glassblog

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


By Matt Slovick, editor in chief, Glass Magazine

People who travel a lot in their jobs tell me it gets tiresome.

That made be true. But flying from bitterly cold Baltimore to Sanibel Island, Fla., in January for the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance 8th Annual Conference has little downside as far as I’m concerned. My flight even arrived 35 minutes early, and my suitcase was one of the first to come out at baggage claim.

I found a great Internet rate for a non-stop flight for $79 that got me here in 2 hours, 15 minutes. The funny thing: The taxi ride from the airport to the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa took 50 minutes and cost $68 with tip.

The resort, of course, is on the water. It’s quite a contrast from the snow on the ground in the Northeast to palm trees and blue water here on the Gulf side of Florida.

The temperature upon landing was 63 degrees. Projected daytime temperatures this week range from 75 to 81 degrees.

I’ve spent much of Monday and Tuesday inside a meeting room. However, as I walked to breakfast Tuesday morning, I witnessed a beautiful sunrise. And the windows on the one side of the meeting room have a fantastic view of the beach and water as far as the eye can see.

I’ve read about the benefits of daylighting in schools and work places. Having natural light and a view of the beach in Sanibel Island is extremely beneficial to those attending this conference.
Friday, January 25, 2008
By Lorin Hancock, Assistant editor and chief pie lover

That’s right, it could be YOUR GLASS* on the cover of our magazine. Are you excited? I am.

April is decorative glass month around these parts (I love decorative glass month!), and we want to get you involved. It’s a party and everyone’s invited! Just send me your photos of your favorite decorative glass projects, and we’ll slap the prettiest right up on the April cover of your favorite magazine (that’s Glass Magazine if you weren’t sure).

A team of highly trained glass media professionals will select the winner. Let me just clarify that, while we will not be swayed in anyone’s favor, I see nothing wrong with a few bon-bons sent directly to my attention.

Send your pics* to me by Feb. 8: Lhancock@glass.org.

So how do you feel about me using the blog for shameless promotion of our own contest? I bet you like it.

* Glass only, please. Pictures of you holding a delicious lemon pie (that you just ate half of) will not be considered. Thank you.

* Pics is one of those new-fangled-internets colloquialisms for pictures or photographs. Some of you may know them as prints or portraits. Glass Magazine, in this particular case, is looking for digital images in a high-resolution format, large enough to fit our cover. This translates to some big-fanny files that, when you view them full size, measure at least 8.375 inches wide by 11.125 inches tall. We’re going for 300 dpi resolution. OK, you know what? Why don’t you just send a link to this page to your marketing department and let them deal with it. They’ll know what to do. And if you don’t have a marketing department, just send me the biggest file you can find. Are you confused? Wondering what the heck a “glassblog” is in the first place? Wondering how we can be so entertaining and so relevant to your job at the same time? I know, it’s mind boggling. Just relax. Everything will be OK. But watch out for the Internet coming alive in the middle of the night and stealing your spoon collection … I’ve heard things. It’s all over the blogs.
Monday, January 21, 2008
—By Katy Devlin, e-newsletter editor, e-glass weekly

I grew up in Richfield, Minn., and I abandon the more temperate climes of the East Coast to return home for the winter holidays. (Note: On Friday in Richfield, the temperature was 1 degree, but it felt like minus 19; in Brooklyn, N.Y., it was 43 and sunny.)

When I took a job at Glass Magazine, I started mixing business with my vacations. As John Van Dine, president and CEO of Sage Electrochromics Inc., Faribault, Minn., says, Minnesota is the “Silicon Valley of the glass industry.”

My Midwest glass travels have taken me to Owatonna for a tour of Viracon, to see glass shops in Bloomington and Hutchinson, to Fargo, N.D., to visit Tecton Products, and most recently down to Faribault to tour Sage.

(Note: Friday in Faribault, the high was a balmier 7 degrees, with wind chills only approaching minus 15. During my tour, the high was a touch above 20.)

Lou Podbelski, vice president of marketing, showed me around the manufacturing facility for the company that makes switchable glass products.

The Sage facility is unlike any other manufacturing environment I’ve seen. The place is clean—really clean—right down to the polished concrete floors. And the plant is also daylit and bright from windows on all sides that fill the plant with natural light. For photos, click here.

The multiple coatings required to produce Sage glass requires plant cleanliness like that at silicon chip manufacturing facilities, according to the company’s Web site.

As for the natural light, Podbelski said it was a conscious decision made for employees. “There are all kinds of studies that show productivity increases with natural light and windows. But, it’s not just question of daylighting. If you’re a human being, you love to have the association with the outdoors. Everyone wants to know what’s going on outside. If it’s snowing—we’re in Minnesota—if it’s raining. … That’s the main reason,” Podbelski said.

