glassblog

Monday, October 31, 2011

This week, I decided to start with something light. After the last few weeks of negativity, surely it's time for something different. So, here it is. Last week, I was watching the West Virginia/Syracuse football game. The announcers kept pronouncing “Syracuse” two different ways. One guy called it “SaRAH-Cuse” while the other called it  “SEAR-a-Cuse", slightly different, but noticeable and annoying. Honestly, I don’t know much about that town other than John Dwyer of Syracuse Glass is the mayor there. So, I'm not sure what the right pronunciation is. But this did make me think of our industry and its two most commonly mispronounced company names. Example one is Viracon. Most people say “V-EYE-ra-cahn.” But you still have many that call it “Vear-ah-cahn.” So which one is right? I believe it’s the first. Example two is tougher; it's 50/50 out there. Tubelite. Is it “Toob-light” or “Toob-ah-light”? I also lean towards the first here, but I am not as sure. Anyway, these are major issues that I will get to the bottom of and report back on if I ever find out!

Elsewhere…

  • The cover of Time Magazine this week was “The China Bubble,” and it had some OK reading in it. The story basically talked about how the success or failure in China will have a massive effect on the world. The scariest comment was that China’s growth came “on an economy built on real estate mania and easy money… sound familiar?” Ironically though, October somehow was the best month on the stock market here in the U.S. since 1974. The analysts were calling it “Rock-tober”. So, how come it didn’t feel that good to me? Best since '74? Shouldn’t the mood and attitudes be better?
  • Book of the week: If you want a seriously, non-politically-correct easy read, then check out Adam Carolla’s book, “In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks.” It's a fun read and great pop culture, but he is nowhere near politically correct on anything: gender, race, creed, nothing.
  • Congrats to my friends in St. Louis (mostly the Solutia troop) on the Cardinal win. What a wild series!
  • Massive snow in the Northeast this weekend. My gosh, Mother Nature is not happy with that region … earthquakes, floods and October blizzards. Yikes.!
  • Normally, this would go in the links, but I had to include it here because it’s about a guy who made more than $300,000 playing fantasy baseball last year! The football version of this guy I believe is Scott Surma.
  • Last this week, we’re headed into my favorite personal stretch of the year. Personal, not business! Though I am looking forward to my first non-news-cycle Turkey Day in a few years! Starting with Halloween, to my birthday, to Thanksgiving, to the Chanukah/Christmas combo and finishing with New Year's. It’s an awesome stretch. And while there’s tons of pressure and frustration out there, it’s this stretch that gives you pause and fills you with hope that things can be on the right track. So I say, bring it on!

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, October 25, 2011

You lock the doors to your business. You're insured against fires and floods. You teach safety, and warn your employees against taking unnecessary risks in the shop or in the field. But, what are you doing to protect your company against fraud?

Yesterday, we ran a news item on GlassMagazine.com about a six-year embezzlement scheme at Architectural Glass Art and Glassworks. The former chief financial officer of the businesses was indicted by a grand jury of stealing more than a half a million dollars from the companies, according to an Oct. 20 article from WLKY.com. The embezzlement was devastating to the companies, forcing executives to lay off employees and eventually turn Glassworks over to new ownership, officials said in the article.

"We trusted her," an AGA and Glassworks official said of the former CFO in the article. This rang eerily similar to something Gloria Hale, president of Hale Glass, said to me last year during an interview about the embezzlement that occurred at her company. "If I was listening to this story last year, I would have said 'that would never happen to me. I have a trusted employee handling money,'" Hale said in the interview.

With all the pressure glass companies are under in this market, I imagine business owners have less time and energy to spend monitoring activities inside the company, keeping alert for fraud. Hale offered some tips to other glass company owners that we published in the December 2010 issue of Glass Magazine. Take a look to make sure you are protecting yourself by instituting policies and procedures at your company that make embezzlement impossible.

This news story about AGA and Glassworks came on the heels of an email I received from a glass shop owner about a different, but equally dangerous, type of fraud—ordering scams. I've spoken about this topic many times during the last four years, like here and here, for example. However, I think it needs to be reiterated frequently, particularly since I receive regular emails from business owners in and out of the industry saying they've been targeted. (And I've received a number of fraudulent orders myself). These scammers are out there and constantly pursuing businesses. Do your customer service reps and sales employees know the red flags for fraud? If they (or you) need a refresher, here they are.

If you have any other tips, or if you want to talk about fraud (or being the target of fraud) at your company, please comment below or send me an email. 

