Thursday, June 2, 2011

After last week's news that Sun Capital won the bidding war for Vitro America's fabrication assets, this week's big question is: How will this affect an already fractured and fragmented glass industry?

The answer may depend on where you are in the glass food chain.

The fabrication industry's dramatic consolidation played out over the last few months, in a time when float manufacturers were still looking to recover from the sharp contraction in flat glass production that began even prior to the country's economic collapse of 2008.

In the wake of this latest consolidation news, it seems that at both the float and fabrication levels there will be even less supply and capacity in the marketplace. Some glaziers worry that this will add to their product sourcing challenges as they continue to face pricing and bidding pressures from their customers. Tight credit, which has been a significant challenge for many, has the potential to be an even greater concern.

For glass companies struggling with a weak balance sheet, it may be even harder to survive. This morning's Wall Street Journal report of a drop in the Dow, the biggest one-month U.S. factory slowdown since 1984, and stagnant hiring in both the manufacturing and private sectors doesn't help the short-term outlook.

Watch Glass Magazine for interviews with all the principals involved in this deal; we can expect that the focus will be on people—employees and customers. One thing is true: companies that attract talented people, make and sell the best products, and offer innovative technologies flourish even in turbulent times.

As with all changes of this magnitude, time will tell who those are. 

Nicole Harris is publisher of Glass Magazine. Write her at

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Glass Magazine's annual Top 50 Glaziers report (which you will get to check out in the upcoming June/July issue), gives the editors a great opportunity to check in with glazing contractors--large and small--about a range of issues. This year, I was curious about research and development. The near four-year-old recession has left companies strapped for cash, making any investment difficult. An investment in something that can't guarantee a payback is an even tougher commitment. However, about 20 percent of contract glaziers surveyed, with annual sales ranging from about $5 million to almost $200 million, said they are investing in R&D, and in some very diverse ways.

As expected, contract glaziers' R&D activities focus on product development and advancement. Companies are aiming to improve and add to their existing offerings. National Enclosure Co., Pontiac, Mich., for one, is furthering the development of its unitized curtain wall offerings, and Carmel Architectural Sales, Anaheim, Calif., is developing rain screen systems.

Companies also are going custom. Officials from CBO Glass in Alden, N.Y., reported the company is designing, engineering and testing custom CBO glazing systems, and Heinaman Contract Glazing, Lake Forest, Calif., is developing custom unitized curtain wall utilizing advanced technology integration.

Several companies said they are focusing on component systems. Bacon & Van Buskirk, Champaign, Ill., for example, developed Bacon's Architectural Muntin systems for storefronts and curtain walls.

The green arena is driving development at companies such as Juba Aluminum Products Co., Concord, N.C., which is getting involved in photovoltaics.

And some contract glaziers report they are branching out even more with their product development. Architectural Wall Systems, West Des Moines, Iowa, for example, has been developing unitized brick panels.

The slow economy hasn't slowed code development, or the need for protective and aesthetically pleasing systems. In response to this demand, two Florida-based contract glaziers report they are developing new hurricane products. Crawford Tracey Corp., Deerfield Beach, Fla., developed ProTech 9SG and ProTech 15SG, curtain wall impact glazing systems that achieve large vertical spans and allow for wider vertical mullion spacing. And Palm Beach Glass Specialties Inc., West Palm Beach, Fla., is developing impact systems that provide architects with more design freedom, improved thermal comfort, increased natural daylighting and minimal glare; in addition to systems that allow for glass widths from ¼ inch to 1 5/16 inch, and shop-glazed systems.

Companies haven't forgotten about the "research" part of R&D—they are continuously looking at what the market and their individual customers need. Key Glass LLC, Bradenton, Fla., for example, found through its research that there is significant growth in the small project and service arena. To respond to the growing demand, the company is developing a custom program to track these requests. 

Katy Devlin is senior editor for Glass Magazine. Write her at

Monday, May 30, 2011

This week: a quick hitter version of the blog with lots of short takes on the industry and beyond.

First, it seems like every few weeks I am writing about a weather-related event. This week, the attention is on the fine folks of Joplin after a tornado ripped through the town and basically destroyed 75 percent of it. Our thoughts to everyone affected yet again by the wrath of Mother Nature.

