glassblog

Monday, January 30, 2012

While economists and glass industry executives say it could be 2013-14 before we see any significant recovery, glass companies aren’t sitting idly by, waiting for the upswing. Instead, they're making calculated--albeit cautious--investments to ensure current and future success.

And although this doesn't come as a surprise to me (I'm continually impressed by the creativity and resiliency of our industry), I do think these positive efforts are too often overshadowed by the negative effects of a tough economy. So as we tackle 2012, I'd like to focus on some steps industry companies are taking in anticipation of better days ahead. 

Coral Industries is being “very frugal" in case there isn’t an upswing, but that hasn’t stopped the Top Glass & Metal Fabricator from refining its systems to improve efficiencies in the office and on the production floor. The company is also investing in new marketing efforts, says Executive VP Lewis McAllister. 

“We are revamping our marketing with a new website and more organized email capabilities to better communicate with our customers,” he reports.

Similarly, Carolina Glass & Mirror has a marketing campaign “that we are waiting to roll out until we think the time is right,” says David Fitchett, president and co-founder of the full-service glass company. “Spending too much money at this time with those efforts would not be prudent,” he says.

On a larger scale, Guardian Industries is evaluating new operations globally. “We are upgrading and expanding our production facilities in several locations,” says Scott Thomsen, president, Guardian Flat Glass Group. “In addition to new float and pattern operations, we also continue to invest heavily in large-area vacuum coaters, large-area liquid coaters and large-area laminating lines. Our strategy is to add value and increase the unit of sale.”

In face of the news that we’re looking at another year of little to no growth in construction starts, it’s encouraging to continually hear of glass companies finding success, one step at a time. To read more about what industry firms are doing to prepare for the eventual market rebound, see the January/February 2012 issue of Glass Magazine. And if you have a story to share, please let us know. 

Chase is editorial director of Glass Magazine. Write her at jchase@glass.org.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Last week was very interesting in the glass and glazing world. We had positive news from AIA, the sale of a major player, a big-time promotion and a melting Toyota Prius, blamed on glass of course. In any case, never a dull moment in our world any more. Plus, this post may set a record for most “name drops” ever.

First up is the AIA report that called for “substantial” growth for 2013. Obviously, if this forecast is even close to being right, it would be an amazing event. The hesitation that everyone has is that we have been teased with the heavy positive reports many times before only to be let down, and in some cases let down dramatically. I believe many people are pointing to the election and figuring momentum will come from that as well. So as we all plug along here in the winter of 2012, we have something to absolutely look forward to in 2013. At least according to this report.

Elsewhere…

  • Congratulations to Garret Henson, who was just named vice president of sales at Viracon. As many of you may know, I am a huge fan of Garret’s. I think he’s a tremendously talented player in our world. He’s a guy who, in my opinion, “gets it.” His continual move up the ladder is well deserved and shows Viracon does value talent. Pair this with their previously excellent move of Bob Randall as VP of Marketing and Business Development (which I was asleep at the wheel on commenting about- sorry) and you have two very well put together guys in the primes of their career. Anyway, I figure I better keep buttering them up, because now that they are both major bigwigs, they’ll never take my calls again! Congrats Garret and Bob.
  • Friday of last week, the news hit that Solutia is in line to be sold to Eastman. What effect that will have on the day-to-day business of Solutia and Southwall (recently acquired by Solutia) is far from being seen. But rumor has it, the key part of the deal for Eastman was getting Julie Schimmelpenningh on their team.
  • PPG hit a home run again with their latest trade magazine ad. When you see it, you’ll chuckle and remember it. Rob Struble is really on fire creatively lately.
  • If you missed the story about the Prius melting supposedly because of the sun reflecting off the high performance low-E windows, here it is. The best part of the story is the comments. Sometimes a good window just can’t catch a break from being blamed.
  • Saw the Washington Glass Association named its board of directors and was excited to see such a strong slate of people that included Bill Coady of Guardian. I had the honor of meeting Bill once upon a time and was impressed by his approach. Plus, I like Maryanne Howell as she was nice enough to comment on here on a past story. Someone like that willing to associate his or her name with mine is a brave soul!
  • For my fellow travelers, this story on the world’s worst airport terminals is a hoot. I agree with many on the list, including Newark’s fabled Terminal B. However, the good news is that terminal is getting remodeled, and with some of the glass from folks like GGI in play, I can guarantee you it will be better!
  • I had been skipping picking football this year. Between the Steelers losing and me posting on Sunday mornings, the timing never worked. Plus, I am always wrong. But it is the Super Bowl, so I have to make a call. A few weeks ago I noted how I hate the Patriots and immediately I heard from a few people on that. I failed to mention that I hated the Ravens more, so I was glad New England won. Unfortunately, here I go again… because in the big game, I gotta go with Eli Manning and the Giants. I feel a kinship with Eli. We both have a brother that’s bigger, better and classically talented. Not to mention, ironically, both of our brothers had severe neck issues too. So based on that, I’m going G-Men in an exciting 27-25 game.

