glassblog

Monday, September 15, 2008
I rode the same shuttle bus as Arthur Berkowitz and James Carroll of J.E. Berkowitz on my way to the Wyndham DFW Airport North Hotel last week. I flew into Dallas for the GANA Fall Conference Sept. 8-10. As the pre-Ike rain started pattering down and our bus picked up speed on the empty highway, we started chatting about ...what else? ... the state of the industry, latest projects and the hot products on the market. Berkowitz mentioned the Dulles International Airport project and the company’s latest product, decorative interlayers with SentryGlas Expressions from DuPont.

SentryGlas is a specific technology that uses an inkjet printer to print on to the PVB, Carroll said. The special ink is made by DuPont in conjunction with the makers of the printer. The surface of the SentryGlas PVB is ground differently than regular PVBs, he said. “If it’s too flat, the ink will run off. This PVB is specially prepared for ink adhesion; it allows the ink to stay where you put it.”

The technology allows you to take a picture and recreate it in a special software package. You can make the image larger or smaller. “You can do just about anything with this,” Carroll said. “We’re using Photoshop to maneuver the files.” You can put silk-screen patterns and put it in the PVB instead of the lami. You can pick any color you like. “The advantage is you can do this in different pieces and put them together to make one image,” Carroll said. “We’ve seen people looking into having their names printed on the building. It’s better to print on the interlayer than to silk-screen it on the outside of the glass.”

Berkowitz is a licensed dealer of the DuPont technology and is trying to market it as a Berkowitz/DuPont product. Other than Berkowitz, Pulp Studio in Los Angeles and Standard Bent in Butler, Pa., also are marketing SentryGlas in North America, Carroll said. “We’ve had it for about four months,” he said. “We have just now have begun to make samples and send them out. We’re working with a graphic designer as a contract employee. It’s very time consuming, depending upon how complicated the design is. We’re waiting for the dam to break.”

As the bus pulled into the hotel driveway, the rain drops were coming down big and fast. We jogged inside, and Berkowitz commented that there are no “standards” anymore in decorative glass. Architects want larger sizes and everything is customized, he said. True to the market trends, GANA began its decorative division in 2006. Read about a decorative presentation at the fall conference.

What are some of your hot products waiting to take off in the market? Drop me a line and tell me about projects using innovative and unusual glass.

By Sahely Mukerji, news editor/managing editor, Glass Magazine
Monday, September 8, 2008
I am in the president’s home state, in the city of Dallas, whose new slogan is “Live large. Think big.” It’s my first time in this city, and true to its slogan, I noticed the “large” and the “big” in various shapes and forms as soon as I landed: big hair, big cowboy hats, and dare I say, big chutzpah! As I was calling the hotel from the airport for a shuttle, a guy—in a cowboy hat—appeared from nowhere and without any introduction said, “Hey, you wanna’ go watch football with me and grab a few wings?”

Uh, excuse me!

The Glass Association of North America is hosting its fall conference in this ninth largest city in the U.S. with an area of 343 square miles and a population of 1,213,825. Per my Web research, Dallas’ skyline features quite a few gleaming towers, several of which are more than 700 feet tall. Here are a few head-turners:

The Renaissance Tower on Elm Street is a 56-story office tower, 886 feet high. Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum designed it in 1974, and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill renovated it in 1986.

The Fountain Place on Ross Avenue is a 60-story green glass tower, 720 feet high. The I.M. Pei & Partners designed the building and its construction was completed in 1986. Resembling a large multifaceted prism, the building’s various slanted sides give it a different profile from all directions.

JPJ Architects designed the formerly Maxus Energy Tower, recently renamed KPMG Centre. The glass walls of the rectangular 34-story tower create an illusion and make it look like its toppling over. The illusion is in the glass walls that seem to be sloping inward from top to bottom but in reality are straight. KPMG Centre is linked by a skywalk network to the parking lot.

