glassblog

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Several weeks ago, I mentioned that the IGMA Annual Conference in New Orleans was going to be a strong one, and judging by the reports that filtered back to me, it was. Quite a bit of news came out of the event, including an update from the IGCC's John Kent about the never-ending adventure of certification and the presentation from Quanex's Mike Burk (one of my all-time favorite conference speakers) on safety that included a discussion about how incentives might not work, and dangers to the neck area. Certification and safety are major concerns in our world, for sure.

That said, when I had heard that Ray Wakefield of Trulite was attending his last IGMA meeting, I was really thrown. To me, that’s the biggest news of the event. Personally, I can’t believe it. Ray is an industry institution, and the thought of him not being involved in things like IGMA blows my  mind. I wish you well Ray. These deals won’t be the same without you!

Elsewhere...

  • And let’s give props to outgoing IGMA President Dave Cooper of Guardian. During his tenure, the meeting agendas were strong and interesting. The next president (I have not heard yet who that might be) will have really big shoes to fill.
  • Good news: the Dodge Momentum Index went up in January. Again, trying to stay positive with my thoughts on our economy.
  • On the negative side, gas prices, even before winter storm Nemo, were inching towards $4 per gallon again. In Michigan, we saw almost a 50-cent increase in two weeks time. Ummmm, can anyone explain why?
  • A very strong effort by the team at Glass Magazine on their latest Top Glass Fabricators report. They have made this yearly edition something that can’t be missed. I really enjoyed the poll questions, some of which had to be tough to answer.  For example, the one on “greatest challenges” had to be a brutal one to answer since so many of the choices were kinda like a "1 and 1A" sort of thing. I’m stunned that so few companies said “finding financing” would be a challenge.
  • One question that wasn’t hard to answer, however, was  “What are fabricators' future capital acquisition plans?” The dominating answer was adding new products and product lines. I think that is so dead on, and we see it daily. Companies are hungry to diversify and jump into new business segments, and I believe we are only seeing the start of it. If you have not seen the latest issue of Glass Magazine yet, check it out here.
  • The Big 10 in basketball is like the SEC in football: just stacked. What a wild March this is going to be. Just thinking about the brackets is exciting.
  • Last, I have to admit I might be the only mid-40-year-old guy around who would do this, but I really dig Taylor Swift’s new song “I Knew You Were Trouble.”  It's just a great tune, in my opinion, and man it does stick in your head.

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

The author 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, February 4, 2013

I stumbled across a fascinating TED Talk by Behrokh Khoshnevis, professor at the University of Southern California. Khoshnevis, speaking in April 2012 at TEDx Medellín, discussed a possible future technology for the construction industry—one that uses large 3D printers to actually construct buildings, layer by layer.

 

The process, called Contour Crafting, has already been pegged to construct simpler structures (including lunar structures for NASA), and is capable of building homes, and eventually, larger buildings such as schools and hospitals, Khoshnevis said. The robot printer layers the walls, and can complete tasks such as painting walls and tiles, constructing plumbing systems, and completing the building wiring.

The technology, still in its very early stages, isn't near installing glass or curtain wall. However, I have to wonder if future developments could have a major impact on the industry, if building progresses in this direction. Could contract glaziers be out of a job?

Khoshnevis addressed the employment impact in his talk. "This is, of course, a serious issue. What is going to happen to the current construction workers? Construction is a major employer of the workforce," he said. "But this is not a new question. When the steam engine was invented, people asked what would happen to carriage drivers. And at the beginning of the last century, over 60 percent of Americans were farmers. Today, less than 1.5 percent are farmers. ... When there is a technology that makes sense, we have to use it."

The technology does face some hurdles before it can progress, he said. "We need to address the social impacts, in addition to the regulatory impacts, such as building inspection and permits. This needs to be addressed and taken care of before any construction technology becomes commonplace," he said.

While Contour Crafting may still be a futuristic construction technology, this talk reminded me of the ways 3D printing is already affecting our industry. Just last year, Mic Patterson at Enclos Corp. showed what his company is doing with rapid prototyping/3D printing.

 

Devlin is senior editor for Glass Magazine. Write her at kdevlin@glass.org.

