glassblog

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 nharris@glass.org.

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.

Elsewhere...

  • 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 mperilstein@vitro.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, 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 Tuscaloosanews.com. 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 www.GiveTuscaloosa.com.

Chase is editor of Glass Magazine. Write her at jchase@glass.org.

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.

Elsewhere...

  • 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 mperilstein@vitro.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, April 25, 2011

First, Sun Capital Partners bought Arch Aluminum & Glass Co. Then, a Sun Capital affiliate purchased United Glass Corp. With a $5 billion investment fund at its disposal and an interest in "acquiring or partnering with other market-leading companies in the architectural glass sector," the question now is: Who's next?

Sun Capital isn't the only private investment firm eying the glass industry. After an attempt to purchase Arch back in 2009, Grey Mountain Partners resurfaced this spring with the announcement that it would purchase the assets of Vitro America and Super Sky Products.

Emerging from all of this buying activity is a new type of competitor: the private investment firm.

What effect will this new breed of glass company have on the industry? In a recent interview, Glass Magazine asked Russ Huffer, chairman and CEO of Apogee Enterprises Inc. and acting president of Viracon, for his take on non-glass companies competing against industry mainstays. His response: "Troubled economic times make for change. It would be presumptuous of me to say that a new view or new ideas cannot be successful. Not being familiar with [the buying companies], I cannot comment, but usually people with money have great business sense, and that is what I expect."

What do you expect? 

Chase is editor of Glass Magazine. Write her at jchase@glass.org.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

We all get the e-mails that appear in our inboxes in the middle of the night offering us great products direct from China (or other foreign nations) at lower prices than ever before. Most of us ignore these come-ons. but recently. one group of e-mails crossed the line. The tag line said: “Supply Pilkington Low E Glass,” and the body of the e-mail gave the impression that you can get Pilkington Low E (making you jump to the assumption it is the legendary Energy Advantage Low E they are hawking) direct from China and this company instead of from the actual U.S. manufacturer. Basically, this is the classic misrepresentation that has been festering for years but continues to get bolder as people get more desperate to move products. Bottom line here is buyer beware. Good companies don’t allow fly-by-nighters to take their products and promote them, especially against their own operations. And quite frankly, if it sounds too good to be true (and is rife with typos and mis-spellings), it absolutely is. There are legitimate companies in China in our industry, and believe me, those companies don’t have to resort to spam-like emails with misrepresentations to get business.

Elsewhere...

  • As noted briefly last week, Guardian has filled the position being vacated by Russ Ebeid. Scott Thomsen will be the guy, and I think he’ll bring an energy and passion to that job that will really be fun to watch. It continues to be a very different world, and I have no doubt that a year from now, our industry will look a lot different, that is for sure.
  • The ABI held serve again this month. The really encouraging news is the solidification of the performance of the West. Could the end of the frustrations out there be near?
  • On the flip side, those who have followed me know I am an alarmist when it comes to gasoline prices, and once again, I am playing the role of Chicken Little… but this time, I really believe the sky is falling. Gas has already flown past $4 per gallon and it’s not even Memorial Day or the summer driving season. One analyst is predicting $6 a gallon gas. That would be very ugly.
  • GlassMagazine.com (a site you should bookmark and check at least daily) had a great link to a story from Toronto last week talking about how glass as a building product is shifting. It’s a frustrating story with some inaccurate statements, but it does send a message that we have to continue to educate the masses about our products. Because if we don’t, we will be replaced by other materials.
  • So, the “tree in the forest” that I mentioned last week finally “formally” fell and a press release was issued that UGC was sold to an affiliate of Sun Capital. Someone posted a comment on my blog saying it was getting the legal stuff taken care of, but that holds no water when so many maneuvers were underway already. Now, let’s hope the new owners quickly make good on the payments owed to contracted employees that were not paid while the company was struggling. Outside of that, I think I’ll hold my tongue- for now--shocking I know--but still waaaay too much emotion there for me.
  • FUN FACT: The guy who won the Boston Marathon last week did it in 2 hours and 3 minutes. He was MOVING! So much so, to run that fast, that long is comparable to turning your treadmill to 12.1 and running on that for 2 hours. 12.1! Try it; it shows you the pure speed involved. Simply crazy fast.
  • I buried myself yet again with the wonderful editor (Jenni Chase) of this fine publication. When I abused Denver and Washington in posts last week, I received an e-mail letting me know that those were HER favorite teams. I had no idea going in, obviously. Oh well… so if you see my next story is on the “life of useless cullet” you know she is exacting her revenge.

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

Max Perilstein is chief marketing officer for Vitro Architectural Products, Memphis. Write him at mperilstein@vitro.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, April 18, 2011

Over the years, Glass Performance Days conferences have managed to bring together leading experts in the international glass community. The organizing committee has always strived to keep GPD a forum where information and technological advances can be analyzed and debated. On more than one ocassion, these discussions have sparked the development of amazing glass applications, in energy efficiency, solar and many other areas.