I.M. Pei & Partners designed the 49-story Energy Plaza skyscraper on Bryan Street. Sheathed in glass the building is based on a design using three triangles. The communications tower at the top of the building is modeled after Paris' Eiffel Tower.

The soaring Reunion Tower, part of the Hyatt Regency Hotel complex on Reunion Boulevard, is a column topped by a geodesic and glass dome complete with an observation tower, restaurant and lounge.

Plenty more such shiny stunners are in Dallas, including the all-glass high-end condo, Azure, which I won’t be able to admire in person given GANA’s packed agenda. I’m still tickled pink to be in Gee Dubya country, right in the middle of those folks who were chanting "Drill baby, drill" at the Republican convention last week, while an ex-mayor made fun of community organizers.

"Community organizer. Wha?" Live large, think big! Yeehaaw.

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

Read a report from Day One of the GANA Fall Conference.

 

Friday, August 29, 2008
As a consumer, I’m frustrated with the lack of customer service I too often encounter in the retail world. For example, I recently set up appointments with some local contractors to get estimates on a new backyard fence. I scheduled the first estimate during my lunch hour, anticipating the contractor and I would have plenty of time to discuss the job before I had to get back to work. I arrived home at 1 p.m. and waited … and waited … and waited. Thirty minutes later, the contractor—who shall remain nameless—knocked on my door. Not only did he fail to apologize for wasting my time, he didn’t acknowledge he was late! I decided I would not be using his company’s services, regardless of how low their bid.

There is a lot of discussion in the glass industry, particularly on the automotive side, about how retailers are stealing business away from their competitors by offering rock-bottom prices. Maybe I’m unusual, but a low price is not the first thing I look for in a service provider. I want prompt, quality service; I want friendly CSRs; I want a company to give me a reason, other than price, to use its products and services.

At Creative Mirror & Shower in Addison, Ill., that reason is the highly qualified staff. “We feel that product knowledge is a massive advantage for us,” explained President Mark Pritikin in an interview for the “Showrooms as sales tools” article in the upcoming October issue of Glass Magazine. “When you come into our stores, you talk with knowledgeable people.”

What reason do you offer customers to frequent your shop? If the answer is price, you might be in trouble. If it’s something more powerful, I’d love to include it in our ongoing “Poker Play” series on how retailers can improve their businesses. Please email me at jchase@glass.org. Help me out: Is quality service really too much to ask for?


—By Jenni Chase, senior editor, retail and auto glass, Glass Magazine

Monday, August 25, 2008
My dad always told me to “trust but verify.” A safer piece of advice today, in the scam age, might be “doubt until verified.” There are Internet scams, identity thefts, pyramid schemes, charity frauds and, of particular concern for the glass industry, ordering scams.

I received an e-mail last week from Chris Thornton, president of Ace Glass Inc., Montgomery, Ala., saying his shop had been targeted by scammers. After several emails back and forth, Thornton identified the fraud and stopped the order before the company lost any money. Many shops have not been so lucky.

For several years, scammers have targeted the glass industry with fraudulent orders that could cost a company thousands of dollars if not caught in time. And, there is little or no protection for companies once they have been scammed.

“The main thing to get this stopped is education within glass companies. Recognize the patterns,” David Furlong, investigator for the Utah Division of Consumer Protection said in a September 2007 e-glass weekly article.

To help glass shop owners keep up with frauds and scamming techniques, we have created a Scam alert page on GlassMagazine.com. The page contains a list of the red flags for fraud, links to related scam articles and copies of fraudulent orders sent to glass shops.

E-mail me at kdevlin@glass.org to submit your information to the Scam alert page.

—By Katy Devlin, commercial glass and metals editor, retail glass co-editor, Glass Magazine

Monday, August 4, 2008

It’s not quite like being a kid, but I still enjoy this time of year. A trip to the beach, a good book, even sweating in the lawn. Summer always seems to be a good time for reflection, learning, planning...

For example, the other day I spotted a piece of sea glass. Yes, sea glass.