Devlin is senior editor for Glass Magazine. Write her at kdevlin@glass.org.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ok, so two pieces of bad news last week: first, the Architectural Billings Index took a nasty tumble. Then, Canada's nonresidential building statistics came out lower than they have been. So, it wasn't exactly an uplifting few days.

The ABI continues to be a hard one to swallow, especially since our industry wouldn't see any effects from these lower totals until mid-2012. It will bear watching, because if 2012 is solid or at least like 2011 has been for some patches of our industry, it will blow the whole theory/report out of the water.

As for the Canadian report, all I could think of after reading it was the reaction of people in Toronto when I complimented them for being busy. They were seriously afraid that I'd jinx it, and gosh, I wonder if I did.

Elsewhere...

  • Our industry has great new app joining the excellent Glass Magazine app that I mentioned last week. Guardian released its SunGuard mobile app, and I loaded it up and was very impressed. It's very sharp, clean and easy to use. Major props to Chris Dolan and his team on a job well done. If you want to download it from the iTunes App Store or Google's Android market , enter "SunGuard" in the search field instead of Guardian; it will be easier to find.
  • I hated missing the GANA Fall Conference last week. I heard many good things, and the worst part for me was missing a chance to hear the always intelligent and interesting Stanley Yee of The Façade Group. Stanley is as engaging as they come and a good guy, for sure. Evidently, his presentation on air leakage was a showstopper, and I hated missing that and the rest of the event.
  • I had my 900th airport delay of the summer this past week but in a new airport for me: Cincinnati. I must say, it's a very nice airport. I've been stuck in much worse places.
  • Last week, I linked to an article in Forbes about a possible water shortage, and soon after my blog was published, I got an e-mail from John Fallon of Water Treatment Technologies. John's company does yeoman's work in trying to get people to use and re-use water smartly, and I am big fan of him and his company. Anyway, John pointed out that the Forbes piece is accurate (shocking to me in reality) and he went on to note the insane wastes of water from our industry. It is truly food for thought. If you are not recycling your water in your facility, you need to. It's a no brainer and the right thing to do. Thanks again to John for getting my mind back on it.
  • I am biased on this one because I like the product line and people involved, but there's a great article here on how General Glass International (GGI) produced the glass for the Harlem Hospital (installation by W&W Glass and insulating by JE Berkowitz: what a high-powered group). Very intense stuff. Also interesting is that the job is actually not complete yet even though it seems like the glass has been up for years.
  • Congrats to PPG on their awesome third quarter. As I have noted here before, they have some awesome people who make a difference out there. I'm happy for all of those who worked so hard to achieve it.
  • Last this week: in my new life, I have been running into other quality folks who call consulting their career. Some great ones like Greg Carney and Arlene Stewart I knew, but I did not know Rick De La Guardia. Well, now I do. The guy is a tremendous asset from the engineering side, and it's pretty awesome to be in the same realm. You learn very neat things when you find yourself in a new world, that is for sure. 

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. 

 

 

 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

After recognizing New York City's Dillon condominiums―a 2011 Crystal Achievement Award nominee for best curtain wall project―on Bravo TV's "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist," I finally came to terms with the fact that I'm a glass geek. I love to see buildings featuring creative uses of glass on television, as well as shows spotlighting glass companies and their products. What can I say? It's exciting to see our industry highlighted in the popular media.

It's also exciting to be able to share those moments with you in the form of video content in e-glass weekly and on GlassMagazine.com. Although not a substitute for the comprehensive written articles, this video content complements them. A recent "Great Glazing" article, for example, features a shower enclosure that uses Trattini glass from Bendheims' Architect Series I collection. The enclosure also happens to be the star of a DIY Network "King of the Throne" episode. While you can read about the glass characteristics here, you can watch its challenging installation in the accompanying DIY Network episode below. The install begins around the 10-minute mark.

In addition to spotlighting glass company appearances on popular television shows, we also offer original videos of product demonstrations at industry events―such as those from Greenbuild 2011―interviews with glass company executives and tours of glass-centric buildings in e-glass weekly, on GlassMagazine.com and on The Glass Magazine Channel on YouTube.

So please, send us your videos! While we will continue to provide original video content such as that from Greenbuild 2011, we'd also like to feature videos of recent projects, new products or equipment from readers. If you have a glass industry video you would like to share, please e-mail me at jchase@glass.org for more information on our criteria.

