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Choose the Right Glass Manufacturer

Dichro Sculpture

"Fragmenta," by Studio Osman Akan, State of Alaska Public Art Collection

How Picking the Wrong Glass Company Can Cost You in the Long Run

Search for “glass manufacturer,” and Google will spit back over 2.5 billion results. That alone should let you know it can be difficult to narrow down the glass company that’s right for your project. Here are five tips, though, to put you on the right track:

1. Look for a Glass Manufacturer with Experience and Expertise

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Glass manufacturing requires significant knowledge, skill, and expertise—all of which are gained over years of experience. The company you choose should not only have that base of general industry experience, but they should be well versed and familiar with your particular type of project. Whether that’s cast glass or glass trade show flooring, the company should know all the intricacies, nuance, and hurdles of your project type. If they’re learning on the job, that can directly result in costly mistakes for you, both in terms of finances and time.

2. Talk to the Person Handling Your Glass Project

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Jockimo founder, Tim Casey, hauling glass circa 1977.

Today, many people pick companies based solely on online reviews. Can these user-submitted reviews be helpful? Of course. They’re no replacement, though, for actually speaking directly to the person who’s going to be in charge of your project.

Whether it’s face to face or in a video conference, speaking to the glass manufacturer will help you ascertain if that person and company seem credible, reliable, experienced, and knowledgeable. (Face to face is best but not always geographically feasible.) Taking this step gives you the opportunity to ask questions in real time, and you can gather whether you’re on the same page as that given manufacturer.

Many architectural glass projects are quite collaborative. There are design elements to consider, as well as the physical creation of the glass. If you’re going to be working closely with your glass manufacturer, you need to see eye to eye. This helps ensure you get the final product you want, and that connection can only be accurately gauged with a direct interaction.

3. Get Multiple Quotes

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In many ways, a glass manufacturer is like any company that offers a service. When selecting one, you want to ensure you’re getting the best value. (See tip #4. That doesn’t necessarily mean the cheapest bid!) Especially if you have no experience or context in this industry, get multiple bids from several manufacturers.

One bid simply doesn’t provide enough information. Is that number above the industry average? Below it? With only one data point, there’s no way to know. As a general rule of thumb, consider getting three bids from three different glass manufacturers. As long as each one is bidding the same project with the same scope and the same deliverable time, this gives you a good sense of what’s fair, underpriced, and overpriced for your job.

One important note about the companies from which you secure quotes: don’t just randomly pick glass manufacturers. Based on recommendations, reviews, or personal experience, narrow down which companies you want to pursue to the bid phase.

4. Don’t Jump at the Lowest Bid

This is arguably the biggest mistake people make across the board. Whether you’re a builder, an architect, or a private homeowner, it’s never a good idea to simply take the lowest bid—without additional investigation and thought. (While this is specific to the construction industry, here’s a helpful article about what’s potentially at stake when you blindly go with the lowest estimate.)

Here are some important notes to keep in mind regarding low bids:

  • Make sure the bid includes everything. You don’t want any surprises when it comes time to pay the invoice, and you certainly don’t want to find out that the company you thought was the cheapest is actually more expensive.

-Does the initial bid cover shipping of the glass?

-Does it cover design or consultation work?

-How do change orders factor into price?

These are all important questions to ask.

  • If you do opt for the lowest bid, make sure the company has that pivotal experience and expertise to back them up. Choosing an inexperienced company could result in a low-quality product, breakage during shipping, a product that’s not to your exact specifications, or any other number of problems—all of which lead to unexpected and additional time and expense.
  • When it comes to estimates for your glass project, make sure you’re actually comparing apples to apples. Different glass manufacturers bring widely different levels of experience and quality. One quote might be lower than another, but for that price, you could be getting an inferior product, an inferior customer experience, or both. Think about it in terms of cars. You wouldn’t expect to pay the same amount for a Yugo and a Tesla just because they’re both cars!

5. Ask about Lead Times

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There’s no use finding the perfect company only to realize they can’t deliver your project within the time frame you need. Asking about their current lead times for a project of your size and scope should be one of your first questions. This helps ensure you don’t waste your time or the glass manufacturer’s time if the deal simply isn’t going to work for logistical reasons.

That being said, if you find a company that really impresses you, it could be worth adjusting your project timeline, if possible. Finding quality, reliable, experienced glass manufacturers can be challenging. If you’ve found a company you’re confident can deliver on your design vision, an extra week or two for the deliverable could be well worth it for you or your client.

Reach Out with Questions

Have any follow-up questions about how to pick a high-quality, reliable glass manufacturer? Check out this additional resource: 7 Things to Look for in a Glass Manufacturer.

Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out. Whether you’re a long-time client or you never end up working with us, we’re here to offer as much educational guidance as possible in the world of glass manufacturing!