glassblog

Friday, June 12, 2009


Glass companies have been forced to make some drastic and painful cutbacks during this recession. However, one business area that has remained fairly unscathed during the downturn at most glass companies is research and development.

According to the May 19 e-glass poll, only 21 percent of respondents reported cutting R&D; during the slower economy. Forty-seven percent said their activities had stayed the same, and 32 percent said they were increasing activities. The industry as a whole will greatly benefit from this collective innovation, and the individual companies dedicating themselves to R&D; will come out of the recession poised to gain market share and stand apart from the competition.

“Research and development can be expensive, there is no denying that. But without it, your business, as well as the products or technologies that you provide, would grow stagnant. Without R & D you could even be missing out on new opportunities in industry sectors that are still thriving,” wrote Courtney Wilson, consultant at Northbridge SR&ED; Consultants, in a March article.

Glass companies investing in R&D; could receive an additional boost from the federal government, if a recent proposal from the Senate Finance Committee goes through. The committee, in a move to further support companies’ R&D; efforts, unveiled new legislation June 8 to make it easier for companies to receive the R&D; tax credit, according to a same-day article from RTTNews.


"In this global economy, research and development by American companies is critical to our economic recovery and the long-term global competitiveness of our country," said Max Baucus, committee chairman, who sponsored the bill (D-MT), according to the article.


So, what are some of your R&D; activities at your company? Post a comment, or e-mail me at kdevlin@glass.org.


Katy Devlin, commercial glass & metals editor, Glass Magazine

Monday, June 8, 2009
Matt Rumbaugh, division manager, Education, Training, and Certification, National Glass Association

One of my first projects when I started at the NGA was to work with Mike Burk of Edgetech IG to get his presentation on Glass Handling Safety onto MyGlassClass.com. I traveled to Cambridge, Ohio, with a video crew to watch Mike demonstrate the proper use of personal protective equipment, two-man carries, and what to do if glass slips out of your grip while you carry it. The result is one of the more compelling (and popular) courses on MyGlassClass.com. There’s a reason that’s the case. Mike eloquently and clearly makes the case that good safety practices not only save lives, they save your business money.

The National Safety Council estimates that the average cost of a disabling injury on the job is approximately $43,000. The cost of a death on the job is well over a million dollars. That’s a tough figure in any economic climate, but even more so today. With so many glass businesses struggling, an unexpected financial hit like that could be devastating. Yet, these are the businesses that need to give extra attention to these matters. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, construction-related trades such as glazing make up about 8 percent of the U.S. workforce, but account for 22 percent of work-related fatalities.

Besides the injury risk to your employees and the financial risk, how would you feel if OSHA knocked on the door one day? Would you be ready for an inspection? In Connecticut, it’s mandatory for any licensed glazier to take an OSHA 10 course, a trend that will likely find its way across the country. Plus, many general contractors require that any subcontractors working on their projects must be OSHA 10 certified and many require at least one to be OSHA 30 certified.

To help our members with this important issue, the NGA has partnered with a group to bring OSHA training online via MyGlassClass.com. If you’ve been looking for a convenient, affordable way to get your employees OSHA-certified, this is a great opportunity for you. You can find out more detail at MyGlassClass.com. To celebrate, we’re offering a special deal on all our safety courses all through the month of June. If you purchase any of our new OSHA training, we’ll also include access to our safety course bundles (either flat or auto, including AGRSS information), which is a $45 value.

Safety is important anytime, of course. Beyond the financial risk, no one wants to lose a valuable employee. But in today’s economy, there’s more at stake than ever. A little prevention can save your business a lot of headaches and a lot of money.
Friday, May 29, 2009
I know all you folks out there are proud of your rides. Sure, they carry your product from point A to point B, but is that all they do? I bet, no. Your trucks are little pieces of you. They reflect the personality of their owners and their companies.

For instance, I heard of a guy at one GBA who outfitted the inside of his sprinter van with a full set of decorative glass and a tile floor to take to homeowner shows and unveil the possibilities. There was another guy who covered his truck with tarp and displayed his customer’s logo in giant lettering on the tarp along the side of the truck.

