I made my first architectural call in the fall of 1987, in Charlotte, North Carolina while I was employed with American Flat Glass Distributors. The purpose of the call was to introduce myself and acquaint the architect with AFGD and our capabilities. I should preface my story by telling you that I have always “pedestalized” (I’m not sure if that’s a real word) architects and genuinely admire and respect the incredible work they do. In fact, and I love working in the glass biz, if I had to do it all over again, I would have studied architecture and become an architect myself. The architects name was Dan Lancaster. Dan was about my age (I was 35 at the time) and was a good ole southern boy with a terrific southern accent, polite and gentlemanly, born and raised in Shelby, North Carolina and proud of it. Upon arriving at his office and in typical southern fashion, I received a warm greeting and he cordially invited me to have a seat in his cubicle and for the next 20 minutes or so, we talked about everything from baseball to golf to southern style cooking, almost ignoring why I was there in the first place. It was a very comfortable situation, largely due to Dan’s demeanor.
We finally got down to business and I presented a sample for his review, a 10” x 10” - 1” OA, Solar Bronze over Clear (that was a pretty popular IGU makeup for the time). He held the unit and looked it over for a few seconds and then asked me, “now is this clear or tinted glass”? I vividly remember thinking to myself; you mean you don’t the difference…you’re an architect for goodness sake? How could an educated architect not know the difference between clear glass and tinted glass? How do I explain this to him without sounding condescending?
During the next nanosecond or two, I gathered my composure and described to him the IGU configuration even detailing the type of sealant and desiccant. I felt confident that I had pulled it off without insulting him. We continued our discussion and, quite frankly, I was shocked to discover the limited knowledge Dan had regarding architectural flat glass.
Going into this meeting, I figured architects knew everything about every part of the building they were designing. After all, how can you design something and then incorporate it into a structure if you don’t have a good working knowledge of what it is, what it does, its limitations, etc. etc.?
I devoted the balance of the meeting discussing just about everything I knew about architectural glass and the industry itself. I walked out feeling pretty darn good about my debut architectural call and also felt that I just might have a new friend.
Over the next year and a half or until I decided to return to the Pacific Northwest, Dan Lancaster and I talked at least once a month when he had a question about glass or sometimes I’d make the call just to check in.
Dan and I continued to touch base now and again, but not with the regularity we enjoyed while I was living in North Carolina.
Sadly, Dan was diagnosed with brain cancer in February of 1995, and passed away on Christmas day that same year. I truly miss him and his unmistakable southern charm.
The moral to the story is that a peddler, like me, doesn’t have to be the stereotypical “pain in the arse salesman” to an architect, but rather a reliable resource of valuable information. Suffice to say, architects are a very gifted group of people and after knowing Mr. Dan Lancaster, I have a much better appreciation for their work and an understanding of how and why they don’t know it all.
That’s where guys like me come in…to further educate the educated…in other words, an architect’s resource for information.
Photo by seier+seier