glassblog

Monday, December 6, 2010

Good customer service is something that gets pushed into all of us every day. You learn early on in your career that the better you treat the customer, the better chance you have to be successful. Plus, there's a cottage industry of speakers, classes and consultants to talk, teach and drive good customer service. But this past week I read the most amazing story on going "opposite" of customer service by bullying and abusing your customer to build your online base upon negative comments (truly an effect of working in the Internet world with page views and ranks). The New York Times article can be found here, and it's simply mind blowing. It's quite the read and simply amazing that this "opposite" approach could actually work if dialed down just a bit. Treating your customers badly and it working? Talk about putting the world you know on its ear!

Elsewhere...

  • Last week's ABI column got a lot of good feedback. One angle that was brought up by someone much more astute than me was the fact these are "billings," and as we all are experiencing contraction of available business, billings are probably less as well. I mean, you have to figure architects are working off of smaller margins too right?
  • Thoughts go out to a former coworker of mine Dan Luna. Heard he is battling a significant health issue. Mr. Luna is a tremendous guy who I know can overcome anything in his path.... The guy has the ability to build nuclear reactors (probably the only guy in our industry who can), so I know he'll get through this. Thoughts and prayers to him and his family during this time.
  • Lots of LEED news this past week. Glass Magazine linked to an interesting article that talked about the growth of the green building segment, though I swear any future prediction by McGraw-Hill has to be taken with many grains of salt. Also in a very interesting article here on passive homes, LEED takes a shot to the chin too. In any case, green--no matter how you slice it--continues to drive conversation.
  • Pretty bummed that the U.S. lost its bid for the World Cup in 2022. What a cool event; it would've been a neat experience for the States. The U.S. lost to the country of Qatar. Not sure how the whole Qatar thing will work out, but considering their approach to human rights and their hatred of Israel (if you have a stamp from Israel on your passport, they won't allow you in) I am not real positive.

Read on for links and video of the week...

Max 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, November 29, 2010

After reading last week's ABI (Architectural Billings Index), I had a nagging feeling that I needed to see how accurate that whole process is. So during the holiday weekend I decided to go back into the archives of Glass Magazine to investigate. What I found was somewhat telling: a four-part series (great job by Katy Devlin) from late 2007 that predicted the slowdown to come. Back then, you could see some signs on the horizon, but most of the world was blind (or better yet, fat and happy). Yet, the ABI started to decrease and the warning signs went up. Now, there is no doubt the ABI is not perfect and they had plenty of stops and starts in the past, but they did probably do the most accurate accounting of the commercial side, so the numbers that come out from them in the next few months should be taken seriously. Hopefully, they are better than in the past.

Elsewhere...

  • Hope everyone had a great holiday... I am still full.
  • Now, before we blink, it is Hanukah, then Christmas and New Years... man time is flying.
  • More good news from the glass industry and technological advancement arena: The folks at Soladigm just picked up a tremendous honor and award from GE. Soladigm was chosen to be a part of GE's $200 million "ecomagination Challenge." GE picked 12 companies to be a part of this incredible opportunity. More info is here. At the end of the day, this is yet another great announcement showing that our industry is advanced, that we are creating cutting-edge materials, and that we are not the stick in the mud that some like to make us out to be. Congrats to the gang at Soladigm on this great news!
  • Speaking of great news, I am sure the folks at Viracon are still pretty pumped over their acquisition of Glassec in Brazil. While so many in the industry thought Viracon would expand domestically, if you listened to the quarterly calls, the focus always has been on growing internationally, and this was a great first step. Now, how long before Dr. Don McCann is as big of a legend in Brazil as Ronaldo, Kaka and Ronaldinho?
  • How about the article on the Harmon Hotel in Vegas possibly being imploded? My gosh, that would just add to one of the wildest construction stories ever. Seriously, some great writer needs to jump on the entire story of CityCenter... from the birth and concept to the crazy construction stories to the "death rays" to this. It seriously could be an epic read.
  • I am bummed Boise State lost. Then again, the only Idaho football team I root for is Idaho State since I know a hall of famer from that institution.
  • One last note from Greenbuild 2010... next year that show is in Toronto and it will be very interesting to see how that affects the attendance. I think it will actually do more than 30,000, but the breakdown will be severely weighted from the Northeast and Canada overall. If I go to that show though, I will go to Montreal first and get clothing advice from the Walker guys because otherwise my Midwest duds will not play.
  • Last, if you want to see a brainless, gory, but actually somewhat enjoyable movie go check out "Faster" staring "The Rock" Dwayne Johnson. It won't win any awards, but for 90 minutes you surely forgot about ABI's and certifications and China and so on, and to me that is worth it. 

