glassblog

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

During a recent factory tour, the VP of operations paused in front of a wall of employee photos to tell me how his company rewards money-saving ideas. “I got $6,000 last year for mine,” a customer service manager chimed in behind us. It’s not a new idea, but it seems too simple and too good not to do it.

It goes like this:

Install a suggestion box in the break room to solicit money-saving ideas. Once approved and implemented, half of the first year's savings is paid to the employee in cash.  Since 1994 at this particular company, the effort has yielded annual savings of $1,500,000 and payments to employees of $750,000.

You’ve heard it before: the men and women doing the work know best how to get it done efficiently. Moving into another hallway closer to the factory, I noted the rows of bulletin boards showing production output and other stats, current and historical, for all to see—another indicator of an involved workforce.

We donned glasses and ear plugs to enter the plant, and I surveyed the floor and workstations. Tidy and clean. Check. (You should know that I judge new friends and companies by how clean their kitchen and factory floors are.) I was also impressed by how the technicians looked up, gave us a quick nod and smiled. I asked how new machinery and tool selections were made. No surprise: The technicians choose, and thereby “own” the machine and the process.

What excellent glass company was so impressive in the face of fluctuating job scheduling, production crunches, costly lulls and capital investment in a tough economy that requires fresh ideas to stay alive? Not a glass company at all; it was Glass Magazine’s printer, Dartmouth Printing. They even provided the page from their policy manual so I could share it with you as a template. Click here to download The Employee Suggestion Program PDF.

I forgot to ask to see the suggestion box—lunch boxes were waiting—but like the factory floor, I know it is dust-free and primed to give back.

Harris is publisher of Glass Magazine and vice president of publications for the National Glass Association. Write her at nharris@glass.org.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The latest issue of Glass Magazine features a tremendous column by Julie Ruth on the code process. Simply put, everyone should take a few minutes to read it. Thanks to efforts from people like Julie, our industry still has a voice. But she points out that voice could have been silenced and sometimes isn’t as strong as it needs to be. No matter how you feel about the codes or their facilitators (and those who know me, know I have passionate feelings here), they are a major player in our world and will only become more so. The moral here is no matter what vehicle you want to take through the code process (yourself, trade organization, suppliers, collaborative, etc.) it’s important that you do.

Elsewhere…  

  • Another year and another round of the Solutia World of Color Awards. As I noted when this was created, I loved the idea and overall concept. The jury was just announced, and the team at Solutia did a great job identifying some super people. Programs like this and YKK's YouTube video contest are great and positive interest builders for our industry. Props to Aimee Davis and team, and good luck with the contest!
  • And speaking of kudos, I'm also sending them north of the border to Danik Dancause and Matthew Christie on their new promotions at Walker Glass. I have known Danik for awhile, and aside from being the best-dressed guy in our industry, he is an absolute talent. As for Matt, a very sharp guy that I met for the first time at GlassBuild. I can tell you that after we met, he basically figured out that I am nuts. So that alone proves he has brains! Good luck gentlemen.  
  • Who are you taking in the LSU-Alabama game? I just wish there was a playoff in college football. Can you imagine THOSE bracket contests? Wow.
  • For you folks who love architecture, how about this great blog post on 15 architects who changed our world. Really good stuff, even if you just look at only the pictures.
  • Last this week, back to the world of sports. Those of you who may be fans of Indiana University basketball, congrats on the return of your team to national prominence. IU upset #1 Kentucky on Saturday with a buzzer beater and looks to be headed in the right direction.

Read on for links and clip of the week...

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, December 5, 2011

This past February when the president announced his Better Buildings Initiative, it sent a positive jolt through the industry. Fast-forwarding to the present, last Friday brought news of the next step: a presidential memorandum announcing the Better Buildings Challenge. This latest effort features a ton of very powerful companies and a lot of cash from them that really should push things in the right direction. The initiative now has $2 billion to use to upgrade federal buildings, as well as another $2 billion of private money (from those powerful companies I hinted to above) for energy efficiency projects in existing buildings. The improvement of existing buildings is a biggie as it plays into the hot retrofit segment. It also fills the huge hole that we have as a society in the form of older buildings that suck a ton of energy thanks to outdated and underperforming products. Hopefully, this initiative does not get bogged down or stuck in a game of political football. Too much good can come from it.

