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Monday, June 23, 2008
—By Katy Devlin, commercial glass and metals editor, Glass Magazine

In the next 18 months, the commercial rating program from the National Fenestration Rating Council, Greenbelt, Md., should be complete, according to NFRC’s technical services manager, Ray McGowan, who delivered a presentation about the program during the BEST Conference in Minneapolis.

Some industry leaders involved in the CMA development process say the program is a “freight train coming,” despite strong opposition from manufacturers, glaziers and industry organizations, including the NGA. They say not even the anti-NFRC group that has recently formed will be able to do much to block the program at this point, particularly since NFRC has a green light from the U.S. Department of Energy.

So, are you ready?

Sure the much-contested program, called the Component Modeling Approach, or CMA, could receive almost no market acceptance and follow a fate similar to NFRC’s Site-Built program, its first attempt at commercial system ratings. However, California and Seattle are poised to become early adopters of the program, and some industry representatives say other jurisdictions will likely follow suit, making CMA part of the codes.

For contract glaziers, this would mean you would likely be placed in the role of specifying authority, or responsible party, for executing the rating program on specific projects. (“It’s not definitive, but it’s more than likely [contract glaziers] probably will be the ones doing it,” McGowan said during his BEST presentation). Are you ready to sign the licensing agreement with NFRC, pay for licensing and the label certificate, and hold liable for the ratings?

For manufacturers, this would mean you will have to pay to have an approved calculation entity rate your products (although manufacturers do have an option to have their own ACEs) and cover the costs for an inspection agency to monitor those ratings. And, you would have to pay to place products in a database. Are you ready to cover those costs, and to incorporate those steps into your processes?

I won’t try to predict what’s going to happen in the next 18 months and beyond. However, I trust the industry experts who say it is coming whether the industry is ready for it or not, and companies should prepare. Learn more about CMA in a detailed October 2007 article from Glass Magazine. And it’s still not too late to get involved and get your voice heard. NFRC’s Summer Meeting takes place July 28-31 in Chicago.

Please feel free to email me with questions about the program. I’m not sure I have the answers, but I can certainly point you in the right direction.
Monday, June 16, 2008
By Sahely Mukerji, managing editor, Glass Magazine

Green glass, green furniture, green rugs … what’s next? Why, green TV of course! Launching this month, Planet Green is the first and only 24-hour eco-lifestyle television network with a robust online presence and community, according to the Web site. “Its on-air content will reach 50 million homes with more than 250 hours of original green lifestyle programming.”
Use the channel finder to see where to tune in and browse for upcoming shows.
Greenovate offers tips on how to green your home and lists solar-powered skylights and Energy Star products as necessities to save 40 percent on energy bills while increasing property value by 25 percent. “For every $1,000 in annual reduced operating costs that a solar electric system offers, greenovators can see an increase in home value by up to $20,000,” the Web site states. Other greening suggestions include bamboo flooring, countertops made of recycled newspapers, air-injected shower heads, non-toxic paints and drought-tolerating landscaping.
Another show, Greensburg , offers vignettes on the destruction of the Kansas town by a tornado in May 2007 and its green rebuilding. Read my blog on this.
On its Web site, Planet Green offers fan sites, articles about how to go green, and forums where users can interact and exchange ideas to improve the environment and use sustainable products. Its sister site, Treehugger.com , offers latest in green news, opinions, interviews and trends. One of the entries on the site expresses doubt about David Fisher’s glass solar-powered Rotating Tower in Dubai and its claim that the building will generate 10 times more energy than required to power it.
Watch the show, surf the channel and let me know your thoughts.
Monday, June 9, 2008
By Matt Slovick, editor in chief, Glass Magazine
Matt Slovick

Were you ever in a courtroom facing a judge, wishing you could switch roles and make the decision?

Well, I can’t grant that specific wish, but I can make you a judge – minus the gavel.

