Editorial: 2022 in review
Some comments on this year’s biggest stories in the Canadian glass industry.
November 24, 2022 By Patrick Flannery
A lot happened in 2022. It feels here at the end of the year as if about three years of change happened since January. Space is limited, so let’s get right to it.
Remember COVID? The year started with yet another outbreak of the Omicron variant that sent many parts of the country back to the restriction measures we’d hoped to see the last of in the fall of 2021. Live events and conferences continued to trickle back throughout the year and we were able to host a well-attended and energetic Top Glass conference in April.
Labour continues to be the top challenge facing everyone since the pandemic. The Ontario government took some measures to try to address the long-term skilled trades shortages with reform of and investment in the apprentice system. This long-overdue attention to the skilled trades came just before a three-week strike by Ontario IUPAT workers in June. That strike was noteworthy because the rank-and-file rejected the deal with Ontario’s glazing contractors that their leadership had reached. Social media was involved. Looks like glaziers in Ontario, at least, have realized that their value is higher than ever in an environment where good help is hard to find.
Prices for glass, steel, aluminum and just about everything else continued to rise but not at the alarming pace of late 2021. And at least materials became available – by the second half of this year most fabricators were reporting they could get what they needed with some reasonable lead time. But leading indicators for commercial construction started to soften. We’ll see in 2023 if demand starts to rebound before we clear our backlogs.
Private equity firms continued to see glass industry companies as attractive partners in 2022. Oldcastle Building Envelope was sold to KPS in March and Walker Glass was acquired by Ironbridge in October. I think private equity firms see a tremendous opportunity ahead of our industry coming from the huge need for energy-efficient retrofits combined with a lack of overall capacity to get all that work done. There’s lots of room to grow for companies that can demonstrate expertise in high-performance facades and fenestration.
Marget Webb, former executive director of the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance then technical director for Canada of the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance, completed her slow-motion retirement in January with big kudos from across the industry. Zana Gordon, executive director of the Fenestration Association of BC, also retired. As Gordon left, she assisted the transition of FenBC into a regional chapter of FGIA. So invaluable were both these women to their organizations that, when they left, the associations had to merge with other partners to find the resources they’d need to keep operating at the level their members were accustomed to. They are owed a big debt of gratitude from all of us for their many years of hard-working service.
Here’s hoping 2022 was good to you and wishing everyone all the
best in 2023. •
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