  • PPG's new print ad campaign is absolutely spectacular. Very creative and smart, and quite frankly, I am jealous I didn't think of it first. Kudos to Mr. Struble and company for a top notch job.
  • Does anyone else have an issue with the fact that our government is wasting millions of dollars trying to prosecute athletic steroid cheats? Will it really make our lives better if they prove Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs in his Tour de France wins? Or if Barry Bonds was on steroids while hitting 73 homers? Let the sports handle it.
  • Lots of comments last week in many venues on the whole bank financing issue. My good friend Joe Carlos of Triview Glass left this very smart comment on the home site of this blog that some of the Glass Magazine readers might have missed:

    "Max, Thanks for bringing this up. Liquidity is THE issue. Besides the lack of funding for private projects, many, dare I say most, of my customers have lost their credit lines. Most have a sterling credit history and long-term relationships with their bank."

    Well said Joe, and thanks for the comment.
  • Also last week, I was off when I prematurely congratulated Deron Patterson as president of the TGA. He is the president-elect of that fine group, and Jerry Wright of AAA Glass is still in charge, and according to Deron, doing a tremendous job.
  • Big day later this week: The queen of all retail, also known as my sister Marcie, celebrates a birthday. And since I'll probably forget to call, at least I am covering my bases here on the blog. Happy Birthday Marcie!
  • Gas prices went up 11 cents last week in the Midwest because of "undisclosed refinery issues"... I swear we are all in the wrong business. What a scam.
  •  Beautiful and classy piece sent out by the organizers of GlassBuild America last week recognizing Memorial Day. I think we as a society do not appreciate the meaning of Memorial Day enough, and it was heartening to see some folks still do. And for my two cents, thank you to all of the brave men and women who have served and to those families who have lost loved ones while they fought for our freedoms. Without these amazingly courageous people, we wouldn't have the ability to live even close to the way we do.
  • Want to read a story about lawyers that will make your skin crawl? Click here. When lawyers have to meet a quota, it is simply not good.
  • Finals picks... NBA: The Heat will romp in five games over the Mavs. No one can stop LeBron and Wade in crunch time. NHL: I have many more friends that are big Canuck fans that would flog me if I picked them, so to protect myself, I'm going with the Bruins in six.
  • Last this week, this quote was sent to me by a good friend and it's pretty dang appropriate for some movements that will be taking place this week. The quote was from the awesome movie "Hoosiers" (a take from David vs Goliath) and here's hoping the underdog will prevail...

    "And David put his hand in the bag and took out a stone and slung it. And it struck the Philistine on the head and he fell to the ground. Amen"

    Amen indeed... brother... Amen. 

Max Perilstein is chief marketing officer for Vitro Architectural Products, Memphis. Write him at

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, May 23, 2011

The latest report on the AIA Architectural Billings Index was certainly depressing, however just like not getting too high after one good month, we shouldn't get too low after one bad one. However the truly worrisome angle of this entire process is it looks to be the same fundamental reason for the news- the availability of money. Here's this month's commentary from AIA:

"The majority of firms are reporting at least one stalled project in-house because of the continued difficulty in obtaining financing," said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. "That issue continues to be the main roadblock to recovery, and is unlikely to be resolved in the immediate future."

Now here's from April 2011, November 2010 and June 2010 and see if you can sense a trend...

"The catalyst for a more robust recovery is likely financing, with stronger growth occurring only when lending institutions begin approving credit for construction projects with much greater regularity." (April 2011)

"Right now, reluctance from lending institutions to provide credit for construction projects..." (November 2010)

"The overriding issue affecting the entire real estate sector is unusual caution on the part of lending institutions to provide credit for construction projects that apparently would be successful in this economic environment." (June 2010)

So it really simplifies it, when the banks loosen the grip on the lending things will improve, but until then I think you will see the scores continuing to be relatively the same as they've been.


-- And not helping in the current time frame is once again, the weather. The unusually wet spring has absolutely wreaked havoc on the construction world. What makes it all the crazier is while we have massive issues with rain and flooding, we still have droughts in some places as well. It really does boggle the mind.

-- A few months ago I ran a story via the New York Times on a guy that made his living off of negative selling. It was almost to the point of where he would bully his customers and harass them to no end. Well he finally got what was coming to him... here's the follow up from the NYT.

-- Major congratulations to Deron Patterson of PPG on his new post as President of the Texas Glass Association. Deron is a great guy and will do fantastic work for that quality organization. And speaking of guys like Deron, it is nice to see that there's some serious talent at the float level that doesn't get a lot of notice. Guys like Dan Plotnick of Pilkington, Brian Best of Guardian, and Jon Hughes of AGC are top notch folks that the industry can point to and be proud of.

-- It's been a week since US Aluminum closed and my only comments are I am saddened at how some class people publicly decided to dance on their grave and how amazingly EVERYONE picked up so much business from this closing. If you didn't know any better you'd think US was the leader in market share based on some of the hyperbole out there.