Glass Magazine’s third Crystal Achievement Awards are on the horizon. The deadline for submissions has passed. Numerous companies from across the country have submitted achievements in architectural glass products, manufacturing and marketing. This year two new categories have been added for the glass retail market: Best Retail Showroom and Mirror Installation – Residential.

I’ve contacted many of you by e-mail, and thank you to those who have judged in the past and agreed to judge again this year. For those who have not yet responded, expect a reminder from me this week.

And for you who have not been asked but would like to get involved in this outstanding program, here is your invitation.

How does it work?

You’ll receive a packet with categories, descriptions of the nominations and a photo. You’ll make your top choices in the category. It’s that simple. If your company happens to have an entry, you’ll have to pass on that category.

If you’re interested in being a judge, please e-mail me at mslovick@glass.org and be a part of this of recognizing innovation throughout the glass industry.


Sunday, June 1, 2008
By Matt Slovick, editor in chief, Glass Magazine
Matt Slovick
My latest business travel for AAMA’s National Summer Conference has taken me to Hershey, Pa., the self-proclaimed Sweetest Place on Earth.

Yes, Chocolate Avenue and Cocoa Avenue do exist.
Other than the chocolate bar, Hershey is also known for its amusement park, Hersheypark.

I grew up in Pennsylvania, and I’ve been to the park numerous times. I can see it from my window at the Hotel Hershey, and it pains me that I won’t be able to ride Fahrenheit. The coaster’s description on the Web site reads: “This hot new vertical lift inverted loop coaster will ascend 121 feet before plummeting down a 97-degree drop – the steepest drop in the United States!”

For the record, I’ve ridden Kingda Ka, which is the tallest, fastest roller coast on Earth, at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. It reaches 128 mph and climbs to 456 feet.

When you check into the hotel, they offer you a free Hershey bar with or without almonds. But during the meetings, those mini chocolate bars are in arms length on every table – milk chocolate, dark chocolate, Krackel and Mr. Goodbar. I attended two meetings today and probably ate a dozen of them. Come on, they are really small.
The largest Hershey bar commercially available weighs 5 pounds and costs $35. The ½-pound bar in the hotel room costs $3.75 or $7.50 a pound.

When the maid stopped by this evening for “turn-down” service, she supplied four Hershey Kisses and an information sheet that included Today’s Hotel Hershey Historical Fact: In June of 1905, the original chocolate factory was complete in downtown Hershey.

I discovered the tours of the factory ended in 1973. Now when you visit Hersheypark, the Chocolate World ride is a 12-minute tour explaining the process of making chocolate.

I thought I’d end this post with more Hershey trivia. Did you ever wonder how Kisses got their name? I was told it was the sound of the original machines that squirted out the dabs of chocolate.

And Milton S. Hershey’s middle name was Stavely.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Katy Devlin, Glass Magazine’s commercial glass and metals editor, interviewed several architects on film during the AIA Convention in Boston to learn about the state of the industry and hear what the design community wants from glass and glazing. Watch the video.

http://www.youtube.com/get_player

Read news from the convention in the May 20 issue of e-glass weekly.

Monday, May 19, 2008
—By Katy Devlin, commercial glass & metals editor

The swanky swag bags of lavish jewels, cutting-edge gadgets and trip vouchers from the Hollywood awards shows can easily top $40,000 in value (celebs must pay taxes on these high-priced “gifts” since an IRS cracked down in 2006, according to E! Online).

While there were a few flat-screen TV and iPod giveaways, as well as a car raffle during the AIA Convention last week, the giveaways on the tradeshow floor were markedly less glamorous than this year’s Oscars. Even so, free is free, and many of the more than 20,000 attendees came home with packed bags of their Boston swag.

Of course, there was an ample selection of lanyards and pens and bags (oh my!), in addition to the expected edible goodies—mints, Jolly Ranchers, chocolates and popcorn. But, in my walk amid the about 800 exhibitor booths, some swag items really caught my eye.