Monday, February 4, 2013

One of my biggest pet peeves is hearing negative comments about the talent in our industry. The comments, which have become more prominent recently, basically assert that too much of our little piece of the world is lacking the brainpower of other industries. I am sorry, but that is just plain wrong.  As an industry, we are very unique, and admittedly, we don't always do the smartest things. In my opinion, however, that doesn't stem from a lack of talent but from other out-of-control factors. (And I guarantee you that other industries have similar issues; no world is perfect.) In all honesty, I believe we are loaded with men and women who could transfer into any industry and do VERY well.  For example, I would put guys like Oliver Stepe of YKK, Devin Bowman of TGP and Garret Henson of Viracon up against anyone from any other industry. And I believe I’d win. And these are just guys I can think of off the top of my head. At the end of the day, it is an absolute fallacy that we lack talent. There’s tons of it; maybe some folks just don’t want to look for it.

Elsewhere…

  • As a side note to the above, I believe our family business model also draws criticism, as so many companies in our world are family operations. But that is not a bad thing. A great example of a family success that probably doesn’t get enough pub is My Shower Door/D3 Glass with the Daubmann family at the helm. Success is not an accident there; it took some talent, for sure.
  • Obviously, I have written a ton about the DOE over the years and most of it has been negative. But now, there’s a chance that we could be moving into a positive space. With the resignation of Dr. Steven Chu, there will be a new leader coming on. With some impressive fresh blood now in the organization, I am very hopeful.
  • The ABI went up again. That news, combined with last year's totals, means we should have a great year, right?
  • I’m told the new show “The Americans” is really something to see.  Hopefully, I'm going to check that out this week.
  • Last this week... the Super Bowl... the power outage? Crazy eh? The comeback? Even crazier. Me losing a Super Bowl Square payout because of the safety? Depressing. Anyway, on to the commercials. Overall, I thought they were weak. On the good side, I really liked the M&M's "Anything for Love" spot, enjoyed the the fantasy of the "Go Daddy" ad and got a kick out of the Oreo library commercial. Plus, "The Rock" is truly an American star. His best spot was the milk commercial. And the halftime piece from Jeep was fantastic. On the flip side, I thought the Doritos spots missed badly, and I have no idea why Budweiser keeps introducing new beers during this game with such awful and unmemorable efforts. Oh, and I did pick the Ravens from the start of the season. The blind squirrel found the acorn for sure...

Read on for links and clip of the week.

The author 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, January 28, 2013

Looking at the year ahead, industry executives say the promotion and sale of energy efficient glass and metal products will remain critical to growth, both on the company and industry level. Nearly 60 percent of respondents to this year's Top Glass Fabricators survey say energy efficient products offer the most sales potential in the coming year, and glass and metal manufacturers see opportunity in the product segment as well.

"I’m bullish in 2013 on energy solutions,” says Scott Thomsen, president, Flat Glass Group, Guardian Industries. "Four years ago, [approximately] 1.65 billion square feet of commercial space was completed. Since then, that number has dropped down to [about] 650 million square feet. So, today you have more people fighting over a smaller pie, and the best way to increase your margins is to increase the value proposition of the products you sell.

"We were also very close to ASHRAE lowering the window-to-wall ratio," Thomsen points out. "I think for the first time there is full recognition at all levels of the value chain that we need to either improve the energy efficiency of the glazing or face less glazing,” he says.

Kelly Schuller, president, Viracon, says one of the biggest challenges facing the industry going forward involves educating customers about “value-added fabricated glass features that allow for high window-to-wall ratios.”

Developing energy efficient solutions and communicating their benefits to customers will be paramount in 2013, agrees Mike Turner, vice president of marketing for YKK AP America. “It is each company's responsibility to convey a clear value proposition and premium service to create demand,” he says.

The question is not whether or not the need for energy efficient products exists, or whether our industry is capable of providing them. The real challenge lies in our ability to effectively show the building community the value proposition they offer. Agreed?

Chase is editorial director of Glass Magazine, e-glass weekly and GlassMagazine.com. Write her at jchase@glass.org.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Last week, I spent a few days at the GANA Annual Conference, and as always, came away impressed by the talent in our industry and the work that is accomplished during the event.  Many of the discussions involved crucial, technical pieces that will have an effect on the way business is done in our world. The big piece for me were the decorative division meetings; that segment and division continue to grow in prominence, thus the need for education, direction and standards. The decorative glass group, led by their incredibly sharp chair Marc Deschamps of Walker Glass, is surely up to the task. Plain and simple: if you are in the industry and you care about the future, you need to attend events like this to stay properly informed on what we are up against in a very challenging world.