-- The world of Twitter in our industry continues to evolve and I've noted some of the better industry Twitter sites here in the past. Well now you can add to the list. The folks there have joined the revolution and done a nice job of keeping the conversation going. Kudos to Earnest Thompson and his team.

-- And last I must give compliments to the folks at e-glass weekly for the new format and layout. Very smooth and easy to read and the best part is when you get it on your phone there's an option for mobile formatting, which is excellent. Between this and the recent incredible journalistic scoops, it is surely heady times for those folks as they continue to be the industry leader. 

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

Max Perilstein is chief marketing officer for Vitro Architectural Products, Memphis. Write him at

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, May 17, 2011

In 1959, Barbie and the float glass process were born. Turns out, Barbie was born a teenage fashion model and Sir Alastair Pilkington's invention of floating molten glass on a bed of molten tin spawned several competitive offspring.

But that's not all a doll and an industry have in common.

More than 125 careers later, Barbie is an architect, and as such, she was on hot pink display at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) show in New Orleans last week.

Float glass manufacturers also were at the show, where they displayed strength and marketing purpose in the form of new booths and products, as some metal and glass fabricators continued to roil the headlines.

Signaling a change in its approach to the market, Saint-Gobain exhibited its nine building products companies, including Vetrotech, the newly invested Sage Electrochromics, St. Gobain Glass, St. Gobain Solar, Certainteed and four other companies, in one large booth for the first time.

Guardian Industries' new large booth showcased exterior and interior glass applications. The side devoted to commercial products included the company's newest high-performance glass, SunGuard SNX 62/27. On the other side, the company introduced its new INGlass line of interior glass products, with three portable sample boxes and a handheld frame that architects and designers can use to test combinations for interior applications by layering textured glass, colored film and mirror, for example.

Pilkington and PPG updated their 2010 booths with new products to energize the architect's world. Pilkington promoted OptiView anti-reflective glass, which reduces both exterior and interior visible light reflectance to less than 2 percent. Stay tuned for a gold-coated glass product with some interesting history.

If only this sizeable glazing industry footprint was met in kind by architects walking the floor. Despite scheduling changes by the new show organizer, seminars and tours still claimed too many. So, to help them get deserved post-show attention, Glass Magazine is highlighting some of the new and impressive products and services on display, here.

On the last day of the show, I visited Barbie the Architect. After viewing the imaginative investment made by our industry at so many booths, it was gratifying to look into her 2011 Dream Townhouse and see that it included a glass (OK, it was plastic, but meant to resemble glass!) shower enclosure.

Here's hoping Architect Barbie--and her partner Ken--spec more glass far beyond the bathroom. It won't be for lack of options, inside and out. 

Nicole Harris is publisher of Glass Magazine. Write her at

Monday, May 16, 2011

It surely hasn't been very slow news wise in our world lately, and last week was more of the same. We had an update on the World Trade Center issue, a major closure, a departure, an addition, and a rumor-fest amongst the everyday goings on. So let's go ahead and take a look...



  • The World Trade Center issue that I covered last week took another spin when the New York Times advanced the wonderful work done by the folks at Glass Magazine (they'll have to share the Pulitzer) and revealed that the original plans for the base of the building (where all of the controversy is) were scrapped. Ten million dollars in glass and who knows how much other capital and resources squandered. I find it funny/sad that the North American supply base all expressed worry regarding the design early in the process (at least that's what I was told) and that's one of the reasons the playing field was so limited. Still, the shenanigans are continuing there and I'd love to know when or if someone's head rolls after blowing this one. I guess the Chinese can't do everything and there are actually some limits.
  • The saddening news of US Aluminum closing was another big story. The depressing part is about the people working there, as this industry continues to head down perilous paths. My heart goes out to the folks caught in the crossfire.
  • A wish of best of luck to Gary Danowski of PPG as he has taken on a new assignment within PPG in Switzerland. Losing Gary on our side of the world is a major blow, in my opinion. He was a calm and steady presence in the very bumpy seas; just a flat out good man. The folks in Europe are lucky to get him. In the last two years, the turnover at the top of the major players in our industry has been very dramatic, and we continue to look for the continuity going forward.
  • And speaking of moving and good guys and good luck... my brother Steve has taken a new step in his life. After being able to work for some of the classiest people out there at a great company with the Baliks at General Glass, Steven has taken an equity position at W.A. Wilson in West Virginia and is their new executive VP. This is an awesome move for him. He returns to the region he knows so well and ends up working with yet another tremendous group of people. (Bob and Bobby Hartong are first rate, as are many others there.) WA Wilson has always been a respected player in the region, and now the sky is the limit.
  • And last from the week that was: the mid-week rumors that something major and dramatic was going to happen at Trainor Glass on Friday turned out to be a lot less salacious than the masses expected it would be. Trainor tabbed Brian Clark as their new president starting June 1. So, all of the wild stories didn't materialize. The interesting thing is it has been so crazy in our world here that even the craziest of rumors are given credence because really anything could happen. Best of luck to Brian and the Trainor family going forward as well.

