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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One of my favorite reads each week is from e-glass weekly's sister publication WDweekly. This past week, John Swanson had an interesting piece on whether the marketing boom of being "green" had run its course, and it's truly a great question. Two years ago, you could attach the word "green" to anything, and bam, you had an instant marketing piece. But there is no doubt that now other priorities, along with tightened budgets, have changed that. Plus, do not discount the fact that enough people reacted negatively to folks who "greenwashed," and that too has lessened the push. Green is a lifestyle that will persevere for years and years, but for now the marketing sparkle has surely dimmed. And maybe that's a good thing in the way that people will actually try to be green before they promote it. Anyway, this Wednesday, John will have a follow up on his question, and if you are not getting WDweekly, you can click here to sign up. Surely worth it.

Elsewhere... 

Perilstein is chief marketing officer for Vitro America, Memphis. Write him at mperilstein@vitro.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, August 23, 2010

It has been about a year since I last blogged about the tenacious scammers targeting glass companies. Many of you know the game, perhaps even from experience. Here’s the common scenario: A scammer contacts a company (often via emails littered with misspellings and grammatical errors) asking for a large amount of a fairly generic product type; pays using stolen credit cards and requests the business use (and pre-pay) a shipping company that turns out to be fake; and if successful, disappears with the money paid to the fake shipping company. The business is out the money (sometimes several thousand dollars) and stuck with the product the scammer ordered, which for some businesses cannot be easily sold to another customer.

Related articles

Warning: Fake shipping company scam

Scam alert: Red flags and examples of fraudulent orders

Glass shops fight fraud: Tips to identify ordering scams

Scammers strike glass companies in fraud spree

Stand up to scammers

Why write about the same old story? Well, the best, and seemingly only, way to stop these scammers is to spot fraudulent orders before you’re scammed. Ordering fraud is a prevalent threat to industry companies, so you need to be able to spot red flags. Even though you might be familiar with the scams, are your employees or co-workers? I’ve posted some recent examples from glass industry companies at the end of this blog. I encourage you to pass along this information to others in your business (particularly personnel who receive and process orders), and to peers in the industry. And, if you’re targeted, post the exchange on this blog, even anonymously, if you prefer.

The more information and real-world examples on the Web, the easier it is for businesses to cross-check information when they receive a fishy order. In January 2009, I wrote a blog that listed the names of several fake shipping companies reported by business owners. Since then, the blog has received about 180 comments from business owners who have been targeted, many of whom simply Googled the name of the shipping company a scammer requested they use and found it on our blog. Many of the scammers use the same email text for all the companies they target. The more companies that share information when they are targeted, the more likely other companies will be able identify the scam.

One final note of warning, though. The same old story might be changing. As business owners become wiser, the scammers become smarter. Some of the more recent scam emails I’ve seen have contained more precise product information and fewer blatant grammatical errors. Additionally, scammers aren’t sticking with the same shipping company names or organization names. Trust your gut. If something seems off in an order, follow up and do your due diligence. Why would someone in Ghana try to order a fairly standard glass product from a small or midsized glass shop on another continent? Why would a customer refuse to use your normal shipping company and instead request to use their company that charges two or three times as much?

Good luck! And keep spreading the word.

EXAMPLE 1:

From: l45salis@gmail.com

Subject: Sunroof panel order

Hello Sir/Madam,

Good day and how are you? First of all i go by the name Mark Collis,i would like to know if you have some window sunroof panel in stock.Below are the type and the brand i want from you.

Glass Size Cut Hole Size Outer Frame Size

13 5/8 x 28 5/8 15 1/8 x 30 1/8 16 3/16 x 31 3/16

I would like to hear from you and hope we can go from there.Thank you and stay blessed.

EXAMPLE 2:

From: Ben Hurtson [mailto:ben_hurtson2000@yahoo.com]
Subject: Glass Order

Dear Customer Service

My name is Mr Ben Hurtson with the Hurtson & Company and i am sending this email in regards to the order of some Clear Glass and i will need size 30 by 30 1/ 8 each thickness Soda Lime Clear Glass and i will need 120 pieces of that 30 by 30 1/8 each tickness Clear Glass so don't hesitate to contact me back with the price plus tax for 120 pieces of the Clear Glass along with your full contact name so that i can get back to you to place the orders..Awaiting for your response to start ...

Best Regards
Mr Ben Hurtson

EXAMPLE 3:

FROM: revchriscurtis@yahoo.com

Dear Sir
With much regards to your company services and products, I am
Christopher ,and would like to make a purchase on the below product .

