Monday, April 25, 2011

First, Sun Capital Partners bought Arch Aluminum & Glass Co. Then, a Sun Capital affiliate purchased United Glass Corp. With a $5 billion investment fund at its disposal and an interest in "acquiring or partnering with other market-leading companies in the architectural glass sector," the question now is: Who's next?

Sun Capital isn't the only private investment firm eying the glass industry. After an attempt to purchase Arch back in 2009, Grey Mountain Partners resurfaced this spring with the announcement that it would purchase the assets of Vitro America and Super Sky Products.

Emerging from all of this buying activity is a new type of competitor: the private investment firm.

What effect will this new breed of glass company have on the industry? In a recent interview, Glass Magazine asked Russ Huffer, chairman and CEO of Apogee Enterprises Inc. and acting president of Viracon, for his take on non-glass companies competing against industry mainstays. His response: "Troubled economic times make for change. It would be presumptuous of me to say that a new view or new ideas cannot be successful. Not being familiar with [the buying companies], I cannot comment, but usually people with money have great business sense, and that is what I expect."

What do you expect? 

Chase is editor of Glass Magazine. Write her at

Sunday, April 24, 2011

We all get the e-mails that appear in our inboxes in the middle of the night offering us great products direct from China (or other foreign nations) at lower prices than ever before. Most of us ignore these come-ons. but recently. one group of e-mails crossed the line. The tag line said: “Supply Pilkington Low E Glass,” and the body of the e-mail gave the impression that you can get Pilkington Low E (making you jump to the assumption it is the legendary Energy Advantage Low E they are hawking) direct from China and this company instead of from the actual U.S. manufacturer. Basically, this is the classic misrepresentation that has been festering for years but continues to get bolder as people get more desperate to move products. Bottom line here is buyer beware. Good companies don’t allow fly-by-nighters to take their products and promote them, especially against their own operations. And quite frankly, if it sounds too good to be true (and is rife with typos and mis-spellings), it absolutely is. There are legitimate companies in China in our industry, and believe me, those companies don’t have to resort to spam-like emails with misrepresentations to get business.


  • As noted briefly last week, Guardian has filled the position being vacated by Russ Ebeid. Scott Thomsen will be the guy, and I think he’ll bring an energy and passion to that job that will really be fun to watch. It continues to be a very different world, and I have no doubt that a year from now, our industry will look a lot different, that is for sure.
  • The ABI held serve again this month. The really encouraging news is the solidification of the performance of the West. Could the end of the frustrations out there be near?
  • On the flip side, those who have followed me know I am an alarmist when it comes to gasoline prices, and once again, I am playing the role of Chicken Little… but this time, I really believe the sky is falling. Gas has already flown past $4 per gallon and it’s not even Memorial Day or the summer driving season. One analyst is predicting $6 a gallon gas. That would be very ugly.
  • (a site you should bookmark and check at least daily) had a great link to a story from Toronto last week talking about how glass as a building product is shifting. It’s a frustrating story with some inaccurate statements, but it does send a message that we have to continue to educate the masses about our products. Because if we don’t, we will be replaced by other materials.
  • So, the “tree in the forest” that I mentioned last week finally “formally” fell and a press release was issued that UGC was sold to an affiliate of Sun Capital. Someone posted a comment on my blog saying it was getting the legal stuff taken care of, but that holds no water when so many maneuvers were underway already. Now, let’s hope the new owners quickly make good on the payments owed to contracted employees that were not paid while the company was struggling. Outside of that, I think I’ll hold my tongue- for now--shocking I know--but still waaaay too much emotion there for me.
  • FUN FACT: The guy who won the Boston Marathon last week did it in 2 hours and 3 minutes. He was MOVING! So much so, to run that fast, that long is comparable to turning your treadmill to 12.1 and running on that for 2 hours. 12.1! Try it; it shows you the pure speed involved. Simply crazy fast.
  • I buried myself yet again with the wonderful editor (Jenni Chase) of this fine publication. When I abused Denver and Washington in posts last week, I received an e-mail letting me know that those were HER favorite teams. I had no idea going in, obviously. Oh well… so if you see my next story is on the “life of useless cullet” you know she is exacting her revenge.