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, January 23, 2012

This weekend, I met up with a friend in the glass business who is helping his son build a trendy cocktail bar in New York City. Knowing the kind of high-end glass work he does, I assumed his son and business partner were incorporating spectacular and highly technical glass and metal in the bar design. Not so.

My glass-biased disappointment was short-lived when I heard about the bar top, and it got me thinking about an article I read recently on work skills for 2020.

But first, about the bar.

One day at the jobsite, someone upturned a five-pound box of nuts, spilling them everywhere. Eureka! The partners decided the bar top should be made of nuts! Entombed in plexi! How retro cool!

When trendy 20-to-30-year-olds sip inventive cocktails here, will they try to identify the nut types under their elbows? Will they know that Macadamias are high in omega-7 fat, low in protein and toxic to dogs? Will they care?

Maybe, but I know this age group does care about the subject of how the workplace is changing. In fact, anyone who expects to be working should pay attention. Recently, the Institute for the Future released its “Future Work Skills 2020” report identifying 10 future skills for the workforce: sense-making, social intelligence, novel and adaptive thinking, cross-cultural competency, computational thinking, new-media literacy, transdisciplinarity, design mindset, cognitive load management and virtual collaboration.

Two things might happen if you download the PDF report for details. It will resonate, and you’ll likely evaluate yourself and your employees against each skill. When I did so, I was reminded that the NGA publications team has collaborated virtually for more than a decade (though we have yet to set up Yammer or avatars), and we’re working hard to develop and share our new-media literacy.

The 30-year-old bar owners also are already using these future skills as they operate in the old-world construction trade, in this case, relying on novel and adaptive thinking to create a one-of-a-kind bar. I was struck by the informality, the fluidity and the pace of their enterprise. That’s not to say what they’re doing doesn’t require self-discipline—they’re up early and working at all hours on their latest venture—but they’re using sources in ways most of us couldn’t have imagined 10 years ago.

I thought about how slivered almonds, laminated between a mirrored-etched and possibly back-painted and backlit substrate would look as a kitchen counter.

Then I thought: It’s probably been done, and I need to recalibrate my novel and adaptive sense-making cross-cultural design mindset. And for sure, I’ll also ask my transdisciplinarity-driven cognitive load managing virtual team for input.

But first, I’ll eat a few nuts.

The author is publisher of Glass Magazine and its sister publication, Window & Door, and vice president of publications for the National Glass Association. Write her at nharris@glass.org.

Monday, January 23, 2012

OK, so the Architecture Billings Index now has had two good months in a row. What exactly does that mean? As those of you who follow this blog know, I follow and comment on it monthly, and quite frankly, I find it vexing. When I finally see it stabilizing, it drops. When I think we’re in the midst of a free-fall, it pulls itself up. Seasonal logic makes no sense either. Architects were busy in December? A short month, at the tail end of budget planning? Obviously, I am missing something, but regardless, I am pleased with the progress. Now we wait 30 days to see how January plays out. If the ABI is up, it can be called officially a “trend” (three months of something puts it into “trend” category). And as the great philosopher Roger “28” Collette once opined, “the trend is your friend,” especially when it's positive. If that does happen, the projections of a solid 2012 will be looking much more possible.