 

Chase is editorial director of Glass Magazine, GlassMagazine.com and e-glass weekly. Write her at jchase@glass.org.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Glass Magazine recently linked to an interesting report from FMI that is surely worth the download and read. The key takeaway is that FMI projects 2012 will be like 2003. My memory is not great, but 2003 wasn't awful, and if we're headed that way, I'd be OK with that. The breakdown of industry segments and the growth--or lack thereof--was also something to digest. How much will the school/institutional construction be affected by current budget shortfalls and the battles in the government? That segment weathered the storms pretty well and remains the wildcard that no analyst really can accurately portray. Overall, a good read; check it out.

Elsewhere...

  • After weeks and weeks of a pretty heavy news cycle, things finally calmed down last week. It was probably one of the slowest news weeks I have seen in a long time. As an industry, I think we deserved the breather! However, there's a lot of movement and news percolating in the background, so the cycle is going to start going full blast again soon.
  • Have you downloaded the Glass Magazine App yet? If not, do so, it's really nicely set up. Kudos again to the folks who put that together. A job well done!
  • Want to know what the realistic house of the future will look like? Check this story out. I agree with some of it, but not all, especially in regards to the skylights. There's too much technology out there that the writer obviously hasn't researched yet.
  • This week is the Solar Power International show in Dallas. A few years ago, this show had a lot of desirable targets for our industry, but you can tell that things have certainly changed and many of the folks that should/could be there are not. Good to see though that Konarka WILL be there and will benefit from the lack of competition on the floor. They deserve to stand out.
  • Forbes Magazine rang the alarm on what could be another crisis: a water shortage crisis. The article does get you to think but also seems so unlikely. In any case, I still hate the fact we use up so much clean water for waste disposal. That one gets me crazy.
  • Last this week... Speaking of drinks, have you seen the new Dr. Pepper product geared for men only? The folks there feel that a "man" won't want to be seen with a "diet" drink, so they needed to create something new. Now I don't think that's a bad thing. A bad thing for a guy is having your favorite alcoholic drink be Malibu and Diet. Take it from me; you never hear the end of it. 

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, October 10, 2011

Greenbuild might have hit its plateau last week after a rough outing in Toronto. Traffic was down, which was shocking considering the show was in Canada for the first time. Worse yet was the layout of the show floor. There were two halls separated by a 15-minute walk. Most attendees went to the hall closest to the street and didn't make it to the other. As far as whether or not more decision makers would fill the floor, the answer was a resounding "no." Younger associates and students still were in the major majority. The show moves to San Francisco next year, so it will be very interesting to see if that site brings in the crowds.

Other Greenbuild musings...

  • The city of Toronto is very busy building-wise. Something like 131 high-rises are in various phases of construction there, and there are these things called "cranes" all over town. (I haven't seen many of those since 2006/07!) What's funny though is when you compliment someone from our industry who works the Toronto market. They look down, as if they don't want to acknowledge it out of fear of maybe jinxing their positive fortune right now.
  • On the floor... Dorma's booth was epic and it was good to see Rich Albright there. He is always on the ball. I liked Southwall's booth and was impressed by their R-20 window. Spotted Tom O'Malley of Doralco from afar, but never got to catch up with him; just too popular. Speaking of popular, the folks at Viracon were in typical high demand. I got to see the always awesome Farrah Hoffman, and watched Garret Henson do several media sessions. I now wonder how long it will be until Garret has his own PR team. I visited with Tom Herron of NFRC and Kerry Haglund of the Efficient Windows Collaborative and both were very nice to me; much appreciated. They are class folks. And I got to meet in person for the first time, an industry PR legend in Heather West. That was cool.
  • Last note on the show and town: Toronto has the worst traffic ever. Simply miserable trying to get anywhere quick. I have a whole new respect for my friends that live there.

Elsewhere...

  • The news Friday that Solutia was buying Southwall Technologies was very interesting. Solutia is a very good company and very shrewd. Obviously, the details are pretty preliminary at this point, so this will be a deal to watch going forward.
  • As those who know me know, I love the Rocky movies. They are my favorites. So I tell you with great excitement that the new movie "Real Steel" has some serious Rocky-like qualities. It's almost like the "Rocky" for the new century. Great flick.

Last this week, congratulations to Greg Landry on his new gig at Agalite in Anaheim, Calif. Great guy with a great company; sounds like a nice marriage! 

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, October 3, 2011

It seems like all we've been hearing on the economic front is bad news on the verge of panic: debt crises that threaten to unravel the worldwide economy, legislative standstills that create plummeting consumer confidence, and a stock market that seems to be in free fall two or three days every week. So, I thought I would use my vast power as a member of the, let's call it "trade-stream media," to share some of the good news that we've been hearing about the overall economy and construction market.

