glassblog

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.
Monday, April 14, 2008
By Matt Slovick, editor in chief, Glass Magazine

Matt Slovick
People often ask me about the glass industry, and I find myself mentioning tempered glass and low-E glass and decorative glass. A scene from the movie “Forrest Gump” always comes to mind when Forrest meets Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue for the first time on an Army bus. Bubba, in his Southern drawl, goes on about the shrimpin’ business and the many ways you can prepare it. Through ensuing scenes he tells Forrest how you can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it and make shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, etc.

Greg Carney, technical director for the Glass Association of North America, is from Mississippi and has a bit of a Southern drawl himself. He is extremely knowledgeable about glass. I can image Greg striking up a similar conversation: “Glass has been around for thousands of years. You can cut it, shape it, bend it, drill it, paint it. There’s monolithic glass, laminated glass, annealed glass, tempered glass, heat-strengthened glass. You have your decorative glass, channel glass, low-emissivity glass, sand-blasted glass, photovoltaic glass, acid-etch glass, reflective glass, fire-resistant glass, cast glass, ceramic frit glass, dichroic glass, slumped glass, spandrel glass and stained glass.”

I'm sure Greg could keep going.

Before making the jump to the glass industry, I worked at newspapers and at a newspaper Web site. At both places, I had a chance to write about film and do some interesting pieces. One such online project was about movies filmed in Washington, D.C. I also did another feature on journalists in film.

I thought about trying to do a column about glass that is significant in movies, but no specific films jumped to mind. But one scene did.

In “The Lake House” (2006), which features a glass house, Keanu Reeves plays Alex Wyler, an architect in Chicago who has a troubled relationship with his father Simon (Christopher Plummer), a renowned architect. Alex moves into the glass house that was designed by his father and finds a letter from a former tenant, Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock). It just so happens, Alex is living in 2004, but Kate is living in 2006. Yep, only in the movies.

Alex has a meeting with his father, who gives a passionate speech about the use of light in architecture: “You mentioned Meier. His Barcelona museum stands in the same area as Casa de la Caritat. It drinks the same light. Meier designed a series of louvered skylights to capture that light and cast it inward to illuminate the art within, but indirectly. And, that was important, because although light enhances art, it can also degrade it. … Now, come on. You know as well as I do that the light in Barcelona is quite different from the light in Tokyo. And, the light in Tokyo is different from that in Prague. A truly great structure, one that is meant to stand the tests of time never disregards its environment. A serious architect takes that into account. He knows that if he wants presence, he must consult with nature. He must be captivated by the light. Always the light. Always.”

Thanks to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com) for supplying the quote.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Photobucket By Lorin Hancock, assistant editor

The Internet is the place to be to attract new customers. But for the small retail glass shop that doesn’t have a Web site, creating a Web presence can be a daunting task. Here are a few easy and free ways to get your company’s name out there.

MySpace & Facebook: These aren’t just for kids anymore. Reputable businesses on the cutting edge are setting up profiles that explain what their business is and how it can help serve customers’ needs. Make your profile public and it will be indexed by major search engines. It only takes about an hour to create a decent company profile on each of these sites, but they can be as customized and detailed as you want to make them. Think about it as free advertising, and remember to update it often. These sites display the date of your last login; if people see you haven’t checked it in months, they won’t take you seriously.


Blogs: They can be a great tool for any business. There are many blogging sites out there to choose from, and the majority of them are free. The easiest and most widely used tool is blogger, the site you are on now. Go to the top, right-hand corner of your screen and you see the words, “create blog.” Click on that link and it will walk you through all the necessary steps. All simple, all free.
Once you create a blog, the most important thing is to update it as regularly as you can. Once a week is good, once a day is better. However much time you decide to devote to blogging, be sure to set up a regular schedule so that users know when to visit your site for new content.
As far as what you can write on the blog, that’s up to you. If you want to take a more personal, diary-like approach about the goings-on in your company, it can help customers feel like they know you better, trust you, and give you their business. You could also use it to talk about products and services you offer, or examples of installations you may have performed. Another winning idea would be tips to consumers on what different types of glass there are and what kind should be used for which project. Even if you can take five minutes once a day to post a sentence or two, it will be helpful.
Link from your blog to your Facebook and Myspace pages, and search for similar or loosely related blogs out there (you’d be surprised by how many there are), and request that they include a link to your blog on theirs. Add comments and include the URL of your blog. This will all help make your blog and profiles more visible to search engines.
This may not be all you need to connect with customers on the Internet, but it’s a great way to start if you aren’t ready to invest too much time and money.
Monday, March 31, 2008
—By Katy Devlin, commercial glass and metals editor, Glass Magazine

I don’t make a habit of hugging trees, but I do consider myself an environmentally conscious, green person. I don’t have a car, I live in an apartment with Energy Star windows, I recycle and eat organic, I’m a vegetarian, I use those swirly energy-saving light bulbs. Yet, my estimated carbon footprint still sits about four times higher than the world average.