Elsewhere...

  • I got painfully lost last week and did not have my GPS. All I can say is the GPS is the greatest invention ever. I will never get into a car without it. Plus, that means I'll never get to do the TV show "The Amazing Race" because I have zero sense of direction.
  • The sale of Southwall to Solutia was formally completed last week. It will be fun to watch how this plays out. There's potential for some great synergy. I'm not sure how it will work, but teaming the likes of the awesome Aimee Davis and Julie Schimmelpenningh of Solutia with top performers like Bruce Lang and Tom Marsh at Southwall creates some insane possibilities.
  • This past Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that contained an amendment to buy American-made solar products. The Buy American Solar Amendment will ensure that "Buy American" requirements apply to all photovoltaic devices that supply power to Department of Defense property or facilities. This will be big because the Department of Defense will be required to comply with this act. It also closes a previous loophole that amazingly allowed these properties to buy products from foreign entities. This could be a nice boon for the U.S. solar segment and for the folks in the glass industry who are working in it.
  • Just a heads up on some fantastic technical resources available: Glass Magazine has some very helpful pieces available here. All I can say is it never hurts to have the knowledge. The smarter you can be in this competitive landscape, the better.
  • Thank you to all who checked in on my brother on his hospital adventures. He was just released and is now taking the road back to recovery. Slowly but surely he'll be back at it, and hopefully no more issues come up!
  • Normally, this would be in the links section, but this piece was too good. A very interesting read on the great depression, the "banksters" and the guy who brought them to justice. Very ironic as some parts of history really do repeat!
  • Last this week: college football is winding down... and lost amongst the wild weekend of games was my alma mater Ohio U choking at their chance to win the MAC Championship. Brutal. Ohio had a 20-point lead at half, only to lose 23-20 at the gun. Fellow Bobcat and AGC Sales icon Rodger Ruff had to witness the carnage in person. Hopefully he's recovering, because that was painful. 

Read on for links and video of the week...

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's been nearly two years since the National Fenestration Rating Council officially launched its Component Modeling Approach program. NFRC created CMA to make it easier to rate, certify and document U-factor, solar heat gain coefficient and visible transmittance values for nonresidential fenestration.

Today, California's nonresidential building energy codes (Title 24) require the use of CMA, default rating values or simple equations to demonstrate compliance with its fenestration energy requirements.

Unlike NFRC's temporary label for residential products, the CMA program does not label each product. Instead, NFRC lists the certified values for CMA-rated products on a single document for the entire project, called the label certificate. NFRC issued the first label certificate in April 2009 to a research center at Utah State University in Logan.

Since then, NFRC has issued label certificates to projects in more than a dozen states, including K-12 and university buildings, recreation and community centers, residential projects, military buildings, healthcare facilities and even a performing arts center in Las Vegas. We are seeing a notable level of CMA activity in Utah and Washington, particularly in Seattle, among the cities at the forefront of sustainable building.

CMA can be used to rate commercial windows, doors, skylights, curtain wall and storefront. The process to get a label certificate involves just a few steps. First, the design team uses pre-approved, NFRC-rated components (frames, glazing and spacers) to configure a product in the CMA Software Tool (CMAST). After determining the appropriate design reflecting project specifications and local energy codes, CMAST generates energy performance ratings for the whole product. At this point, the ratings aren't certified. To become certified, the party responsible for meeting fenestration energy codes on the project (who we call the specifying authority), has an NFRC-Approved Calculation Entity (ACE) certify the ratings and issue a label certificate to be used for code compliance purposes.

CMA uses NFRC 100 and 200 procedures – required by both ASHRAE 90.1 and the International Energy Conservation Code – to generate U-factor, SHGC and visible transmittance ratings. CMA can also be used for LEED projects, because they require ASHRAE 90.1.

What's next for CMA? Some NFRC members have expressed interest in expanding the program to the residential sector. In response, NFRC recently created a task team to explore the possibility.

The author is CEO of the National Fenestration Rating Council. He has been involved in developing product and performance standards for the window and glass industry for more than 25 years. Write him at jbenney@nfrc.org.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I just heard the very sad news of the passing of Tommy Huskey, CEO of Gardner Glass. Tommy was a tremendous man and will be truly missed by many. This is a very sad day for our industry. Condolences go to Tommy's family and his family at Gardner during this very difficult time.