Read on for links and video of the week...

Max 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.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The glass industry representatives I chatted with during the Greenbuild Conference and Expo last week in Chicago didn't express too much optimism about 2011. Most think 2011 will remain flat, looking much like 2010. However, on the green products front, glass and glazing exhibitors were more positive. Most say the green building movement continues to drive growth for energy-efficient glass products, despite the slow construction market.

Helen Sanders, vice president technical business development at Sage Electrochromics Inc., Faribault, Minn., said high-performance technologies, such as SageGlass, have strong growth opportunities in the current market. "Everyone is asking the same questions about the economy. I'm optimistic. I think for us, the news of the Saint-Gobain investment is great validation of what we're doing, and will help us going into 2011," Sanders said. "This really is the next generation of glass. You think back, the slide rule was normal 30 years ago. But technology moves so quickly. I think our kids will look at us in 30 years and say, 'static glass?' It's like the difference between a computer and a typewriter. I think in the future we'll see dynamic glass and static glass working together."

Oliver Stepe, senior vice president for YKK America AP, Austell, Ga., agrees that green products offer growth opportunities even in the current market. "We're forecasting growth for YKK in 2011, as we focus on our energy products," he said.

Glass industry companies are pushing development of green products, and the industry brought a range of green products to the show floor last week (see the photo galleries and videos for more information). Sun shades and light shelves continued to be big, with several companies coming out with systems to address maintenance concerns. All of the framing and glass suppliers were touting ever improving performance values with their new systems (thermal barriers are a must with the framing folks, and increasingly advanced coatings for glass). Viracon, Owatonna, Minn., for example, has come out with a new line of solar control laminated glass products, said Garret Henson director of sales, North America. Additionally, the company plans to introduce a new low-emissivity coating in Spring 2011 "designed to achieve a solar heat gain coefficient of .25 or better," he said.

Suspended film technologies also were quite prevalent at this year's show, with Serious Materials, Sunnyvale, Calif., promoting the insulating glass units with suspended coated film used in the Empire State Building retrofit, and Southwall Technologies, Palo Alto, Calif., announcing its partnership with Dow Corning to develop suspended film IGUs for commercial applications.

This green product development is critical to the success of the industry once the construction market emerges from its slump, Stepe said. "In my view, the industry is a new world now. It's not the same industry as it was before the recession. When things pick up, it's not going to be, how can we keep doing what we used to do, it's how can we evolve. It's a totally different landscape," he said. 

--By Katy Devlin, associate editor

Monday, November 22, 2010

In addition to the coverage of Greenbuild that Katy Devlin and the team from Glass Magazine provided, I offer you my own special take. Overall the show continues to generate tremendous buzz and is still pretty much dominated by a much younger crowd than AIA. After a slow start, with what most people I talked to said was the worst first day of any show, ever, the rest of the time did improve enough for many folks to consider it a winner. So while the whole “green” push may be mellowing some and finding a fair and rightful place in our world (far from the over the top greenwashing from the early days) there’s no doubt that segment still has sizzle.

Elsewhere …

As is my tradition … seen and heard from the trade show floor …

-- The style of the show was copycat … several exhibitors copied the incredibly cool vest style created by Rob Struble at PPG. Even the folks at PPG noticed it. It was everywhere. Anyway I think Rob being the trendsetter he is, now has a knack for fashion, wonder how long before Ralph Lauren comes after him to design the 2011 line?
Sage, fresh off their incredible news was swamped each and every time I walked by … I am very happy for them that’s for sure …. It was wild to see Traco incorporated in the Kawneer booth, I had to do a double take … Dlubak and Pilkington were across the aisle from each other with Doralco, Berkowitz, and Edgetech all around the corner, so that was actually one part of the show floor that had some flow. It was good to see all of those guys … yes even Bob Price. Viracon was as busy as normal … I joked with them that they should just retire the booth and set up a white sheet with their logo on it because people were coming to see the folks working and not the stuff behind them … I guess the Starship Enterprise has been put out of service as OldcastleBE again went with the wide open “White Album/Siegfried & Roy” look.