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

Max Perilstein is chief marketing officer for Vitro Architectural Products, Memphis. Write him at

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, April 18, 2011

Over the years, Glass Performance Days conferences have managed to bring together leading experts in the international glass community. The organizing committee has always strived to keep GPD a forum where information and technological advances can be analyzed and debated. On more than one ocassion, these discussions have sparked the development of amazing glass applications, in energy efficiency, solar and many other areas.

To create this kind of environment that encourages in-depth discussion of industry developments, we not only maintain the high quality of our established activities, but also strive to find fresh ideas to add value for our participants. This year, the event in Finland will be held June 17-20 and will feature our traditional key sessions: Glass in Architecture, Glass Processing, Solar and Glass Technology, Changing Markets, and Automotive and other Vehicles. Having a wide range of topics up for discussion enables us to offer knowledge for the entire glass supply chain: knowledge on where the industry is heading, knowledge on market and customer needs, and knowlege on new developments and applications.

In addition, this year's conference will include a Glass Product Expo and 18 workshops. The Expo has proven particularly useful for participants looking to launch new products or concepts before an international expert audience, prior to full-scale commercial introduction.

New this year will be the Energy-efficiency and Solar Park, where exhibitors from industry, the public sector, and research and development will present state-of-the-art contributions to sustainable development. The Architect Competition, an invitational event with four internationally well-known participants, also will take place. The objective will be to produce a creative solution for a parking facility entrance at the Bank of Finland Square in the center of Tampere city.

Last, but by no means least, GPD takes pride in its ability to enhance networking, and this year, we have put even more focus on this aspect by launching our own online Contact Forum, available exclusively to GPD participants. The mission of the Contact Forum is to enable and facilitate one-on-one meetings among attendees to enhance future business opportunities and the sharing of new ideas.

We welcome you to come see, be seen and be heard! Particpant registration and more info is available at

Brown Onduso handles marketing and public relations for Glass Performance Days. Write him at

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Usually, the spring in our industry is quiet news wise, but 2011 has not followed that path, and last week we had yet another special alert pop up. The announced retirement of Guardian Industries Glass Group President Russ Ebeid hit the wires and signaled yet another shift within our industry. Once upon a time, people would complain to me that our industry was stuck in neutral, the same faces in all the same places. Well, this sure isn't the case anymore! As for Russ, there's a ton to say, but according to the report he isn't due to retire until the fall, so I'll hold off on my tributary comments until the time is right. Needless to say, he will be missed.


  • Best e-mail of the week came from a industry buddy of mine who commented on the high profile retirement announcements of Ebeid and Russ Huffer. He sarcastically said, "Wow, two great job openings now for me to choose from.. gonna be a tough call on which one I will take... ." I love it. (And now just one of the two jobs is open anyway!)
  • From the "If a tree falls in a forest but no one is there to hear it" files... if a company (or group of companies in this case) gets sold (or infused with money and new leadership) but no one wants to admit it to the press (but they've told all of the employees and are telling customers) did it really happen? What I don't get is why you don't announce it? Unless something else is at play... I'll give it another week, still makes no sense.
  • Those of you who have been reading this blog since 2005 know that one of my pet peeves is the whole price-fixing lawsuit situation. This past week, Jeld-Wen filed suit against several glass manufacturers. The whole thing is sad, in my opinion, because at the end of the day the cost of defending yourself through our legal system is far more than just settling. So even if you are innocent (and I believe the folks in the U.S. are innocent), you end up paying. The most recent suit against the manufacturers was recently settled, but Jeld-Wen decided to "opt out" and go it alone. And why not? They are a big company with deep pockets. They can now see if the manufacturers will again decide if it's worth fighting. When is enough... enough? I don't know, maybe I'm just mad because I suffer through predatory practices daily and deal with it.
  • OK, time to finish on a lighter note.... The playoffs have begun in the NBA and NHL. In the NHL, my picks for the Cup are the Red Wings and Capitals, or as my son says, "the worst match up ever" because he is not a fan of either team. I was going to pick the Canucks, or Montreal, but knowing I have good friends that are big fans of those teams, no way could I put the hex on them. I think the Caps will win it all. In the NBA, it should be a wild playoff season with a ton of teams that could win it. I'm actually going with a long shot in the West... Denver. (Yep, I picked 'em last year too) to face Chicago in the finals, with Bulls winning it all. Though I wouldn't be surprised to see the Heat win. I avoided picking the Spurs out of respect for the incredible Luna family, owners of Champion Glass in San Antonio. If I jinxed the Spurs, I'd never get to see a game with those guys again! In any case, it should be a fun two months of playoffs in both leagues and a great nightly diversion to the daily adventures of our world! 

