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Monday, December 1, 2008
Black Friday provided some surprising and much needed good news for the U.S. economy—retail sales went up! According to a Dec. 1 Washington Post article, Black Friday sales grew 3 percent to $10.6 billion, and online shopping sales for the long Thanksgiving weekend reached $41 million, or about $372.57 per person, up 7.2 percent from the same period last year.

Despite the weekend’s good news, economists forecast tough overall market conditions for 2009. According to a Nov. 4 forecast from CNN economists, the recession will continue through the first three months of 2009; the overall economy will shrink about 0.1 percent in the first quarter and then begin to rebound slightly; and unemployment could climb to 7 percent or 8 percent by the end of the year.

How is your company coping with the tough economic environment? Has business slowed? What are you doing to stay on top?

Respond—anonymously, if you prefer—in the comment section of this blog, or e-mail me at kdevlin@glass.org, or Jenni Chase at jchase@glass.org.

Katy Devlin, commercial glass & metals editor, retail glass co-editor, Glass Magazine
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
When looking for a little extra motivation in these trying times, sometimes the right movie and/or book can do the trick.

One film that always works for me is The Untouchables.

In one dramatic scene, Sean Connery (playing a gritty Chicago cop) and Kevin Costner (as Elliot Ness) are meeting in a Catholic church. They're debating how to address the Mafia's recent change in tactics, specifically its willingness to shed blood more liberally to achieve its criminal objectives. In other words, the Mafia had just changed the rules of the game, and the FBI was going to have to adapt to the new reality. Sound familiar? As the scene reaches its climax, Connery's character looks at Elliott Ness and asks, "How far are you prepared to go?"

As you know, the rules of the economic game have changed recently. My, how they've changed!

But if you're like me, you believe every problem has its solution. Now don't misunderstand; I'm not trying to sugarcoat your problems or mine. Indeed, every situation is different. As I've found in discussions with several NGA members, many glass shops are adjusting to their new economic realities by branching out into new segments, and doing quite well. Some are finding tougher sledding.

We here at the NGA are adapting our business model by exploring new market opportunities, improving our service and innovating like never before. For example, we recently announced a strategic alliance with Architectural Testing Inc. to extend our state-of-the-art training programs -- notably http://www.myglassclass.com/ -- to the retail window and door market.

One quality that all successful people share is the willingness to meet challenges head-on. Are you conveying that attitude to your staff? Or are you leaving them to wonder what your plan is...or even if you have a plan at all?

NGA members know it is better to prepare than repair. Whatever segment you serve, you understand that the cost of fixing a job done poorly is high. It can turn a profit into a loss in no time flat. The same lessons apply in our role as managers and leaders.

In short, now is the time for leaders to lead.

Looking for some added support and guidance?

Read John Maxwell's "The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player." Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel gave a copy to each member of his staff prior to the season as mandatory reading. I just finished it on my trip out to Vegas for GlassBuild America. Powerful stuff. Much like The Untouchables, it really gets your juices flowing to overcome obstacles.

One last shameless plug. (I know... I know...) Whatever you do, especially if you’re an auto glass retailer, get some added fuel for these challenging times by attending the 2009 NGA Auto Glass Conference and Executive Forum http://glass.org/events/at_ov.htm You'll find a world of great ideas and insights there – on leadership, strategy, technical excellence, you name it. Feb. 18-20 in Orlando.

I’ll even throw in the good weather!

—David Walker, Vice President of Association Services, National Glass Association
Monday, November 17, 2008
I attended the Protective Glazing Council Annual Symposium Nov. 11-13 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va., where the driving concern seemed to be the “trend of complacency” in the industry. It’s been seven years since the last catastrophic terrorist attack in the United States, and the government’s focus has shifted from security to green and sustainability. This change in priorities is working at the detriment of the industry, said Brian Pittman, director of marketing and communication, PGC.

The U.S. Green Building Council expects 10 percent of new construction to be green by 2010. And the new president-elect wants 60 percent of new buildings to be carbon neutral by 2030.

With the theme of the symposium “Protective Glazing in a Green World; Sustainability & Protection,” PGC members tried to emphasize that the green movement can go hand-in-hand with security glazing. “Green is an enhancement of protective glazing; they can work together,” Pittman said.

Different presenters also attempted to drive home the same point. “Conflicting requirements for sustainability and security lead to compromises and trade-offs,” said Richard R. Paradis, senior engineer, Steven Winter Associates, Washington, D.C. “Avoid conflict of choosing between sustainable and security goals. Employ a single design strategy to accomplish multiple goals.”

