Syracuse Glass: Complexity Equals Opportunity

« Our company was started in 1909. A willingness to change over the years is a big reason we’re still in business and growing more than 100 years later.

Syracuse Glass was initially a glass distributor but over the years evolved into a fabricator. In 1973, we began making insulating glass as an early adopter of double glazing. In the early 2000s, we sold off our auto glass business, which at one time was 50 percent of our revenue. »

Making it easy to do business with us

« Today, we manufacture insulating glass for commercial projects, shower enclosures, all-glass storefronts and custom aluminum storefronts with Tubelite. We have 90 employees and intensively service customers within 250 miles of Syracuse.

We made it through the 2008 recession in part because our small commercial niche and slow-growth region are less susceptible to boom and bust. But we also came through because tough times always bring out the best in our team.

Our customer service culture makes a big difference. We work very hard to make it extremely easy to do business with us. We consider it a must-do, not something extra.

« We’re very happy with our decision to work with FeneVision. »

John Dwyer, Syracuse Glass

Now 105 years later, we are in growth mode and very excited about the prospects for the company. FeneVision is a big part of that. It’s a very satisfying business relationship.

What we’ve seen in recent years is an increase in complexity. Products used to be much simpler and lead times longer: there were four colors of glass, it was either tempered or annealed, the spacers were all the same and there were only a few coatings available.

Now there are lots of ways to get into trouble. There are hundreds of options. Some architects want configurations that are like science experiments. »

Technology backed by people

« We had a system we liked before we bought FeneVision in 2009, but the company stopped supporting it. While we made it work for several more years, it was blue screen, not Windows-based or graphic. Eventually, we decided we needed to upgrade.

We evaluated three packages over six months. We did demos and visited plants where the software was installed.

We liked FeneVision’s technology, but even more noteworthy are FeneTech’s people. They know how important their work is to our success. Because I’m convinced of their commitment to our industry, I believe this can be our last software system.

Our belief in them continues to pay off. With FeneVision, our people routinely manage complexity so it looks easy to customers. We can meet very short lead times for small orders and find it much easier to manipulate scheduling to accommodate delivery and material issues. And our schedulers can also adjust production to improve yields. »

Complexity is opportunity

« With every FeneVision upgrade, there are more features. If we have a problem, they really work to help us solve it. Through their annual user conference, we are now part of a network of fabricators we share information with. Their customer service culture is reassuring for me. I’ve enjoyed watching them succeed.

Today, we see complexity as opportunity. Being able to manage any kind of order and deliver it quickly and correctly has enabled us to increase customer loyalty and pick up market share. We work hard at service all the time. It sets us apart.

This is our third enterprise software system since I’ve been here. It’s a big decision because we do so much with it. Even though we embrace change, we don’t like drama. We like to keep things dependable for our customers. »

What we like about FeneVision

« We deal with the same customers over and over. With FeneVision, it is very easy to accommodate repeat business. It’s a big part of our success.

We just bought the paperless delivery software. After testing it this fall, we hope to roll it out in early 2015.

We now offer online order entry and a quarter of our orders are entered by customers. They can place and check orders whenever they want.

We switched from in-process labeling to laser marking. The change has been huge—no glass with missing labels.

Another thing we really like is the graphic display. We can see the grid, the color, side views and front views. It’s more intuitive, and mistakes pop out when you can see the colors. It’s helped reduce errors.

Our IT manager has set up two automatic daily bundles of information. At 11, we see the daily billing, order entry totals, on-time shipments and all sales by delivery area. At 5 pm, we get the backlog by all segments.

Recently we got a nice compliment from a customer who got a panicked call from their customer. A piece of glass in a door had broken and they needed someone to measure the glass and get it repaired as soon as possible. Our customer asked for the laser marking on the broken glass, got the replacement ordered and saved a service call. Their customer was very impressed. We can also track readings from our LiteSentry device to the laser markings. »