Officials from Edgetech IG, Cambridge, Ohio, took a traditional giveaway and upgraded it with its “Predator Pen.” Thanks to Joe Erb, product manager at Edgetech, for helping us catch the pen in action.

http://www.youtube.com/get_player

Thermique Technologies, Chicago, provided one of the most popular giveaway items at the show—a plastic construction document tube. One of the other high-demand items was the perpetually filled bowl of Bayer Aspirin packages from Sheffield-Plastics, Sheffield, Mass.

Our booth neighbor, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, Schaumburg, Ill., handed out tape measures, very popular among the architectural crowd. While Linetec, Wausau, Wis., handed out yo-yos, very popular among the Glass Magazine crowd.

Apple Cookie & Chocolate Co., Turtle Creek, Pa., provided one of the more unique swag treats—solid chocolate molded into hard hats, hammers and other construction-related shapes. Stuffed animals were a popular gift, including the Dalmatians from Schott, Elmsford, N.Y. And many companies also gave green. Edgetech, Weyerhaeuser Co., Federal Way, Wash., and several other companies gave trees to plant.

My personal favorite swag item was the fine pair of glasses from Arkema Inc., Philadelphia. Now, be honest, who looks better, Amanda Behnke, the NGA publication department’s special projects coordinator, or me?
Monday, May 12, 2008

—By Jenni Chase, editor, AutoGlass Magazine

With the cost of everything from gasoline to coffee to stamps on the rise, the thought of spending money on retail glass services may be less than appealing to many of today’s consumers. Let’s face it, it’s more fun to spend that economic stimulus check on a new TV than a shower door.

But before you lower prices in an attempt to attract customers, consider the following statement from the National Quality Research Center at the University of Michigan: “Quality plays a more important role in satisfying customers than price in almost all … industries. Price promotions can be an effective short-term approach to improving [customer] satisfaction, but price cutting is almost never sustainable in the long term.”

Companies that focus on quality tend to fare better over time in the American Customer Satisfaction Index than companies that focus on price, according to the research center.

And it’s OK to charge a premium for that quality service. Higher prices and customer satisfaction are not mutually exclusive.

Take supermarkets, for example. Food prices rose at twice the rate of overall inflation in 2007, yet customer satisfaction with supermarkets reached its highest level in 14 years, according to the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index results.

On the flip side, low-price provider Wal-Mart saw customer satisfaction rates slip to an all-time low in fourth quarter 2007, trailing all other department and discount chains in the ACSI, said Professor Claes Fornell, NQRC director, in his fourth quarter commentary.

“With quality lagging, low price in town is not enough to keep Wal-Mart in the middle of the pack in customer satisfaction," Fornell says.

“As customer satisfaction improves, the demand curve shifts upward, making room for more pricing power," he explains. "It is not that higher prices lead to higher satisfaction, but higher satisfaction makes it possible to charge higher prices."
Monday, May 5, 2008
—By Katy Devlin, commercial glass and metals editor, Glass Magazine

Officials from Wawa, the 24-hour convenience store that oft served as my temple for midnight cravings during college, upped its coffee prices by 6 cents, according to a May 2 Associated Press report. The cause: rising gas price.

According to the Energy Information Administration, gas prices on April 28 were at about $3.60, up 62 cents compared to last year. Diesel fuel, at $4.18, was up $1.37.

Stamp costs will increase to 42 cents, with fuel costs also to blame, right along with grocery prices—milk prices are up 26 percent and egg prices 40 percent since last year, according to a March 9 article from The Boston Globe.

I finally got over the sticker shock of seeing prices at the pump top $2, then $3 and now at times $4, and now it’s started with my coffee, my stamps, my milk and my eggs, too. Don’t even get me going on the jumps in my subway fares and Zipcar rates.

The industry has been feeling price increases for even longer than I’ve suffered my 6-cent bump in coffee costs. The first three issues of e-glass weekly in June 2006 all contained articles about pricing. Click here for the e-glass weekly archives. Aluminum, in particular, has been on a price rollercoaster.