You know, those irregular shards of glass that, after years of pounding and molding by the ocean, eventually wear into smooth collectibles. Indeed, one man’s trash truly becomes another’s treasure.

Time does just that. It changes the mix and shape of things. And much like shards of glass cast about by the sea, businesses are shaped and buffeted by the relentless forces that surround them. Change is inevitable.

I recently watched a video interview in which a leading industry CEO proclaimed that the auto glass industry is in crisis. He went on to make a number of poignant observations that, no doubt, can all lead to such a dramatic conclusion.

So while I hesitate to disagree with such a notable senior executive – whose experience and knowledge of the industry dwarfs my own – I’d like to offer a slightly different take: The auto glass industry is not so much in crisis as it is facing a "tipping point."

You know well the immovable forces shaping your business:
· Shrinking insurance reimbursements, which now force you to work with
two penny-pinching customers: Joe Consumer and Mega Insurance Co.
· Networks
· Unstable pricing
· Tighter margins
· Competition from other market segments
· Mergers and consolidations
· And sadly, in many cases, outright business closings

While all of the above might reasonably be classified as presenting a “crisis,” I believe these transformative developments are simply accelerating a natural weeding-out of winners and losers.

Which brings me back to my summer reading. You won’t be surprised to learn that I just finished a terrific read called, drumroll please ... "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" by Malcolm Gladwell.

Gladwell defines tipping points as “the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable.”

He discusses how messages and behaviors spread like viruses, starting as a series of small movements. They cut through the clutter, and eventually stick, creating a new context to which the winners will adapt. Those who are unable or unwilling to adjust lose.

In my travels, I have visited a number of successful auto glass companies. These firms are adapting to the changes that envelope them. They are winning, not just with hard work and persistence – traits that always define winners.

They are rising above the competition with superior quality (supported by a commitment to employee training) and best-in-class marketing. (Shameless, but relevant, plug: You can see many of these companies at the National Auto Glass Conference next February in Orlando.)

Here’s a question to ponder: Are you facing a tipping point? If so, you’re not alone. It’s time to invest in the things that can push you into the winners’ category. Quality … top-notch marketing … training …

While you’re at it, you may want to pick up "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Difference." After all, it’s the summer!
Thursday, July 31, 2008

Greetings from my hometown of Chicago.

Attended the Cubs game Sunday, where Notre Dame football star Jeff Samardzija added some much-needed energy by tossing two flawless innings in relief in his first big league save. Must've known I was in town for some type of meeting on the topic of energy.

Oh yeah ... the reason I'm here ... energy efficiency ... windows ... the Component Modeling Approach (CMA).

My first meeting representing the NGA as a newly minted member of the NFRC.

I'm impressed. Tech guys from leading companies fill the room. The best in the biz, living out their passion. And the forum is democratic too!

Chicago provides a great background, with some of the greatest architecture on the planet. A distinct blend of the old and new. Heck ... they even chose part of this skyline as the setting for Gotham City in the latest Batman movie (aka the Chicago Tribune Building).

An observation from a homie returning after several years: the brick guys have left town. Glass is the standard feature gracing these buildings. The architectural flair of the Finnish designers really shines through. Am I back in Tampere, Finland?

But I digress ... I was drawn here by the Component Modeling Approach, in all its glory. I find that those who stand to benefit most from the CMA run the show. Most here are apathetic to the issue, or just plain absent. Some actually fall asleep! Insulated glass issues get more play.

Get this: Only 8 percent of the active voices in the audience on the CMA are commercial glaziers -- the specific group it affects! That means 92 percent of those making decisions and voting -- or simply abstaining -- have no dog in this hunt. Hello ... Majority rules on this one, and a whole bunch of unsuspecting glazers are about to get massacred.

Let's get involved!

Like I said earlier, the NFRC is comprised of some of the most talented pros in the business. They’re passionate about glass. And the staff at the NFRC is terrific. So this isn’t personal.

It’s business. It’s about economic winners and losers. And those who are asleep at the wheel can expect to wake up in a big mess on the side of the road.

