glassblog

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

I know it seems I am constantly talking about forecasts and economic conditions, and it’s probably because I am. Basically I get asked a few times a week about the economy, about the different projections online, and about the different data points, so I like sharing it here. This week had more of the same because several stories came out with reviews of both the first six months of 2016 and more recent month-to-month reporting. The story tones were mixed, mostly because the data was. 

On the positive side, the AIA released a mid-year update, and while noting several roadblocks current and possible, the report was very confident in a positive finish to 2016 and an entire 2017. 

On the flip side, Dodge had their midyear piece and was not as confident, focusing more on the fact that we had fantastic growth and it’s slowing down a bit from that.  Add to that the release that construction spending went down for a third straight month, and you could start sensing concern. The analysts I follow and trust are still very much in the positive camp and actually expect some of these reports to be revised up after further review. A good, quick piece from Bloomberg spells some of it out. Plus we are actually still ahead of 2015 by 6 percent. Basically we are quibbling over how much growth and not just staying positive. In addition, the mid-year consensus has growth predicted to finish at almost 6 percent this year AND next.

Still, the memories of 2009 and 2010 are amazingly fresh in many of our minds and the time it took to really get cranking again seemed to be forever. So whenever we have these blips on the radar, it does cause some angst. Bottom line for me right now is we’re in a good place. Let’s keep rolling but continue to monitor the trends.

One item that can and will have an effect, but is still unknown, is the U.S. Presidential election. In normal cycles a Presidential election has an effect of some type. For those of us living in the U.S., this cycle is as far from normal as you can get. So that is surely an item to always have in the back of your head.

Elsewhere…

  • I am surely one who tries to support anything sustainable, but I have a question for those of you experts out there. I am online ordering tickets for a few upcoming ballgames. The site notes in order to “stay green” that paper tickets are unavailable. OK that makes sense.  ut then they note, mobile and electronic entry are not available so you need to “print your tickets at home.” So my question is, how are we being more sustainable if I print the tickets vs. the venue printing?  
  • Fun picture-laden piece that came via the great Twitter feed of Viracon’s Garret Henson (@Viracon_Garret) on fritted glass. I love looking at the buildings and usage of glass, but I will say the article is a bit shortsighted. There are many more options than they listed or focused on to meet these aesthetic goals, and I would’ve liked to have seen them mentioned. Despite that glaring omission, I love when glass is shown off like this. I just may have to do my own splashy photo piece showing the options!
  • On that note of great looking glass, I really enjoyed the blog post from Moon Shadow's Kris Iverson last week on the Glassblog. Clear, concise and helpful piece, and yet another reminder that communication rules.
  • Last this week, The Olympics are underway. If you can remember, this was the one that the U.S. badly wanted for Chicago. The effort fell short back in 2009 when the games were awarded, but can you imagine IF Chicago would’ve won? With the security shown at four-day events like political conventions, I could only imagine the mess Chicago would’ve been during this. Oh, and with an Olympiad that close, I would’ve done everything to go, too… I know my pal Tom O’Malley of Clover Architectural with his Chicago connections would’ve taken great care of me!

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

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications.E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.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, August 9, 2016

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend my 35th high school reunion. Since graduating in 1981, my 75 classmates and I have managed to come together every five years—truly a testament to the bonds of our friendship. 

During the evening, we learned whose parents have passed on, whose children have married and had babies of their own, whose jobs have changed, and who has retired. There was plenty of reminiscing, catching up and pulling up images of children and grandchildren on smartphones, while again marveling at this ingenious creation that was unheard of 35 years ago. 

And then it was over. 

Reunions are a time to look back at the past, to rummage through the dusty corners of our minds for memories, and to discover and hopefully capture some small pieces of our youth. Though “a good time was had by all,” I left this gathering of friends feeling at once nostalgic and happy, yet somehow a bit sad. 

Nevertheless, just as I looked forward to my class reunion, I am now looking forward to tradeshow season. But I know I won’t leave with anything but a light heart and a head full of ideas. Tradeshows are a gathering where folks with something in common come together on a yearly basis, but for altogether different reasons and with altogether different outcomes. Though the same exchanges occur among attendees, one leaves with more than just an ache for the past and promises to “keep in touch.” 

Tradeshows inspire, excite and engage those who attend. There is a takeaway, a prize at the end that you can put to use to make your operations more efficient and profitable, and of value to your employees. Best of all, there occurs the exchange of ideas among friends who share a passion for what they do. Yes, there are presentations and demonstrations that ultimately lead to transformations, but above all else are the conversations among attendees, both veterans and those new to the show.