This will be a shorter than normal post since we are coming off an abbreviated week (for at least the American readership). I hope everyone who celebrated had a great holiday! For my readers who only pick this blog up via e-glass weekly, please click HERE to catch up on last week's post. It's full of good stuff, including a fabricator on the move making a great hire, a new Twitter feed to follow and the most recent Architectural Billings Index.

As for this week...

  • It was not a great holiday for my brother Steve, as he spent the entire holiday in the hospital after complications from a recent surgery. He is still in the hospital and looks to be there for a while longer as he recovers. To make matters worse, there's no cable TV in his hospital room. For me, that would be worse than being laid up in the first place! Anyway, sending positive thoughts to him to get well soon and get back to doing all the good that he does.
  • PPG released its new Glass Configurator Widget. It's a very cool little program that can run on any style of computer or smart phone. While geared for architects, it does have value for the rest of us who just like to know what is available out there. Nice work.
  • Not glass-related but interesting nonetheless: the hottest trend in school building is the removal of lockers from the design. Schools are deciding that lockers do more harm than good, and designers are being told to leave them out. Pretty wild change... Can you imagine going to school without having a locker?
  • Last this week: The Fiscal Times listed the "Top 10 Places to Find a Job" and quite frankly this list was very surprising. Here goes:

1. Ft. Wayne, IN

2. Worcester, MA

3. San Jose, CA

4. Tulsa, OK

5. Houston, TX

6. Tucson, AZ

7. Dallas, TX

8. Akron, OH

9. Phoenix, AZ

10. Boise, ID

To me, the surprises were Akron, San Jose and the two Arizona locations. I was not surprised by Texas, Oklahoma or Idaho.

Read on for links and video of the week...

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Being an avid reader, I often find inspiration and focus within the pages of biographies of successful people or in discussions with people I admire. Sometimes, I even find it while enjoying a spectacular sunset. On occasion, inspiration and focus can be found in the strangest things and at the most unexpected times.

I have just returned from the Vitrum show in Milan, Italy, where I was supporting our European office in the trade show booth. Just before the show opened, our manager of the French-speaking market segment handed all of our booth personnel blue shoestrings to immediately place in their shoes.

I assumed that this was meant to be a fashion statement, as the color of the shoestrings was a very close match to our official corporate logo color. With Milan being the fashion capital of the world, I thought this made perfect sense.

Now, I've never been accused of being fashionable – actually quite the opposite – so naturally I hesitated for a moment. I watched as the rest of our team took out their old laces and inserted the new ones. I was still not sold on the fashion idea, but being a team player, I followed along.

As the week went on, I found that these shoestrings provided much more value than just fashion.

Each morning as I tied my shoes, the blue shoestrings stared me right in the face. These shoestrings provided me the inspiration each morning to approach the day and trade show booth with the proper mindset and focus on our mission in Milan.

So here it was: focus for less than a buck! No long hours of reading or deep discussions with others or even an enjoyable sunset. Focus was simply found in the strangest thing and at the most unexpected time--while tying my blue shoestrings.

Upon returning home, my wife, Tammy, took one look at my shoes and informed me that the look was certainly not a fashion statement – at least not in Cleveland, Ohio. These laces have been changed but not discarded. They now sit on my desk as a daily reminder of the focus that was found in Milan and the mission that we are on.

There is now a very good chance that blue shoestrings will be a part of our fashion statement and focus at our future trade shows! 

The author is president of FeneTech, the Aurora, Ohio, provider of software automation products and services to the glass, window and door fabrication industries. Write him at ron.crowl@fenetech.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

The big news of the week was from the International Green Construction Code meeting in Arizona. When the event ended, the United States finally had a national green building code. While creating and executing the code are another adventure, the groundwork has been formally laid. Like with any process, the final piece has positives and negatives (the excellent Dr. Tom Culp taught me that), but I think the good will outweigh the bad overall. If anything, it continues to force us as an industry to keep evolving and moving the ball forward. And this is not the end of the process anyway, as the debates for the next cycle have already begun. At the end of the day, I have always been pretty critical and focused on the code process over the years and will continue to stay on it.

Elsewhere....