Elsewhere…

  • Of course, I need to point out some of the folks I got to meet and greet. Meeting John Rovi of SAPA for the first time was enjoyable. I had heard a ton about him, so it was nice to meet him in person. When I talk about some of the talent this industry possesses, I gotta point to guys like James Wright and Tim McGee of Glass Coatings and Concepts; they bring personality and energy to the game with some serious sales and marketing chops.  It was nice to get to know them. I dig Nick Bagatelos of BISEM; his passion for the product is really hard to top. Plus, I wish I had his hair and style. Last, getting to see Stanley Yee and Jon Kimberlain of Dow Corning is always a treat. Stanley just recently joined Dow Corning, which is an absolute coup for those guys given the knowledge base he possesses.
  • Lost in the controversy of whether or not Beyonce lipsynched was the part of the president’s inaugural speech that covered climate change and building better infrastructure and buildings. We have heard that before, but maybe the time to get serious is here. I expect to see movement from our industry on this before too long. Stay tuned.
  • Any guesses on the Top 12 cities leading the way for sustainability? Some folks on this list will surprise and some will not. Interesting nonetheless.
  • Congrats to the gang at GGI on their smooth, revamped website. Really strong piece of work; it's clean and very smartly laid out. Well done folks.
  • By the way, at the start of the NFL season I did pick the Ravens to make the Super Bowl, which means somehow one of my picks panned out. First time for everything! So, I am sticking with the Ravens to win it all next week. Wonder if CBS will tell us that Ray Lewis is retiring? (Sarcasm intended!)
  • And last this week: the Super Bowl brings us not only the game but also the commercials.  I will be curious to see who brings the best and I also expect this year to have a ton of social media connection too. On next week’s blog I’ll be listing my favorites….

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

The author 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, January 22, 2013

We are now a few weeks in to the new year. You can start to feel that the holiday hangover is passing, and we’re now starting to settle into what’s “real” in our world. For some regions, that means slowing of business and more crucially the slowing of cash flow. In other areas, it’s still rolling along nicely though they too are watching their cash flow closely. All parties, though, are surely wondering how long this trend will last. For those on the slowing side, some past experience has shown that it was usually slowing up by late January, early February. Then awful until late March and early April. Will this year follow pattern? The clock is ticking…

Elsewhere…

  • Missed this last week, but a hearty congrats to Kirk Johnson on his promotion at Hartung Glass Industries to COO. I’ve known Kirk a long time and it’s great to see him advance to such a strong position at one of the industry’s best companies.
  • Also missed last week, Steven Brenner, joining McGrory Glass as Director of Architectural Sales. I am thrilled for Mr. Brenner and the classy McGrory family, as this is a win-win proposition for sure!
  • And one more item from last week, I was heartened by the reaction to my piece on the supply channels being disrupted. I received a ton of feedback, both online and to me personally. Very cool. To hear from folks like Scott Surma and Gerry Duffy is just an honor and thrill. It is a serious subject and I am glad people see it as such.
  • I’m on my way to the west for a few days for the GANA Annual Conference. I have not attended one of these in a while, so I am looking forward to seeing what is new and happening on the technical side of our world. Plus getting the chance to visit with folks like Greg Carney, Julie Schimmelpenningh, and the Pittsburgh legend Ren Bartoe among others is very exciting.
  • Cold enough outside for everyone? Man oh man, just seems more bitter than normal. Then again my friends on the auto glass side are just pleading for a few ice storms to help that business segment.
  • Lance Armstrong. Manti Te’o. I just don’t know what to say. What a wild news cycle.
  • I have been involved with some of the planning of the Glass Management Institute, and will say that I am very excited about the speakers and subjects lined up. More info is coming, but suffice to say, this will be “can’t miss” sort of stuff.
  • Hockey is back… my picks… St. Louis vs. the Rangers in the Cup. Early apologies to Paul DeGray, who, I believe is a huge Ranger fan, and is now screaming at the screen that I jinxed the Blue Shirts. Sorry, but I think King Henrik will carry them. 