30x30 18 inch glass ,
4x4 117.5 inch Clear glass.
18 Inch x 30 Inch Flat Glass Mirror .
3/8" & 1/2" Frameless Shower/Steam Door.
5/8 In. - 12 In. x 12 In. Glass .

Kindly send me a return e-mail on what you currently have in stock and
what you can offer with prices and availability.

God bless
Christopher ... 

--By Katy Devlin, associate editor

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) often seems like a daunting task.  I find it helpful to think of accomplishing a BHAG like eating an elephant.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  How do you accomplish a BHAG?  One part at a time.  One thing I’ve discovered is that the bites/parts are not equal pieces. I am training to run 56 miles to celebrate my 56th birthday.  A couple of weeks ago I ran a 50-mile training run. Fifty miles on foot is tough to comprehend.  I broke it down into the following segments.

Part 1 = Attack

I started running at about 2 a.m. from a central location.  I was meeting a running partner at about 7 a.m. and knew I needed to have finished more than 22 miles by the time we met.  I wanted to run in a familiar territory and get a lot of the task accomplished early.  Why?  When you attack a big project, you want to accomplish as much as you can as quickly as you can so it will build momentum toward the completion of the task.

Part 2 = Encourage

After meeting my running partner, we headed to the original oldest part of town.  Beginning early on Saturday mornings, this part of town is alive with walkers, runners and cyclists.  Early morning runners are outgoing and greet each other with a wave or verbal encouragement.  There is a feeling of mutual respect for what the other runner is doing. At 25 to 30 miles, as the body starts tiring, I need encouragement. 

This is true of any major undertaking.  At some point the “new” wears off.  Obstacles appear; you lose focus; you realize this is harder than you thought.  It’s really important to know discouragement will occur and to surround yourself with positive encouraging people.  Actively seek these encouragers and distance yourself from discouragers.  Remember, encouragers will not seek you out.  Only discouragers will go out of their way to “rain on your dream”.

Part 3 = Stretch

We completed about 10 miles in the second leg.  That gave me about 32 total miles completed.  I was more than halfway to my goal.  I had survived the discouragement.  I was excited because I could see the finish line.  I left on the next leg running alone in an area of town I had never run in.  I will run this area of town during my personal BHAG and I wanted to be confident with the terrain and my ability to navigate this area.  Gaining this confidence required that I stretch and go somewhere I’d never been before.

To grow in business requires a stretch.  It is very easy to stay with the familiar, comfortable area we know.  Whether it is tackling a large curtain-wall project, buying a new fleet of trucks or hiring more people, we have to stretch.  Once we stretch, we gain confidence to do it again.  Once we stretch, we will not return to the old familiar comforts we once knew.

Part 4 = Conquer

I met another running partner and we left on the last leg.  By now, I had completed more than 40 miles.  This last leg was my shortest.  This was intentional because I knew even though I was very tired that I could still run a “short” distance.  I had planned this in advance because I knew I could mentally comprehend a single digit at this stage of the run.  I also knew that my running form could not get sloppy or I would not finish.  On this leg, I was running toward my house.  It was a very familiar part of town. I knew the mile markers at every turn on every street.

When you look at a BHAG, you want to start with the familiar and end with the familiar.  When we reach this stage, we’re tired.  It’s easy to get sloppy.  We all need to know the small mile-markers at the end to help complete the task.  True professionals realize they only have to get to the next marker.  True professionals conquer the BHAG by taking small steps and not getting sloppy.

Part 5 = Celebrate

Do not withhold any celebration when you reach your BHAG! 

For an update go to www.56at56.com .

 —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.
 

Monday, August 16, 2010

We are now just a month away from GlassBuild America in Las Vegas, and I have been amazed at the momentum the show is gaining. Maybe it's because I am in a different position in life (and industry), but the buzz for this show is gaining. Yes, I think tight budgets probably will keep some folks away, but I am also hearing from many that are going  to network, diversify, and stay ahead of the masses. I think the interesting angle here will be the actual buzz on the floor, especially regarding the way the industry and economy are headed. Shows like this and the BEC are great bellwethers for what's to come. 

Read more...

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. Write Perilstein at maxbcat@aol.com.

