glassblog

Monday, October 29, 2012

In one week, the Department of Energy and the USGBC both got taken to task in the media, and it was like a blogging Hanukah for me, with each day bringing a different gift of much needed criticism. The DOE was first hammered in this report of wasteful travel practices. Then, a newspaper took the DOE to task over claims from security agents about fraud, waste and abuse. And at the end of the week, even the White House tossed the DOE under the bus, blaming it for the loan to out-of-business Abound Solar.

All of the reports were pretty interesting reads, and hopefully they lead to more reporting on some of the other issues within the very stale organization. My hope is no matter who wins on November 6, he takes a hard and fresh look at that body. It surely needs it at every level.

Meanwhile, USA Today ran two days of stories about the USGBC and the whole green building world. To me, it was a fascinating takedown of a group that was pretty much bulletproof. Whenever it got into any trouble, there was always some trade media to carry its water for it. Trade media can usually trump bloggers like me. Now that one of the biggest newspapers in North America has taken a shot, it will be interesting to see who comes to the rescue and how effective they are. The basis of the articles included how business interests became a powerful force at the USGBC, and how “easy” it is to be green, including the all-famous “bike rack” piece. I have been consistently saying that green building ratings are needed but they have to be valuable and real. It’s an important part of our industry and future, and needs to be better. Anyway it’s nice to see others agree. The whole series can be found here.

Elsewhere...

  • The Architecture Billings Index had a good month: the best in two years, actually. Many industry and economic observers are expecting a solid 2013, and if the ABI holds true, everyone with the exception of the West should have a solid first quarter. Plus, McGraw-Hill Construction predicted commercial construction will be up 12 percent despite some holes in the sector thanks to stingy lending from the banks. I still remain positive about the future, with or without the ABI.
  • It was tough missing glasstec last week, but thanks to excellent tweets from Katy Devlin of Glass Magazine, pictures from Steve O’Hollaren of ICD and tweets from Guardian, I was able to follow along.  I will be curious to catch up with those folks who attended the show to see what they thought about it.
  • One more week until the election, and I just don’t know how folks in the swing states can deal with the insane amount of commercials. I was in one particular state this past week and watched the commercials alternate from one side to another… over and over.
  • Last this week, at the time of this posting, Hurricane Sandy was chugging up the coast. Hopefully, its bark is worse than its bite… stay safe everyone!

Read on for links and video 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, October 22, 2012

The week ahead features the largest glass show in the world with the opening of glasstec in Germany. glasstec takes place every other year, and it will be interesting to see if it continues the very positive trade-show trend that has been in play throughout 2012.  What we have seen in last several months is that the hunger for information and networking that the trade-show scene brings is strong, so it leads me to believe we have some encouraging steps taking place in our world. 
Elsewhere…
  • After several weeks of very newsworthy items, this was a slow one. So, this post will be shorter than normal. 
  • Question for the readers: A glazing contractor I know has a ton of really old, hard-to-find, and interesting glass on their floor.  Everything from old obscures and decorative to products like “Greylite 56” and “Houze Lo-Tran." Is there anyone out there for this group to connect with to see if this glass could find a good home?  It’s all in very good shape.  Thank you in advance for any insight.
  • Some pretty big moves in our world this past week with PPG buying Spraylat and Grey Mountain’s Consolidated Glass Holdings picking up the assets of North American Specialty Glass.  Overall, it's still a very active world for deals, and my guess is you might see a bunch in the first quarter of 2013 because there are lots of buyers and many sellers tired of fighting the battles.
  • Last this week, Wednesday starts the World Series. I can’t wait for the games to come to Detroit and see the players bundled up to play in 30-degree weather.  Really time to either start the season earlier or cut it down to 154 games.

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, October 16, 2012

Last week, LaCantina Doors celebrated the grand opening of its sleek and open showroom, and expansive lean manufacturing plant. The company grew out of its previous 20,000-square-foot facility in Vista, Calif. Its new 67,000-square-foot location in Oceanside, Calif., features a stunning, modern showroom, spacious upstairs offices and a large warehouse space that the company is quickly filling with new machinery and equipment for its expanding product line.

The company, a manufacturer of large sliding and folding door systems, serves the residential market in addition to the commercial market, which "is growing every day," according to Lee Maughan, general manager. "This is an adaptable product, and it is what people want for applications such as retail and restaurants. The doors provide that desired openness."

