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Why Training in 2010?

08:45:00 AM on 01/14/2010

As Kawneer’s Commercial Training Manager, I am afforded the opportunity to travel throughout the U.S. and Canada assisting employees and customers with expanding their knowledge and understanding of a very demanding and specialized market, as well as of our portfolio of product offerings.  In my travels I have found that each region faces its own challenges and opportunities. Some are facing a devastating downturn in the construction market while others, though not robust, are moving ahead with some emerging signs of recovery. While when and what kind of recovery is more in the wheelhouse of people like Andy Nag, our Manager of Market Strategy & Analysis, what I am aware of is 2010 will have opportunities and now is an excellent time to get your organization and personnel ready to seize those opportunities as soon as they arise.


Even with some small signs of recovery, competition is fierce and many companies are currently still in survival mode – seeking out every crumb and morsel. Through the demands on our own estimating staff, we have seen that many glaziers are not waiting for opportunity to find them, but seeking opportunity by increasing bidding efforts. While increasing bids is one strategy that can be taken to build business and grow revenue, another is to look for parallel markets or products where little or no previous revenue was generated. Try and find markets that are relatively simple and will be inexpensive to shift resources. Success using either strategy is dependant upon the talent of your organization and employees to develop skills in new roles or with new products.  In the survival mode, how quickly proficiency is achieved is critical.  In the long term, the ability to actually take advantage of the current market and to expand your business beyond the boundaries of its historically best years may mean starting the next race before the current one has even ended.  Where to start?  Training.


Kawneer has always committed substantial resources to training.  We have a veteran workforce and can take advantage of that experience by leveraging the talents and skills our team affords us as we search for new opportunities. However, half the challenge is in identifying where the opportunities lie.  Through training we work to help customers identify opportunities and better understand how to go after them. We currently conduct classes on the design and application of storefronts, curtain walls, entrances, windows and many other architectural aluminum systems.  Most training is conducted in a classroom setting and led by an instructor, such as myself.  Understanding the product make-up, fabrication and installation is key as customers hunt for opportunities.


My question to you now is, “What else?”  If we can all accept that the market will return, that we are in it for the long haul and that we will be there when it does return, let’s ask ourselves,  where are the new products and opportunities?  The automobile made the horse and buggy obsolete. The PC did the same for the typewriter.  Look what MP3 players and iPods did to compact discs after compact discs did the same to records.  Where are the market-changers in our industry?  Is it in unitization and pre-glazing?  Is it sustainable solutions like photovoltaics? Businesses need to continue to train themselves on the tools that are available to them, and seek out those that are not. Train yourselves, your employees, and your customers. Train your minds to understand the resources in front of you and how to leverage them to find new opportunities. As an industry, we don’t want to fight the last war.  We want to prepare to win the next one.

 

I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts, so be sure and comment.


Chris


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