OK now onto non Greenbuild stuff…

-- The ABI went down, which was disappointing but not all that unexpected. New project inquiries were still in decent shape, but the bugaboo is the financing, and quite frankly until some loosening there happens, I think this report will continue to be about the same monthly.

-- Hey, interesting offer from NFRC as they are pushing a special introductory rate to join. Basically ½ price for year one … which is interesting to me on a bunch of levels- with times so tough, it’s a shame that existing members aren’t getting a break and really comical the membership push has come to this. And by the way, your vote wasn’t worth anything at full price- it surely won’t be listened to at half price either.

-- Congrats to Tracy and Ellen Rogers on the birth of their son Rylan George. Cool name that is. Considering how well the mom writes and how great the dad speaks, that kid is going to be a heck of media threat when he grows up!

-- Finally this week … those of you who know me know that my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Always has been and despite what seemingly always happens to me lately around this holiday, always will be. It’s the perfect mix of family, food and football and a time to cherish for sure. So from me and my family to you and yours- Happy Thanksgiving!!

Read on for the links and Video of the week.

Max Perilstein is chief marketing officer for Vitro America, Memphis. Write him at mperilstein@vitro.com.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The economy, competition from low-quality companies, and overcapacity are among fabricators' greatest obstacles going into 2011, according to respondents to Glass Magazine's ongoing survey of North American fabricators of glass, metal and related products. (See chart below)

 

 

 What are the greatest challenges facing fabricators in 2011?*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


*results as of Nov. 16. Final results to appear in upcoming issue of Glass Magazine.


Part of an effort to provide subscribers a snapshot of fabricators in North America, the survey asks companies how they fared in 2010, what their expansion plans are for next year, and where they see the greatest growth opportunities in 2011, in addition to other questions. To participate in the brief survey (it takes just a few minutes, I promise), please click here. The last day to participate is Nov. 19. Final results will appear in an upcoming issue of Glass Magazine.

--Jenni Chase is editor of Glass Magazine. Write her at jchase@glass.org.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The big show this week is Greenbuild 2010 in Chicago. This show has grown dramatically over the years and is now becoming a place for people to roll out new products, mostly because the media still finds being "green" very sexy. In any case, like all other shows, the key is measuring the attitude of where our economy is going and getting a feel for morale. In addition--with this show specifically--it will be fun to see if the average age of the attendees goes beyond the mid 20's. The floor traffic at the last few Greenbuild shows has been dominated by that age group, and that is probably one drawback to this event: you sometimes don't reach the level of decision maker that you crave. So, we'll be there for one day and I'll report back next week...

Elsewhere...

  • Speaking of Greenbuild 2010, Sage Electrochromics will be there and they'll have more bounce in their step than normal. As you may have seen, Sage had huge news last week when it announced that Saint-Gobain had made an $80 million strategic investment in the company. That news is simply GIGANTIC. It absolutely tells the world that what Sage has been doing is for real and the entire dynamic glass segment is here to stay and will be a major part of our world going forward. I am thrilled for the fine folks at Sage and pumped from an industry standpoint, because as I have harped many, many times here- new technology is the key for us advancing and thriving as an industry.
  • My thoughts are with the folks from Emerald Art Glass out of Pittsburgh after a fire at their warehouse last week. Emerald was one of the first real customers I got to deal with when I was starting out, and the owners Bob and Kim Zielinski always treated me and my family extremely well. They have done some amazing work in their years and if anyone can come back, even better after an event like this, it's them.
  • Lots of discussion from last week's story on the economy coming back in 2011 vs. 2013.... Most folks think it will be back later this year, so basically let's hope they are right, because I am one to say if it doesn't come back in 2011, the original wild 2013 prediction may be true. Yikes.
  • Big week in my household ahead as on the 16th (today if you are reading via e-glass weekly) Kid Rock's new CD comes out and for my wife, it's like a holiday. It will be fun to see if she is the oldest person in line at Best Buy that day.
  • It's an end of a marketing era as General Motors has decided to retire the whole "Mr. Goodwrench" program, deciding to go with the more staid and corporate "Certified" angle. It's a sad day as yet another icon of the past goes away, but something tells me that this theme will come back again someday.