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

The author 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, January 15, 2013

In an upcoming opinion piece in the January/February issue of Glass Magazine, economist Jeff Dietrich discusses the recent fiscal cliff deal and its effects on the economy. A familiar face at GlassBuild America, the senior analyst at ITR Economics knows our industry. His forecasts seem to always be right on the money. So that said, I will leave it to him to explain the ins and outs of the fiscal cliff deal and what it means for our country. For now, however, I had to share an analogy he references that compares the U.S. government's fiscal issues in terms of the family budget. 

Fiscal Cliff Simplified

  • U.S. Tax revenue: $2,680,000,000,000
  • Fed budget: $3,760,000,000,000
  • New debt: $1,080,000,000,000
  • National debt: $16,066,000,000,000
  • Annual sequestration cuts: $ 109,000,000,000

Now, pretend it’s a household budget

  • Annual family income: $26,800
  • Money the family spent: $37,600
  • New debt on the credit card: $10,800
  • Outstanding credit card balance: $160,066
  • Total budget cuts so far: $109.00

Possible solutions: 1) Ask family members to invest in your future. 2) Believe that a 2 percent raise next year will solve everything.  3) Apply for more credit cards.

I'm neither an economist nor a politician, so I'm not taking sides on the issue. But if you'd like to weigh in on how the fiscal cliff deal will effect your business in 2013, feel free to comment below.

Chase is editorial director of Glass Magazine, GlassMagazine.com and e-glass weekly. Write her at jchase@glass.org.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Right at the start of the year, I was alerted once again to the depressing practice of suppliers selling direct to contractors, thereby cutting out the glazier. This is something that is not healthy for our industry on so many levels, and it needs to stop. I think sometimes companies do things in acts of desperation, but this latest rash of direct selling does not fall into that category. In my early days, when a supplier sold direct, they were faced with a version of frontier justice in that the local industry shunned them. Now, for some reason it’s more accepted, and that is insane. Hopefully this latest batch of wrong-headed selling will slow and retreat; if it does not, it surely won't be good for anyone in the end.

Elsewhere…

  • Why I like Twitter, part 378. This past week I was unable to attend the BETEC conference. Yet, I missed nothing thanks to live “tweeting” by Glass Magazine’s Katy Devlin. Twitter really is a great way to stay up on info, and Katy did a great job, as always.
  • The Dodge Momentum Index was up, and again, I remain hopeful. As for the ABI, it got some mainstream love from the folks at the Wall Street Journal. This article ran before the holidays and really played up the positive nature of the last few months.
  • I really like the agenda that IGMA has laid out for their conference next month. Kudos to David Cooper and Marg Webb for putting that one together: good speakers and subject matter to be covered.
  • Other than the above, it was a pretty slow week in our industry news wise, which was needed after the heavy news in week one of this new year.
  • Book of the week: If you grew up during the birth of MTV, then the book I just read is absolutely a must. The book’s title is “I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution” and it’s an oral history that is simply fantastic. I LOVED MTV as I grew up, and reading it just brought back tons of memories. It also sent me scurrying to YouTube to look up the videos as they were mentioned in the book. The inside stories were amazing too.
  • Also during the holidays, I was able to check another item off my “sports bucket list” by getting to see LeBron James play in person. He was spectacular to watch; just owned the court. Still not as good as Michael Jordan, but the game has changed, and seeing him in person gave me new perspective on how good James really is. Still on the list? See a hockey game in Edmonton and Toronto, go to Wimbledon, see The Masters and the World Cup, among others. Hey, I might as well shoot high, right?
  • Last, did any of you catch the controversy from “Wheel of Fortune” that hit over the holidays? I guess if you don’t enunciate just perfectly you can be buzzed as wrong. That happened in a horrible way in this video clip, and you just shake your head for this poor gal, who is, by the way, a part of our military and deserved better. Plus, I think she actually said it close enough, even with her accent, to be accepted.

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

The author 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, January 7, 2013

"For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."
- H. L. Mencken

The old phrase, "complex problems require complex solutions," is true now more than ever before. Whether you're discussing solutions to the federal budget deficit, international relations, treating mental illness or improving public safety, there are no easy, quick fixes.

There may be one thing we in the American fenestration industry can do after the terrible event in Newtown, Conn., and the many irrational, violent shootings and bombings we've all witnessed over the past decades in this country. As building product and construction professionals, we can offer greater safety by educating design professionals, building owners and public officials about threat-resistant products and design techniques. It's obviously not the only step we need to take to improve public safety, but it is one step.

