glassblog

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.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

For years, I have been blogging about the NFRC, and along the way I had more than a few people tell me I was missing the boat: that while the NFRC had issues, my sights should have been on the USGBC and their LEED program. I understood their angst but I never really dug into it. Well, I guess now I don't have to as a class-action lawsuit against the USGBC has been filed. This one should be very fascinating to follow.

The suit was filed by a gentleman named Henry Gifford, who for years has been outspoken about the USGBC and LEED programs. Gifford basically alleges everything and more that the anti-USGBC crowd has been crowing about for years. After the suit was filed, the blogosphere blew up with articles and comments about this issue as it will be a hot one. Right now, the USGBC owns the green building world. Many others have come in and tried (Spirit, Green Globes, SEED, etc.) and never came close to getting the footing that USGBC and LEED enjoy.

Great reading here for the actual complaint and here for an opinion piece comparing Gifford to Rosa Parks. Check out the comments below on the second link for some interesting takes, including Gifford himself with a quick comment. As one poster said perfectly, it's like "as the 'Green Building Turns'."

Elsewhere...

  • Somewhere I think the Phillies and Yankees lost because I predicted them in the World Series. Anyway, I look forward to a Giant-Ranger tilt... love the stories behind the Rangers... but this will surely be a series of great pitching (Giants) vs. hitting (Rangers). Surely not as sexy of a matchup (like Yanks-Phils) but should be very good.
  • The good news of the overall Architectural Billings Index breaking the magical 50 mark for the first time in almost three years is probably tempered some by the regionality of the scores. The scores for the Northeast and Midwest surely skewed the score as the West and South are still showing very meager results. Still though, positive news is awesome. If the momentum continues, it would jive with the predictions that the comeback will hit our industry in the second half of 2011. It is still a long way away, but at least possibly a light at the end of the tunnel. To read the official report on the ABI, click here. 
  • And speaking of the links, I have been trying to get them to pop up in their own windows but I am inept at making that work. No clue why it won't work for me, so until I figure it out (or someone smarter walks me through it), I apologize for making you click forward and back.
  • Back to the good news economy-wise: you have to assume PPG having a record third-quarter earnings-wise is also good news for the overall state of business. Though I am sure that the PPG sales guys probably hate when announcements like that come out for the obvious reasons...
  • I was in Vegas last week and every second commercial was for a personal injury lawyer... that's what the world has come to out there, which is sad. Best tag line from one of these classic ambulance chasers was: "In a wreck... Get a check".... Yeesh... 

Read on for links 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, October 18, 2010

Last week, I was one of about 27,000 attendees at the Solar Power International conference and expo, held Oct. 12-14 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. With global demand for solar products doubling in the last year, according to SPI, the mood across the three exhibition floors was optimistic. "The market is just exploding," said Patrick Thompson, solar business unit leader for AGC Glass Co., with North American headquarters in Alpharetta, Ga. "In the United States, the market is being driven by three factors. One, proximity to growing U.S. customer base. In solar, you can't wait for product to be shipped from overseas. Two, legislation. Three, the cost of the systems. The cost of solar is going down, while the cost of fossil fuels is going up. It's nearing cost competitiveness."

The expo hosted more than 1,100 exhibitors, up from 925 exhibitors at the show last year in Anaheim, Calif. Walking the floor, I saw a lot of familiar faces, and one thing became apparent—the glass industry has gone solar. From glass manufacturers to equipment suppliers to adhesive and film companies, glass industry companies are getting in the solar game. Below are some comments from glass industry representatives I met last week. You can also check out some photo galleries from the show.

Many of the glass industry exhibitors I visited had recently entered the solar market. The growth in solar coincided with the economic downturn and drop off in construction, providing a perfect opportunity for many industry companies to explore the market. Isra Solar Vision, Duluth, Ga., began targeting the solar industry "when the economy went into a slide three years ago," said Robert Shepherd, sales manager of the optical inspection equipment supplier. "We had the technology. We just had to tweak a couple of systems to be specific to solar."

"We've seen tremendous growth in solar," said Patrick Martens, western states territory manager, renewable energy, for Adco Solar, Michigan Center, Mich. "We've been involved in solar for three years, and we were well positioned to get into the market, as we have a background in roofing adhesives, and in insulating glass adhesives. We know how to keep moisture out."

Deepak Hariharan, business manager, Adhesives Research Electronics Business, Glen Rock, Pa., says his company has been involved in solar for about five years, supplying its tapes and adhesive products. Hariharan says that, while the products are similar to those it supplies for the insulating glass industry—both have longevity requirements—solar products have to be able to withstand direct exposure to ultraviolet light.

H.B. Fuller Co., St. Paul, Minn., is also a recent entrant in the solar market. The company has been involved in solar for three years, taking its expertise of the insulating glass industry and bringing it over to solar. "There are many similar concepts between insulating glass sealants and sealants required for solar," said Heidi Hoglund, senior chemist for H.B. Fuller's Global Window Business.

Glass cutting and handling equipment supplier Hegla Corp., with North American headquarters in Forest Park, Ga., displayed at SPI for the second year. "We've been in the solar industry for five years," said Thomas Bechill, sales manager. Several of Hegla's machines for the solar industry are scaled down versions of its machines for the glass industry, as solar panels are generally smaller than architectural glass lites, he said.