After the tour, I sat down for an interview with Van Dine about the growing green market, the high cost of Sage glass and the future of the company. Watch the interview below.

(Note, in closing: Minnesota is a lovely, beautiful place to visit. I recommend July and August.)


http://www.youtube.com/get_player
Monday, January 14, 2008
Matt Slovick
—By Matt Slovick, editor in chief, Glass Magazine


As most of you know, 2007 ended with the news that Randy Johnson had died from pancreatic cancer the day after Christmas.

Those of you who have received your January issue of Glass Magazine saw that we featured Randy in our Looking Glass department on Pages 90 and 91. Editor Katy Devlin had the privilege of interviewing the man, who had been in the industry since 1965. The magazine includes a photo of Randy and his wife, Joyce, who partnered with Randy not only personally but professionally as well. "My wife has been an integral part of my work my whole career. It has worked famously," Randy said during the interview.

Mike Schmaltz, executive director, Minnesota Glass Association, wrote a small note to include with the Looking Glass feature on our Web site. Part of the note said: “The title ‘sales representative’ is a weak description of this man. His family always came first and he had an incredible circle of friends. The line between family and friend quickly faded once you came to know him.”

Click here to read the Looking Glass feature.

In the interview, Randy said he worked hard at building relationships because “it betters me and it betters my customers.” When asked what advice he could give, Randy said “I’ve always believed that people should not have a job but a way of life.”

Randy lived that way of life up until his final days. He will be missed. But he will also be remembered.


Randy and Joyce Johnson at the Midwest Glass Conference, Oct. 19.

Monday, January 14, 2008
Matt Slovick
As most of you know, 2007 ended with the news that Randy Johnson had died from pancreatic cancer the day after Christmas.

Those of you who have received your January issue of Glass Magazine saw that we featured Randy in our Looking Glass department on Pages 90 and 91. Editor Katy Devlin had the privilege of interviewing the man, who had been in the industry since 1965. The magazine includes a photo of Randy and his wife, Joyce, who partnered with Randy not only personally but professionally as well. "My wife has been an integral part of my work my whole career. It has worked famously," Randy said during the interview.

Mike Schmaltz, executive director, Minnesota Glass Association, wrote a small note to include with the Looking Glass feature on our Web site. Part of the note said: "The title 'sales representative' is a weak description of this man. His family always came first and he had an incredible circle of friends. The line between family and friend quickly faded once you came to know him."

Click here to read the Looking Glass feature.

In the interview, Randy said he worked hard at building relationships because "it betters me and it betters my customers." When asked what advice he could give, Randy said "I’ve always believed that people should not have a job but a way of life."

Randy lived that way of life up until his final days. He will be missed. But he will also be remembered.
Monday, January 7, 2008

—By Katy Devlin, e-newsletter editor

When I set out to write a glassblog during my New Year’s vacation to Prague, I assumed I would focus on the few iconic glass buildings that rise up in the famed City of 1,000 Spires—perhaps Frank Gehry’s Dancing House with its dramatic curved all glass façade on the banks of the Vltava River. However, after I learned of the city’s rich—and unbelievable—history of defenestration during my audio tour of Prague Castle, I chose to use that for my window-centric Prague blog (try to say that five times fast!).

I suppose I should begin with a definition of defenestration. (Apparently, it's neither a four-letter word, nor a tawdry form of deglazing.) My friend Merriam-Webster’s Online clarifies that defenestration is:

  1. a throwing of a person or thing out of a window
  2. a usually swift dismissal or expulsion

Prague’s history of defenestration concerns the former definition—specifically the throwing of many persons out of windows.

The First Defenestration of Prague, so deemed by Frommer’s and several other handy travel guides, occurred in 1419 when a crowd of Hussites—a radical segment of the early Protestants—tossed the town council members from the third-story windows of the New Town Hall on Charles Square for refusing to release Hussite prisoners. The incident served as a catalyst for the 15-year Hussite Wars that ended in the defeat of the radical Protestants.

Prague’s next, and more famous, defenestration—simply called the Defenestration of Prague—occurred at Prague Castle in 1618 when two Imperial governors were found guilty of violating the right to religious freedom and thus thrown—along with their innocent scribe—out a window 16 meters above the ground. All three miraculously survived the fall thanks to a large pile of manure in the dry moat below (at least according to my occasionally less-reliable Web friend Wikipedia). This defenestration led to the uprising of the Czech estates and eventually the Thirty Years’ War.

Let that be a lesson to you: Don’t pick fights around windows in Prague.

If you know of any other fantastic tales of defenestration, please comment below.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


By Matt Slovick, editor in chief, Glass Magazine

During a presentation at Glass Performance Days in Finland this past June, a newspaper story was shown that stated 75 percent of the glass units at the University of Saskatchewan Spinks addition had to be replaced at a cost of $200,000 because of scratches during post-construction cleanup. The presentation discussed the problem of scratches when metal scrapers hit fabrication debris on glass.