Maybe that laminated door glass or bullet-resistant door will buy a little more time for the response teams to come to the scene. Maybe glass-clad polycarbonate panels or blast windows will keep someone from becoming a victim. Replacing that broken school window with laminated glass instead of annealed might possibly slow down that emotionally disturbed person just long enough to save a life.

We all want to look directly out the first-floor window, but we might have to give that up. We may have to recommend to designers that they use more skylights, translucent panels and clerestories to give occupants daylighting in first-floor and low-rise buildings. Perhaps replacing the cracked first-floor window with textured glass or obscure panels at eye level will keep a madman from thinking of students and teachers as targets.

You can't stop crazy. You can't stop an insane, emotionally violent person from obtaining destructive means of harming people, whether they use a fist, knife, gun or bomb. However, perhaps we can educate those charged with designing and constructing buildings about ways to protect us a little longer and slow down those who would harm others.

"Growing up, I was taught that a man has to defend his family. When the wolf is trying to get in, you gotta stand in the doorway." - B. B. King

Rod Van Buskirk is the third-generation owner of Bacon & Van Buskirk Glass Co., with locations in Champaign and Springfield, Ill. A past NGA Chairman, Rod looks quarterly at the industry from the middle of nowhere, steals ideas from anyone he can and pretends to know what he’s talking about. Rod invites your comments as you are certainly smarter than he is.

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, January 7, 2013

Happy 2013! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. I have to ask: Did January 2 seem busier and more intense than usual? It sure felt that way to me! I think it was because of the way Christmas fell. So many people were off after December 21 that folks returned en mass on January 2, and man, what a crazy day it was.


In any case, I am looking forward to 2013: Will the ABI be right? Will the economy grow, stagger or stay the same? Will there be more consolidation in our industry? Will there be product breakthroughs? Will new stars in our world emerge? I will address these and other questions here and in future blogs. I, for one, can't wait to get to it!

Elsewhere...

  • I think the ABI is going to be wrong. I will still follow it, report on it, and hope that when it's good, it's right. But I have a feeling it's going to be off. I think the 2013 economy will stay somewhat the same as 2012 but start to improve later in the year. That said, I have no clue what is really happening in D.C. (I chose to ignore the stories the last few weeks of the year. I finally got sick enough of it to just avoid it.) One thing I do know: There is more consolidation coming in 2013. Trulite made the first move (an excellent one by the way), and I think several others are coming from it, and others. If the rumor mill is any indication, I think this has potential to be a very active year.
  • Product breakthroughs will continue. I am constantly amazed at the products in development. I am pumped for GlassBuild America as I know a few of these technologies will be on display in the Innovative Product Pavilion. And yes, I believe new stars are being made in our world. I have plans to interview a few of the folks who are really making inroads in our business, and I am excited for the rest of the industry to get to know them too. At the end of the day, I'm excited about the coming year. Despite the economic unknowns, I feel it's going to be a positive year. If we keep creating great new technology, and introducing smart and capable people, our industry will be headed in the right direction, for sure.
  • No, my New Year's resolution was NOT to be sappy, but that paragraph above sure was. Ha ha. Actually, this year is "the year of no ice cream." I'll skip it. In 2012, I skipped pizza and am proud to say I made it. Never thought I could. Somehow, I gained a ton of weight becoming the only human to swear off pizza!
  • Big news: Right before the break, Guardian Industries announced a new leader and the completion of its deal with Koch Industries. This is a great deal for Guardian, and more importantly, for our industry. Guardian is a massive player and a supporter of so much of what we do, whether it's trade media, shows, sponsorships, education, etc. They are an excellent corporate citizen and are now even better with the addition of a strong company like Koch in their world. To me--as an industry observer--if a company that didn't "make things" like Koch was the investor, I would be worried, but this fit is really good and smart. Congrats to all involved.
  • Last, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the change at the top of Trulite. The old me would go on for about 700 words. The new me is more measured, soft and sappy.  I will only say that I was actually surprised at the ousting of Jeff Leone. I thought that after all this time in charge he had ridden the storm out. I now look forward to seeing how the new regime does and wish them the best of luck, as there's still a bunch of excellent people in that organization.

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

The author 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.

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