glassblog

Monday, February 27, 2012

There’s no doubt that the Trainor story was a huge event in our world. The emotions and fallout surrounding it continue to be intense. The news of its closure was more of a surprise because it ceased operations and didn't file for Chapter 11 reorganization and keep operating. It was the finality that was the knockout punch. As for the emotions and feedback from the industry, the biggest concern is the welfare of the employees. My heart goes out to those folks, all of whom had been pumping along and then BAM it's over. No last paycheck, no benefits. Just over. You’d have to be a very cold person to not feel terrible and hope that those guys and gals can find new employment elsewhere in our world. Surely there are some talented people now available. In any case, talking to some of the folks caught up in this is heartbreaking, and I hope only the best for them.

Now onto the business side of this. There were excellent, well thought-out comments left on my blog last week. Eventually, I see the Trainor situation becoming a case study because there are teachable moments here from a business standpoint. You have all of the factors in place: family dynamics, multiple locations, industry prominence, misjudged expansions into markets and products (the decorative and solar were great angles, just wrong time, place and focus) and much more. All of that plays out in the big picture of things.

So yet again, we start another era in our industry as we have several times in the last few years. And while I am very positive about our future and there are a lot of very good things happening in our world, there’s still the worry and malaise that hangs over us. Bottom line: I hope we are continuing to learn from these events, and gaining the knowledge that will make us stronger and smarter as people, companies and an industry as a whole.

Elsewhere…

  • Pretty big story popped late Thursday and into Friday that Serious Materials was closing the famous Chicago plant that they took over a few years ago. (The plant featured a sit in, made national news and eventually had a visit from Vice President Biden when it reopened.) That closing is now delayed, but we had some interesting moments leading up to it. The story here is a remarkable read about what happened. In any case, this one will bear watching because it will be fascinating to see who possibly steps up in this.
  • Congrats to the awesome Carol Land of the Glass Association of North America, as she celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary this past weekend. Carol is one of my all-time favorites, and I am thrilled for her and her husband for hitting this awesome milestone!
  • Last week, the AABC Energy Management Guideline for building owners, design professionals, commissioning authorities and energy management professionals came out. (That was a mouthful eh?) Once again, it reflects negatively on how our industry is perceived. 256 pages in all, and it covers everything under the sun building-product-wise that can help the building save money and be efficient, with the exception of glass/windows. Nothing on improving the window to increase efficiency, but hey, if you want info on low-flush toilets, it's in here. H/T and thanks to Chris Ketchum of RavenBrick on this one, I would’ve never have seen it otherwise.
  • Last this week, a great marketing read via link that was tweeted out by Guardian’s Earnest Thompson. It’s about how cars get their names, and as anyone who has had to name products knows, it’s not easy or fun. This story reminds me about a lunch I had once with the legend of Ford Glass and Visteon Mr. Lowell Rager, when the “Versalux” line of products were announced. At that lunch, I heard about the demise of the greatest glass name ever, “Jade Ice,” and the launch of the line of names that sounded like vacuum cleaners or dishwashers. No matter how it may sound, some things just fit better than others, and this article Earnest sent shows it’s an issue all over.

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, February 21, 2012

We had an interesting/exciting/hopeful move in Washington, D.C., this past week with the introduction of the "Smart Energy Act" by a bi-partisan group of representatives. The act contains many provisions that can bring positive results to our industry, with the focus on retrofits being the most promising. Support for that business segment, coupled with the fact our world is littered with bad buildings that waste energy faster than I can finish a bowl of M&M's, is a point of emphasis that somehow always gets lost in the wash. While so much focus is on making sure new buildings are up to code, we as a society give old buildings a pass. This effort will hopefully help change that. The only frightening part is that the DOE is involved, and as many of you know, I am not a fan. So, as long as the DOE and the typical Washington gridlock doesn't damage the process, this bill has hope.

And yes, I know I am nicer on the blog these days. So it is shocking I just made a negative comment! Ironically, I get more e-mail complaining that I am TOO nice on the blog than anything else. In any case, as nice as I have been, the DOE still frustrates me to no end.

Elsewhere...