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

Max Perilstein is chief marketing officer for Vitro Architectural Products, Memphis. Write him at

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, April 12, 2011

Most small businesses hire people to execute current work; they don’t think about hiring people to help them grow their companies. But as small business owners, we need to hire leaders to help us grow our companies. I am always looking for people, even if I do not have a position available. I know that when I find someone, I will create a position for them.

There are three components to developing a growth-oriented recruiting plan: Prospecting, Interviewing and Hiring, and Orientation and Basic Training.  Here, we will talk about prospecting and interviewing.

Obviously, the best prospects are usually referrals.  Trust is the key, and referrals always come with an assumed level of trust.  The potential employee must trust you just as you must trust him or her.  This trust will lead to a more open interview.  Trust will allow you, as the interviewer, to get more honest answers.  I want to answer three questions during an interview (notice that I did not say I want the applicant to answer the questions):

1)            Can the applicant do the job? (What is their experience and/or potential?)

2)            Will the applicant do the job? (Are they motivated?)

3)            Will the applicant do the job for me? (Do they fit our corporate culture?)

To get an accurate answer to #1, we must clearly define the expectations for the job.  We have to know what our company needs.  What is the job description?  This definition must be told to the potential employee during, if not before, the interview.  The key to getting accurate answers to #1 is clearly defining the job expectations.  If the answer to #1 is not positive, then #2 and #3 become irrelevant. 

How do we determine motivation?  I ask about their proudest accomplishments and also about their greatest disappointments.  I can get a good idea from their past about what will motivate them in the future.  The two biggest motivators are the desire to get something or the fear of losing something.  When we uncover the answer to either of these, we know what tool to use to motivate the new employee.

I recently interviewed someone referred to us by a competitor.  After the initial interview, I asked him back for a second interview conducted jointly by two trusted employees.  I needed to know if he would fit in with our current staff.  By using existing employees to conduct a follow-up interview, I got another viewpoint about the potential employee.  Do they want to work with him?  Are they willing to work with him to help him succeed?

—Bill Evans, president, Evans Glass Co., Nashville   

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, April 12, 2011

You know the term “Never in my wildest dreams?” Well, I can tell you I have always wanted to use it in the right context. You know, like “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d get locked in the M&M factory!” or “Never in my wildest dreams did I think Denzel Washington would want ME in his next movie!". But amazingly, that appropriate phrase now has usage in my life: “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be doing ‘all this’ again one year later.”

“All this,” in case you have been living under a rock or working for the DOE (same thing), is the news that my current company is being sold after being forced into bankruptcy. No way could I have imagined this happening again, and surely not so soon either. In any case, it has been a mind-bending experience, the same as the past event but yet different in many ways. While the process and some of the names and figures are the same, the overall action and path were markedly opposite. Still, that said, it is, what it is, and I am living in the glass industry's cruel version of Groundhog Day.

So here we are again, with so many of the same emotions percolating about, but still the most important angle is “hope.” I am truly hopeful and actually confident that this will work out for the company, our suppliers, customers, and most importantly all of the folks employed here. We have to stay positive and put our faith in the leadership in the U.S. that was incredibly deft enough to create viable contingency plans in case the legal matters we got sucked into went south.