At a tradeshow, there’s little time to look back at the past. The goal is to look toward the future. No one is there to capture anything but ideas. No one leaves without becoming inspired. And for the duration of the show, relationships are forged—truly a testament to the bonds of collegiality.

Ron Crowl is president and CEO of FeneTech Inc. Contact him at ron.crowl@fenetech.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, August 1, 2016

This week we’ll start with something other than glass, but something many people in the glass and glazing industry really got behind and supported--the Ice Bucket Challenge. News broke that the money raised from the Ice Bucket Challenge two years ago led to a major breakthrough in the research of the ALS disease. You all deserve a pat on the back.  

The money raised during that time--a staggering 220 million--funded the biggest study ever. And during that study, researchers identified a gene that has given them a jump start on a possible cure and therapy. Obviously, a long way to go on this one, but it is positive news and something so many of us can say we had a part in. The Ice Bucket Challenge really was like no other event I can remember in bringing people together and allowing them to have their moment of fun for all to see--all while raising money and now succeeding in helping fight this disease. To all of you out there who read this and did it, congrats and thank you!

Elsewhere…

  • The latest edition of Glass Magazine is out and as always some “must see” items are in there. First and foremost, it’s the 2016 Glass Magazine Awards issue,so surely worth checking out the best of the best and those who were talented enough to win the most prestigious recognition our industry has.  The main takeaway from this award issue is that we have great companies who innovate at so many levels. This is one surely to be proud of.
  • Also catch the continuation of the “succession” series and a nice piece on the class-act Mammen family as they take a new step with their company. 
  • The ad of the month? Security Lock Distributors wins it with the “Technical Assistance” play. The ad was smart and bold and made me stop and read. I don’t know this company well at all, so it shows the ad was effective in catching my eye. So whoever there worked on this one, congrats on a job well done!
  • One of the award winners in the magazine was the new Minnesota Vikings stadium that opens this month. This week I ran across an article that I thought did a good job running down the timeline of the building of this structure and the various issues. Take a look, and especially see the comment section as a local architect surely did not agree with the article--at all. 
  • For my Denver readers, I came across this piece breaking down the redevelopment of the old Stapleton airport area. Sounds like things are progressing. So does Denver have the roadmap for other municipalities to follow in the future? I guess only time will tell, but nice to see the moves to redevelop the area are in motion. Especially since I currently live in an area (Metro Detroit) that has struggled mightily to do the same. 
  • Last this week, normally this sort of story would go in my “Links” section, but I had to put here because it’s just too hard to believe. Used cooking oil is a hot resource in Chicago. I’m floored by this one

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

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications.E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.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, August 1, 2016

There are many challenges that arise while working with custom, decorative glass. Each project has its own unique attributes and the challenges are always different. However, there is a small, yet very significant challenge we face with every one of our projects, before the work even begins: understanding glass.

The one constant issue is understanding different types of glass and their unique properties. Not all glass will work on all projects. We know this, but educating customers on types of glass and why they need certain glasses for a specific project is something we run into daily.  

On top of that, you have to consider glass processing—should the glass be tempered, have polished edges, hole or shape cutouts; does it need to be insulted or laminated, have an energy-efficient coating? All of these things can change how we go about creating the final piece depending on the process we are using.

To make it clear, here at Moon Shadow Glass, we walk through each project with each client.

 

  • Do you really need a low-E piece of glass for a transit windscreen? Probably not since it’s open on all sides.
  • You should jump up to low-iron glass if you’re going to do a full color direct printed job so you don’t get the greenish tint from standard clear glass.
  • If the final piece is capture on all sides you don’t really need polished edges. But if the edges are exposed, it probably is best to have polished or ground edges.
  • Hole placement on annealed glass can be quite different than hole placement on tempered glass. You might have to rework your design to fit those needs.

 

These are just the most common challenges we run into, but there are many more and it all varies from project to project. It makes our job easier, and our customers’ happier when we take the time to walk through each customer’s needs and explain why small decisions can make a huge difference in the final product. 

Kris Iverson is marketing and creative director for Moon Shadow Glass. Contact him at 503/669-6154.

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, July 25, 2016

Now that we have had a few days to let the PPG-Vitro deal sink in, I think the underrated item in this deal is that Vitro is not exactly a newbie when it comes to glass. They have been producing glass since 1909. So there’s history there for sure. I say this because the focus was on PPG getting out of glass after more than a century, and it may have been different if a young upstart company bought them. 