And that's it... what a week it was and my guess is we have the potential to have some very fascinating weeks ahead, that is for sure. 

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

Max Perilstein is chief marketing officer for Vitro Architectural Products, Memphis. Write him at

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, May 9, 2011

A consultant friend of mine says that every company owner must do four things to be successful: Know your unique place and role in your world. Develop a compelling vision of where you want to be. Develop a practical plan for how to get there. Play well with others.

You've heard a variant of the first three before, but everyone I share this with tends to recall No. 4 first.

I was reminded of the list last week as I listened to the 10 members of the Glass Professionals Forum update one other about their companies. This band of glass brothers has met annually, mostly at each other's locations across the country, since 2003. They own retail, commercial, auto and fabrication glass businesses and have helped each other solve a variety of issues, from orienting their business niche and selecting machinery, to showroom design and CEO compensation.

GPF members
GPF members enjoying some down time, from left around the table: David Uhey, Denver Glass Interiors; Guy Selinske, American Glass & Mirror; Tom Whitaker, Mr. Shower Door; David Fitchett, Carolina Glass & Mirror; Angelo Rivera, Faour Glass Technologies; Robert Brown, Brown's Glass; Chris Mammen, M3 Glass Technologies; Steve Mort, Don's Mobile Glass; Bill Evans, Evans Glass Co.; Newton Little, ACE Glass Co.

The GPFers, as I refer to them, haven't met in 18 months thanks to the down economy. Emerging from two years of recalibrating, they discussed increased optimism, downsizing and cold calling to drum up business: a new experience for many.

What strikes me every time I'm with them is how much they continue to learn from and help one another. They trust the group with the most sensitive information, confident in each other's integrity and discretion. In doing so, they have developed rich friendships that yield camaraderie alongside business growth.

Fortunately for the greater glass community, the GPFers also believe in sharing some of what they discuss to help others like them. Watch for several "Your Profits" articles in upcoming issues of Glass Magazine and new "how to" videos on our Glass Magazine YouTube Channel. First up, how to hand-test a shower door hinge for quality in four easy steps.

Without question, these 10 glass company owners understand No. 4 on the success list—play well with others—and then some. 

Nicole Harris is publisher of Glass Magazine. Write her at

Monday, May 9, 2011

It did not come as a gigantic surprise when I read Glass Magazine's coverage on the problems at the Freedom Tower podium. This situation was a major flashpoint in our industry back in early 2009 (or as I like to say, "the good old days") and mostly surrounded the frustration of a major American landmark having material from China on a significant portion of the structure, especially given what the building stood for and so on. But the design was so intense that it did limit the playing field from a cost standpoint, so at the end of the day, getting it sourced from China outweighed patriotic duty. Plus, it was during this time that I was told a classic line about the process: Barber Glass of Canada was going to be the fabricator, and there was a school of thought that dictated there was no difference between Canada and China because they were both "foreign" entities. That thought still galls me. While it may be factually correct, you just can't lop those two together. Anyway, Glass Magazine has some great coverage out of the gate on this, and we will see how it progresses. It's just a shame so much had to suffer in the meantime for something that had the potential to be so good.


  • I just don't think there's been enough "soap opera" style story lines in our industry lately... yeesh. All we really need is a love triangle and we could have an Oscar contender on our hands.
  • Gas prices supposedly now will drop. And I was right about the $6 per gallon; that mark was eclipsed in Hawaii already. The frustrating thing here is gas prices can go up 10 cents to 20 cents plus per week but going down takes a lot longer. Also, with the unrest continuing in the Middle East and Libya, I still think it's going to be very ugly.
  • Speaking of ugly... the Kentucky Derby results... my daughter's Triple Crown streak comes to an end... Oh well, I guess I didn't really want to live in Vegas anyway.
  • Last this week... as you have seen me note a few times, in our midst is a fantastically talented artist. Glass Magazine's own Katy Devlin is on the path to stardom, and she now has a pretty awesome music video out. It's my video of the week but you can also access it by clicking here. By the way, the mirror she used in the video, I am sure was made domestically.... Check it out and keep in mind that when she wins her first Grammy, she will thank all of the fine people in the glass industry for supporting her! 

Read on for links of the week...