For example, did you know that the commerce department revised its GDP growth numbers upward last week? Or that U.S. manufacturing (and the overall U.S. economy) grew in September?

Additionally, I had the pleasure of hearing two economists speak during September about their economic forecasts, focusing on construction: Jeff Dietrich, senior analyst, Institute for Trend Research, Concord, N.H., who spoke Sept. 12 during the 6th annual Glazing Executives Forum, part of GlassBuild America in Atlanta, and Esmael Adibi, director of the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research and Anderson Chair of Economic Analysis, Claremont Graduate University, Sept. 26, at the 2011 American Architectural Manufacturers Association National Fall Conference. The forecasts were quite similar, especially when addressing fears of a double-dip recession. Adibi started off his presentation, in fact, by announcing: "We don't see a double dip." Dietrich agreed. "That's not our forecast. We think this economy is resilient enough," he said.

Both Dietrich and Adibi said the U.S. economy is growing. It's just growing slowly—too slowly to make much of a dent in the huge drop in employment and GDP. Read Glass Magazine coverage of Dietrich's forecast and Adibi's forecast.

The construction sector (finally) saw some gains in the last couple of months. The Architectural Billings Index experienced an upturn in August. Nonresidential construction starts were up 19 percent in August, compared to July, and overall construction spending edged up in July. And while 25 states and D.C. experienced construction employment declines in August compared to July, 26 states and D.C. have added construction jobs during the past 12 months, according to a recent report from the Associated General Contractors of America.

I’m certainly not blind to the threats and vast challenges still facing the economy and construction industry. However, I think we all might need a brief breather from all the bad news.

Devlin is senior editor for Glass Magazine. Write her at kdevlin@glass.org.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

We've gone from GlassBuild America season to GreenBuild this week. It should be a very interesting show in that it's in Toronto and could attract a potentially much different audience and demographic than in years past. I also will be watching to see if youth still dominate this crowd or if the more seasoned professionals are breaking down and joining the green revolution. The everlasting memory of this event could be the cell phone bills all of the American exhibitors and attendees get a month from now, when they are racked by their carriers for international calls! In any case, next week  I'll have the breakdown of the latest gathering in our world.

Elsewhere...

  • Lost in the excitement of GlassBuild America and all of the industry news these last few months was the announcement that Glass Week will be replaced by an annual conference. This conference will stand alone and will not be connected to BEC like it was for the last few years. It's a move that some have wanted for awhile and others who didn't like the connection to BEC have really wanted. Adding more travel to already tight budgets will be a challenge, but the technical work so many do at GANA surely will be a factor in the decision to attend. Will it eat into the BEC attendance? Possibly. Anyway you slice it, this is a bold move by the gang at GANA to evolve.
  • My gosh, is the DOE getting skewered like crazy or what on Solyndra? Even at my worst, I don't think I beat them up this badly. I'm almost feeling bad for the guys there... almost.
  • Congrats to John Bush on his new appointment at GGI. I have known John for years, starting from the days on the board at GANA, and know that he is a tremendous talent. It's a coup for GGI  to get him on board full time.
  • I know there are several proud University of Michigan graduates and fans who read this, along with a lot of people who were involved in the remodel of the Michigan football stadium. This past weekend, I was lucky enough to go to a game at the refurbished stadium. Tremendous work has been done there architecturally, and the atmosphere was second to none. So to the folks who had a part in the rebuild, congrats. And to the folks who are grads and fans, man you are lucky. I had a great time, and the team looks super!
  • Last this week ... kudos to the gang at SAGE on the launch of their new website. It is a very slick, clean and impressive site. Sorry Earnest Thompson, Chris Dolan and the folks at Guardian, you have been knocked off the perch for best industry site now. These are heady times for the dynamic glass world, and this is just the beginning. Soladigm is gearing up with their new plant, Pleotint is making deals, and obviously, I have tremendous faith and confidence in the folks at RavenBrick. Add that to the positive forecasts about this industry segment and things look very bright. But now, we as an industry have a new website to try and knock off the top! 

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, September 26, 2011

Amidst the massive malaise on Wall Street last week and continued pathetic performances coming from Washington, D.C., the AIA released some positive news with the Architectural Billings Index. The ABI actually bounced back, shocking analysts and onlookers alike. The biggest surprise was the leap in new projects on the boards.