In a nutshell, the glass industry says not to clean glass with scrapers because they can scratch the glass that has hard-to-see fabrication debris; the window cleaners say the scraper is their tool of choice and the scratches are caused by the fabrication debris and not the scraper.

Window cleaners also say fabricators should be following manufacturing guidelines with respect to maintaining their tempering equipment, which would be a huge step in resolving this issue. However, following those guidelines does not eliminate fabricating debris because of the nature of the process, according to those in the glass industry.

I’ve talked to people in the glass industry and the window cleaning business and continue to conduct interviews. The full story will appear in a future issue of Glass Magazine. In the meantime, excerpts have been published in the past two e-glass weekly newsletters.

Higher-performance tinted and coated glasses have been developed during the past decade, leading to more demand for them. Thus, as the making of glass has evolved, the methods of cleaning the glass generally have not.

I understand both points of view, and I hear the frustration in their voices. The scratching is hurting both industries. Many customers are not satisfied. Glass needs to be replaced. Lawsuits are filed.

Simply stating “don’t use scrapers” or “improve the quality of the glass” isn’t solving the problem that continues to exist. I talked to one window cleaner who is using powders and paint-thinner type solutions to clean glass without a scraper. It takes his cleaners more time and is more expensive, but the scratching is not occurring. And that saves money in court costs and replacement costs.

I found a quote recently that seems to fit perfectly in this scenario: “You can’t expect to meet the challenges of today with yesterday’s tools and expect to be in business tomorrow.”
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
By Matt Slovick, editor in chief, Glass Magazine

During a presentation at Glass Performance Days in Finland this past June, a newspaper story was shown that stated 75 percent of the glass units at the University of Saskatchewan Spinks addition had to be replaced at a cost of $200,000 because of scratches during post-construction cleanup. The presentation discussed the problem of scratches when metal scrapers hit fabrication debris on glass.

In a nutshell, the glass industry says not to clean glass with scrapers because they can scratch the glass that has hard-to-see fabrication debris; the window cleaners say the scraper is their tool of choice and the scratches are caused by the fabrication debris and not the scraper.

Window cleaners also say fabricators should be following manufacturing guidelines with respect to maintaining their tempering equipment, which would be a huge step in resolving this issue. However, following those guidelines does not eliminate fabricating debris because of the nature of the process, according to those in the glass industry.

I’ve talked to people in the glass industry and the window cleaning business and continue to conduct interviews. The full story will appear in a future issue of Glass Magazine. In the meantime, excerpts have been published in the past two e-glass weekly newsletters.

Higher-performance tinted and coated glasses have been developed during the past decade, leading to more demand for them. Thus, as the making of glass has evolved, the methods of cleaning the glass generally have not.

I understand both points of view, and I hear the frustration in their voices. The scratching is hurting both industries. Many customers are not satisfied. Glass needs to be replaced. Lawsuits are filed.

Simply stating “don’t use scrapers” or “improve the quality of the glass” isn’t solving the problem that continues to exist. I talked to one window cleaner who is using powders and paint-thinner type solutions to clean glass without a scraper. It takes his cleaners more time and is more expensive, but the scratching is not occurring. And that saves money in court costs and replacement costs.

I found a quote recently that seems to fit perfectly in this scenario: “You can’t expect to meet the challenges of today with yesterday’s tools and expect to be in business tomorrow.”
Monday, November 12, 2007

—By Katy Devlin, e-Newsletter Editor, e-glass weekly

Why don’t more industry players attend NFRC meetings? Ever since the group starting work on a commercial window rating program five thousand years ago, NFRC members have been rallying to get everyone from architects to building owners, contract glaziers to manufacturers, celebrity stylists to American Idol finalists, to the meetings. Yet, attendance hasn’t really increased.

Perhaps the problem is perception? NFRC meetings seem, to the inexperienced observer, to be three-and-a-half tedious days of task groups, acronyms and technical fenestration jargon. But, beneath the tech-y overtones, NFRC meetings have a lot to offer, including some glass industry debates that put “Crossfire” to shame.

To encourage more participation, I decided to create The NFRC Meeting Survival Guide. Follow these few instructions, and NFRC meetings become rainbows and butterflies.

Don’t be afraid to exercise some anger. Good knock-down-drag-out fights debates define NFRC meetings and often lead to some great progress. But don’t make things personal. No one involved the NFRC process is your enemy; inefficient fenestration products are the enemy!

Don’t be afraid to exercise some laughter. A good laugh at NFRC energizes everyone. But, avoid lame jokes—they hurt more than they help (present blog excepted).