So, never in my wildest dreams did I ever see myself writing a post like this again, and so help me, I don’t plan on doing it a third time, that’s for sure. I’m rolling forward and I hope that we can get a chance to finish what we started and continue to work hard for this industry.


  • It’s kind of hard to hit other subjects when you have such a heavy angle hanging out there, but it is “business as usual” and I’ll keep going at it.
  • Saddened by the passing of John McGrory this past week. He and his family built a great company and my condolences to the family on this very sad loss for them and our industry.
  • An awesome post HERE by incredible Glass Pundit herself, Kris Vockler. Worth a read, for sure, as some incredible food for thought on display.
  • Am I the only one who reads the story about Quanex and their changes at the Engineered Products Group and wonder what happens to some of the other key people from Edgetech?
  • I mentioned the DOE earlier, and last week they announced $113 million in funding for solar growth in the U.S. I really have concerns on that as I have not trusted their track record on who they have given money to and how they have given it in the past. $113 million could help many good growth companies- in a few different energy related industry segments. Let’s hope this doesn’t get squandered. Plus, the other thought is with the debt so high, this money better be well spent; otherwise the hole goes deeper.
  • There was a comment on my blog from the esteemed Henry Taylor of Kawneer. He is also currently the head of the GANA BEC. One thing I failed to mention in all of my pieces is that Henry didn’t exactly pick the perfect time to take the reins of that group. The economy fell apart, and spending on things like BEC shrank. Henry has done a tremendous job in driving the bus, and he is supremely talented and important to the future of our world. And there’s no doubt, he realizes what the holes are and what needs to be filled. I should’ve been clearer; absolutely no disrespect intended.
  • Last this week… I picked the Red Sox to win the American League and I think they’ve won once since… my gosh I have the touch don’t I? I guess that’s why one of my co-workers now calls me “The Flying Dutchman.”

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

Max Perilstein is chief marketing officer for Vitro Architectural Products, Memphis. Write him at

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, April 5, 2011

Well, that sure was a doozy of an April Fool’s Day, eh? Now before I begin, I have to remind everyone that this is my blog, so it’s my opinion (not my company and not Glass Magazine’s) and it’s all on me. Obviously, the news that hit on April 1 was surprising, frustrating and upsetting. In my estimation, it surely didn’t paint an accurate picture of the company I work for (or the people I work with) and caused serious and unnecessary consternation for the fine folks here. Now all that said, I have to step back and say that I trust in the people I work for here in the U.S. and will await the various outcomes before I comment further. Needless to say, these are very interesting times in our world and not just for me and my coworkers either…


  • Looking back at BEC, I think of Andy Gum, the most prolific chair in the history of the BEC. Andy was leery of passing the baton to me because he was afraid that the group would lose its focus on the glazier. Now while the attendance of the glazier was weaker than in the past, the focus of the sessions was still squarely on the needs of the glazing contractor. Hopefully, like noted last week in this space, the mix in the crowd was more aberration than trend.
  • Some good news to report in our world: Two new industry babies were born recently. Cameron Scripture of Viracon (seriously one of the nicest guys in the world) welcomed a new baby as well as Angus MacMillan of Dorma. Boys, don’t let your babies grow up to be glass sales people… CONGRATS and best to you and the better half of you who did all the work!
  • This week, USA Today had a blurb from the CEO of Wal Mart predicting seriously higher inflation rates. And he sees it happening rapidly. That is surely worrisome.
  • The Department of Commerce just put another huge tariff on Chinese aluminum coming into the US. Which makes me wonder: How does Chinese glass avoid the same treatment? Seriously, what am I missing there?
  • Starting to get concerned that as we fight in Libya, the issues happening in the Ivory Coast are concerning as well. Man, do you ever think that the whole 2012 end of the world thing might actually be right?
  • Ok to finish, we’ll keep it lighter. Baseball has started, and here are my predictions on who will win it all… In the National League, I think the Phillies are just too good on the mound to beat in a short series. If the Reds can get the pitching they are the only team that can compete for the pennant there (in my mushy mind). In the AL, I like the Sox, both Red and White, to make the runs, but in the end the Yankees have too much to be stopped. In the WS, Phils over Yanks.

