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Looking Back, Moving Forward

Post Time:Dec 30,2011Classify:Industry NewsView:330

The struggling economy, the volatile stock market, closings and reorganizations, and tough competition with cheaper foreign products flooding the domestic market, made 2011 hard for many companies. As the year comes to a close, industry professionals shared their lessons learned, and what they will apply from those lessons to improve their business in 2012.


For Jeff Haber, managing partner of W&W Glass, LLC in Nanuet, N.Y., the lesson learned was that a deal is never a deal even when you think it is a "done deal."


"Twenty years ago someone's word meant something, a handshake was as good or better than a letter of intent, and if someone said they were going to pay you today or tomorrow you could go and pick up the check," he says. However, in the past few years, especially the past year, it has become more evident that the moral ground is shifting, he says. "Jobs we think we have closed are auctioned off to the lowest bidder whether qualified or not, 'best and final' has become an excuse for 'I need to cut your price some more.' The check is in the mail would be a good alternative to 'we are not funded yet' and 'we want American-made quality or at the minimum European-made,' goes right out the window as soon as someone drops a number for Chinese curtainwall or glass, after telling the client 'not to fear it is just as good,' unless the metal is many months late and the wrong finish or the glass has nickel sulfide in it," he says.


Haber says he will work harder in 2012, to educate customers regarding service and quality; work harder with vendors to provide quality and service for a reasonable price; and resist the temptation to lower standards for quality and service just to gain more market share.


For Earnest Thompson, director of corporate marketing & brand management of Guardian Industries in Auburn Hills, Mich., the lesson learned was "an old lesson, confirmed: that pundits are hardly ever right and all the comments about the economy coming back with much steam in 2011 was wishful thinking," he says.


The professionals at Guardian don't react to annual ups and downs as much as they focus on the goals and metrics for any given year, Thompson says. "When the going gets tough, the tough stay focused and work harder ..." he says.


In 2012, "we will continue what has made us successful and fine-tune when necessary to adapt," Thompson says. "We will remain focused on four key areas - profitable growth via new operations and value added assets, lowering our manufacturing cost basis, getting closer to the decision maker or influencer in the channel and developing the talents of our people."


Helen Sanders, vice president of Technical Business Development at Sage Electrochromics Inc. in Faribault, Minn., says that a basic marketing strategy was the lesson learned. "You read in marketing textbooks that in the early stages of the adoption lifecycle for new products that you need to have real examples of the product being used by early adopters to support further market adoption," she says. "In 2011, we learned this firsthand. … By allowing architects and owners to see and experience electrochromic glazing in action, in real buildings, it becomes easier for them to make the decision to incorporate it into their new building designs."


For Joel Feingold, president of Strainoptics Inc. in North Wales, Pa., "the lesson I learned from 2011 is how resourceful the U.S. glass industry has been after losing so much activity during this recessive economy," he says.


Strainoptics' customer base has stayed strong as their marketing efforts shifted to solar glass, LCD glass, patterned glass and laminated products, Feingold says.


"What we will do in 2012 is accelerate our product development efforts … that will help our customers become more productive and profitable through better quality control," he says. "What we will not do is take anyone's business for granted!"

Source: www.usgnn.comAuthor: shangyi

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