Said Marc LaFrance, technology development manager, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy: “Protective glazings can be very energy efficient and probably a better opportunity to build efficiency into the higher price premium products.”

In a panel discussion, PGC members asked a GSA representative what they can do to interest more government folks in such meetings. Willie Hirano, engineer, Office of Construction Programs, Public Buildings Service, responded that the funding for security projects is down. “It doesn’t help to just push a security product. We need to see the whole window, not parts and fragments, but all the aspects, energy and security,” he said. Down the road, GSA specifications will probably have coordinated energy and security requirements, he added.

Energy efficiency is taking over terrorism concerns for Building Owners and Managers Association members too, said Ron Burton, another panel member, from BOMA, Washington, D.C. “We’re starting to see that buildings labeled ‘sustainable’ get more rent in the market." Energy use is the second largest expense in a building; first is taxes, he said.

PGC needs to become more involved in government relations and reach out to congressmen and senators to educate them, said Bill Yanek, executive director, PGC International. The organization plans to have a Congressional hearing on protective glazing, probably jointly with AAMA and GANA, in the future, he said. The council also will work more closely with BOMA that has a large political committee.

What’s your take on the green vs. security issue? Can they work hand-in-hand or are they mutually exclusive? Drop me a line and let me know.

Click here to read reports from the PGC Annual Symposium.

By Sahely Mukerji, news editor/managing editor, Glass Magazine
Monday, November 10, 2008
It's been a couple of weeks since I returned from Düsseldorf, but I am still digesting the fact that I had the chance to cover the world’s largest glass show. I feel so grown-up in glass age!

The enormity of it hit me while sitting on the plane headed to Düsseldorf and looking at the floor plan of the show. Nine halls? I was going to cover more than 1,300 exhibitors spread over more than 73,000 square meters of net exhibit space? My panic radar was on red. I tried to collect myself thinking about Nicole’s advance pep talk: “Do the best you can, I know you will, and remember, you can’t cover it all.” Nicole hadn't missed a glasstec in more than a decade, but had to cancel this trip at the last minute due to a family emergency. She knew what I was heading into.

“You can’t cover it all.” Invaluable words, as far as glasstec is concerned. Of course, it didn't hit home until I was at the show. As I walked to the fairgrounds from the tram stop the first morning, I remember thinking to myself, “it’s not that bad that I’ll miss my workout the next few days, because if I walk briskly, this hike will tide me over.”

And then I got to the fairgrounds.

It took me a couple of days to orient myself--yes, I am directionally challenged--and then it was a matter of very precise planning to get to places that I needed to get to and at the time specified. For instance, the press office was nearest to Hall 17 and our booth was at Hall 13--long hike; Glaston’s press conference was in Room 1, Conference Center South, and the Messe press meeting was right after at the press center--short hike; meeting with Lisec folks in Hall 17 and a symposium at Hall 11 right after--long hike.

You get the picture. The walk from the tram stop to the fairgrounds was peanuts in comparison to walking the floors.

Eventually, I bettered my sense of direction and knew exactly--down to seconds--how long it would take to walk from one hall to the other. And once I got that down, I couldn’t get enough of the show. I had a hard time dividing my time between symposiums and booths, choosing one symposium over another, and constantly got distracted by the amazing products on the floor while on my way to a particular booth for a meeting. All my meetings took longer than I estimated, and that’s probably just European. They make you sit, have a drink, chat about various issues that don’t have much to do with glass, and by the time you get to their product, it’s time to rush off to another meeting.

At the end of the day, it was an experience of a lifetime to cover glasstec. The products and the technology were mind-boggling, and all that walking reminded me of good old India. We walk a lot in India, but 14 years in this country, and I have gotten spoiled rotten.

And funny thing, even after walking the halls for five days, I had it in me to walk more in the Altstadt, Königsallee or the Kö, and go for a long stroll along the Rhine, up to the harbor, to watch the night skyline of the city. It was almost as cool as the show, but not quite.

"Cool." Now, is that a word a grown-up would use?

Click here to read glasstec coverage.

