Transforming Your Glazier Experience Into A Healthy Small Business Venture

Posted on: 14 November 2017

You've paid your dues with years of apprenticeship training and experience working as a glazier. Installing glass in commercial and residential buildings is something you can do skillfully and safely. And the prospects for future work look good. The U.S. Department of Labor's occupational outlook is for employment in this construction specialty to grow significantly faster than other occupations over the projection period up to 2026. This optimistic outlook could be the inspiration you need to push your career to the next level by setting up your own glass installation and replacement business.

Your first step is to evaluate the existing market for glass installation in your region. Consider the prospects for new building projects over the next few years. Also consider the need for renovations and repairs to existing buildings as they age and as older areas of the city are transformed into vibrant business centers. Classes, workshops, and the U.S. Small Business Administration's online business guides can help you evaluate your research and help you establish a viable business plan.

Among the capital equipment line items in your plan, a van and glass transportation racks will be important budget items. These are likely to be the most expensive items in your equipment budget, too. Allow yourself plenty of time to evaluate the different styles of glass racks for vans available, paying special attention to those most suitable for transporting the size and type of glass you will need to complete the projects you are targeting.

Shopping for the right van for the job is not a separate function. The van and the glass racks must be compatible for balance, road safety, and ease of loading and unloading. The vehicle must have an engine with sufficient power to handle the weight of the glass you will be hauling to job sites. You'll also need to be aware of the vehicle's dimensions. When the glass racks are attached to the sides, the van will have a significantly wider profile, which can affect the driver's ability to maneuver on the road and at construction sites.

During your search for the right combination of racks and vehicles, consider the newest trends in rack manufacturing, including:

  1. Light-weight aluminum racks with sturdy construction and welded joints. The lower weight can help you save on fuel costs, which can make a noticeable difference in your profitability.
  2. Removable, dual-purpose glass racks that you can slide inside the van and secure to hold smaller glass panes. This allows you more flexibility to take on a wide range of projects, and in some cases may allow your company to continue with interior installation projects during inclement weather conditions.
  3. Glass transport racks that fit on a crew cab pickup. This approach can help in the long term when you have hired several installers as part of your team. You can all ride together to a job with sheet glass and individual panes securely loaded on the racks, as well as carrying all your tools in storage boxes in the pickup bed.

As part of your business plan, budget time and the nominal expense required for routine maintenance of your glass transportation racks. Make a checklist for frequent self-inspections by you or members of your team to ensure that:

  • bolts holding the each rack in place are tight and free of rust,
  • rubber and other glass-cushioning material is not worn or in need of replacement,
  • and protective curtains and straps are secure, without being frayed or damaged.

Keep the signed, dated inspection sheets on file for routine review and for use in case you ever need to make an insurance claim for damaged items. If you need the rack manufacturer or a repair service to make adjustments to the racks, the checklists can also be useful to identify all the areas where work is needed so they can be addressed thoroughly and completely.