Speaking of sleeping, while energy effiency rules the day at this meeting, I remain in awe of how quiet my hotel room is, despite facing one of the busiest streets in America: Michigan Avenue -- The Magnificent Mile. Of course, this moment of peace is sponsored by the glass industry! Fabulous windows ... great spacers ... professional framing, etc.

Yet another overlooked benefit of today’s glass: peace and quiet. Ah ... That’s why they call this a "luxury" hotel. (Even the auto guys that defined the word luxury would be proud).

Just wish there was a bit more noise here from the commercial folks.

They sure don't want to wake up one morning and find that their work just got a lot more expensive, thanks to the CMA. Would be a shame for the brick guys to be re-invited to the party. And we all know what that means ...

By David W. Walker, vice president of Association Services, National Glass Association


Monday, July 28, 2008
I have arrived in the city of Chicago, the most populous city in Illinois and the Midwest, with a population of almost 3 million. This is my first time in the Windy City. In 1994, when I first came to this country, I was yay close to making a trip. I got admission in the Medill School of Journalism’s master's program and was super excited. Turned out I didn’t have the money to afford the program, and I couldn’t take out a loan because I wasn’t a citizen.

Times have changed. I can vote now and am in the Democratic presidential nominee’s city, staying at the Conrad on the Magnificent Mile, thanks to NFRC and its summer meeting.

I am privileged.

My flight from Dulles to O’Hare was uneventful except for a tiny surprise in the Sky Mall catalogue. Along with tear stain removers for dogs and laser combs that “promote hair growth,” Sky Mall is selling “Energy films” that “lower utility bills up to 18 percent” and “repels solar heat in summer and retains interior heat in winter … also blocks 97 percent of UV rays.” They are cheap too: 24-inch-by-48-inch for $19.95, 36-inch-by-48-inch for $28.95 and 48-inch-by-84-inch for $38.95. Go to skymall.com and enter item number 82685G.

Once in Chicago, I took the airport shuttle to the hotel because the Metro blue line was closed for construction. The driver was particularly chatty, and the beautiful and long drive through the city tantamounted to a sightseeing tour. The city of no-cell-phone-while-driving, famous for Wrigley Field and Buckingham Fountain, features some of the tallest buildings in the world: Sears Tower, Aon Center, John Hancock Center, Trump International Hotel and Tower, and the under-construction Chicago Spire designed by Calatrava. Other beautiful glass architecture in the city includes the 111 S. Wacker Drive, and developments such as the new east side sheathed in aqua glass. Soaring above the Chicago river and the Magnificent Mile, Trump's new tower is 92 stories high or 1,362 feet, enclosed in high quality reflective glass, and designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. Calatrava’s Spire, the seven-sided glass tower, tapers and twists up 2,000 feet above a public plaza. When completed it will be the tallest building in North America. The 3-million-square-foot structure will contain 1,200 condominiums and aims for LEED Gold certification.

I am not sure if I’ll get a chance to see these amazing buildings up close and personal given the packed meeting agenda but, hey, at least I have the choice.

By Sahely Mukerji, news editor, managing editor, Glass Magazine
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Matt Slovick
I’m glad to see you’ve made a stop at GlassMagazine.com. It looks different, doesn’t it?

I’m sure you’ve all watched one of those TV shows in which a new baby arrives to liven things up and add plot twists. Then you tune in next season, and that child is already in elementary school.

That’s the sense I hope you get with our new Web site.

The new site has grown considerably overnight, is livelier and certainly has a few new “twists.”

The previous site launched years ago and hadn’t “matured” much during the years as Internet usage expanded and Web technology increased exponentially. Now, we feel our site has caught up.

The first thing you might notice is that the site is divided into segments to mirror the magazine: Commercial, Retail and Auto. The site also has a Fabrication segment since that process touches all areas of the glass industry.

I’m sure frequent users are happy to see GM.com now has a Search box. You can make a full-text search on content back to 2004. We’ve also created filters within the segments to search by issue or by topics such as machinery. In the Auto segment, the “how to” filter includes hundreds of installations, the oldest going back to 1957.