  • Loved the announcement from Glass Magazine on its new awards. I am absolutely thrilled that there will be some personal recognition happening. We have so much talent in this industry that doesn't get the pub it deserves, and doing it in this format is really spectacular. Heck, my mind is racing nomination-wise right now! Just a brilliant idea by Jenni Chase and team. The Crystal Achievement Awards were always the gold standard in the industry, and now they have taken the entire process another great step forward.
  • Last week, I noted the launch of the excellent new website at CommercialWindows.Org, and Kerry Haglund added a comment on the main site of my blog that I felt needed to be shared with the e-glass weekly audience:

    Max, Thanks for the kind words. We feel the work we do is important and makes a difference to the industry. We have some more exciting stuff coming in the future with an upgraded residential site/tool and other projects to be announced in the near future. ~Kerry

    The fact that there's MORE to come here is awesome. Simply wow. I seriously think if Kerry and the folks she works with at the Center for Sustainable Building Research ran the DOE, we'd be soooo much further along.

A couple of items from the pop culture world this week...

  • Michael Jordan celebrated his 49th birthday, and without question, is the best basketball player to walk the earth. Unreal. I know Magic, Bird the Doctor and others were great, but no one holds a candle to Air Jordan.
  • The Grammy Awards were fun to watch and GLASS made an appearance as Katy Perry broke a piece of tempered as part of her set. I love when glass gets involved in anything mainstream. As for the rest of the show, loved Bruce off the top, and I just wish I could dance and move like Bruno Mars. Oh, and that Adele is a star!
  • Something else I am always tracking and complaining about are gas prices, and they are on the rise again: over $4 per gallon in California now and probably poised to go higher. That is flat out depressing.
  • Last this week, a great friend of mine sent me a story on the government reading people's tweets and Facebook pages and the "outrage" of that effort. Well, I for one could care less. Those are public forums, and if you've got something to hide, Twitter and Facebook are not the place for you. Face it, in the electronic world, everything is somehow fair game. And it while it might not be right in every case, it is what it is. 

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.

Friday, February 17, 2012

It is a fascinating time to be involved in the fenestration industry. Technological advancements over the past two decades have elevated fenestration energy performance to unprecedented levels. And exciting technologies – from electrochromic windows with dynamic glazing to fenestration that incorporates solar cells to innovative glass displays – have moved from the realm of science fiction to reality. 

The growth of the green building movement is raising awareness of energy efficient fenestration, as are new or greater performance requirements in model energy codes. One example is the 2012 IECC’s fenestration area limits based on daylighting controls in commercial buildings under the prescriptive path, as discussed in the “2012 International Code Requirements for Windows and Doors” article in Glass Magazine.

It's also a time for growth at NFRC, and our board of directors recently approved new goals that will lead the group into the future. Among them is the aim to develop new energy related rating procedures and programs. One new area we are exploring, for example, is daylighting. NFRC formed the Bright Day Illuminance and Daylighting Potential Rating Procedure Task Groups to study the possibility of providing daylighting ratings that could one day offer a measurement of fenestration’s role in a building’s energy load.

Developing new and credible ratings programs, along with pursuing our other new goals, will not be possible without the continued help of NFRC’s dedicated volunteer members. We strive to bring together a variety of stakeholders who work together to develop and refine our procedures and programs through a consensus process. For more information on the group, its new membership dues structure, and how you can get involved, visit www.nfrc.org.

The author is CEO of the National Fenestration Rating Council. He has been involved in developing product and performance standards for the window and glass industry for more than 25 years. Write him at jbenney@nfrc.org.

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Thank goodness for health insurance" was the first thought that crossed my mind when I saw the total bill for my daughter's recent minor surgery. My second thought: "Wow, that's still a big deductible."

 Healthcare costs are on the rise, both for employers and their employees. Since 2001, average premiums for family coverage have increased 113 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust. In 2011, premiums for single coverage were 8 percent higher than in 2010 and premiums for family coverage were up 9 percent, the group reports in its "2011 Employer Health Benefits Survey."

Don't get me wrong. I am very grateful to have a benefits plan that covers my family and me. Although it isn't free (I still pay a certain percentage of the family coverage premium), it does mean that bills like the one I recently received aren't even close to what they could be.

Going forward, however, it's safe to assume healthcare premiums will once again increase, and in a tough economy, that presents challenges to employers and employees alike as they try to keep costs down.

