thank you... we are about 40 minutes from mpls-st.paul, covering the whole metro and western wisconsin. I plan on educating myself for a while, then easing into it. I'll start contacting suppliers soon as well.
Sep 22, 2008 - 2:53PM
Re: hello Paul!
Re: hello Paul!
Hello...So, you want to go into the flat glass business...good for you! It is a challenging and exciting business, and like all buisnesses, can be profitable, or it can beat you down.
You have some start in that you do auto glass. You know glass can hurt you; flat glass more than auto, so you have to work differently than with windshields and door parts. Make sure your crew wears safety glass, rubber coated gloves, and arm guards. (Get them from CRL if you don't have them).
You will want to stock a little bit of float glass for walk-ins and quick work that may come you way. First, find a distributor/fabricator in your area. You didn't say where you were, but you are buying lami now, maybe that will be your starting point. You will sell more fabricated glass than stock glass. IG, tempered, custom lami, will be a bigger, and more profitable part of your business that simple store front or window replacement. Find a fabricator who backs up their work with quality. Don't shop for price. A dollar or two on an IG unit mean nothing if the unit is dirty, or mislabled. Quality is the key. Next is service. Your fabricator should deliver to your area at least twice a week. More is just better.
The largest national fabricators are Arch Aluminum (archaluminum.com) and Oldcastle Glass (oldcastleglass.com). There are many excellent regional fabricators.
Is there a local NGA chapter in your area? lists chapters and is a good source of info. Go to a meeting, meet the sales reps from various suppliers and you will get started.
The biggest mistake you will make is not hiring an experienced installer. This will cost some bucks, but go for it. Installing in a store front has no relation to auto. You cannot do one if you know the other.
You will need some equipment...we talked about a cutting table...do you have a chop saw for cutting metal? Come to think of it...do you have a metal supplier. Look at the US Glass Web site, our parent, or at others and read back issues of the magazine. You will see ads for most vendors, glass and metal, and you can start your search there.
You probably have a network of customers, and you probably do insurance work, so hit your agents and have them give you a shot at their storefornt replacements. A little advertising and maybe a salesperson pounding the pavement talking with contractors will get you the chance to look at some plans.
Start real small and simple. Grow over time. In six months or a year, if you have two or three full-time workers in flat glass, you hit a home-run.
If you want to share your address and contact details, maybe some suppliers who read this will contact you!!
Oct 15, 2008 - 6:19PM
Re: hello Paul!
Thank you... I am also looking into franchising with a company that does both resi/comm and auto. I was also thinking about finding a local retired glazer that might want to work as a consultant for a while... just for something to do. Any additional ideas are appreciated.
I am going to start looking into arch and oldcastle soon too. thanks again, atech
Oct 16, 2008 - 5:37PM
Re: hello Paul!
you need to find out the wage rates for your area, pay your top installer a couple of $ over, this way you will attract good people. Also need to know the selling prices so you can see how much work it takes to break even, and where the best oportunities may be.
Join the local Chamber of Commerce and a builders or contractors group, specifically in the area of glass you wish to get into. Once you know the type of work you want, equipment purchases come easier. Vendors will set you up with everything imaginable, you need to know your needs.
Outfitting your truck(s) correctly with everything needed to finish the job is crucial in this crazy economy. Also, look at different avenues for advertising, again depending on areas to be covered. If retail is big on your list... big signs and a showroom is great exposure, the trucks and installers make the difference in word of mouth sales.
Need more detailed info, drop me an e-mail ad I wil fill in a few blanks for you, pitfalls too.
While you are looking at Arch and Oldcastle, take a look at the Buyers/Suppliers guides at www.usglassmag.com (There are other glass buyer's guides out there if you google them but for all intensive purposes, the USGlass one is very, very comprehensive.)
Keep in mind that there are a lot of very qualified independant fabricators across North American that provide (argueably) competitive pricing, superior service and better quality product than the companies referenced above.
Give them a call and talk to a sales person and have them sell you on why you should be buying from them. Bigger isn't always better. In fact it is often worse.
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