  • Speaking of being critical: one of my major targets over the years has been the Department of Energy. Since the Solyndra adventure, DOE has been in a ton of people's crosshairs and now the Inspector General is investigating them for more than 100 stimulus-related issues. Here's the link.
  •  Last week in e-glass weekly, Bill Evans once again hit one out of the ballpark. I seriously love every time that guy writes. Classy and inspirational.
  • A major thank you to everyone who enjoyed the Twitter post from last week and jumped into following some of those awesome people. And thanks to the folks who decided to follow me, I am grateful.
  • Also from last week, I traded e-mails with Henry Gorry of Guardian. Henry is winding down his incredible career, and I for one will miss him greatly. Henry is a tremendously eloquent speaker, one that mixes fact with a calm passion, while keeping discussions absolutely on track. (A stickler for protocol, there was no moving beyond a task without completion when Henry was in the mix!) He made every committee and organization that he was involved in better because of his presence, style and overall professionalism.
  • A happy belated birthday to this blog's most important reader: my Mom. Without her, this blog doesn't exist... and imagine what a loss to the world that would be? Ha ha. Anyway, Happy Birthday Mom from your 5th favorite kid out of four.

Read on for links and video of the week...

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

 

Monday, November 7, 2011

People often misuse words such as affect/effect, may/can, need/want, and urgent/important. Perhaps, the last example affects business people the most, especially this time of year.

Let’s look at the following list of tasks:

  • Important, urgent items
  • Important, non-urgent items
  • Urgent, unimportant items
  • Non-urgent, unimportant items

It is easy to prioritize items that are urgent and important, or not urgent and unimportant. But, how we prioritize the other two determines our effectiveness. Which is more valuable? Which will lead to long-term gain?  If something is urgent but not important, what is its value? Quite frankly, we all get consumed by what we consider "urgent" without analyzing its importance. This is compounded by the prevalence of smart phones and 24/7 accessibility. If it is not important, why do we feel the pressure to respond quickly?

Recently, I attended a two-day meeting with peers in the glass industry. Most of us own glass shops, and one owns a fabricating company. I really didn't have time to go to the meeting because of the daily, urgent demands of my business. However, this meeting was important, even if it wasn't urgent.  I always learn something at these meetings, and my employees ask me what I learn that is applicable to the business. They are excited about ways to improve. So although the meeting wasn't urgent, I still chose to attend because it was important.

When we place urgent, unimportant items in the No. 2 slot on our priority list, we ease present situations. But it also keeps us forever focused on the short-term. Growth will be a result of working more hours, not smarter.

When we proactively plan, we place important, non-urgent items in the No. 2 slot. This allows us to look to the future, strategize, and implement plans for growth and survival. The fourth quarter of the calendar year is a great time to work on important, non-urgent items. Use this time to plan for the next year, five years, and 10 years. Do not be consumed by the urgent, nonimportant. Success is dependent upon having a priority list that looks like this:

  1. Important, urgent items
  2. Important, non-urgent items
  3. Urgent, unimportant items
  4. Non-urgent, unimportant items 

The author is president of Evans Glass Co., and chairman-elect for the National Glass Association. Write him at bevans@evansglasscompany.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors. 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Back in mid-2009, I debuted the "Twitter Top 10" on my blog, and since then, I have spotlighted various "tweets" of the week. Well, it is time to update the list. More and more people have joined Twitter, and it's becoming a way of life and communication for many. Twitter itself has also changed; it's not used as much for personal updates but for the sharing of news and information. Some of that information normally would not see the light of day, so it has become valuable.

So, if you are on Twitter and you are not following these folks, it is time to do so. You will thank me later. If you are not on Twitter yet, keep these folks in mind for when you do jump on in. This list is for industry-related folks and companies. In the next few weeks, I will highlight non-industry "must follows."