Trucks can be moving billboards for your company. You can use them as a canvas to paint your company's brand personality and to impress your target audience. A lot of you are doing that already. In the July/August issue, we want to put your trucks in the magazine and up on the Web in a photo gallery, so everyone can see how you are using them as a marketing tool. Some of you have already heard from me, soliciting images of trucks that tout your company; for the rest, this is your opportunity to display your rolling billboards in the magazine. E-mail the pictures to me and show off your rides to all your peers and customers. The images need to be high resolution, 4X6, 300 dpi, and the deadline is June 5. For caption information, we need:

Name and location of company submitting truck photo
Name/model/type of truck
Name of truck supplier
Name of company that provided signage
Favorite feature of the truck

Let's line up those babies for all to admire!

—By Sahely Mukerji, news editor/managing editor, Glass Magazine
Monday, May 25, 2009
--By Chris Mammen, president, M3 Glass Technologies, Irving, Texas

I am a big believer in what my friend Bill Evans preaches in this same blog: a positive attitude can and will drive our economic recovery. Most of the time I do have a positive attitude, and when I don't, I'm pretty good at faking it. So I had a real conflict going on inside of me last week after spending just three days in Washington, D.C.

I guess that I perceive negativity emanating from D.C. for two reasons: first, most of the news reported out of D.C. these days is either negative on its face, or is contrary to my own fiscally and socially conservative views. The negative press has been well-documented and at this point is just "a given," and my political differences with the "powers that be" are really a personal problem to be remedied through the democratic process. So, there's no reason to let them get me down. The real reason I get a bad attitude soon after arriving in D.C. is disillusionment.

This was our third year in a row to attend the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Summit in D.C. The first time, I was excited and had grand visions of sitting down with my senators and representatives to discuss the issues facing small business. After all, I was there with the U.S. Chamber and thought they would want to hear what I, their constituent, had to say. (At this point, you are laughing at the typically naive first-time visitor to The Hill, right?). Well I wasn't laughing, I felt pretty small after getting turned away at every office I visited, without even getting to talk to a staffer. That's right, I relinquished my control over my own attitude to people I didn't even know, and I "let them" turn me into a cynic with a bad attitude.

I regained control of my attitude pretty fast, though I did remain a devout cynic in regards to our representative form of government. When we returned the next year, we had strength of numbers--a small delegation of award-winning companies, rather than one lone voice. While we did rate a private tour of the Capitol from a congressional staffer (it was her third week in D.C., and I think she found the tour to be educational), we again realized how important we are in Washington's eyes as we were leaving. We had been told that the Congressman was not in, but when we left his office, we saw him leaving through another doorway! Props, however, to Senator Hutchison--she took time to speak (ever so briefly) with us and pose for pictures. Of course, the newfound cynic in me wants you to note that this could have been somewhat self-serving, as she is about to run for governor ...

Last week, our third visit in as many years, saw mixed results again. At least this time I wasn't surprised. The Congressman that dodged us last year made up for it with a lot of special attention, devoting a couple of hours to personally give us an after-hours tour around the Capitol. He seemed sincere, and he does have the best pro-business voting record around, so he somewhat redeemed himself. Our other senator, on the other hand, pretty much blew us off. I had to just laugh. Actually, I had entered the week with a sarcastic attitude toward the whole thing, but I ended up with a net improvement in my feelings about our Congressional delegation.

In the end, I did leave D.C. with a positive outlook. The U.S. Chamber puts on an excellent summit, full of experts and well-known personalities. They are a good resource for small businesses, and (as I discovered first hand), they do have clout on the Hill, and they exercise it on our behalf with much success. They also offer first-class business seminars, but the best part of the summit is the opportunity to meet and interact with other business owners from around the country--this is where meaningful learning takes place. Don't be tempted to cut out professional and personal development when times are difficult, this is when we all need to be growing, learning, and looking for that next opportunity. This is when we need to be setting an example for others in our business community, and even for our employees, by investing in ourselves, our businesses and our economy. It's really a win-win opportunity to improve ourselves and our businesses while helping others to do the same.

Everyone reading this should take at least one such opportunity in 2009: The Glass Build America show in Atlanta Sept. 30-Oct. 2. I personally guarantee* that your benefits in attending the show will come back to you 10-fold. See you there.