Elsewhere…  

  • Another positive trend: the housing report from December showed a third straight month of sales increases, and we now have the lowest amount of housing inventory since 2005. As you can see by this article, we’re not out of the woods yet, but the hopeful signs are coming into play. Gotta stay positive.
  • Once again, I got a tremendous nugget of info from the twitter feed of Heather West (@HeatherWestPR). This time it was a critical rating of the effectiveness of building codes on the East and Gulf Coasts. It was a very, very interesting and surprising read. Check it out here. One comment: I am blown away that the great state of Texas scored so low and that South Carolina scored so high. Those ratings were shockers. In my limited experience, I would have thought those ratings would be flip flopped. Anyway, thank you Heather for the feed.
  • Great news Internet-wise this past week: the highly controversial SOPA and PIPA bills were yanked from the floor of Congress. These bills were to put in tough federal laws against online piracy and copying of online intellectual property. Normally, I would be 1000 percent behind something like these efforts. But the bills, as with most of what DC does, were loaded down with seriously intrusive measures and were just out of control in the desire to control free speech. The electronic community led by groups like Google and Wikipedia came together to flex muscle that overwrought measures like this won’t be accepted. No matter what, I believe that eventually these bills will come back, but Congress will have to take a more even-keeled and fair approach. Otherwise, it will never work.
  • It was a combination of two sets of some of my favorite people when the gang from RavenBrick spoke at the Colorado Glazing Contractor Association meeting last week. I heard it was lively and informative, and everyone had a great time. It’s always good when the good word about advanced technology is getting out into the marketplace. The CGCA, led by Rebecca Kaspari, and with awesome members like Marty Richardson of Metropolitan Glass and the model-like Cameron Scripture of Viracon really has the template down pat for well-run regional associations.
  • Thanks to GH for the quality proofread of this blog, by the way. Brain sometimes freezes!
  • Last this week… great creative marketing play by Terry Newcomb and the folks at Thermal Windows. They gave away 1,300 pounds of grapefruit last week as a “thank you” to their Tulsa customers for three decades of support. Just a well-done effort and gesture. Now, if they were giving away 1,300 pounds of M&M’s, I would’ve made the trip to Tulsa for that. ... I guess M&M’s don’t grow on trees though. In any case, very nice work folks.

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.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Well, that surely was an interesting week in our industry eh? I never thought that when I posted my blog last week that more acquisitions would be coming so fast and furious. Going forward, the assumption should be that things will settle down, but actually, there have been rumblings from other parties (not Grey Mountain) that some major moves are about to take place. So 2012 is starting to look like the “year of the deal,” and that should at least make things interesting! To me, the bright spot in all of this is these are straight deals and not consolidations, which means there’s a confidence that money can be made. Which also means that maybe the worst of our malaise is over and we’re starting to consistently climb back.

Elsewhere…

  • For every piece of promise comes a piece of worry. This week, the Associated Press ran this absolutely frightening article about the skyscraper boom in India and China and the effects on a possible massive downturn.  
  • On the Glass Magazine site, I know we were having some issues with the commenting feature. Hopefully, it is fixed now. In any case, the comments that were meant to be there were about Google+ and its value. There are more than a few people who are in agreement with me about it, questioning its future and value, so it was nice to see I am not alone. I'm still trying though, but can't get in the groove.
  • Speaking of social media… if you are on LinkedIn, please make sure you join the National Glass Association group. Always a good discussion or two going on there. LinkedIn has some great groups. Sure, it does have some serious duds, but once you can optimize the experience it is really a worthwhile feature.
  • Guardian is becoming a “go to” place for our elected leaders to visit. In the last two weeks, they’ve had two pretty powerful U.S. Congressmen visit them, and to me, the more the merrier. Our industry has taken a beating in Washington over the years, so the more exposure we can get, the better.
  • Did you happen to see that the Elvis “Cirque” show in Las Vegas is done at the end of this year? I guess I gotta make sure I see it before that happens. Shame it didn’t take off, I can only wonder how it compared to the Beatles “Love” show, which is the best show on the strip right now.
  • Sign we are all in the wrong business? That little energy drink “5 Hour Energy” sells 9 MILLION bottles a week. Just crazy.
  • I know this gets covered everywhere, but on the whole “glass falling epidemic,” I have just one question: Is the presence of the Internet, now fueled by lighting-fast informational wires like Twitter, making the issue more prevalent? And what I mean by that is, are we having more breakage than historically normal or are we just hearing about it so much more? I just wonder if these issues have always been out there but just not covered so intently.
  • Last this week, sorry to see the Tebow train end this weekend. That guy is a true blue American role model. Man, I hate the Patriots…

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.

Friday, January 13, 2012

 Most people are not aware of how their thinking influences them directly, or others around them. Following are two situations that I encountered recently.

I am a member of a local Athletic Endurance Team (BEAT). BEAT is a member of a national organization (USAT). USAT is conducting a competition, among its member groups, during December, January and February. Each team accumulates points from swimming (10 miles), biking (1 mile), and/or running (3 miles). All of these sports are individual sports, not team sports. As a matter of fact, each individual team member usually does his or her training alone and not as part of the group. I do my training alone,and I have a training schedule that I follow to achieve my goals. My schedule, for example, might call for me to run 5 miles on Tuesday. What I have discovered is that as I run the 5 miles, I start thinking about running an extra mile to help accumulate more points for BEAT. This is an interesting realization. An individual sport has become a team sport in my mind. Thinking about what I can do to help my team makes my individual workout easier and more meaningful.