Another item that had people buzzing is what happens to the current PPG workforce. I can tell you that in a deal like this people are a crucial part of it. Vitro now inherits some serious talent and they surely will want to take advantage of that. Believe me, if they don’t, competitors will. On the branding side, I mentioned on a previous post that the tried and true names will be staying. That is a big move as we’ve seen acquisitions in the past where familiar names were blown out, and so were the specs that were attached to them for years. 

At this point, there will be a few months while the particulars get settled and the deal becomes official. We’ll keep an eye on it all, but I think for the most part we won’t see any dramatic change to the way business is done in our industry based on this. I do, however, see the logjam starting to loosen on other deals. While we are in a serious rumor overload right now, I do think more action is coming in the second half of this year. And there are a few with potential to be bigger than this and also have an affect on the industry, too. Stay tuned.

Elsewhere…

  • Last note for now on the Vitro-PPG deal and it’s an angle I bring up with all major deals: will the new entity still support the industry the way the old did? PPG is at every show and always willing to help. In addition, their education pieces are fantastic. Hope that continues!
  • Another note from the acquisition side, I’m surprised that the Dow and Dupont deal has not had more coverage. A lot of speculation there on what comes next specifically regarding Dow Corning. Will bear watching as well.
  • The monthly release of the Architectural Billings Index hit right as all of this came up. So it flew under the radar some. June marked the fifth straight positive month though the score trended down a bit to 52.6 from May’s 53.1. New projects also fell some to 58.6 after a scorching 60.1 in May. Basically this along with some other forecasting metrics keeps the industry on pace for a positive start to 2017.
  • Via the Twitter feed of Ted Bleecker, a great column on the economy and the metrics with it. So while I trumpet the above success of the ABI, I guess I too may be falling into that trap. Good food for thought here. And the author of this piece, Alex Carrick, is also a good Twitter follow.
  • Last this week, one convention done, one to go. Stepping away from the actual event and looking at the costs, these two events will tally more than 140 million to put on. That number just blows my mind. Yes, it’s helpful for the economy: that 140 million goes to tons of trades and companies involved with it. But it also just seems like an insane waste of resources. And my misery will just grow worse with a BILLION dollars expected to be spent on the election in November. 

 

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

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications.E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.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, July 19, 2016

A rumor had been floating out there for a while about two major glass companies. In fact rumors surrounding both companies are almost like a cottage industry. Now the “rumor” has hit the main stream news. I am talking about PPG and Vitro—more specifically, about PPG selling its flat glass division to Vitro. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette acquired an independent auditors report and then released a story late last Friday night. Obviously this does not mean a sale is imminent. We don’t know exactly what sort of report it was, as the story doesn’t dig into specifics. But the fact the Post-Gazette ran with this story is very interesting. It now brings this backroom discussion to the public. We’ll see if this marriage happens or if something else swerves in its way. In any case this will be one to watch.

Elsewhere…

  • We are halfway through the year, so let’s do some looking back and some peering ahead. 2016 got underway with some early weather issues and dropping oil prices. Both of those items were especially unkind to the great state of Texas. Bird friendly glazing continued to be in the news and growing in the minds of designers, building owners and consumers. Hopefully it will find more usage as well. Also in the first half of the year, another successful industry gathering at BEC, ending an incredible run of success by Jon Kimberlain of Dow Corning in the lead of that event. From an overall economic side, both residential and nonresidential starts and put-in-place are running ahead of forecasts and the analysts are bullish. The ABI and DMI also looked solid during Q1 and 2.