In an upcoming issue of Glass Magazine, we will take a look at trends in employer-sponsored health benefits. We will also examine trends within our industry, in an effort to provide subscribers with information that might help as they form employee policy. To that end, we are conducting a brief anonymous survey. The more participation, the better the results, so please consider filling out the survey here. Thank you!

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

Monday, February 13, 2012

At one time, being a “zero” was a bad thing. You didn’t want to be a zero or hang out with people known as zeroes. And you surely didn’t want your house or building to be classified as a zero. Well, that is all changing. Based on current energy trends, being a zero not only will be cool, it will be the norm. This week, a report came out that predicted zero energy buildings--buildings that produce as much energy as they consume--will grow at a compound annual rate of 43 percent, with revenue from zero energy buildings reaching almost $690 billion by 2020 (yep that’s a “b”) and nearly $1.3 trillion by 2035 (and that’s a “t”). Folks, that is just exciting. And yes, I know these are world numbers and the initial push and growth will come in Europe, but I am confident we here in North America will be in the mix. Glass and glazing products obviously will be a part of that effort, and while some may be pricier than others, performance will finally be valued! Count me in as a "zero", and when I talk about these great products, keep in mind being a “zero” is their destiny.

Elsewhere…

  • What a fun Super Bowl last week. I’m happy for Eli, the Giants and their fans. But I want to talk commercials and specifically one major company that really blew a golden opportunity. Budweiser just came out with a new beer called Bud Platinum. Great name. They had the FIRST ad of the Super Bowl. Great spot. And their ad was completely forgettable. Stunning, since Bud had created so many great campaigns over the years. The lesson here is even if your brand is popular and you did great things in the past, if you stumble on the big stage that is all forgotten.
  • Loved the Clint Eastwood ad, though Clint could read the instructions to setting up a children’s toy and make it sound inspirational and intense.
  • This past week was the International Builders Show in Orlando. It was the first one I have missed in many years. However, I heard from many who attended and even got pictures of the snazzy YKK booth to keep me in tune. I also heard about the hit of the show, the PPG Polar Bear. Bummed for sure that I missed being involved in that adventure. Rob Struble and team always know how to get the floor buzz. Overall, the reports were that the show was dramatically smaller than in the past, but traffic was solid and attitudes leaning positive. So, that’s good. I do think people need to attend events like this because if you don’t, you miss the products that will make your business survive and thrive.
  • Congrats to Kerry Haglund and her team at the Center for Sustainable Building Research on their fantastic new website. This website is an insanely good tool, and the amount of information and detail is fantastic. The key of this site is the ability to provide people with the intelligence they need to build better buildings using material from our industry. Plus, I’d assume if you want to be a "zero", you’d need to be friendly with the info provided there. Well done Kerry!
  • Last this week: more kudos. WA Wilson added two young talents to their sales staff in Josh Perilstein and Justin Benline. And yes, Josh is my nephew, so I am biased here. (He’s actually the Peyton Manning of his family; his brother Evan is really Eli-like.) Bias aside, Josh joins after a great stint with the quality folks at CRL and Justin from inside the office. It’s nice to see younger folks getting out there in our world. We need to keep growing our depth (Greg Carney has been pounding this theme for years) and getting that next generation active and involved. By the way, if you are a customer of either of these guys, don’t hold their connections to me against them!

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, February 6, 2012

In the last several years, insulating glass certification has transformed from a voluntary program to a near mandatory process, making industry awareness even more crucial.

"With the [National Fenestration Rating Council] mandate for IG certification—in order for IG to be used in NFRC cert product, that IG must be in a certification program—certification has taken on a much more mandatory requirement that has increased the intensity of the issues and questions [from manufacturers]," says John Kent, administrative manager of the Insulating Glass Certification Council. "For the most part, manufacturers are being driven to take a much more serious approach to IG certification."

During the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance Annual General Meeting last week in Tempe, Ariz., I spoke briefly with Kent about what manufacturers need to know when it comes to IG certification. Kent discussed how product modifications are handled, in addition to what's being done to streamline the certification process. Watch the interview below.

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

Monday, February 6, 2012

So, last week I ran a piece on the positive news from the AIA but was really surprised by the industry reaction that leaned almost completely negative. I figured at least some folks would buy in and look to this report as a positive, but that did not happen. I think the overall state of our industry (challenging years, deflating pricing, rising costs, etc.) coupled with so many previously wrong reports/projections has hardened a lot of people. But with the NASDAQ finishing the week with an 11-year high and the NYSE hitting its best totals since 2008, you would hope we are headed in the right direction. Regardless, it looks like it will take a lot more than that to get the optimism rolling.