*Chris Mammen's personal guarantee only applies if you bring a good attitude and make a bonafide good faith effort to learn something. Does not apply if you already think you know everything. Any claims against this guarantee must be made in writing and must include the correct answer to this question: What is the original source for the title to this blog, "The Captivity of Negativity?" Eligible claims will only receive an e-mail from me telling you that you must not have had a positive enough attitude and stop being a victim! No monetary guarantee is made or implied. Guarantee void in D.C.

Monday, May 18, 2009
During a recent staff meeting, I was reminded just how many important initiatives are underway here and pleased by the forward momentum we are making in spite of the current economic situation. I decided to share a few quick highlights on GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window & Door expo with you in hopes that they will both encourage and inspire you to increase your involvement with your association.

Registration for this fall's GlassBuild America is now open for trade show attendees and education track participants. The program will feature a strong lineup of high-level sessions covering the solar panel industry, energy efficiency and an economic forecast for the window and door market. I encourage you to join us in Atlanta for the largest and most important annual gathering of the North American glass industry, Sept. 30–Oct. 2.

Speaking of GlassBuild America, we continue to receive positive indications daily that our members are resolved to confront the economic headwinds straight on. One tell-tale sign is that new exhibitors are signing up steadily, including some that had previously planned to skip the 2009 show due to budget cuts (see recent press release). We are obviously encouraged by these moves, and believe we are starting to see the initial stirrings of a recovery as companies return to investing in their long-term growth.

We’re introducing a new Innovations Pavilion to GlassBuild America, which we believe will spark additional interest in the show both within and outside the industry. And registration is now open for our 4th annual Glazing Executives Forum, one of the most popular and successful events on the NGA calendar. The one-day event is held the first day of GlassBuild America.

We are well aware that this remains a challenging time for most of our members, and I thank you for staying with us. Together, we will prevail.


--Phil James, president and CEO, National Glass Association, McLean, Va.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Making a profit is vital to a business. That is obvious to all. Getting paid is even more important. At my company we concentrate on getting paid quickly and creating positive cash flow. We have regularly scheduled meeting, every Wednesday morning, which includes all salespeople and our bookkeeper.

The bookkeeper gives a report of all accounts that are at least 30 days old. Each respective salesperson must report to the group the actions, if any, he/she has taken to collect the account. This permits all of us to learn which accounts are slow pay and which accounts do not pay. We have worked diligently at this and our collection period is currently averaging 32.3 days from the date of invoice.

A “third party” approach to collecting works well. We use a “third party” approach to help collect debts. For example, I say to a debtor “My dad always said that people that stay in touch with you will always pay you, but those that do not will always bat you out of it.” By referring to a third party, in this case my father, the message is clear, but not taken as a direct attack. Invariably the response is “I won’t beat you out of it. I’ll pay you.” This response allows you to set deadlines for payment without appearing attacking. The debtor has already promised to pay you. You are merely asking when they will pay you.

Another tool we use to increase our cash flow and reduce our days outstanding is to get deposits when taking the order and collecting the balance immediately upon completion of the job. Most customers are prepared to pay upon completion. Ask for the money.

Good cash flow allows you to pay your vendors within a discount period and take a discount from them. Ask you vendors for better terms. They will increase the discount amounts if you just ask. Two percent 10 days, 1 percent 30 days, net 45 days are all available in these times.

Creating good positive cash flow is a cycle that is vital at all times.
—Bill Evans, president, Evans Glass Co., Nashville
Friday, May 1, 2009
It's that time of the year again. Give us your best, the most innovative and out-of-the-box products and/or projects, and you might just get to be a proud winner of Glass Magazine's 2009 Crystal Achievement Awards.

For 2009, we’ve added several new categories for the commercial, retail and fabrication markets. Review the instructions for submissions, categories and judging process below; then fill out the nomination form.

The deadline for nominations is May 14, 2009.

Here's how to submit your nomination: To give the judges a fair idea of your product/project, please describe your entry in 400 words or less, with a focus on the unique or innovative elements. For the “most innovative application” categories, only projects completed between May 2008 and May 2009 qualify. E-mail corresponding electronic images to me. The photos must have a resolution of 300 DPI or higher and be in JPG format.

A panel of judges that represent a cross section of the glass industry decide the Crystal Achievement Award winners. Judges are not allowed to vote for their own companies, or in categories in which their companies are competing.