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

Max Perilstein is chief marketing officer for Vitro Architectural Products, Memphis. Write him at

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, April 4, 2011

There is a growing appreciation in the industry about the inter-relationship of external glazing in achieving higher levels of sustainability and performance in a building’s design. As buildings account for an estimated 40 percent of total energy consumption in the U.S., the emerging concept of a building as a living system is shedding new light on the many benefits that high-performance external glazing can bring to the building envelope. For members of the commercial design community, this translates into some very meaningful design attributes.

Proper external glazing can play a key role in LEED certification, energy efficiency, comfort and productivity. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, commercial building windows alone are responsible for approximately 4 percent of the nation's total energy usage, so, proper choice of glazing can have a dramatic impact on a building’s overall sustainability.

The growing trend toward higher performance glazing is also driven by practical business interests beyond the design community. For instance, commercial building owners and facility managers are increasingly seeing a building’s occupancy rate, sq. ft. ROI, marketability and tenant appeal positively impacted by improved energy efficiency, daylighting and aesthetics. With so much at stake, external glazing can play a pivotal role in ensuring a building’s functionality and efficiency.

For architects and engineers, designing carbon-neutral, sustainable buildings is a step toward achieving a more environmentally responsible future. By providing leadership on the fundamental impact of glass as a gateway to improving total building performance versus what has historically been viewed as a commoditized product, the industry has a terrific opportunity to engage with customers on a more sophisticated level. Glass now has a new life as a key enabler of the interests of the broader community it serves.

Bruce Lang is the vice president of Marketing and Business Development at Southwall Technologies, Palo Alto, Calif. He also is the president of Southwall Insulating Glass, LLC, a joint venture company established to manufacture energy-efficient insulating glass incorporating Southwall's Heat Mirror film technology. Write him at

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, March 29, 2011

The night before I left for Las Vegas to attend Glass Week and the Building Envelope Contractors conference, I listened to YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley describe how building a place where "creative types" could work together freely in an online community was his initial goal in creating the video-sharing Web site. YouTube developed far beyond that initial scope—from posting funny cat videos to propagating democracy in the Middle East—but trillions of views and a billion-dollar Google buyout later, it stays true to its community- inspired origins.

The glass fraternity that started as the Flat Glass Marketing Association and grew into the Glass Association of North America has shed the clubby atmosphere of resort meetings and formal dinners of bygone years when competitors would gather to break bread and toast one another. These industry gatherings of yore are wistful memories as, today, most everyone works longer days without the respite of tennis matches and hole-in-one prizes. What remains is a hard-working core of industry volunteers who continue their yeoman's labor to promote and protect the glass industry's vital interests.

The association staff has tried a number of tactics to revive attendance in the face of consolidating member companies and others too pressed to make the trip in tough economic times. The last few years have seen a rise in multi-meeting meetings. This year's eight-day line-up: the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance, followed by the shrinking Glass Week, overlapping with the BEC meeting, capped by a National Fenestration Rating Council meeting. And in the middle, "Logic," a new, one-day, off-site, invitation-only event.

It could be the economy or four-plus meeting fatigue, but something about that invitation-only event didn't jive with the fast and fluid Facebook YouTube community-sharing world we live in. Coincidentally, one of  Logic's keynoters was social media guru, Chris Brogan, who advised the upper management-only crowd to design mobile-friendly Web sites and ensure that their messaging is accessible to all via multiple platforms, from smartphones to tablets to laptops.

As the world around us demands democratic openness and takes to the streets to challenge closed hierarchies, accessibility seems ever-more integral to community building, relevance, strength and longevity. As so many visionaries have said before him, Hurley remarked that he never could have imagined what YouTube has become.

Here's hoping the same for a revitalized glass community of the future. 