In my opinion, there are two ways to look at this:

  1. It's about time, we were due for this and it means the building segment will be strong next summer
  2. These projects are pie-in-the-sky efforts that will never get the financing, and the study is skewed.

In my opinion, it's a little of both. I do think better times are ahead and I continue to discount the ABI for the most part, but I also don't think massive jumps are in the offing. A steady, positive run will be the play here. The bottom line is this was some good news to grab ahold of in the middle of a very volatile week.

Elsewhere...

  • Last week's blog by the brilliant Bill Evans shows that he is a great voice of the glass shop and glazier. He is pure money, and I am in awe. When I met Bill at GlassBuild America, he said he was amazed that I write my blog 52 weeks a year, and asked how I came up with stuff. I told him that my blog doesn't carry the weight or importance that his brings to the table, and last week's effort proved that point. Bill' s work was a tremendous and powerful read, and it's an honor to share a page with him.
  • I was honored yet again to return to Colorado and speak at the Colorado Glazing Contractors Association. I have been a huge fan of the CGCA for years and consider it the model that every regional trade group should follow. Rebecca Kaspari, along with this year's President Marty Richardson of Metro Glass, do an awesome job.
  • Comically, when I got to the hotel where the CGCA event was held, I asked the front desk where I should go. They sent me to a room where I started to set up, but I recognized no one. I was really spooked. I mean, I figured I'd see the ultra classy Cameron Scripture of Viracon at a minimum, and no Rebecca or Marty? What was going on here? So, as I'm quietly trying to get organized, I asked someone if it was the CGCA meeting. And I was then told it was a benefit for orphaned animals in Rwanda. The funny thing is: no one stopped me from setting up. I should have spoken there too!
  • Time for a list. Trust in America recently came out with the "Fattest States" list and here is your top 10:
  • 10. Michigan- Wow we can't even win this one. But we are fattest in the North!
    9. Arkansas
    8. South Carolina
    7. Oklahoma
    6. Kentucky
    5. Louisiana
    4. Tennessee
    3. West Virginia
    2. Alabama
    1. Mississippi
  • Amazing comparison, Mississippi a few months ago was noted as the "unhappiest" state by another poll. So that doesn't jive for me. Isn't the term "fat and happy"?
  • The fight in Vegas over the Harmon building at CityCenter rolls on. I'm telling you, someday someone will do a book on the entire process, from the birth and concept of that structure, to construction mode with all of its issues, through the lawsuits and eventual conclusion. It will be riveting.
  • Last this week, the dynamic glass world surely gained some positive momentum with the marketing agreement between PPG and Pleotint. PPG putting its credibility behind a product brings a lot of value, and I believe this move benefits all of the technologies in that segment. At the end of the day, new technology in our industry will be the difference we need going forward. 

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, September 24, 2011

For years, fenestration stakeholders have talked about developing an Energy Star program for commercial windows. Currently, the Energy Star program for windows, doors and skylights is limited to products intended for residential buildings: typically, single-family homes or low-rise residential structures.

Energy Star administers programs for commercial ovens, refrigerators, clothes washers, HVAC systems and even LED lighting. I think it's time to take the first steps toward developing an Energy Star windows program for low-rise commercial buildings.

The National Fenestration Rating Council has raised the idea with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Its popular Energy Star Buildings Program, which has no prescriptive requirements and is based completely upon building energy use, is restricted to commercial buildings greater than three stories above grade. Therefore, I believe there is an opportunity to develop an Energy Star windows program for factory-made windows for punched openings in commercial buildings with three stories or less.

Doug Anderson, Energy Star Residential Windows Program manager, recently told me that EPA is open to the idea. "EPA knows the industry has been showing increasing interest in developing an Energy Star windows program for low-rise commercial buildings with punched openings," he said. "This idea is something EPA is willing to explore in the coming years if the industry can provide preliminary market and energy savings data on the potential for such a program."

The commercial market, in general, remains behind the residential market in terms of adopting high-performance, energy-efficient window systems. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, commercial buildings account for just over 18 percent of the nation's energy consumption. That percentage has been steadily increasing over the past 30 years. An Energy Star commercial windows program could help reduce energy use in smaller commercial buildings by making it easier for architects and others to specify high-performance, factory-made windows for punched openings. It would also help owners of existing buildings select efficient fenestration to retrofit their commercial properties.

NFRC is committed to helping Energy Star develop a commercial windows program. Do you think it is time to expand Energy Star?

Jim Benney is the National Fenestration Rating Council's CEO. 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

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. 

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