The showroom echoes that openness, Maughan said. Additionally, "our main business is in southern California. The showroom is designed to give [visitors] a feel for the various products as they would appear in a real-life application," he said.

The showroom space is reminiscent of a renovated warehouse loft, with the black-painted duct work and air vents visible overhead, and sunlight peeking through wooden wall dividers that separate the various door products. "We plan on engaging with the architectural community, through the showroom," Maughan said. "We want to get people in the showroom to see the products and possibilities for themselves." The showroom even features a room-length wooden table, intended to be used as a sit-down meeting area for designers who visit.

The thoughtful design and arrangement of the showroom carries over into the manufacturing facility as well. The new facility is "great for lean manufacturing," Maughan described. The company, with 55 employees, manufactures door products in-house, including building the hardware and installing the glass products. "The products go out glazed and hardwared. The doors just have to be joined in the field," he said.

"We have a full-time maintenance employee for our CNC equipment, and an active [research and development] department," Maughan said. The company has engineered and built some of its own machines, and has invested in new machines, including an Emmegi cutting machine for its double door production.

During the grand opening event, LaCantina invited area architects, dealers, customers and other project partners to tour the new showroom and manufacturing facility.

View a photo tour of the LaCantina Doors showroom

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

Monday, October 15, 2012

It is my opinion that the presidential election on November 6 will be a life-changing event. Others are watching it too. Last week, the Dodge Momentum Index report specifically focused on the election as a reason for the results. The index slipped in August and has been struggling recently. Analysts basically blamed it on the election and the uncertainty stemming from it. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the result of November 6, no matter what it is, will have a major effect on our industry and how we go forward. Will the closure that comes from the election make a difference? I am hearing yes and no. From some sides, it’s a resounding yes; but others believe that the gridlock and malaise will continue no matter what.

Elsewhere…

  • Last week, Glass Magazine's Jenni Chase had one of the best glassblog posts of ALL TIME. Her piece on being a glass geek was excellent, and if you missed it, please check it out here. My geek story is from the opening of the Pittsburgh Airport in 1992. It featured TONS of glass, and it was the first airport to feature a mall in it. Since it was pre 9-11, you could meet people at the gates, and you could shop while you waited. Anyway, my brother and I went out there right after it opened, just to look at the glass...and see all the logos. We were on our knees looking at logos on the glass by the automated walkways, and craning our necks to see logos up high on an all-glass storefront. Needless to say, we looked like we were either idiots or casing the joint. Anyway, Jenni’s piece, and the great comments that came from it, were excellent reading.
  • Yet another reason I struggle with the Department of Energy: last week, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review ran a story about athletes getting special breaks from the government, and the good ‘ole DOE was at it again. From the story:

    Agassi's Las Vegas nonprofit took $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to help erect the "Alternative Energy School of the Future." According to the agency, the money was earmarked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, solely for the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education -- no other schools need apply.

    Wow. Now politics aside, why is the DOE giving $1.5 million to anyone for something like this? And is a tennis player’s charity the right place for that amount of money? Really? The rest of the story can be found here, and it’s infuriating.
  • For those of you who have been in the industry awhile, the name Jim Bradford is familiar. He is the former president of both AFG (before it was known as AGC) and the old United Glass Corp. Bradford left the industry way back at the start of the last decade and has been successful in his ventures. This past week, however, he made news when he was embroiled in a mini controversy at Cracker Barrel, where he is a board member. Here’s the Cracker Barrel side and the very intense response from their largest shareholder, who is not happy.
  • Last this week, the poor Washington Nationals. Man, who would think me picking them for the World Series would jinx them in the 9th inning of game 5? Now it is obvious there is no more fortunate/clutch team in the world than St Louis. Wow. And as for the Yankees, losing Derek Jeter surely isn’t a good thing. Ouch.

Read on for links and video 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, October 8, 2012

You turn to your spouse while having a romantic dinner out and say, “You know what would make a good commercial for interior glass doors?”

And yes, this did actually happen. My husband and I were seated near a private dining area in a local restaurant that was sectioned off by sliding glass doors. A little boy who looked to be about six years old was effortlessly sliding the doors open and closed. I thought to myself, what a great way to show how aesthetically pleasing, functional and easy-to-use glass interior doors can be. Am I right?