To create this kind of environment that encourages in-depth discussion of industry developments, we not only maintain the high quality of our established activities, but also strive to find fresh ideas to add value for our participants. This year, the event in Finland will be held June 17-20 and will feature our traditional key sessions: Glass in Architecture, Glass Processing, Solar and Glass Technology, Changing Markets, and Automotive and other Vehicles. Having a wide range of topics up for discussion enables us to offer knowledge for the entire glass supply chain: knowledge on where the industry is heading, knowledge on market and customer needs, and knowlege on new developments and applications.

In addition, this year's conference will include a Glass Product Expo and 18 workshops. The Expo has proven particularly useful for participants looking to launch new products or concepts before an international expert audience, prior to full-scale commercial introduction.

New this year will be the Energy-efficiency and Solar Park, where exhibitors from industry, the public sector, and research and development will present state-of-the-art contributions to sustainable development. The Architect Competition, an invitational event with four internationally well-known participants, also will take place. The objective will be to produce a creative solution for a parking facility entrance at the Bank of Finland Square in the center of Tampere city.

Last, but by no means least, GPD takes pride in its ability to enhance networking, and this year, we have put even more focus on this aspect by launching our own online Contact Forum, available exclusively to GPD participants. The mission of the Contact Forum is to enable and facilitate one-on-one meetings among attendees to enhance future business opportunities and the sharing of new ideas.

We welcome you to come see, be seen and be heard! Particpant registration and more info is available at www.gpd.fi.

Brown Onduso handles marketing and public relations for Glass Performance Days. Write him at brown.onduso@gpd.fi.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Usually, the spring in our industry is quiet news wise, but 2011 has not followed that path, and last week we had yet another special alert pop up. The announced retirement of Guardian Industries Glass Group President Russ Ebeid hit the wires and signaled yet another shift within our industry. Once upon a time, people would complain to me that our industry was stuck in neutral, the same faces in all the same places. Well, this sure isn't the case anymore! As for Russ, there's a ton to say, but according to the report he isn't due to retire until the fall, so I'll hold off on my tributary comments until the time is right. Needless to say, he will be missed.

Elsewhere...

  • Best e-mail of the week came from a industry buddy of mine who commented on the high profile retirement announcements of Ebeid and Russ Huffer. He sarcastically said, "Wow, two great job openings now for me to choose from.. gonna be a tough call on which one I will take... ." I love it. (And now just one of the two jobs is open anyway!)
  • From the "If a tree falls in a forest but no one is there to hear it" files... if a company (or group of companies in this case) gets sold (or infused with money and new leadership) but no one wants to admit it to the press (but they've told all of the employees and are telling customers) did it really happen? What I don't get is why you don't announce it? Unless something else is at play... I'll give it another week, still makes no sense.
  • Those of you who have been reading this blog since 2005 know that one of my pet peeves is the whole price-fixing lawsuit situation. This past week, Jeld-Wen filed suit against several glass manufacturers. The whole thing is sad, in my opinion, because at the end of the day the cost of defending yourself through our legal system is far more than just settling. So even if you are innocent (and I believe the folks in the U.S. are innocent), you end up paying. The most recent suit against the manufacturers was recently settled, but Jeld-Wen decided to "opt out" and go it alone. And why not? They are a big company with deep pockets. They can now see if the manufacturers will again decide if it's worth fighting. When is enough... enough? I don't know, maybe I'm just mad because I suffer through predatory practices daily and deal with it.
  • OK, time to finish on a lighter note.... The playoffs have begun in the NBA and NHL. In the NHL, my picks for the Cup are the Red Wings and Capitals, or as my son says, "the worst match up ever" because he is not a fan of either team. I was going to pick the Canucks, or Montreal, but knowing I have good friends that are big fans of those teams, no way could I put the hex on them. I think the Caps will win it all. In the NBA, it should be a wild playoff season with a ton of teams that could win it. I'm actually going with a long shot in the West... Denver. (Yep, I picked 'em last year too) to face Chicago in the finals, with Bulls winning it all. Though I wouldn't be surprised to see the Heat win. I avoided picking the Spurs out of respect for the incredible Luna family, owners of Champion Glass in San Antonio. If I jinxed the Spurs, I'd never get to see a game with those guys again! In any case, it should be a fun two months of playoffs in both leagues and a great nightly diversion to the daily adventures of our world! 

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

Max Perilstein is chief marketing officer for Vitro Architectural Products, Memphis. Write him at mperilstein@vitro.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, April 12, 2011

Most small businesses hire people to execute current work; they don’t think about hiring people to help them grow their companies. But as small business owners, we need to hire leaders to help us grow our companies. I am always looking for people, even if I do not have a position available. I know that when I find someone, I will create a position for them.