My greenhouse gas emissions average 20 tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to the Nature Conservancy’s carbon footprint calculator. The U.S. average per person is 27 tons, and the world average is 5.5 tons. Have you calculated your footprint yet? The results might also surprise you.

According to the calculator, about 68 percent of my emissions—or 14 tons of CO2 annually—comes from the driving and flying category, which in my case is almost entirely flying.

I found this number unbelievable, so I went to TerraPass to use their flight emissions calculator. Unfortunately, the Nature Conservancy’s estimate was right on track.

In 2007, the 4,483 mile, round trip flight from New York to Las Vegas for BEC created 1,748 pounds of CO2 emissions. The 8,205 mile, round trip flight from New York to Tampere, Finland, for Glass Performance Days, created 3,142 pounds of CO2 emissions. I added my other industry trips and my own personal travel, and my emissions from flight travel alone actually topped the Nature Conservancy’s estimate of 14 tons. Scary.

I know there are many more folks who travel much more frequently. Since I don’t think the industry is ready to host trade shows and meetings via teleconference, I checked out the Nature Conservancy’s site for some other ways to reduce carbon emissions.

Home energy is the next largest target for emissions reductions. According to the Web site, reducing the use of heat and air conditioning, unplugging appliances when they’re not in use and cutting hot water consumption can drastically reduce carbon emissions. People can also purchase carbon credits to offset their footprint even more.

And finally, check out blogger and AutoGlass Editor Jenni Chase’s green tips from the AutoGlass conference here.

Monday, March 24, 2008
By Jenni Chase, Editor, AutoGlass

In a recent interview with John Dwyer, president of New York’s Syracuse Glass Co., I asked him to identify his biggest challenge as a glass company owner. His answer was one I think many industry executives can identify with: “Maintaining a positive culture and accommodating lots of change day in and day out in an environment of rising customer expectations and costs. This is a fussy business. If we’re not attentive to the details and working as a team, we can get in trouble quickly.”

I have never owned a business, but from a consumer perspective, I agree that attention to detail is crucial to any company’s success. Americans keep their wallets closer to the vest these days, making any expenditure subject to scrutiny. When we do spend money, we want more than just a great product or service. We want an exceptional purchasing experience, and oftentimes, that’s all in the details.

A complimentary mug of good coffee, a follow-up courtesy call and a spotless post-installation vehicle or room can go a long way in the retail world. On the commercial side, a quick, efficient and convenient product delivery can make or break a sale.

At fabricator Syracuse Glass, repeat business is critical to success, says Dwyer. “We put a lot of work into making sure our employees and customers have a good, enjoyable, even fun, experience with the company.”

Fun? Now there’s a concept. If you can make a windshield or shower door installation fun, I have one word for you: SOLD.

To read John Dwyer’s interview in its entirety, check out “Looking Glass” in the May 2008 issue of Glass Magazine.
Thursday, March 13, 2008

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

Word has it that plumb glazing jobs are up for grabs in the Midwest. California is no longer the only state passionately pushing for environmentally sustainable buildings, good old homeland Kansas has joined the movement too.

Latest in the list of small towns to acquire green as its favorite color is Greensburg, Kan., 109 miles west of Wichita, and the county seat of Kiowa County. Main attractions of the town include the world's "largest hand-dug well," 109 feet deep and 32 feet wide, and a 1,000-pound meteorite, according to a USA Today article. Per U.S. Census Bureau figures, 26.4 percent of Greensburg's population was 65 or older in 2000, more than double the national average of 12.4 percent.

The town, heavily hit by a tornado May 4, has decided to build back and live up to its name, according to an article in Time magazine’s March 10 issue. To get the ball rolling, an entrepreneur from a nearby town, Daniel Wallach, formed a nonprofit, Greensburg GreenTown, soon after the storm blustered through.

When everything falls into place, Greensburg will have energy-efficient homes and offices powered by wind and biofuel resources. Residents of the town are busy working with the Department of Energy and the National renewable Energy Laboratory officials to build houses that are 50 percent more energy efficient than the old ones; and in January, the city council approved a resolution that would make all city building projects meet the platinum rating of the USGBC’s LEED standards. That’s a first among American towns.