Elsewhere…

  • There was good news last week when AGC announced the reopening of the production line at their Church Hill plant. That line shut down in 2008, so it is very exciting to see it get back up and running.
  • The sequel to the wildly popular “Day of Glass” from Corning is out. I saw it first via tweet by the great Greg Carney. Pretty interesting piece yet again, and like the first one, I expect it to go viral. By the way, when you watch it, if you’re not freaked out by the 3D brain scan part, I’ll be surprised.
  • You know how I love lists. This one, I don’t love so much. The Top Ten miserable cities in America. The full story can be found here, but I still have to list the “top” ten.

10. Warren, Michigan
9. Rockford, IL
8. Toledo, OH
7. Ft. Lauderdale, FL
6. Chicago  (Really? That is a stunner)
5. Sacramento, CA
4. West Palm Beach, FL
3. Flint, MI
2. Detroit, MI (OK we get it, people hate Michigan)
1. Miami, FL (Wow)

Again you have to read the article on why, but this one is a head scratcher. My good friend Manny is a huge Miami guy; I can’t wait to hear what he thinks of this list.

  • Great hire last week in South Florida by Superior Window with the addition of Frank D’Aprile as their new sales manager. Frank is a good man and has a ton of solid experience. Team him up with the folks already in place at Superior, and it looks like a window version of the Miami Heat. Congrats.
  • Congrats to Marg Webb and the folks at IGMA for what sounded like a very successful meeting (vacuum insulating glass sounding very interesting!) and their new revamped website, which is excellent.
  • Last this week: those of you who follow me on Twitter or are connected to me on LinkedIn might have seen my notes on this item. I had a 6:40 AM flight, and after we took off, the guy next to me started to pound beers. By mid-flight he had depleted the plane's stock of Heineken and moved to Corona, then threw a Bloody Mary in for good measure. It was simply amazing. I’m blown away by the whole event. Obviously, I am not a drinker but I just can’t get my head around drinking that much, that early. So a few folks said maybe it was fear of flying. My initial thought was he had to be in our industry and would fall in that group mentioned above that is pessimistic. In any case, it surely made the flight go fast, and when we landed, he bounced off the plane no worse for wear. If I drank that much, they would’ve had to take me out on a stretcher!

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 30, 2012

While economists and glass industry executives say it could be 2013-14 before we see any significant recovery, glass companies aren’t sitting idly by, waiting for the upswing. Instead, they're making calculated--albeit cautious--investments to ensure current and future success.

And although this doesn't come as a surprise to me (I'm continually impressed by the creativity and resiliency of our industry), I do think these positive efforts are too often overshadowed by the negative effects of a tough economy. So as we tackle 2012, I'd like to focus on some steps industry companies are taking in anticipation of better days ahead. 

Coral Industries is being “very frugal" in case there isn’t an upswing, but that hasn’t stopped the Top Glass & Metal Fabricator from refining its systems to improve efficiencies in the office and on the production floor. The company is also investing in new marketing efforts, says Executive VP Lewis McAllister. 

“We are revamping our marketing with a new website and more organized email capabilities to better communicate with our customers,” he reports.

Similarly, Carolina Glass & Mirror has a marketing campaign “that we are waiting to roll out until we think the time is right,” says David Fitchett, president and co-founder of the full-service glass company. “Spending too much money at this time with those efforts would not be prudent,” he says.

On a larger scale, Guardian Industries is evaluating new operations globally. “We are upgrading and expanding our production facilities in several locations,” says Scott Thomsen, president, Guardian Flat Glass Group. “In addition to new float and pattern operations, we also continue to invest heavily in large-area vacuum coaters, large-area liquid coaters and large-area laminating lines. Our strategy is to add value and increase the unit of sale.”

In face of the news that we’re looking at another year of little to no growth in construction starts, it’s encouraging to continually hear of glass companies finding success, one step at a time. To read more about what industry firms are doing to prepare for the eventual market rebound, see the January/February 2012 issue of Glass Magazine. And if you have a story to share, please let us know. 