The site has RSS feeds available for articles, news and products. When you subscribe to a feed, it is added to the Common Feed List. Updated information from the feed is automatically downloaded to your computer. So, whenever something new in those categories is added to the site, you’ll be alerted. For those who are curious, RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication.

The Most Clicked area needs no explanation. It is the place where your favorite stories will be displayed.

I’m sure we’ll be experiencing growing pains during the next few days and weeks. Please bear with us and we’ll be adding other features as we “mature.”

Now it’s your chance to be a critic. Send an e-mail to mslovick@glass.org to let me know what you like or dislike, or if you have any questions.

Matt Slovick, editor in chief, Glass Magazine
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
—By Meredith Lidard, Glass Magazine intern

Ever since I started interning at the NGA, it’s hard for me not to notice glass.

I never really paid attention to it before, but I definitely notice it now, something that Matt Slovick and I have in common.

On my first day here I sat down with Matt and he told me that he didn’t know much about glass before he started working here either and he never really paid attention to it, but now notices it all the time. He pointed out the apparent lack of glazing on his office windows (the sun really heats them up making a lot of offices in our building very toasty, especially when the A/C is on the fritz).

I interned for a trade publication last summer, Building Products, and I have some knowledge of the construction industry--my parents own a small, general contracting firm in Baltimore--but I never noticed how important glass is to every kind of building, from single family homes to skyscrapers.

I wanted to intern at Glass Magazine to gain more experience working in the trade publication field. Because I knew nothing about glass beforehand I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn more about an industry I was completely unfamiliar with.

I go to the University of Maryland in College Park, but I’m from Baltimore so I spend a lot of time driving up and down I-95. I sometimes zone out and go on mental cruise control during the drive and don’t pay attention to my surroundings (don’t tell my parents). There are a couple of buildings that always make me snap back to reality though. These buildings held no significance for me before except that spotting them meant I was only a few minutes away from my exit and campus. But now when I see them I notice a common element: they’re all made of glass!

As part of my daily duties I research news in the glass industry. I come across a lot of articles with accompanying pictures about new buildings and homes that use glass extensively. Here are a few of my favorites:
I really enjoy checking out these glass applications. My coworkers passing by have probably overheard me “ooh-ing” and “ah-ing” and saying “that’s so cool!” at my computer screen. Maybe I should stop talking to myself at work …

I’ve learned a lot about the glass industry after just two months at the NGA. I’ve picked up on the language used around here and words like “low-E” and “curtain wall” don’t sound foreign anymore.

After I finish up my internship and resume classes in September I’ll take a second look at the glass used in buildings on campus. The university just broke ground on the new journalism building, Knight Hall. I wonder what the glass will look like … http://www.knighthall.umd.edu/
Monday, July 14, 2008
—By Jenni Chase, senior editor, retail and auto glass, Glass Magazine

Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado’s “Tiny Town” boasts the oldest kid-size village and railroad in the United States. How does this relate to retail glass? Well, like a typical small town, Tiny Town features a grocery store, a library, an auto repair center and … a retail glass shop. That’s right. Tiny Town’s Gump Glass, pictured here, offers tabletops, mirrors and auto glass, among other products and services.

With the inclusion of Gump Glass, the creators of Tiny Town make an important point: The retail glass shop is an essential part of any community. The editors at Glass Magazine agree, which is why we’re dedicating an entire section in each issue of the new Glass Magazine to glass retailers. In the July/August 2008 issue, set to hit your mailbox the end of the month, you’ll find information on the latest trends in decorative bath enclosures, advice on how to hire the right people and step-by-step instructions for handling glass cases. If you’re a combo shop, check out the auto glass section as well, where you’ll find installation instructions, technical tips and other information.

And we’re just getting started. Retail glass shops are as diverse as the communities they serve, and we want to hear from you about the types of articles you’d like to see in upcoming issues. Please share your ideas!
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