2009 was a tough year for contract glaziers. Of the companies that made this year’s Top 50 Glaziers and provided exact sales figures for 2008 and 2009, 55 percent reported a decrease in sales volume. Glaziers cited decreased backlogs and increased competition among the reasons for the slide. Some described a bidding environment in which general contractors were “shopping numbers,” looking for the best deal. One company reported its competitor was bidding projects at cost, just to land the job.
Whether the fault lies with the clients for rewarding low bidders or with the glazing companies for submitting these bids in the first place, this type of environment is detrimental and frustrating for everyone involved.
I’m a firm believer, however, in the motto: “You get what you pay for.” And I think in the long run, our industry will actually benefit from this situation. If you’ve ever been burned by a service provider that you chose based solely on price, you know what I’m talking about. Oftentimes, it only takes one bad experience with a contractor to make you re-evaluate your selection criteria.
Companies that take jobs at unrealistic prices have to cut corners somewhere. As one glassblog reader pointed out: “If a contractor is 40 percent less than the rest, there is a reason. Material does not have that much of a swing from one guy to another, so … where are the shortcuts going to be applied?” Unfortunately, for some clients, those shortcuts are applied to the building itself, costing them more to fix than it would have to hire a higher quality company initially. Fortunately, for us, these clients will be better educated when they spec their next project, recognizing the value higher-priced companies bring to the table in the form of quality products, trained personnel and customer service.
While I don’t wish this experience on anyone, clients that look only at the bid number and not at the glazier are setting themselves up for failure. My bet is they won’t make the same mistake twice. What’s yours?
—Jenni Chase, Editor, Glass Magazine