You visit the art museum and are most excited about the exhibit on airport design and the use of glass curtain walls.

On a recent trip to Denver, my family and I decided to tour the Denver Art Museum, where they had a temporary exhibition taking visitors through six airports designed by Curtis Fentress. I was excited to see that a significant portion of the Sea-Tac (Seattle) International Airport and Denver International Airport exhibits were dedicated to the buildings’ curtain-wall designs. In addition to photographs and models, the exhibits included the hardware used to create the point-supported glass curtain wall in Seattle … displayed as a work of art!

You come up for air after lap 10 at your gym’s pool and take note of what company made the entrance doors to the hot tub area.

Granted, this could be attributable to not being in shape and using any excuse to stop swimming for a moment. But still, I took notice. U.S. Aluminum was the manufacturer.

You get stuck in traffic near the Colorado Convention Center and make your entire family (including the children under age 6) listen to the type of glass it features.

By the way, this happened on the way to the art museum, so it was a banner day for geeking out about glass. The Colorado Convention Center will host the AIA 2013 National Convention, a fact that I shared with my family, along with the details of two curtain-wall facades that use Viracon VE-2M insulating glass in their design.

I know I'm not alone here, or at least I hope I'm not. If you have a "glass geek" story to share, please do!

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

Sunday, October 7, 2012

This past week, the American Institute of Architects put out a tremendous document (86 pages!) on integrating energy modeling into the design process.  The document exams everything the designer needs to know to push the envelope energy-wise. Quite frankly, that NEEDS to happen. Plus, it benefits our industry, giving higher-end, value-added products a better chance of getting through the specification AND bidding processes without getting value engineered out. "An Architect's Guide to Integrating Energy Modeling in the Design Process" gives designers facts and figures on the building's energy performance. And yes, I know this sort of design process has been happening for years, but this document gives it a chance to be mainstream and somewhat standardized. Kudos to the AIA for an excellent job. If you want a copy (and you should), you can find it here.

Elsewhere...

  • A happy Thanksgiving to my friends in Canada; I can’t believe it's already here. Blink your eyes, and the U.S. version will be here in a second.
  • Am I the only one bummed out to know that every other industry can cut corners left and right and have no blowback? I have written about bags of dog food that mysteriously get smaller (but sell for the same price), and I just recently experienced it with a kitchen faucet. After 11 years, our faucet needed replacing. We got the same model, and after we installed it, we noticed it was smaller, thinner and just shoddy overall. But it surely wasn’t cheaper.
  • Gotta give credit to Jeff Razwick and the gang at TGP. They have been effectively using social media all year, and this past week Jeff used their blog in probably the best way possible. He wrote an informative, magazine-like piece on code tradeoffs. Good, healthy content. Well done.
  • Congrats to Viracon and all the folks back to work in Statesboro, Ga. A lot of people thought when Viracon suspended operations there to do upgrades that the plant would never re-open. Great to see it has!
  • The Canada Border Service Agency ended its look into alleged Chinese dumping of unitized curtain wall after not finding enough evidence to go forward. I have to admit, I am stunned. I don’t know enough of the ins and outs of the investigation, but this surely was an interesting turn.
  • March 31st, 2012: I picked the Yankees to beat the Nationals in the World Series, right here on this blog. It is stunning that I am even close to a pick being right!! Now that the playoffs are here, I do like that matchup, but will say beware the Tigers and their pitching. It also might be the year “Moneyball” wins with the upstart A’s.
  • Last this week, we had freeze warnings in Michigan, and I believe snow fell in the West. Winter is knocking on the door. Dang.

Read on for links and video 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, October 1, 2012

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." -Thomas Jefferson 

 I promise this is last political blog I’ll ever write.

These days, pundits and pollsters are in the prediction business.  This is mine: The Senate will continue to be split almost 50-50 but remain under Democratic leadership, and the House will remain under Republican control.

Consider what the next Congress faces after being sworn in January 2013:

  • We face the largest national deficit in history.
  • Most states face huge deficits.  Key states like Illinois and California might never be able to recover from their debt obligations.
  • We face a slow, ongoing economic recovery with continuing high unemployment rates and a slowly recovering housing industry.
  • The U.S. might be dragged into a war between Israel and Iran.  The world economy could be decimated and fuel prices could go sky high.  Even if that never happens, uncertainty in the Middle East will continue for some time to come and affect the world.
  • No changes might be made to Obamacare.  Approaching 2014, we might all face complexity and cost no government, business or individual can contemplate.
  • Public and private sector unfunded pension liability is the huge, ignored 'Sword of Damocles' hanging over all of our heads for the next decade or more.