Tekna USA Corp., an aluminum processing machinery company with North American headquarters in Crystal Lake, Ill., has been aggressively targeting the solar industry for a few years, said Giovanni Barbareschi. "With the economy down for the other segments, we're focusing on solar," he said. "Our subsidiary in Spain has been supplying lines for [photovoltaic] for two or three years." Tekna supplies machines for both solar panel frames and racking systems.

I spoke with several other companies on the show floor that have a much longer history in solar, including AGC Glass Co., Japan. "AFG has made products for solar for 30-plus years," said Gus Trupiano, solar market development manager for AGC Solar. AGC had a range of solar products on display, including photovoltaic cover glass, glass substrates with TCO film for thin film applications, fluoropolymer film for backing sheets and sputtering targets for electrodes.

Dow Corning, Midland, Mich., a first-time exhibitor at SPI, has also "had a hand in solar for a long time," said Donald Buchalski, senior marketing specialist, PV module assembly, Solar Business Unit. "We did work 25 years ago with BP Solar." Dow Corning showed its range of solar products, from solar encapsulants to sealants and adhesives.

C.R. Laurence Co., Los Angeles, has been in the solar business for about 15 years, but has upped its involvement since solar demand has increased in recent years, according to John Czopek, machinery brand manager. CRL offers a range of products for the solar industry, many of which are the same as or similar to product it supplies for the glass industry, including installation and handling equipment, sealants, and machinery and equipment.

Madico, Woburn, Mass., a window and specialty film supplier, entered the solar market in about 1990, said John Storms, senior sales manager. "Now over half of our business is in solar," he said. "The market really took off in the last year." Madico supplies films for the backsheet of solar panels.

Next year, SPI is heading to Dallas, Oct. 17-20 at the Dallas Convention Center, and I expect the glass industry presence to be even larger. Will you be there? 

--By Katy Devlin, associate editor

Monday, October 18, 2010

As you will read in e-glass weekly, our industry has won a pretty significant victory in the code world as the ASHRAE appeals panel has OVERTURNED the two most controversial and possibly damaging code items from ASHRAE 90.1-2010. Folks--plain and simple--this is a great moment for us as an industry.

The plan for reduction of the window-to-wall ratio and the new minimums for Visible Light/Solar Heat Gain have been rebuffed. The excitement is because our industry worked together with a common goal, and for the first time since we started this concerted process (I started in 2004), we have a victory. (We've even lost when we won votes at NFRC 49-6... so believe me to get a win like this is huge.)

The bottom line is we are stronger as an organized group than we are as individuals, and quite frankly, we are only trying to do what's sensible. No one is against energy efficiency; quite the opposite really. But we want to do it logically, without destroying our industry. This announcement surely starts that process. Congrats to Dr. Culp and the Aluminum Extruder Council, Urmilla Sowell and Bill Yanek of GANA, Marg Webb and IGMA, Guardian, AGC, and Pilkington for filing the appeals and fighting it to the end. Truly monumental!

Elsewhere...

  • I was completely bummed to miss Solar Power International last week in LA. When I went last year it was an amazing show and people were so incredibly hopeful. So to those of you who went, any insight on the mood there would be great. Something tells me it wasn't as cheery as last year but probably still better than most shows have been.
  • Best line of the week: the guy who said the housing market forecast was in various "shades of lousy"... Oh man, that line just hit it on the head. So if the housing market is "shades of lousy," the commercial building market must be shades of words that can't be typed on a family blog eh?
  • Is there anything more frustrating than flying? Seriously? Last week I saw TSA make a big issue out of an iPad. The TSA agent said the iPad either had to ride alone in a bin OR stay in the guy's briefcase. Umm, I don't get that logic; do you? Well, when the guy complained, off to extra screening he went. 
  • Then, on the plane--the packed, steamy hot plane--two rows ahead me (and shockingly not in my row) a young lady boarded late holding a child that had to be at least 1. She only had one seat: a middle seat. And so that row, even though the child was small (it sure wasn't a "baby" in my mind), had four people jammed in for three hours. Miserable. The thing I thought was that baby is bigger than a laptop, yet you can't hold a laptop on your lap for takeoff or touchdown....
  • Look out Ashley Elementary, my son was passed the activist gene. Young Zach was elected to student council... I can't wait 'til he starts a blog railing about the new evil lunch procedure and how the lunch ladies just march in lockstep with the paraprofessionals working the floor. 

    Read on for links 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, October 12, 2010

Up and down news week for me…. First on the down side, the depressing news about the closing of Mid Ohio Tempering by the UGC… It really is very sad and upsetting news…. aside from folks losing their jobs (which is very depressing obviously and the most important) there’s a historical piece here as the original founder of this company, Jack Deyo, is another one of those guys (like I noted Eric Rapp to be last week) that would be first ballot industry hall of famers (in my opinion). Seeing his place go down in this manner, with him helpless to do anything (UGC and Jack parted a few years ago) had to be pure misery. The facility, which possibly could’ve had a buyer (especially with rumors of a west coast guy opening up in Columbus) will be remembered in my mind for its commitment to quality and customers. I guess stripping the facility and sending equipment elsewhere was the better deal in their minds. My thoughts go out to all of the folks affected by this news and I hope they can land somewhere good. (And if the rumor of someone opening in C-Bus is true, the new company has ready-made and motivated workforce).

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.

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