By Sahely Mukerji, news editor/managing editor, Glass Magazine
Thursday, November 6, 2008
If you look closely, I swear Dow Automotive’s Dale Malcolm bears a resemblance to David Letterman. He certainly did at the International Auto Glass Safety Conference in Las Vegas, where he and industry colleagues Mitch Becker of Abra Auto Body & Glass, Bob Beranek of Automotive Glass Consultants, and Brian Clayton of Cindy Rowe Auto Glass presented their “Top 10 worst things overheard in a glass shop."



10. I have to use this cheap crap; it’s all the insurance company will pay for.

9. My testing shows the body primer works better on the glass than the glass primer!

8. I don’t think the customer will notice that, do you?

7. The glass shop down the street said they have no problem installing over a little rust.

6. I’ve been installing for seven years, and I never remove cowls and I have never had a leaker.

5. Pinchweld primer? We don’t need no stinkin’ pinchweld primer.

4. I’ll be done in a minute ma’am, and you can drive your car right home!

3. I haven’t had a problem…yet.

2. You had rust on your car, so we couldn’t warranty the installation.

1. A-grass, what’s that?

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

Monday, November 3, 2008
Remember when "change" and "hope" were just words? When not every one knew the difference between a "hockey mom" and a "pit bull"? When "Maverick" was just a Mel Gibson movie, and William Ayers was not a household name? And, remember when the Dow was nearing 14,000? When Iraq was top of mind for the presidential candidates?

It’s been quite a campaign. And tonight, it will all be over—providing we don’t have a repeat of the hanging chads of 2000. So, what’s next? And, more importantly, how is it going to affect the glass industry?

As the campaign dust settles, the president elect will have an enormous, unenviable job awaiting him. And the decisions the next president makes in the early months of his term will have a huge impact on the country, the world and, yes, even the glass industry.

Earlier this month, Glass Magazine Publisher Nicole Harris posted a blog about the top ten jolts to the glass industry. When the next president takes office, he will have to pay particular attention to Harris’ top three: The decline of the housing market (and now the nonresidential market as well), the corresponding credit and financial crisis and the rise of energy costs.

How will the next president do it? How will he fare? And, how will it affect our industry?

E-mail me, or post your thoughts. And vote, if you haven't already!

Katy Devlin, commercial glass & metals editor, retail glass co-editor, Glass Magazine
Thursday, October 30, 2008
…in other words, anyone under the age of 40 who has made a significant contribution to the commercial, retail or auto glass industries. We do exist.

Despite some assertions that Gen Xers are slackers who view their careers as an “irritant”—at least according to this Missouri Department of Health worksheet—Gen Xers have made many valuable contributions to society. Think YouTube, Google and Amazon, says author Jeff Gordinier in his book, "X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft But Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking."

The same is true of the glass industry. Previous 30 Under 40 award winners have made strides in customer service, product technology and design, and codes and standards development. And as the 2009 award winners will illustrate, the younger generation still has more to contribute.

However, we do owe much to preceding generations, and it is with that in mind that the editors of Glass Magazine are looking at other award programs to recognize those who don’t fit into the "under 40" category. So, all you Baby Boomers out there, please send your ideas my way at jchase@glass.org.

And to all Glass Magazine readers, please click here to nominate your co-workers and industry associates for Glass Magazine’s 30 Under 40 awards. The deadline for submissions is Nov. 7.

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

Saturday, October 25, 2008
There won’t be any descriptions of our sightseeing exploits today. The entire National Glass Association delegation is still jumping up and down over the success of our American Master Installer Auto Glass Champion Jeff Olive. As reported yesterday, Jeff held a slim lead in the overall standings. We learned this morning the lead was seven points. With Jeff’s specialties of windshield repair and windshield replacement still to come, we were hopeful but not overconfident. All you had to do was look into Jeff’s eyes to see the determination. He was so close, but the Hungarian, Japanese and Danish champions still stood in the way.

Windshield repair went very well for Jeff and he increased his lead by another point. Going into the last event of windshield replacement, it was pretty obvious that the only competitor with a chance to catch Jeff was the young man from Hungary. But it was not to be. Jeff kept the pressure on. At this time, I’m not sure what the final margin of victory was because our entire delegation started yelling and screaming as soon as Jeff’s first name was announced. We didn’t even wait to hear the last name before we drowned out the announcer. Hungary finished second. Denmark and Japan tied for third.

I swear it was like watching Michael Phelps win eight gold medals all wrapped into one. I had a lump in my throat that nearly choked me as the American flags started waving. Without question, this was the most emotional moment in my 25 years of affiliation with our American glass industry. What a proud day for the United States, the National Glass Association, Glasspro, and the entire Olive family. Jeff and Maehing are a delightful, dynamic couple. We enjoyed every moment we spent with them.