Read on for the links and video of the week...

Max Perilstein is chief marketing officer for Vitro America, Memphis. Write him at mperilstein@vitro.com.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Almost a year ago, I wrote about a story where analysts felt the return of better times in the commercial glass industry would not start to pick up until 2013. I noted then that it boggled my mind because most analysts predicted a return by the end of 2010. Well here we are at the end of 2010, and those analysts were pretty wrong. Now those same analysts are predicting a slight increase in 2011 on the commercial side. Can they be right this time? It will be interesting to see for sure.... And I wonder if these guys will get terminated if they are wrong again, or is forecasting the economy for our industry like doing the weather on TV? No weatherman ever gets fired for missing that big storm prediction...

Elsewhere...

  • Well, the election is over... and after the lame duck session it will be time to get to work. Hopefully the focus will be in the right place, and the rhetoric will be put away in favor of action that helps the country advance forward.
  • I saw legendary gold medalist Michael Phelps in the airport last week. Pretty cool sighting. A buddy of mine asked me if I went up to him to get a picture or autograph... I didn't because I always remember Greg Carney telling me how he hates getting mobbed in airports and all.... so out respect for his personal space I left him alone... now if it was someone that my kids would've gotten a charge of (Wrestlers, Sid Crosby or Taylor Swift) then I'd have to waive that rule in order to be a good dad.
  • Saw IronMan 2 last week as well and like the Spiderman movies, what a great movie to promote the beauty of tempered glass.... Tons of tempered used throughout... I think the supplier should get a note during the films credits....'cause to a glass geek like me, the glass had a starring role.
  • Missed this last week, but e-glass weekly ran the note on Columbus, Ohio being on top of the list for metro areas adding construction jobs. Made me and many others think back to the news of Mid Ohio closing... so Columbus is growing and the branch closes? Yep, looks like if the rumored guy from out West opens there he'll be stepping into a nice spot. (and that guy seemingly ALWAYS steps into nice spots!)
  • Though the flip side is the overall 17.3 unemployment rate on the construction side. Ugly stuff folks... man I hope that analyst from above is right this time...

Read more.

Max 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, November 1, 2010

Since the financial markets collapsed and the recession hit in December 2007, banks have toughened their borrowing standards. While small businesses have been affected the most by the tight credit lines, individuals with decent credit scores have suffered as well.

However, many bigger U.S. banks have now launched a "second look" program to review rejected loan applicants. Back in December 2009, President Obama met with bank execs and encouraged them to explore “every responsible way” to increase lending, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek article. The president said that the banks were obliged to help the borrowers after being rescued by the taxpayers. He asked them to “take a third and fourth look” at their small-business lending. The notion for the program seems to have come out of that meeting.

At Huntington Bancshares Inc., Columbus, Ohio, a second-look program and other efforts have boosted the approval rate for small-business loans by 4.7 percentage points in the first half of 2010, when compared with the rate for all of 2009, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.

Bank of America Corp., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., PNC Financial Services Group Inc., U.S. Bancorp. and other members of the Financial Services Roundtable, a trade group of 100 large financial companies, all have adopted the second-look program. At some banks the reviews are automatic for lenders who fell just outside of the bank's standards; borrowers also may request a review.

Bankers say the program is starting to have an impact. For example, August's Federal Reserve survey of senior loan officers showed the first overall easing of lending standards for small businesses since 2006, and part of it is due to the second-look program, according to the WSJ article.

Have you taken advantage of the second-look program yet?