Mike Petersen, president of Petersen Aluminum in Chicago, told me last week he worries customers will start looking for alternatives because of the high cost for aluminum products; prices for aluminum on the London Metal Exchange have spiked 21 percent since the start of the year. But he added that prices for those alternatives are also on the rise. “Vinyl has gone up just as much,” he said. Read an article in this week’s e-glass weekly to learn more about rising aluminum costs.

The industry has also seen glass prices and fuel surcharges rise, right along with related products including PVB.

How high can gas prices go? And what impact will we feel from the falling dollar?

While these questions are worrisome, the scariest thing about these price increases is that I’ve started saying things like: “Why, when I was a kid, I could go to the movies for $4, send a letter for 25 cents and fill up my parents’ Ford Escort wagon for $10.”
Monday, April 28, 2008
By Sahely Mukerji, managing editor, Glass Magazine/AutoGlass

I recently got an e-mail from Todd Lang of Development Counsellors International who offered an interesting bit of info about Toledo, the U.S. city with the 10th fastest population loss since 2000. Home of Pilkington NA, Toledo, is using an old industry—glass—to power a new industry—solar cells.
Lang backed up his statement with the following:
First Solar, a leading solar cell manufacturer in the U.S., has added 365 employees at the Toledo facility in four years. The company’s revenue for the fiscal year ended Dec. 29, 2007, was $504.0 million, up from $135 million in fiscal year 2006. The technology developed in Toledo allows First Solar to sell panels 35 percent lower than the competition, yet maintain a 45 percent profit margin.
Pilkington supplies to First Solar. Two years ago its sales in glass used for solar cells barely registered on the spreadsheet. It is expected to reach 10 percent of overall revenues in the next five years.
The University of Toledo recently devoted more than $20 million to researching solar power and build additional lab space to spur future spin-offs. This is in addition to $3.6 million spent last year to establish The Center for Photovoltaic Energy and Hydrogen.
Xunlight Corp., formerly MWOE Solar Inc., a technology spin-off from UT, received its initial funding of $7 million to produce lightweight and flexible solar cells. The financing was led by Emerald Technology Ventures, a globally active venture capital firm specializing in energy, materials and water technologies along with NGP Energy Technology Partners, an energy technology private equity fund. Xunlight will begin production next year increasing their staff from 18 to 40.
DCI, a privately funded economic development group, is working to establish venture capital funds to assist in building this solar power cluster in NW Ohio. Please write me if you have more to add regarding Toledo’s rejuvenation efforts.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
By Matt Slovick, editor in chief, Glass Magazine

Matt Slovick
The Mid-Atlantic Glass Expo came to Martin’s Crosswinds in Greenbelt, Md., again April 16.

About 82 exhibitors had table-top displays at the venue. Maureen Heavner, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Glass Association of Buckeystown, Md., reported that 839 people attended the expo, which lasted from 4 to 9 p.m.

This is truly one of the networking and social events each year in this region. The room had the feeling of a Happy Hour as attendees walked the floor, shook hands, won door prizes and had a beverage or two. The free soft pretzels made my night.

The MGA also welcomed nine new members to the floor this year.

With the credit crunch a relevant topic these days, I asked Paul Schodorf of Schodorf Truck Body & Equipment Co., Columbus, Ohio, if he has felt any effect. His company relies on new truck purchases. Schodorf said the slowness he is experiencing is due to the economy in general and not because customers can’t secure credit.

“New trucks nationally follow the economy and, in the case of trucks to haul glass, residential and commercial construction,” Schodorf said. He said the prevalent forces are incredibly weak consumer demand along with the downturn of the housing market and commercial construction.
“In other words, we don't notice people not buying because they can't get credit,” Schodorf said. “Everyone is spending as little as possible.”

Schodorf said his company does accept credit cards for a large percentage of its sales. While the fees are unpleasant, he says, it's quick secure money.

The MGA has two social events upcoming. Its golf tournament is June 25 at Worthington Manor Golf Club in Urbana, Md. The annual crab feast is July 16 in Baltimore. For information, call 301-831-8338 or e-mail midatlanticglass@comcast.net.
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