Monday, August 16, 2010

For those of you following the news at ASHRAE earlier this year, you were no doubt surprised by the vote to approve a reduction in permissible fenestration area -- from 40 percent to 30 percent for prescriptive compliance -- in standard 90.1. (Read a Glass Magazine article on the subject). This turn of events is a result of a continuing effort to improve the thermal efficiency of the building envelope. 

On the bright side, there was and continues to be a coordinated effort by the entire fenestration industry to maintain the 40 percent level. This is atypical -- normally, the industry is splintered by vested interests at code and regulatory bodies -- and demonstrates how important this issue is to all of us.    

Recent discussions of  R-value versus U-factor are symptomatic of this industry’s inability to effectively communicate product performance.   

It brings to mind how important it is for the fenestration industry to be sure that all of the benefits of windows, doors, skylights and curtain-wall systems are recognized by the building code and architectural community. These benefits specifically include ventilation and daylighting. To fully realize the potential benefits of fenestration systems, the industry needs to:

  • Provide a tool that measures the potential opportunity for natural ventilation as part of sustainable designs;
  • Establish a metric for the productivity and health-related gains from daylighting;
  • Reach a consensus on the energy-related benefits of daylighting; and
  • Work towards a consensus on the potential for positive solar heat gain benefits in cold climates.

Achieving the above would allow us to move toward an annual energy performance rating.

Please remember that NFRC is not a fenestration industry organization, nor do we represent their interests. We provide an organizational forum for valid, consensus-driven, energy-related ratings for fenestration products. However, we are tied to the success of the fenestration industry and hope that we can have a role to play in its continued growth.

--Jim Benney is the National Fenestration Rating Council’s chief executive officer. He has been involved in developing product and performance standards for the window and glass industry for more than 25 years. He can be reached at jbenney@nfrc.org.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Two forecasts came out last week with frustrating results. The monthly ABI was up two points but still weak, and the analysts there continue to worry about the volatility in the marketplace. The other forecast I saw was the Producer Price Index, and that was pretty depressing. The numbers of course were low, but the commentary was downright frightening. Check out this line:

"Public construction, once the bright spot of the industry, is petering out, and we are hopeful that the stimulus money allotted by Congress for infrastructure will be spent soon and help stem the tide. Virtually all of the sectors of commercial construction are down, and represent a cumulative 15 percent decrease."

Ouch. That is simply not fun. The "stimulus" money is supposedly still out there, and I know a lot of folks hanging their hats on that to help ride this out. In any case, and no matter the report you read, these are challenging times and the companies that handle these times the best, will be the horses when it turns... and I still believe the turn is coming.... 

Read more...

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. Write Perilstein at maxbcat@aol.com.

Monday, August 9, 2010

They don't just make energy-efficient construction materials, they also contribute to creating awareness and preparing young minds for this increasingly green world.

PPG Industries Foundation, Pittsburgh, took its energy-efficiency agenda a step further by teaming up with EconomicsPennsylvania, a not-for-profit economic education and financial literacy organization in the Commonwealth serving teachers and students in grades K-12, to create a new classroom curriculum called "The Economics of Alternative Energy," according to an Aug. 3 release. The curriculum will be introduced and made available to Pennsylvania high schools at the beginning of the new school year in September.

Teachers and students will explore the challenges of the energy debate and examine what action steps might be taken in the areas of conservation, exploration and need, said Andy Russell, former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker and volunteer vice chair of the EconomicsPennsylvania board of directors. "Issues such as energy choices, consumption, incentive, market price, public policy and 'greening' make this curriculum an effective doorway to learning experiences that will not only impact students and influence their thinking but also challenge them to consider possible life-altering decisions," he said in the release.

"[The curriculum] will provide students with a stronger understanding of economics by encouraging them to consider the many issues surrounding energy and the environment through the lens of the global economy," said Victoria M. Holt, senior vice president, Glass and Fiber Glass, PPG Industries, in the release. "Solving the challenges of energy supply, cost and use -- determining how to protect resources most effectively while affordably powering our ever-increasing energy demands -- is of crucial importance to society. As such, PPG Industries recognizes its responsibility as the world's leading coatings and specialty products company to address issues of energy security and climate change."

EconomicsPennsylvania will distribute information statewide about teacher training workshops and the availability of the curriculum and related classroom materials to school districts, curriculum directors and teachers with the anticipation of scheduling workshop sessions as soon as possible, according to the release.