Regardless of whoever wins the White House, our future will only improve when those in government at the federal, state and local levels find political courage, wisdom and the willingness to compromise.

May God help us all, because that seems unlikely. 

"The future ain't what it used to be." -Yogi Berra

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, October 1, 2012

I have commented many times on my lack of satisfaction with the USGBC and its LEED program. When USGBC was confronted in the past, I jumped on board, and was even mocked by some for doing so. Once again this week, a challenge was issued  to USGBC, when a major developer decided it would build a structure, make it green and NOT go through the USGBC for certification. All I can say is AMEN. Why we always end up in these mostly monopolistic situations in our world is mind blowing. We have 1,000 places to buy glass from but only one to certify it as "green" or in compliance with energy ratings. It is insane. Hopefully, the developer sticks to its guns and a better system evolves, and the world benefits.

Elsewhere…

  • Want to know another issue I have with USGBC? Their annual Greenbuild show has become a portrait of disgusting excess: major concerts to kick it off and tons of celebrities and politicos on hand for no real reason other than “star power.” Basically, the event has become a gluttonous ego fest.  It's sad, since the goal of “going green” or living sustainably is the opposite of what the USGBC does every year at Greenbuild. As for the show, there’s a lot of pressure on event organizers, as last year in Toronto was not good. We’ll see what happens this time around.
  • Speaking of shows, we’re a month away from a pretty cool show in the West at Fenestration West 2012. Held October 23, it is a one-day powerhouse of education, networking and information. This year it’s in Burnaby, British Columbia. So if you are in the West, it’s a must-attend event. More info is here.
  • Did you happen to see the story this week on a possible water shortage in North America? The drought and weather is really taking its toll, and I believe this is a very serious issue. I think others agree, and that’s why so many companies are jumping on board with better performing machinery that uses re-circulated water and other more efficient measures. (Many at GlassBuild were looking for stuff like this.) Even if there’s not a shortage, I think running a smarter plant makes more sense.
  • Congrats to my friends at Glassopolis for their incredible contest win last week. They won a cool 100K in a contest sponsored by the Toronto Globe and Mail and Telus in a competition for small businesses. Evidently, we have some very smart cookies at Glassopolis as they beat out 1,200 other companies for the award. Awesome for them and our industry!
  • A bizarre new survey from McGraw-Hill Construction says we’ll have an architect shortage by 2014. I guess these guys have gone from having trouble predicting a correct economic forecast to somehow coming up with this doozy. Not a chance there will be a shortage of architects. Now, if they are saying they’ll be a shortage of capable architects, they might be right, but there’s been a shortage there for years…
  • Last this week, Serious Energy sold its Colorado plant back to Alpen, the company it bought it from a few years ago. There was also an auction, evidently, at the famous Chicago sit-in plant, so I guess that plant is gone too (though I don’t know what happened to the employee co-op that was poised to take it over). Anyway, it's amazing the transformation Serious has undergone. Two years ago, it was everywhere and everything, crowing about the Empire State Building and the “revolutionary” way it did business while being mentioned by the president. Now, it is pretty much a shell of its former self. I guess its version of heat mirror wasn’t ready for a comeback after all.

Read on for links and video 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, September 25, 2012

In the early 1960s, a young upstart from Massachusetts said, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”  With that concise comment, John F. Kennedy challenged all Americans to get outside of themselves and look at how they can influence others. As the new chairman of the board of the National Glass Association, I issue a similar challenge.

Ask not what your industry association can do for you. Ask what you can do for your industry.

At the beginning of the 21st century, I asked myself if I wanted my company to grow or maintain status quo. Charlie Jones said in his book, Life is Tremendous, "You will be the same in give years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” It occurred to me that I had developed the habit of hanging around with the same people and listening to their “advice”. This limited the information and ideas to which I was exposed.

I made the decision to grow my company. I understood that I needed new ideas and networks to do this. Even though I had difficulty visualizing specific benefits and I couldn’t afford the extra expense, I made the decision to find sources for ideas and relationships that would get me out of the rut I was in. I had to DIG my way out of the rut. I did not know where to go, so I turned to the National Glass Association.

