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Blog: Off-Roading and the Fenestration Industry

Posted June 2nd, 2017 by Mark Silverberg on

Blog: Off-Roading and the Fenestration Industry

I’ve just returned from a week of vacation off-roading, hiking and photographing in two amazing National Parks in Utah – Canyonlands and Arches. Although I’ve been to other National Parks before, and other parks in Utah, the topography and experience was unique. Since a lot of my time and energy is spent working in the glass and glazing industry, my mind naturally turned to parallels with what’s going on within my work world.

We stayed in Moab, Utah due to its proximity to the two parks we wanted to visit. Moab is also the acknowledged headquarters for off-roading in the U.S. ATVs, dirt bikes, off-road motorcycles, Jeeps – in all sizes and shapes. We rented a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited so we were ready for whatever the parks had to throw at us, and were not dissatisfied by our choice.

Some days we were up at 2:40 a.m. to drive and hike to a certain spot where we could catch a special sunrise picture. Other days we were out until 3:30 a.m. to take photographs of the Milky Way through a particular arch. Some days we hiked hard, got lost a few times, and luckily were able to use our senses and preparation to successfully find our way back to the road where our car was parked. Wherever we went, we had the sense that people were extra kind and courteous – more so than in the big cities I spend most of my time in.

We first noticed the courtesy in the restaurants of Moab. People were genuinely interested in our plans. We talked with scraggly, threadbare hikers who looked like they had barely survived the 40-degree temperature and snowstorm of our first night there. We met people glamping in massive RVs, often towing their expensive off-road vehicle. And everything in between. All were courteous to a fault – especially the off-roaders.

Many trails we off-roaded on were basically one-way paths. Most seemed like they hadn’t been graded for years with large jutting rocks and potholes deeper than a (Cleveland Cavaliers logo) basketball. Streams meandered across the trails, as did the rabbits or cattle – free range. Most trails had blind hairpin turns more suited for horses than vehicles.

When approaching a blind turn in a larger vehicle, it’s courteous to honk your horn to warn the oncoming bikers, motorcycles and ATVs a vehicle is approaching. Though the larger vehicles are usually moving much slower, they know that the fast-moving smaller vehicles will suffer the most in case of a collision. A gentle honk is a nod to the unseen trail buddy who might be out there, a sign of respect to those we share the road with for the interest of all, an acknowledgement that none of us truly know what’s around the next turn.

How often do I do these types of things in my everyday life – while driving, passing through doors, rushing to grab a taxi, checking out at the grocery store? Here’s my unscientific observation on the difference between vacation mind and work mind: On vacation I’m slowed down, more present, less in my head, more noticing of other people I share space or the road with.

By now you may be asking how this relates to the fenestration industry or our communities. On the way home from Moab I stopped in Chicago where I spent a day and a half at an AAMA Board Strategic Planning meeting. Perhaps my senses were extra alert due to having been out in nature for a week. What I noticed in that meeting was the same kind of respect, sense of community and looking out for each other that I found among off-roaders. Although the companies, product and market segments may be different, the common interest and greater good transcends the narrow definition of we.

The work being done within our major industry associations for the common good helps all stakeholders in our dynamic industry. I’m honored to be involved in a small part of this work, to help build bridges within our industry for the good of all whom our industry touches – to secure our future through common effort in service of the greater good.