Harris is publisher of Glass Magazine. Write her at

Monday, March 28, 2011

Well, another year and another BEC in the books. As always, the networking was the huge opportunity here, with many great chances to hook up with some of the finest minds and people in our industry. The overall attitude was hopeful: hopeful that the economy advances and hopeful that we all can be back here in a year with better things on our plates. And, as I have always done in a “Page 6” style, here’s who was seen and heard over the few days of action…

  • Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend as much as I usually do, but I did really enjoy the presentation by Dr. Don McCann of Viracon--good food for thought, and featuring the movie star good looks of Cam Scripture was slick. I did also enjoy Kawneer’s Diana Perrriah’s spot as well. And it goes without saying that I am in the tank for Dr. Tom Culp. All the speakers did well in a tough room layout. It was very dark and wide open, so intimidating to say the least. And as was noted by my pal Chuck Knickerbocker of TGP, the BEC was really missing the “C” part this year. That pained me, and I hope that this was an aberration and not a trend.

    Elsewhere from the floor and more about BEC…
  • Got to get a quick meal with Jeff Meyer of White Bear Glass. He continues to be a guy people in this industry should model their businesses after. Ran into Guardian’s Jay Phillips looking crisp as usual… I swear that guy could work on a road crew and still look calm, cool and collected… Always an honor to see the “Glass Pundit” ICD’s Kris Vockler along with her legendary Dad Larry. I came “this” close to meeting Jim Porter of Apogee… alas I missed him… dang, as I am fan. Obviously, you know I am a fan of the Viracon crew. Got to visit briefly with Garret Henson and Christine Shaffer, and my gosh, I enjoyed just getting the overflow from their crowd.
  • I got to meet Jeff Razwick of TGP for the first time, which was nice. Speaking of first time intros, I met Joe Cesarotti from Hurricane Protection Industries for the first time after communicating with him via e-mail and NGA classes. Of course, I ran into George Petzen. He is an absolute staple of this event. Also, got the bonus of meeting his coworker Kelley Lasek, who even admitted to reading this blog! Brave guy he is. Roger Watson of Saint Gobain was there and for his stalker in Canada, he’s still pretty cool.
  • I met in person for the first time Serge Martin of AGC. He gave a tremendous speech too. Very nice guy and I am thrilled he is here and active. That’s two years in a row for the AGC influence at this event; very cool. Dr. Helen Sanders, as always, is an absolute treat as is the always awesome duo of Julie Schimmelpenningh and Aimee Davis of Solutia. (And I owe both ice cream since I had to leave town early) Raj Goyal always looking good was on hand but I didn’t get much time with him or with Mark Silverberg of Technoform, who happens to be one of my all-time favorite people. I also missed Jan Rogan and Glenn Miner of PPG. Never could get near 'em. And amazingly and frustratingly, I never got to see Greg Carney. Unreal.
  • Missing this year…. Bill Sullivan is always there and he obviously had better plans as well as GGI’s own Mr. Brenner. Just not the same without him. The gang from Bratton led by my pal Todd Riggs was also noticeabley absent, as was anyone from Pilkington. If they were there, I missed them. I honestly don’t remember Pilks missing this event before.
  • Anyway, it’s another year in the can and unfortunately one that I just didn’t get to enjoy the full flavor of. Next year will be better for that I am sure.

  • GANA did run an event called Logic that featured two very good speakers. The legendary economist Art Laffer and blogger and social media guru Chris Brogan. Both gave tremendous presentations. The big takeaway from Laffer was his optimism that a possible change in the White House in 2012 could lead to a massive economic boom in 2013. Brogan’s speaking style and info were just super, very insightful. I wish I had another hour with him.
  • The rumor mill, of course, was working overtime but that was one area I was thankful that I did have to leave early.
  • No links or video this week (and I have a TON of links ready) because I ran out of time. They will be back and in full force next week. May even run that crazy Corning video again as so many people keep telling me about it!!

Max Perilstein is chief marketing officer for Vitro Architectural Products, Memphis. Write him at

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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