D: Decided to join
I: Investigated opportunities with NGA
G: Got involved

I knew that what I received was directly proportional to what I put in. If I paid the dues and remained uninvolved, I would receive nothing. 

Evans Glass Co. has received benefits from my involvement. We have trained new employees with www.myglassclass.com and the Glass Management Institute. By attending GlassBuild America, I have made connections and discovered new software, machinery and products.  We have sent employees to GBA and to visit glass companies in different geographic regions. The bottom line is that the NGA has provided new ideas and relationships that have helped us grow.

Initially, my thinking was limited to my company. Then, over time, my interest expanded to my local market and then to my regional market. Now I realize what happens nationally impacts my business locally. Because of what Evans Glass Co. has received, I feel a responsibility to give back. Call it my “call to duty”. I am just a glass guy that got involved.

Let me issue you the challenge.  Get involved and give back to your industry.  Together we can strengthen it.  Will you accept your call to duty?

The author is president of Evans Glass Co., and chairman of the National Glass Association. Write him at bevans@evansglasscompany.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, September 24, 2012

So it's time to get back into the nitty gritty of the industry after the rush and excitement of GlassBuild America. Before the show, a ton of news broke, and we put it on the shelf until after the show so it could get its proper due. And of course, since the show there’s been significant news too. So without further delay, let’s get caught up!

Here goes:

  • A comment was left on a recent blog post about the lack of action regarding training our glaziers and industry. This is a massive problem and one that will most likely get worse before it gets better. Reason being, with everyone slashing costs, one of the first things to go is education and training. It’s a classic corner cut. Add that to our aging industry workforce, lack of feeders and the volatile nature of our world, and this IS a massive problem that deserves debate. There is no easy fix either, because it will need a concerted industry effort to improve the situation. Our industry has never been known to work together, so we have our work cut out for us.
  • One person who was working very hard to provide education to our industry sadly is leaving us. David Walker, the excellent VP of Association Services for the NGA is moving on to a tremendous gig as president and CEO of the Coalition to Support America’s Heroes. It is a great organization that is doing extremely important work for the men and women who risk their lives to protect us every day. David was instrumental in reviving the NGA education efforts, and he will be missed. However, the NGA acted very quickly and  hired David’s replacement in Jim Gandorf. I was able to spend a few minutes with Jim at GlassBuild and came away extremely impressed. I am confident that the issues that I note above will be on Jim’s radar and he’ll be pushing hard to take the work that David and team began to the next level. Welcome to our world Jim!
  • The Architectural Billings Index bounced back. Parse that with a great trade show, and I’m back on the positive train.
  • The Glass Magazine People awards were a hit, and a major congrats to all of the winners. I do not know Brian Abrisz or Richard Poirier personally, but I am sure they deserve after winning such a huge vote. What an honor! I do know John McGee and I am thrilled for him, a great guy who I have immense respect for. As for the last winner, that category was tough, with John Bush, Scott White and the eventual winner Waylon McCall. I actually worked at one time or another with all three. I think the world of all three and wish I had a portion of their talent. I'm happy for Waylon, since this award should make up for past crushing fantasy league losses (LOL). Seriously though, how anyone who knows these three could pick between them is beyond me. In any case, looking at all of the nominees and winners does show the talent we have in our industry, and I am sure next year these awards will be even harder to vote on. Heck, if we could have a training program led by the guys above, maybe we could solve some of our workforce issues!
  • The great news out of Colorado about RavenBrick (full disclosure, my firm does consulting work for them) was exciting. Getting funding and preparing to go into full production in a new plant is just tremendous for the company founders and employees who have worked their tails off to get to this point. It also shows that dynamic glass, whether its thermochromic like this, or electrochomic from Sage or Soladigm, is going to be a major player in our world going forward. The momentum is there.
  • One more show note, did any of you who stayed at the LVH laugh over the “Go Green” offer in your rooms? The LVH would give you a $5 coupon a day to skip getting your room cleaned in the name of “green." That just slayed me. What a great efficiency improver. Give someone $5 that has to be used in the hotel, and save time and money not having staff clean. That has got to be the most creative usage of the green meme yet.
  • Last, I picked USC to win it all, and they have already lost, and I picked the Dolphins to go winless, and they have already won. Nice to see I can still pick ‘em!

Read on for links and video 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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