Max Perilstein is chief marketing officer for Vitro Architectural Products, Memphis. Write him at

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, May 2, 2011

In the wake of last week's tornado, Coral Industries is asking the glass industry to help the Tuscaloosa, Ala., community. Last Wednesday, April 27, a tornado cut a mile-wide swath through the city, killing 40, injuring more than 1,000, and leaving 373 people missing, according to The devastation is "indescribable," says Coral's Lewis McAllister.

Like many Tuscaloosa residents, a number of Coral employees lost their homes, leaving them in need of even the most basic items. Coral is organizing a donation drive to assist its entire hometown. Specifically, the company is asking for:

Toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, baby wipes, diapers, formula, diaper cream, sunscreen, shampoo/conditioner, allergy medicine, band aids, first aid cream, tweezers, hair brushes, baby food, Pedialyte, pacifiers, over the counter medicines, batteries (9v, AAA, AA and D), contact solution, feminine products, toilet paper, paper/plastic plates and utensils, napkins/paper towels, charcoal, water, Gatorade, non-perishable food items, air mattresses, sleeping bags, lip balm, flashlights, dog/cat food, towels, matches, two-way radios, tents, can openers, work gloves, underwear (all sizes, both sexes), chain saws, chain saw oil, socks, power bars, insect repellent, tarps and non-perishable food.

Please ship donations to:

Tornado Relief
C/O Coral Industries
3010 Rice Mine Rd.
Tuscaloosa, AL 35406

Pleas mark packages "tornado relief" so they aren't mixed up with the company's daily freight. If you are located in the Tuscaloosa area, there is the possiblity Coral employees can pick up donations at your location.

To make a monetary donation, please go to

Chase is editor of Glass Magazine. Write her at

Sunday, May 1, 2011

This past week really showed the mixup of our priorities as violent weather racked the South while a majority of the country was either paying attention to the bogus birth certificate issue or a royal wedding. The tornadoes that hit the South were nothing short of catastrophic for so many. It is time to properly pay attention and send our thoughts and prayers to the people that need them. Our industry was touched by these storms when one of the production buildings of Coral Industries was flattened. Thankfully, and amazingly, no one was hurt as the folks at Coral heeded the warnings and were cleared out of the structure before the storm rolled through. I have exchanged a few e-mails with Coral's Lewis McCallister and he, his family and the folks at Coral are back at work and throwing themselves into the needs of their customers and community. Their undamaged building is up and running, and the diversion of work is probably a good thing to keep their minds off of what just happened. The ownership at Coral is amongst the "good people" in our industry, so there's no doubt that they will emerge from this better than ever. All positive wishes and support towards those guys and the entire affected region (which spreads over several states) is really necessary and appreciated.

Coral has started a Twitter feed with updates and items that you can provide to help. You can access it here. Click here for information on the overall effort to help the folks in Tuscaloosa.


  • Wild timing, as last week AAMA released a voluntary tornado specification. I think after seeing the video and destruction, there really isn't anything we can put in to stop that fury. It's like an old coworker used to tell me about hurricane material: the system might be tested to deal with a Category 5, but the rest of the building won't be.
  • Funny that I have been blogging since 2005, and with her effort last week, Jenni Chase might have stirred up more of a tempest than I ever have. The interesting part of Jenni's blog were the comments, both public and private, to me (both on e-mail and to my blog, ironically). They ran all across the board, including some nasty ones (sent anonymously, of course) that really curdled and boggled the brain. But there is no doubt that this is a very volatile issue and time in our world, and the next few months will undoubtedly be very interesting ... especially as truth is separated from rumor and fact from innuendo.
  • The Kentucky Derby is this coming Saturday and as some of you might remember, my daughter actually picked the Triple Crown correctly last year. So, we will see if she can do it again. The post positions and odds come out mid-week, and after she picks I'll post it at my blog's home site, which can be found here. If she does it again, we will move to Vegas this time.
  • The excellent Glazing Executives Forum announced its keynote speaker this year is the CEO of Serious Materials Kevin Surace. Just hearing his version of the work at the Empire State Building will be worth attending. Seriously, the entire event is a tremendous deal, and if you are coming to GlassBuild America (which I am sure all intelligent people are), then doing this event is a no brainer. Mark the calendar for September 12. I am sure you will see a ton more on this and the show in the coming months.
  • Last this week... I have run stories in the past on passwords and how some people just use things like "123456" and "QWERTY" but I had to share in the main part of the blog this amazing story. Do you realize that a hacker can figure out a six-character, no number/letter mix, no uppercase password in 10 minutes? That is just wild. The quick blurb, which blew my feeble mind is here. 

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

Max Perilstein is chief marketing officer for Vitro Architectural Products, Memphis. Write him at

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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