Read the Time article here. Read about other U.S. cities doing their bits to turn green and fight global warming here.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
By Sahely Mukerji, managing editor, Glass Magazine/AutoGlass

Look to the Midwest, good glaziers, plumb jobs are reportedly up for grabs out there. California is no longer the only state passionately pushing for environmentally sustainable buildings, good old homeland Kansas has joined the movement too.

Latest in the list of small towns to acquire green as its favorite color is Greensburg, Kan., 109 miles west of Wichita, and the county seat of Kiowa County. Main attractions of the town include the world's "largest hand-dug well," 109 feet deep and 32 feet wide, and a 1,000-pound meteorite, according to a USA Today article. Per U.S. Census Bureau figures, 26.4 percent of Greensburg's population was 65 or older in 2000, more than double the national average of 12.4 percent.

The town, heavily hit by a tornado May 4, has decided to build back and live up to its name, according to an article in Time magazine’s March 10 issue. To get the ball rolling, an entrepreneur from a nearby town, Daniel Wallach, formed a nonprofit, Greensburg GreenTown, soon after the storm blustered through.

When everything falls into place, Greensburg will have energy-efficient homes and offices powered by wind and biofuel resources. Residents of the town are busy working with the Department of Energy and the National renewable Energy Laboratory officials to build houses that are 50 percent more energy efficient than the old ones; and in January, the city council approved a resolution that would make all city building projects meet the platinum rating of the USGBC’s LEED standards. That’s a first among American towns.

Read the full article at <"http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1720085,00.html"> Read about other U.S. cities doing their bits to fight global warming and turn green <"http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1081389,00.html?iid=sphere-inline-bottom">
Monday, March 10, 2008
What the candidates have to say about health care, immigration and the economy

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

During the past several months, we issued two e-glass polls about the upcoming presidential elections—one about the issues and another about the candidates. Both received high response rates from readers, indicating that we need to do more to address the election and how it relates the industry.

The Dec. 11 poll that received 375 responses asked about the most searing issue in the election. No issue received more than 20 percent of responses. Education came in on top with 19 percent, followed by health care, the war in Iraq, immigration, the economy, taxes and energy.

The March 4 poll asked respondents which candidate would help the industry most as president. About 54 percent said John McCain; 17 percent, Barack Obama; 16 percent, Mike Huckabee; and 13 percent Hillary Clinton.

I wanted to use my blog today to briefly spotlight the remaining candidates’ positions on several issues that directly affect most, if not all, glass companies.

This information was pulled from each candidate’s Web site, as well as from a New York Times election guide detailing how all the candidates stand on the top issues. Please leave comments below and contact me if you have suggestions on other ways we can cover the election with an industry eye.

Health care

Hillary Clinton: Health insurance for everyone, subsidized by the government and employers. Large companies will be required to provide insurance or help pay the cost; small companies will receive tax credits to fund health care. Rollback in tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000 to help pay for the plan. More information.

John McCain: Health care in a free-market system driven by consumers, available to everyone, without a mandate. Focus on controlling health care costs by promoting drug competition and improving early diagnosis and education. Remove bias toward employer-sponsored programs; provide tax credits for individuals and families. More information.

Barack Obama: Universal coverage by the end of the first term. Require employers to provide insurance or contribute to its cost; exempt small business that meet certain revenue thresholds; reimburse companies for large health costs. Roll back tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000. More information.

Immigration

Clinton: Secure borders—voted for border fence along Mexican border. Develop a universal, accurate and timely employer verification system. Path to legalization for illegal immigrants. Opposes guest worker program. More information.

McCain: First priority to secure borders—voted for border fence along Mexican border. Provide opportunities for immigrant workers. Path to legalization for illegal immigrants. More information.

Obama: Secure borders—voted for border fence along Mexican border. Path to legalization for illegal immigrants. Supports guest worker program and a crack down on employers that hire illegally. More information.

Economy

Clinton: $70 billion jump-start plan to go toward mitigating housing foreclosures, energy conservation grants to create jobs, and unemployment insurance, among others. Tax rebates to working and middle-class families. More information.

McCain: Stimulate economic growth by permanently repealing the alternative minimum tax and reducing the estate tax. Eliminate deficit spending. Make tax increases more difficult. More information.

Obama: Stimulate the economy through tax cuts for the middle class. Keep estate tax. Protect workers’ rights and raise the minimum wage. Support research, renewable energy and technology sectors to boost job growth in those areas. More information.
Page 51 of 56
 << First | < Previous 49 | 50 | 51 52 | 53 Next > | Last >> 

Blog Archive