As you might expect, Jeff was gracious in victory. He thanked the NGA, his employer Paul Heinauer and his installation partner Randy Layton. Randy was an absolute eagle eye in noticing the small problems that make all the difference in a competition such as this. Details count – big time!

NGA Chairman of the Board Steve Mort did a fantastic job as a contest judge. Actually, all the judges did a great job. A special thanks to Pim de Ridder, managing director of the International Automotive Glass Federation, who organized a very special, well-run event.

Visit GlassMagazine.com for competition results, photo galleries and more.


—By Leo Cyr, vice president of auto glass, National Glass Association
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I flew into Dusseldorf in the wee hours of the morning today. It was rainy and gray when I got off the flight. I remember Munich was gray and rainy too when I visited years ago in spring. That was vacation; not this so much. Already dog tired from staying up the night before, I checked in at the hotel, jumped into the shower and headed to the trade show.

This is my first glasstec, and boy, am I wowed. My tiredness disappeared for a bit from all the lights, the people, the buzz and the glam of it all. The nine huge halls showcase gleaming, colorful glass products and mammoth glazing equipment; and there are even glass art, glass jewelry and trinkets to purchase. A giant glass show with a feminine side? Neat.

This year, for the first time art works in glass have been grouped in their own area in Hall 9 on more than 1,000 square meters of space. This is in reaction to the growing interest from international artists. More than 60 artists, including internationally renowned galleries and the glass artists association Glas Kunstlervereinigung NRW, are showcasing their craft at this show.

Today’s opening ceremony had more sparkle in store, literally. It featured Kristalleon performing “Girl from Ipanema.” Think a man in a court jester-like costume made of a shiny silver material with mirror encrusting and a silver Venetian-like mask. He had a tray full of wine glasses filled/half-filled with water and he rubbed those to make music. He reminded me of the man in Alexandria, Va., who does the same most evenings sitting at the water front. Except, the Alexandria man doesn’t wear a sparkly costume.

The shine continues through the show floor, including the amazing glass bridge, a crystal clear, bent bridge in cold-mounted glass with a span of 7 meters. The seele company presents the bridge in cooperation with professor Stefan Behling, University of Stuttgart, and Stefan Peters, Engelsmann Peters Ingenieure, as part of the glass technology live show. The surface of the bridge is clear and is made of individual, 4-millimeter thick bent glass panes, each with total dimensions of only 3.7 centimeters total lamination. At the broadest point, the bridge measures 2 meters; 1.7 tons of glass support a 7.2-ton load over a span width of 7 meters.

My bone tiredness disappeared as I walked around with a gaping mouth, before it hit me back like a ton of bricks around 3 p.m. As I left the trade show to come back to the hotel and catch some z’s, the rain fell and a chilly wind blew. My body had shut down, but my head was still full of the gianormous show with a twinkle in its heart.

Click here to read glasstec coverage.

By Sahely Mukerji, news editor/managing editor, Glass Magazine
Monday, October 20, 2008
Economists, politicians and Joe Six-Packs alike continue to debate the effectiveness of the U.S. government’s $700 billion Wall Street bailout. Representatives from the solar industry, however, seem to agree that the bailout and its huge earmark for alternative energies will at least provide their industry a major boost in the United States.

"The subsidies for the solar industry in the bailout create great growth potential for solar in the U.S.,” Brian Lynch, public relations manager, Schott North America, Elmsford, N.Y., said during the Solar Power International expo, Oct. 13-16 in San Diego.

The bailout plan contains $17 billion in energy-related credits, according to an Oct. 8 article from the Miami Herald. “The tax credits for wind and solar were set to expire at the end of this year. The bailout package not only extended them, it enhanced the solar credit. Instead of a 30 percent credit with a cap of $2,000, the credit starting next year will cover 30 percent of however much a homeowner spends,” the Miami Herald’s John Dorschner wrote in the article.

While strong government subsidies have helped the industry flourish throughout Europe, solar power has been too cost-prohibitive for many building and homeowners in the United States. The solar tax credits in the bailout could lead to a solar boom in the U.S. market, says Dirk Vollbrecht, CFO of Ecostream US Inc., West Sacramento, Calif. “The U.S. market will become the largest in the world in the next three years. It’s just going to explode here,” he says.

Read Glass Magazine news coverage from the expo.

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

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