The ongoing construction expansion and a robust overall U.S. economy will keep U.S. glazing contractors plenty busy this year. This boost is being felt across most markets and in virtually all relevant building segments, according to the newly released 2018 Glass and Glazing Industry Outlook report from Key Media & Research (KMR).
Commercial building segments such as office, retail, and lodging were particularly strong for contract glaziers in 2017, and the institutional sector—which includes healthcare facilities and educational buildings—is poised for a healthy 2018.
“The office category continues to dominate the commercial side for glass and metal contractors, even as other more broad construction economic indicators signal that this market is leveling off,” says Nick St. Denis, KMR’s director of research. “The same can be said for multifamily building on the residential side. While single-family building has taken the reins in residential construction overall, glazing contractors remain very busy with multifamily projects.”
The top-40 glazing contractors in terms of annual sales have collectively doubled their revenue over the past five years, with national, regional and local glaziers alike showing solid growth in that span.
A majority of employers in the industry hired in 2017 and are eager to do so again in 2018, though the skilled labor shortage that looms over construction has hampered their ability to find quality craft workers.
“Throughout the country and with firms of all sizes, the skilled labor shortage continues to be a key source of concern for glass companies,” says St. Denis. “In fact, labor worries ranked as the top concern even among glass fabricators and manufacturers, showing that this issue is present on the manufacturing and supply side of the industry, as well.”
Labor issues aside, glass suppliers are also very confident in the market through 2018 and beyond. Planned and unplanned float line shutdowns have challenged these companies, but expectations remain high for sales in architectural glass. Tighter lead times, evolving demand for glass dimensions and increasing costs are driving competition among fabricators and manufacturers.