The author is senior editor of Glass Magazine. Write her at smukerji@glass.org.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


The IECC hearings were held last week in Charlotte, and as an industry, we did get a couple of “wins" but overall are still chasing our tails. Codes and code implementation and enforcement are usually positive things from a business sense, but not when they are illogical or impossible to produce with some sort of efficiency. The ironic thing in these fights is usually most of the manufacturers are on one side and the consultants and advocacy groups on the other. Why we can’t ever take the best of both (like Dr. Tom Culp always tries to push) is beyond me. As an example, I truly believe the manufacturer side is not misleading you when they talk about structural integrity. Believe me, they know and work with the products, have installed them, etc. So when a consultant or politico breaks into a speech that a vinyl curtain wall can go 20 floors in the sky and hold up the same as metal or steel… well sorry, not in my world. Anyway, bottom line is the fight goes on.

Elsewhere…

  • I have to say that no other cause has ever done a better job of being commercially active than Breast Cancer Awareness. The folks behind that effort in getting the pink involved EVERYWHERE should be commended for their efforts. It’s all over the place: magazines, TV, football players, hockey players using pink sticks and so on. It’s absolutely amazing. Hopefully all of this will lead to the advancements needed to strike down this and other related diseases.
  • Last week’s note on USGBC raised several comments to me personally and one on the post itself. The issue that some people have is the program is just not realistic on some levels. People will use products to get “points” or “credits,” and they might not be the best products for the long-term life of the structure. It becomes a game in a way. And quite frankly, the fact that glass doesn’t count as recycled material, or that powdercoat and liquid paint count the same, are among other issues. I don’t deny that it has made people aware of green building and it does do some good things, but the issues that Henry Gifford and other naysayers have are legitimate.
  • I missed making my NBA picks last week, so here they are… take 'em to the bank. In the East, no doubt despite having no other players the Miami Heat will win. LeBron is just a beast, and once these guys figure out how to play 3 on 5 every night, look out. In the West… hard to argue with the Lakers- just too much talent there. It's funny that Kobe is now more popular than LeBron. And in the finals I like the Lakers to repeat…
  • The PPG story on the supply of the WTC glass at least is happier than it was a few months ago. It’s a shame the glass will be fabricated in China though, but I guess it’s still a win. Kudos to PPG for staying on it like they did as the initial reaction on all parties was that this deal was done and there was no turning back. Kind of proves that some things are not over until they are over.
  • Last, this election day is huge, as you may know. This really will be fascinating to see what happens, but at the end of the day, let’s hope that the folks we are sending to Washington start working for US and doing what needs to be done to advance this country.

Max 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, October 25, 2010

A follow-up to last month’s blog about relationships...
I know at least one person read it. As I was wandering the aisles at GlassBuild America, I received an e-mail on my “smarter-than-me” phone.  It was from one of my main suppliers. He had read the blog and thought he recognized himself and his company as the cold unfeeling supplier to which I referred in the opening paragraph. He apologized and set his personal BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) to develop close relationships with his customers. What a great idea. However, it is of no value unless he has developed a plan that can be measured. Remember, a goal has to have a finite time frame and be measurable. To his credit, it was neither him nor his company to whom I referred.

 A conclusion to my 56-mile BHAG
I made it.  I “ran” 56 miles by foot in 13:21:11 and finished in the vertical position. I set the goal, trained to achieve the goal and executed the task. I could not have done it without the support of many. Thanks to all. Now comes the hard part. I must set another goal. I don’t know if it will be a physical goal, a servant’s goal, an intellectual (I hear you laughing) goal, a business goal, a personal development goal or any combination. I do know that it is mandatory that I (we) set a goal.  Remember NASA after the moon landing ...

NASA had worked hard during the late 1960s to land a man on the moon. On July 20, 1969, the organization achieved its goal. During the next few years, many involved in the program became alcohol/drug dependent, committed suicide, became withdrawn or suffered from some other malady. They had failed to set another goal. They languished.

When we don’t have a goal, we become despondent. A goal is necessary to keep us looking up at the possibilities, not down at our problems. I haven’t found my next BHAG, but while I’m searching, I have set several small goals. I have just run a 200-mile relay race in Kentucky. I may run an 8-hour endurance race in November. I will run a marathon in Huntsville, Ala., in December. None of these keep me focused for long, but they pull me along until I can discover the Big Goal.

I think the goal may be to remain in business for another year. After all, dad used to say that every week he made payroll, he considered it a victory.

 And to dad:
Today, Oct. 26, would have been his 91st birthday.  Happy birthday, dad.

—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.

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