Always partake in snack time. Nothing compares to NFRC afternoon snack time. Nachos, cookies and ice cream (oh my!). I promise, a Ben & Jerry’s chocolate dipped ice cream bar has never tasted so sweet as during a Solar Heat Gain Subcommittee meeting.

Know your acronyms. NFRC meetings are worse than the Justin Timberlake 4eva chat room when it comes to acronyms. (OMG, DEGT GF!) The meeting handbook provides definitions for all of the commonly used acronyms, so you’ll never have to worry about not understanding phrases like: “check the PCP for the role of the ACE and IA in the CMA.” (WT?)

Go to the party. Nothing—aside from the aforementioned snack time—takes the edge off a day of NFRC talk than a few libations enjoyed with fellow fenestration folks at the reception and dinner. NFRC’s Cheryl Gendron plans some killer parties, often filled with live music and amazing food in even more amazing settings.

Bring a sweater. Hotels tend to keep their conference rooms at a steady 0 degrees (-17.8 degrees Celsius, 255.37 Kelvin, to my metric-system readers). Come prepared! I recommend a sweater, possibly a jacket, gloves, hat and emergency hypothermia blanket, if you easily catch cold.

Watch for distractions. The meetings do drag on at times. But, keep your eyes and ears peeled for exciting distractions. My favorite distraction at the latest meeting was a bird (a spy from ASTM perhaps?) that flew into the conference room, soaring from chandelier to chandelier, taking notes, until it finally figured out where the door was. And left. Very suspicious. Very dramatic. Very distracting.

Find the perfect caffeine intake. No matter how hungover sleepy you might be the morning after one of Cheryl’s parties, make sure you don’t over-do it on the coffee. Jitters at NFRC can be disastrous. You never know what you might say at the microphone if you’ve had too many! So, know your limits and stick to them.

Check your wireless connection. Not even thumb twiddling and doodles will get you through one of these meetings easily. Make sure your computer’s wireless functions properly before the meeting so you can stay connected to the world outside.

Read glassblog. No explanation needed.

Leave a comment to share your own survival techniques … I know you’ve got ’em!
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
By Lorin Hancock, chief consultant on radio station glazing/assistant editor*

This weekend I had the chance to travel to Pittsburgh to visit my famous friend, radio personality Cindy Howes. Cindy is the Morning Mix DJ for WYEP, and you can listen to her show here from 6-10 weekday mornings. I’m listening to it now, and the entire Glass Magazine staff is rockin’ along.**

Now that the plug is out of the way, I can get on with the rest of my important piece of journalism.

I rode my bike from DC to Pittsburgh, only stopping six times to sleep for the night. Honestly, in the time since my last post, I did regret abandoning my Hummer. However, upon tracking it down I learned that it had been turned into a Filene’s Basement, so I just counted it as a loss. Too bad I still owe $50k on it.

Pittsburgh is an exciting place, full of fun people and even better food. The only thing they don’t have is a locally published magazine about glass. They do, however, have a kick-fanny radio station in an awesome LEED certified silver building. And oh, the glass!

Cindy and production director Brian Siewiorek showed me around, pointing out the wheat board furniture, the milk cap carpet, the blue-jean ceiling, the corn floor, and yes, the glass! Ninety percent of the light in the building comes from daylighting. Even on a cloudy Pittsburgh day the office was a bright, shiny, happy place. Brian mentioned how great it is for someone with Sun and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Yes, I thought, suddenly realizing that my caustic nature has nothing to do with my personality and is due entirely to the fact that I work in a windowless office. Sahely, please take note of this.

Cindy and Brian take time out of their busy schedule to pose for this photo. Notice how bright it is, with no overhead lights. That's no flash; that's daylighting!

The sound booth looks pretty cool, too. “How does this work?” I asked.
“Well the plastic—“
“Oh, then I don’t care.”
“There’s glass, too.”
“Oh, ok! Go on!”
As it happens, the window to the booth is glass, and the inside is lined with curvy, camel-hump-like plastic (and yes, that is the technical term) to um, do good acoustical stuff.***

Cindy went off to program her show and I had fun pretending to be a DJ (see picture above). And only one person asked me what I was doing there, so I must have looked pretty natural. If only there was a radio station that broadcast material related to glass and glazing, I would consider switching professions.

Although Pittsburgh was fabulous, it’s nice to be back at Glass Magazine. We don’t have 90 percent daylighting and we don’t have blue-jean-ceilings, but we do our part. For example, I took the initiative and turned off the AC that was running all weekend in the kitchen, despite the fact that it’s 40 degrees outside. Because we all have to help save the environment.

PS- to James Bogdan, if you’re reading this: next time I go to Pittsburgh I’m going to want a tour of that fancy PPG building. Got it? Thanks.



*note the promotion!
**Cindy did not pay me to say this. Also, glass media professionals do not really rock; they sway.
***I am a glass media professional, not a sound media professional.

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