Hale Glass Co-Founder Brian Hale recently completed his term as Chair of the National Glass Association. We sat down with Brian to discuss the changes he’s seen in the glass business and where he sees the greatest opportunities.
Having been in the glass business for 45 years, what is your perspective on the changes and progress within the glass industry?
It goes without saying technology has made everything we do better, quicker, and easier and that certainly applies to the glass industry. Energy efficient low- e coatings, high speed machinery of all kinds, and glass cutting optimizers greatly reducing glass waste - those are just some of the things making a difference in our industry.
Additionally, the advancements in glass handling equipment now allows for unique, one-time, impossible glass design installations. Not to mention the availability of “Jumbo” glass, such as off-the-shelf 130” x 240” with sizes over 300” have contributed to the industry’s progress.
Most importantly, the progress in safety. Today’s safety equipment allows for the safest working conditions we’ve ever seen which reduce accidents and saves lives.
What are your overall thoughts on the past year and the current "state of the glass business"?
Finally, as of 2023, the bulk effects of the pandemic appear to be behind us and things continue to get better. Of course, there is still a bit of economic uncertainty for the near future and it’s hard to say what to expect. My advice: remain diligent and cautious which is nothing new in construction.
What do you see as current challenges and opportunities in the industry?
Challenges seem to be influenced by material and energy costs, labor costs and the long-playing labor shortage.
The opportunities are driven by improved optimization, advanced glass handling equipment and education. Along with the National Glass Association concentrating on making the glazing trade a desirable and well-known entity, the NGA is also providing outstanding educational material.
What do you see as opportunities in 2024 for the industry?
Retail and office space, with vacancies increasing at a faster than normal pace, will put pressure on the overall construction industry. The opportunities, as I see it, are in commercial warehouses and housing. The demand for warehouse space and the continued housing shortage doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon.
What are your fondest memories of the past year as Chair of the NGA?
Implementation and launch of myglasclass.com was a significant move to help drive one of our goals - offering meaningful education material to potential and current glaziers. Also, the merger between the Glass Association of North America (GANA) and the NGA. I am very proud to have been part of these two major milestones.