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

*Nielsen/NetRatings, 2006

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