The second situation occurred at Disney World in early January. I entered two races on consecutive days. Both had many, many participants. The Saturday race had 27,000 runners for the half marathon. It was evident to me before the start that it was going to be impossible to run a fast time. I made a conscious decision to adjust my thinking about the race. There were many first-time runners that had trained to reach their Big Hairy Audacious Goal of completing 13.1 miles. There were also seasoned runners. The first-timers were not aware of runner’s etiquette. For example, when they decided to stop running and walk, they did not move to the side, but stayed in the center of the road. Some seasoned runners did not appreciate the rookies’ lack of etiquette. Some seasoned runners complained aloud and to anyone in listening range. Their complaining negatively affected those who heard it. I, and many others, accepted the fact that we would not run a fast pace. We encouraged the first-timers throughout the race and talked to the volunteers and our fellow runners about meaningless yet friendly subjects. Just being positive and encouraging raised the spirits of those struggling to run the distance. Often, the encouragers were thanked by the struggling rookies.

These are two different situations. One is an individual setting and one is a crowd setting. Yet, a simple decision in both cases had a profound impact on the outcome. As a member of BEAT, the decision to go farther because of the team made it easier than running a shorter distance for me alone. As an individual in a crowd, the decision to adjust my thinking to deal with circumstances kept me from being frustrated and also made it enjoyable for me and those around me.

Always be aware of how our thinking influences our attitude; how our attitude influences our actions; and, consequently, how our actions influence others and their attitudes and/or belief levels.

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, January 9, 2012

2011 was, to say the least, a year of change for the glass industry. From International Aluminum Group's bankruptcy to the creation of Trulite, the year was full of breaking news announcements. Below are the top 10 most-clicked news stories on GlassMagazine.com from 2011. Now, we're just left to wonder what 2012 has in store for the glass world. (And with last week's news that Grey Mountain has purchased Binswanger and Global Security Glazing, I'm thinking it could hold just as much excitement as 2011). 

  1. International Architectural Group, parent of US Aluminum, files for Chapter 7
    International Architectural Group LLC, Monterey Park, Calif., filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The company, formerly International Aluminum Corp., was parent of United States Aluminum, International Extrusion, and Raco Interior Products, all based in Waxahachie, Texas, and International Window Corp., Hayward, Calif.
  2. US Aluminum customers, employees grapple with Chapter 7 filing
    International Architectural Group LLC's bankruptcy filing surprised many in the industry, at least with its abruptness. Several employees of United States Aluminum, a Waxahachie, Texas, subsidiary of the company, reported learning the news the night before, and some, the day of.
  3. Glass problems force design change at Freedom Tower podium
    Glass Magazine confirmed with two reliable off-the-record sources that New York City's Freedom Tower podium is going through a redesign due to problems fabricating the glazing systems. The podium was designed to be a signature element of the tower, also known as One World Trade Center, located at Ground Zero. The original podium design featured a 185-foot wall of more than 2,000 pieces of prismatic glass and welded aluminum screens.
  4. C.R. Laurence acquires U.S. Aluminum
    Officials from C.R. Laurence Co. announced the acquisition of U.S. Aluminum Co., formerly part of the International Aluminum Group, which filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy May 11. Tom Harris, executive vice president of U.S. Aluminum, was appointed president of the new CRL company.
  5. Vitro America sale final; US execs denied bonuses
    Mexico's Vitro SAB completed the sale of U.S. subsidiaries, including Vitro America and Super Sky Products, to Sun Capital affiliate American Glass Enterprises on June 17.
  6. Industry has mixed reaction to Sun Capital's pending Vitro America acquisition
    In 18 months, Sun Capital Partners, Boca Raton, Fla., became a major player in the glass industry, purchasing Arch Aluminum & Glass, Tamarac, Fla., in February 2010, acquiring United Glass Corp., Louisville, Ky., in Apri 2011, and outbidding Grey Mountain Partners for Vitro America, Memphis, in June 2011 via its American Glass Enterprises subsidiary.
  7. Jeld-Wen alleges price fixing among four glass manufacturers
    Jeld-Wen, Klamath Falls, Ore., filed a complaint, March 28, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon Medford Division, alleging that AGC Flat Glass North America, Alpharetta, Ga.; Guardian Industries, Auburn Hills, Mich.; Pilkington North America, Toledo, Ohio; and PPG Industries, Pittsburgh, "contracted, conspired or combined to fix, raise, maintain or stabilize prices of, and allocate business for, flat glass they sold in the United States during the claim period," January 1, 2002, through at least December 31, 2006. Consequently, Jeld-Wen had to pay "inflated prices" for approximately $100 million in glass products that it bought directly from the defendants during the claim period, the complaint stated.
  8. Trulite to move corporate headquarters; confirms locations
    Trulite Glass & Aluminum Solutions officials confirmed the company would move its corporate office to Deerfield Beach, Fla. As of October 2011, the company will have a total of 28 locations
  9. 'We got caught in the crossfire;' Vitro America CEO talks bankruptcy, sale
    On April 6, Vitro SAB subsidiaries Vitro America, Super Sky International, Super Sky Products and VVP Finance Corp. filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Officials also announced they had entered into an agreement to sell substantially all of the assets of Vitro America and Super Sky to an affiliate of Grey Mountain Partners, a private equity firm in Boulder, Colo.
  10. U.S. Aluminum is back in business, says CRL president
    Q&A with Lloyd Talbert, president of C.R. Laurence 