    Now looking ahead, will oil prices stay low or start to grow? The bi-annual glasstec in Germany hits in September, and I’ll be curious on where the vibe is there, especially given the whole “Brexit” adventure in play. GlassBuild America goes a month later than usual this year and is bigger than ever, with bigger floor space, more exhibitors, and tremendous innovation and networking to be had. That’s in October. I still expect other acquisition news to hit (aside from mentioned above), though being a major sellers’ market, there may be some delay in any of that happening with valuations a lot higher than folks would like to pay. Of course, no looking ahead can happen without the one thing that most likely will be life changing. The 2016 Presidential election. No words can probably describe that one accurately. Anyway it should be an interesting run to 2016. Buckle up! 
  • Speaking of GlassBuild, just a reminder about the Glazing Executives Forum. Two great keynotes (George Hedley and Ken Simonson) and “Solution Sessions” are lined up that will be well worth your time. Learn more and join the growing registration list. 
  • The winners of the Glass Magazine photo contest are out, and I loved the winner—a picture of glass after going through a two hour fire test. It's just an awesome shot overall. This contest was a fun one, and I expect it grow and be even better in the future. Our industry has a ton of great looking and innovative pieces. Let’s keep pounding our chests and show it off!  
  • I’m a bit late on this, but congrats to Bobby Hartong and his family, his partner and my brother Steve, and everyone at WA Wilson in West Virginia on their 175th Anniversary! Yes, 175 years. It's an amazing accomplishment and could not have happened to nicer folks too. That party in 25 years for the 200th will be a wild one. 
  • If you have the slightest interest in the growing 3D printing world, this link is for you. A ton of great insight and resources in one place thanks to Benesch Law and my good pal and industry supporter Rick Kalson. 
  • Last this week, here is an interesting article on the Las Vegas building market and how the tall residential towers are not in the future plans. I wonder if this same fate awaits Toronto? Eventually there’s just too much.

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

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications.E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.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.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Material selections and light play an important role in architectural design. These elements are essential to making a human connection to our built environments, helping to shape our emotional wellbeing. With the generation of progressive ideas for new uses of materials, an entire space can be transformed.

Art glass can do this in many ways. It can allow us to experience the exterior and interior in tandem, while various lighting conditions can change the perceived experience of the glass and its reflection on the space around us, and it’s a material that gives a look of luxury with its glimmering surfaces and depth that no other material can offer.

The possibilities with art glass are endless. Enhance a storefront window, create a curtain wall for your business or loft, add vibrancy to your residential windows, or simply make a statement with the boldness of a fine art piece.

Aside from all the creative reasons to utilize art glass in your project, there are practical reasons, too. Utilizing art glass is an easy-to-maintain option to enhance your space. Art glass is a strong, safe and energy-efficient way to personalize your space and create a sense of identity and style.

  1. Art glass provides a sense of place that is unique. 
  2. For a business or institution, art glass conveys a permanent grounded and established expressive presence rather than a temporary fleeting existence. 
  3. Art glass can be a beacon or landmark identity. 
  4. Along with being non-toxic like all glass, art glass can be specified to contribute to gaining LEED points, including Platinum designation. 
  5. Glass artwork can be designed and specified to meet safety codes.

 

Nancy Gong is owner and director of Gong Glass Works, an art studio that focuses on the design and fabrication of contemporary architectural art glass. Gong serves on the Board for the American Glass Guild, is AGG’s 2017 Conference and Program Chair, is a member of the Glass Art Society and Stained Glass Association of America, and an Allied Member of the American Institute of Architects Rochester. She can be reached at Nancy@nancygong.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.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Do you see value in professional development? Most people would answer yes, but how many would follow through? During the housing downturn, many expenses that didn't directly correlate to a revenue line item were put on hold. However, the industry is now doing better than it has in many, many years. So, how do you stand out from the competition to ensure you're at the top of your customers' lists?

According to the latest AAMA market study, the U.S. total non-residential vision area in 2015 increased 5 percent compared to 2014 and 10 percent compared to 2013. The excuse of lean times is over. Those who invest in their employees, invest in their business overall. Knowledge is king! When customers ask a question, they want to know they can count on you for an immediate, accurate answer.

Even Congress sees the value of education. The House Education and the Workforce Committee has introduced draft Perkins Reauthorization legislation and is expected to debate, mark up and vote on that legislation before the House adjourns in mid-July. Let's all pause here. Our government is acknowledging a gap. If both sides of Congress can come together on the issue of education, surely we can all agree that it is one worthy of action.

The conversation below from Joe Erb's blog on investing in professional development sums up how our industry should view education. 

CFO asks CEO: What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave?

CEO: What happens if we don't, and they stay?

Joe certainly put words into action by becoming one of the first FenestrationAssociate certified professionals, acknowledging that knowledge is power. In a highly competitive market with well-educated customers, it’s important for industry professionals to maintain a broad knowledge base. I challenge you to evaluate how to strategically strive toward professional development. The effects on your culture and customers will be worth the investment.

Angela Dickson is marketing manager for AAMA. Contact her at adickson@aamanet.org

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.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

When I think about relationships, I first think about the bond I have with my immediate family. Undoubtedly, these three individuals forge the most significant and meaningful relationship in my life. I can only assume that the rest of the world also sees relationships through this familial lens.