These are in no specific order:

  1. @SouthwallTech: This feed is run by Bruce Lang of Southwall, and he mixes in some super links with a daily news piece.
  2. @JChaseGlass: The wonderful Jenni Chase (Hey, I mean it, even if she is my editor when the blog appears in e-glass weekly) runs this one and it's a great way to stay up on the news as she posts when it happens.
  3. @Glassandglazing: Run by Greg Carney. It's no secret that I am fan of Greg, and his tweets, while more sporadic than usual lately, are always worthy.
  4. @GlassBuild: This feed is the best way to stay ahead of the news about the premier industry show. And from what I hear, this feed will really be ramping up in the next few weeks.
  5. @Glasslam: Run by Matt Hale, this is probably the most active, interesting and diverse feed on Twitter as it relates to our industry. It's very rare that a story gets by Matt.
  6. @RavenBrick and @Sage_Glass: These two powers of the dynamic glass world both have strong, growing and interesting Twitter feeds. And with both companies constantly making technical strides, Twitter is a usually a great outlet for that news.
  7. @HeatherWestPR: Heather is a PR icon who I have mentioned here before, and her feed lives up to her stature. Tons of interesting links and stories. How she finds some of the stuff, which has great relevance to our world, is beyond me.
  8. @ArleneOnEnergy: Arlene Stewart, as I have noted here before, has made news with her feed and she is very good from an information dissemination standpoint. She really uses the medium effectively.
  9. @YKKAPAmerica: Very green news-focused but mixes in fun links and pictures. Also a very conversational feed. I'm not sure who is behind it at YKK, but that person deserves a pat on the back.
  10. @EnclosCorp: One of the largest glaziers around runs a very sharp and effective feed. They use it well, and the reader benefits.

Honorable mentions (and still worthy of a follow of course):

@DanPompeoAGS, @GGIGlass, @GuardianGlass, @ICDCoatings, @Kawneer, @GANATechnical, @PPGIndustries

Of course, if you want to follow me, I am at @MaxPSoleSource. But, I am nowhere as fun or interesting as any of the above. I save it for this blog!

Elsewhere...

  • The new Apple store design really is amazing. I'm not sure how the other glass geeks out there feel about it, but I really dig it.
  • College football is getting interesting. Wild game with Alabama-LSU (sorry, gang at Coral, tough one), and now we head down the stretch with the last few games and conference championships. Gonna be fun to follow.
  • Last this week, Glass Magazine has their latest edition of "G3" out. This is where industry folks weigh in on a question, and this month features three absolute heavyweights in David Petratis of Quanex, Lloyd Talbert of CRL and Mark Silverberg of Technoform. Three paragraphs from three interesting and well-put-together men. Check it out.

Read on for links and video of the week...

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

There are three things you can always count on if you are lucky enough to attend Vitrum, the Italian glass show in Milan, Italy: high style, great food and new product introductions, especially machinery.

This year's event lived up to all three. Everything from the decorative entrance displays fashioned of glass chips and plantings, to the people (business suits, please!) conveyed an elegance most trade shows don't even try to approach. Milan is, after all, a leading fashion capital of the world.

As for the food, my taste buds and their memories attest that Vitrum 2011 was the all-time best show I've ever attended in 20-plus years, thanks to the first annual Vitrum Gourmet Festival. Usually, I shed a pound or two making trade show rounds, too busy for anything but a granola bar on the run. This show was different; make that Michelin- star-chef-spectacularly-different. Four prominent Italian chefs each prepared a multi-course feast for each of the four days. A special and very elegant "restaurant" was set up in Hall 22 with white linen tables surrounding a glass art showcase and a full-wall screen projection of the chefs and their edible artworks.

Right. So now I come to the third and most crucial item you can count on: new product introductions.

Now in its 17th year, the GIMAV-sponsored Vitrum is renown for being the venue where Italian exhibitors introduce truly new products. Call it, orgoglio, the Italian word for pride. Not surprisingly, most of the other exhibitors from around the world follow suit.

New product introductions are the core of any trade show, but these lean days, it's so much more impressive when you see it first-hand. The buzz and energy when you walk into a stand and start talking to the salespeople and technicians who want to show you what they have is jet-lag dissolving. It even helps you refocus when you're waiting for the espresso shot to kick in after the three-course lunch (with wine, no less). It's a fine thing that Vitrum and GlassBuild America are marketing partners. I'm proud to note, too, that NGA's print and electronic publications are highly regarded in a worldwide marketplace crowded by so many industry magazines.

So, if you missed Vitrum this year, I strongly encourage you not to make the mistake in Fall 2013. I'll be marking my calendar as soon as the dates are set. 

In the meantime, you can read about the products on display at the 2011 event here, as well as take a photo tour of the trade show floor.

Harris is publisher of Glass Magazine and vice president of publications for the National Glass Association. Write her at nharris@glass.org.

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