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

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy New Year! Before we put 2011 in the books though, I wanted to quickly take a look back. There is no doubt that the past year was challenging. But there were probably more bright spots than we either want to admit or were willing to notice. Regardless, I for one am thrilled that we have turned the calendar over. 2012 brings with it serious promise, on virtually every level. We have many companies poised to make moves with new locations, expanding products and cutting-edge technology. Hopefully, we have some political closure, no matter who wins in November, and we just have the “hope” that comes with a clean slate. So with that in mind, the onus is on us to make it a great one, and I truly believe we’ll rise above the obstacles and roadblocks out there. Nothing is easy, but I am staying positive as it relates to our industry and world. See I am trying to turn over a new leaf… positive… kindler… gentler… oh my.

Elsewhere…

  • I have been doing this blog since 2005 and maybe once during that time did I take any extended time away from it until the last two weeks. It surely was bizarre not thinking about it. I missed it actually. So, it’s great to be back. And as a reminder, I actually post every Sunday, and it ends up on many people’s screens Tuesday as a part of the absolutely excellent e-glass weekly.  
  • Some props to catch up on: Congrats to Kirk Johnson on his new position at Hartung Glass. Very happy that Kirk landed so well. And speaking of Hartung, kudos to their marketing genius Rich Porayko for the excellently choreographed set of announcements last week. Well done, my friend. Congrats also to Alissa Schmidt who just picked up a nice promotion at Viracon. Wow, the good guys get even better now! And also congrats to the fine folks at Binswanger Glass, who embark on a new journey. I’m excited for everyone there after the announcement of their purchase by Grey Mountain.  
  • Grey Mountain also announced the acquisition of Global Security Glazing. As many of you know, I have always been a fan of Grey and the way they do things. I lamented that they hadn’t gotten their chances in the past, so I am thrilled it has taken place now. That I believe is a positive for the industry for sure!  
  • Did you see the wild ruling that the Department of Defense will not be able to use any money to go through specific green building certifications? I am probably in the minority (I always am), but I think it's great. Build to the spirit of it (like so many people do) because going sustainable is the right thing to do; but skip the process, save the cash (taxpayers cash anyway) and move on.
  • Saw on Twitter (are you using yet?) a great link from Heather West that predicted the five regions that will flourish in 2012. I should make you all go follow her on Twitter to find it, but here’s the link: interesting stuff.
  • Still on social media: anyone using Google+ much? I am trying to make an effort for 2012, just not sure if I get it yet.  
  • Book of the week: "The Wizard of Lies" by Diana Henriques. This book was the inside story about Bernie Madoff and his ponzi scam. Solid read overall, though maybe a tad too long. The key of the book for me was the blatant ineptitude of the SEC in their various investigations into Madoff. Many times they had him, and they just skipped a simple step and let him off the mat. It was like a TV cliffhanger leaving you thinking for sure the guy is done, and next week you watch the show and he survives. Just amazing stuff.  
  • Last, this blog gets linked to elsewhere but it is so good, I feel like I need to throw a connection out too. Kris Vockler compiled 9 business lessons from 2011: a very good, easy and worthwhile read.

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.