—By Sahely Mukerji, senior editor, Glass Magazine

Monday, August 2, 2010

On a lighter note this week, here is an interesting article on "Gorilla glass." Probably none of us will handle this type of glass, but I love learning about the creativity and thought and work that went into this product almost 50 years ago, only so it could rest on the shelf until a use for it was found. And that waiting paid off, big time. According to the article, available here, Gorilla glass--invented in 1962--picked up its first customer in 2008 and has quickly become a $170 million a year business for Corning Inc. The company continues to devote a huge amount to R&D, and they must have many more glass products in the pipeline that we will see come to the marketplace in the future. I wonder if they have any innovations with architectural applications?

 

 

Mammen is president of M3 Glass Technologies, Irving, Texas.

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, August 1, 2010

So as the news trickled out that Arch Aluminum hired a new CEO, my e-mail box filled with questions on how I felt about it and so on. Basically, I had one feeling, and that was one of bemusement since they hired a strategic marketing guy. It's "inside baseball" stuff, but trust me, I chuckled heartily when I saw a marketing exec as CEO. Outside of that, I really had no other thoughts aside from what I noted a few weeks ago about Arch and AGC both having new management teams in place. It should be a very interesting process to look back on and see what worked and what didn't. 

Read more...

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. Write Perilstein at maxbcat@aol.com.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Senate Democrats have taken the climate bill off the table. At least, they have abandoned the climate bill that would have instituted emissions caps on greenhouse gasses and promoted renewable energy production. In its place will be what Bradford Plumer of the New Republic calls a “very pared-back bill” focused on oil spill response, with a bit of money for home energy-efficiency retrofits (maybe some benefits for our residential window folks?).

Should industry (including the glass industry) be issuing a sigh of relief that emissions cap legislation has been delayed for the foreseeable future? (See Closer look: Climate bill, cap and trade could hurt industry). According to Lisa Reisman from MetalMiner in a July 26 column, yes. The discarded bill would have capped emissions domestically without including any provisions to move the country away from energy imports. “We can’t see how climate legislation focused on limiting emissions will reduce our dependence on foreign sources. In fact, we could assume the cost of energy would increase, thereby further opening up alternative sources of supply to fill the gap (e.g. imports),” Reisman said. And the original bill, if passed, could have put metals producers (and glass producers, as well as all of industry, I presume) in an “international competitive disadvantage,” Reisman said.

However, I worry the big picture news is not all good for our industry—or the U.S. economy in general.

On the emissions cap front, I want to re-state a warning I heard from a National Association of Manufacturers official during Glass Week that emissions regulations are coming (eventually) and can come from many sources, including the Environmental Protection Agency. Manufacturers should be prepared, even if this particular bill has fallen to the wayside.

Additionally, what about the segments of the glass industry that are investing in renewable initiatives, particularly the solar power industry? (See Max Perilstein’s blog from a couple weeks ago, Solar is here to stay)? How much longer will the solar industry be able to thrive without a major governmental push for renewables? And will solar no longer be a place of opportunity in our industry? (On the other hand, perhaps the emissions caps would have hurt glass companies more than a major boost in solar would have helped?)

What about the overall U.S. economy? We’ve been hearing that green jobs could be the key to reviving the economy. Are these jobs lost? And what does that mean for economic recovery? In a June 24 column lamenting the tabled bill, Thomas Friedman shared one anecdote about green jobs. “A day before the climate bill went down, Lew Hay, the C.E.O. of NextEra Energy, which owns Florida Power & Light, one of the nation’s biggest utilities, e-mailed to say that if the Senate would set a price on carbon and requirements for renewal energy, utilities like his would have the price certainty they need to make the big next-generation investments, including nuclear. ‘If we invest an additional $3 billion a year or so on clean energy, that’s roughly 50,000 jobs over the next five years,’ said Hay. (Say goodbye to that.),” Friedman said.

And finally, what about the United States’ future ability to compete in a green world economy? While the U.S. is postponing climate legislation, China is moving forward on its own domestic carbon trading program, Friedman said. Even if the United States is able to pass emissions reduction legislation in the next five years, the country and its industry will be noticeably behind China.

While I do issue a sigh of relief for our manufacturers, I issue a greater sigh of disappointment and trepidation. Climate change legislation that pushes our country away from carbon power and toward renewable is inevitable. I just hope it doesn’t come too late for the industry, the United States, and, yes, this world of ours. (Take a peek at this report from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences to see one worst-case scenario that results in large fractions of the planet, including most of the eastern United States, becoming uninhabitable).

What are your thoughts? Join the discussion.

--By Katy Devlin, associate editor

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