There are three components to developing a growth-oriented recruiting plan: Prospecting, Interviewing and Hiring, and Orientation and Basic Training.  Here, we will talk about prospecting and interviewing.

Obviously, the best prospects are usually referrals.  Trust is the key, and referrals always come with an assumed level of trust.  The potential employee must trust you just as you must trust him or her.  This trust will lead to a more open interview.  Trust will allow you, as the interviewer, to get more honest answers.  I want to answer three questions during an interview (notice that I did not say I want the applicant to answer the questions):

1)            Can the applicant do the job? (What is their experience and/or potential?)

2)            Will the applicant do the job? (Are they motivated?)

3)            Will the applicant do the job for me? (Do they fit our corporate culture?)

To get an accurate answer to #1, we must clearly define the expectations for the job.  We have to know what our company needs.  What is the job description?  This definition must be told to the potential employee during, if not before, the interview.  The key to getting accurate answers to #1 is clearly defining the job expectations.  If the answer to #1 is not positive, then #2 and #3 become irrelevant. 

How do we determine motivation?  I ask about their proudest accomplishments and also about their greatest disappointments.  I can get a good idea from their past about what will motivate them in the future.  The two biggest motivators are the desire to get something or the fear of losing something.  When we uncover the answer to either of these, we know what tool to use to motivate the new employee.

I recently interviewed someone referred to us by a competitor.  After the initial interview, I asked him back for a second interview conducted jointly by two trusted employees.  I needed to know if he would fit in with our current staff.  By using existing employees to conduct a follow-up interview, I got another viewpoint about the potential employee.  Do they want to work with him?  Are they willing to work with him to help him succeed?

—Bill Evans, president, Evans Glass Co., Nashville   

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, April 12, 2011

You know the term “Never in my wildest dreams?” Well, I can tell you I have always wanted to use it in the right context. You know, like “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d get locked in the M&M factory!” or “Never in my wildest dreams did I think Denzel Washington would want ME in his next movie!". But amazingly, that appropriate phrase now has usage in my life: “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be doing ‘all this’ again one year later.”

“All this,” in case you have been living under a rock or working for the DOE (same thing), is the news that my current company is being sold after being forced into bankruptcy. No way could I have imagined this happening again, and surely not so soon either. In any case, it has been a mind-bending experience, the same as the past event but yet different in many ways. While the process and some of the names and figures are the same, the overall action and path were markedly opposite. Still, that said, it is, what it is, and I am living in the glass industry's cruel version of Groundhog Day.

So here we are again, with so many of the same emotions percolating about, but still the most important angle is “hope.” I am truly hopeful and actually confident that this will work out for the company, our suppliers, customers, and most importantly all of the folks employed here. We have to stay positive and put our faith in the leadership in the U.S. that was incredibly deft enough to create viable contingency plans in case the legal matters we got sucked into went south.

So, never in my wildest dreams did I ever see myself writing a post like this again, and so help me, I don’t plan on doing it a third time, that’s for sure. I’m rolling forward and I hope that we can get a chance to finish what we started and continue to work hard for this industry.

Elsewhere…

  • It’s kind of hard to hit other subjects when you have such a heavy angle hanging out there, but it is “business as usual” and I’ll keep going at it.
  • Saddened by the passing of John McGrory this past week. He and his family built a great company and my condolences to the family on this very sad loss for them and our industry.
  • An awesome post HERE by incredible Glass Pundit herself, Kris Vockler. Worth a read, for sure, as some incredible food for thought on display.
  • Am I the only one who reads the story about Quanex and their changes at the Engineered Products Group and wonder what happens to some of the other key people from Edgetech?
  • I mentioned the DOE earlier, and last week they announced $113 million in funding for solar growth in the U.S. I really have concerns on that as I have not trusted their track record on who they have given money to and how they have given it in the past. $113 million could help many good growth companies- in a few different energy related industry segments. Let’s hope this doesn’t get squandered. Plus, the other thought is with the debt so high, this money better be well spent; otherwise the hole goes deeper.
  • There was a comment on my blog from the esteemed Henry Taylor of Kawneer. He is also currently the head of the GANA BEC. One thing I failed to mention in all of my pieces is that Henry didn’t exactly pick the perfect time to take the reins of that group. The economy fell apart, and spending on things like BEC shrank. Henry has done a tremendous job in driving the bus, and he is supremely talented and important to the future of our world. And there’s no doubt, he realizes what the holes are and what needs to be filled. I should’ve been clearer; absolutely no disrespect intended.
  • Last this week… I picked the Red Sox to win the American League and I think they’ve won once since… my gosh I have the touch don’t I? I guess that’s why one of my co-workers now calls me “The Flying Dutchman.”

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

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