Once nominations are received, Glass Magazine staff members prepare a judging packet consisting of descriptive information and photographs of the entries for the judges to review. If you would like to be a judge for the 2009 Crystal Achievement Awards, please call me at 703/442-4890, ext. 150, or write smukerji@glass.org.

If you have questions or require additional information, please feel free to give me a jingle.

Review the 2009 Crystal Achievement Awards Categories. Submit your nomination today.

Get on the ball now, you don't have a whole lot of time left. May 14 is less than 10 days away. Good luck!

By Sahely Mukerji, news editor/managing editor, Glass Magazine
Monday, April 27, 2009
Making a profit is vital to a business. That is obvious to all. Getting paid is even more important. At my company we concentrate on getting paid quickly and creating positive cash flow. We have regularly scheduled meeting every Wednesday morning which includes all salespeople and our bookkeeper.

The bookkeeper gives a report of all accounts that are at least 30 days old. Each respective salesperson must report to the group the actions, if any, he/she has taken to collect the account. This permits all of us to learn which accounts are slow pay and which accounts do not pay. We have worked diligently at this and our collection period is currently averaging 32.3 days from the date of invoice.

A “third party” approach to collecting works well. We use a “third party” approach to help collect debts. For example, I say to a debtor “My dad always said that people that stay in touch with you will always pay you, but those that do not will always bat you out of it.” By referring to a third party, in this case my father, the message is clear, but not taken as a direct attack. Invariably the response is “I won’t beat you out of it. I’ll pay you.” This response allows you to set deadlines for payment without appearing attacking. The debtor has already promised to pay you. You are merely asking when they will pay you.

Another tool we use to increase our cash flow and reduce our days outstanding is to get deposits when taking the order and collecting the balance immediately upon completion of the job. Most customers are prepared to pay upon completion. Ask for the money.

Good cash flow allows you to pay your vendors within a discount period and take a discount from them. Ask you vendors for better terms. They will increase the discount amounts if you just ask. Two percent 10 days, 1 percent 30 days, net 45 days are all available in these times.


Creating good positive cash flow is a cycle that that is vital at all times.
Monday, April 27, 2009
In case you missed it, NBC's Today Show ran a story, April 17, on concerns about the safety of table glass in American homes.

Citing a study by Children's Hospital Boston and Consumer Reports, the segment stoked fears about the perils for young children exposed to non-tempered tabletop glass and related furniture. The NGA is quoted near the end of the segment supporting both the increased use of safety glass in homes and the rights of consumers to choose the glass that best suits their needs.

This is the latest example of an opportunity the NGA has had to comment on an important, breaking news story. While it is often appropriate for the association to speak on behalf of the industry when the media calls, we would prefer that our members be out front most of the time. Your "on the ground" perspective adds a further degree of credibility, and you can speak more directly to the actual impact economic or governmental factors have on your business.

Please let us know if you'd like to join a group of NGA member spokespersons that we can call upon from time to time. If you'd like to indicate a specific subject or subjects with which you're most comfortable, let us know that, too.

David Walker, Vice President of Association Services, National Glass Association
Friday, April 17, 2009
In the beginning of this month, the Texas Supreme Court upheld its decision that an injured employee of a contractor cannot sue a "premises owner," according to an USA Today article April 3. The court granted a rehearing, but stuck to its decision.

The court made the decision on the case of a turbine mechanic at an Entergy Gulf States plant in Bridge City, Texas. The worker was hurt in 2001 while repairing a leak on a hydrogen generator. Entergy covered the mechanic's injury with a workers' compensation policy that protected it from being sued. In its original 2007 ruling and again during the rehearing, the Texas Supreme Court expanded the immunity that was only applied to suits filed by direct employees to cover contractors as well, according to the article.

State legislators say they never meant the workers' compensation law to apply to contractors, and four lawmakers in December called for the court to reverse its decision.

The court was split 6-3 this time around; the 2007 ruling was unanimous.

Much debate has since been swirling around the issue. The Texas Association of Manufacturers applauded the decision, while Texas Watch, a consumer advocate group, called the ruling a kick in the teeth for workers and legislators.

What do you say as a glazing contractor? Does the court’s decision to protect companies from contractor lawsuits make sense or does it make it easy for premises owners to avoid responsibility?

By Sahely Mukerji, news editor/managing editor, Glass Magazine
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