As I’ve matured, I have discovered that I tend to value relationships with everyone else outside of my family in much the same way. As a businessman, I count these connections not only as an entry in the asset column but as a testament to how a business should be run. Without cultivating the relationships I’ve built with my partners, my employees and, most importantly, my customers, I would either be a lousy business owner or I wouldn’t be in business at all.

Which makes the decision to be a people person rather simple.  

At FeneTech, our mission statement is all about providing the best products we can create and develop then providing for our customers ongoing, sustained, and meaningful support for those products.  It follows that building strong, lasting and valuable relationships with our customers is paramount to remaining successful. 

How do we do this?  First, all FeneTech employees strive to bring our best to the table when we’re sitting down with our customers, whether it’s a live meeting, a virtual meeting, a telephone call, an email, or over a few beers. During special events, like the FeneVision User Conference, we take the opportunity to treat our customers as the treasured guests they are. It is usually here that our customers connect—in person—with the developers and support personnel. To this end, it’s satisfying to see our customers connecting with our people. 

All of this is accomplished in a setting that is conducive to conversation, camaraderie, and just a little bit of crazy fun. It is gratifying to experience the fellowship that comes along with having customers and vendors who have become like family to us. Equally rewarding is developing new friendships among newcomers. 

Ron Crowl is president and CEO of FeneTech Inc.

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, June 27, 2016

Last Thursday, more than 17 million Britons voted for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. The immediate repercussions of the impending British exit, or Brexit, on financial markets were sudden and severe. Beyond the markets, some economists are warning of a recession in the UK that could extend into Europe and beyond, and are readjusting GDP forecasts for both Europe and the United States (the U.S. GDP forecast for the second half of 2016 is down to 2 percent, from 2.25 percent).

The longer term economic effects of Brexit are uncertain. Some economists speculate that the markets will begin to stabilize, while others forecast a more medium- and long-term slowdown. Other economists are even optimistic. 

Also unclear is the impact that Brexit and its related economic repercussions will have on U.S. construction and manufacturing—and thus on the North American glass industry. (Learn more about how UK construction might be affected here and here, and how UK manufacturing might be affected here). Will the U.S. construction economy face a slowdown? For manufacturers and suppliers, will exports suffer? Will a higher dollar negatively affect sales?

Since the referendum last week, economists and officials from several real estate and manufacturing organizations have weighed in to offer some insight on how Brexit, and its related market uncertainty, might impact U.S. companies. One interesting report came from the National Association of Manufacturers, which posted a video interview and related article on the impact of the vote on domestic manufacturers.  

“Europe is an important market for U.S. manufacturers. Roughly one fifth of all exports we sell abroad go to Europe. And the United Kingdom is actually our fifth largest trading partner. The bottom line is there is certainly a lot of uncertainty over the next few weeks, few months,” says Chad Moutray, chief economist for NAM. Additionally, “this is going to add a level of uncertainty in general to the overall economy. We have already struggled a bit this year with exports and other global headwinds. This adds to that.”

In addition to the economic uncertainty, the Brexit raises questions about potential trade and policy implications, according to Linda Dempsey, the vice president of international economic affairs for NAM.  “We expect that yesterday’s vote is going to be a real drag on the ongoing negotiations that the U.S. and Europeans started three years ago—the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” Dempsey says. “It’s going to have a really big impact on the trade negotiations to the detriment of manufacturers in the United States who want to break down barriers.”

However, Moutray said the more dire predictions about the fallout from Brexit are probably overblown, at least for U.S. manufacturers. “The bottom line is that this is going to be something that continues to add a level of uncertainty,” he said. “Expect exports to fall a little bit certainly in the intervening months. But in the long term, I wouldn’t expect any major ramifications from it so long as those trade agreements continue to allow access to flow between Britain and the European Union.”    

Several officials from the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association also offered more cautious optimism about the extent of the Brexit impact on U.S. real estate. “The direct impact of Brexit will mostly be felt by Britain and the EU and will probably have a minimal direct impact on the U.S. economy and U.S. commercial real estate,” says Gerard Mildner, director, Center for Real Estate, Portland State University. “The risk is that other countries will copy Britain and impose trade barriers. The most exposed U.S. sectors will be export businesses (e.g., aerospace, agriculture, technology), port-related industrial property and the financial industry.”

What impact do you think Brexit could have on the glass industry and on your company? Have you adjusted your internal forecasts because of the Brexit vote? Feel free to comment below, or email me directly. 

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org. 

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