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

Monday, January 30, 2012

Last week was very interesting in the glass and glazing world. We had positive news from AIA, the sale of a major player, a big-time promotion and a melting Toyota Prius, blamed on glass of course. In any case, never a dull moment in our world any more. Plus, this post may set a record for most “name drops” ever.

First up is the AIA report that called for “substantial” growth for 2013. Obviously, if this forecast is even close to being right, it would be an amazing event. The hesitation that everyone has is that we have been teased with the heavy positive reports many times before only to be let down, and in some cases let down dramatically. I believe many people are pointing to the election and figuring momentum will come from that as well. So as we all plug along here in the winter of 2012, we have something to absolutely look forward to in 2013. At least according to this report.

Elsewhere…

  • Congratulations to Garret Henson, who was just named vice president of sales at Viracon. As many of you may know, I am a huge fan of Garret’s. I think he’s a tremendously talented player in our world. He’s a guy who, in my opinion, “gets it.” His continual move up the ladder is well deserved and shows Viracon does value talent. Pair this with their previously excellent move of Bob Randall as VP of Marketing and Business Development (which I was asleep at the wheel on commenting about- sorry) and you have two very well put together guys in the primes of their career. Anyway, I figure I better keep buttering them up, because now that they are both major bigwigs, they’ll never take my calls again! Congrats Garret and Bob.
  • Friday of last week, the news hit that Solutia is in line to be sold to Eastman. What effect that will have on the day-to-day business of Solutia and Southwall (recently acquired by Solutia) is far from being seen. But rumor has it, the key part of the deal for Eastman was getting Julie Schimmelpenningh on their team.
  • PPG hit a home run again with their latest trade magazine ad. When you see it, you’ll chuckle and remember it. Rob Struble is really on fire creatively lately.
  • If you missed the story about the Prius melting supposedly because of the sun reflecting off the high performance low-E windows, here it is. The best part of the story is the comments. Sometimes a good window just can’t catch a break from being blamed.
  • Saw the Washington Glass Association named its board of directors and was excited to see such a strong slate of people that included Bill Coady of Guardian. I had the honor of meeting Bill once upon a time and was impressed by his approach. Plus, I like Maryanne Howell as she was nice enough to comment on here on a past story. Someone like that willing to associate his or her name with mine is a brave soul!
  • For my fellow travelers, this story on the world’s worst airport terminals is a hoot. I agree with many on the list, including Newark’s fabled Terminal B. However, the good news is that terminal is getting remodeled, and with some of the glass from folks like GGI in play, I can guarantee you it will be better!
  • I had been skipping picking football this year. Between the Steelers losing and me posting on Sunday mornings, the timing never worked. Plus, I am always wrong. But it is the Super Bowl, so I have to make a call. A few weeks ago I noted how I hate the Patriots and immediately I heard from a few people on that. I failed to mention that I hated the Ravens more, so I was glad New England won. Unfortunately, here I go again… because in the big game, I gotta go with Eli Manning and the Giants. I feel a kinship with Eli. We both have a brother that’s bigger, better and classically talented. Not to mention, ironically, both of our brothers had severe neck issues too. So based on that, I’m going G-Men in an exciting 27-25 game.

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 23, 2012

This weekend, I met up with a friend in the glass business who is helping his son build a trendy cocktail bar in New York City. Knowing the kind of high-end glass work he does, I assumed his son and business partner were incorporating spectacular and highly technical glass and metal in the bar design. Not so.

My glass-biased disappointment was short-lived when I heard about the bar top, and it got me thinking about an article I read recently on work skills for 2020.

But first, about the bar.

One day at the jobsite, someone upturned a five-pound box of nuts, spilling them everywhere. Eureka! The partners decided the bar top should be made of nuts! Entombed in plexi! How retro cool!

When trendy 20-to-30-year-olds sip inventive cocktails here, will they try to identify the nut types under their elbows? Will they know that Macadamias are high in omega-7 fat, low in protein and toxic to dogs? Will they care?

Maybe, but I know this age group does care about the subject of how the workplace is changing. In fact, anyone who expects to be working should pay attention. Recently, the Institute for the Future released its “Future Work Skills 2020” report identifying 10 future skills for the workforce: sense-making, social intelligence, novel and adaptive thinking, cross-cultural competency, computational thinking, new-media literacy, transdisciplinarity, design mindset, cognitive load management and virtual collaboration.

Two things might happen if you download the PDF report for details. It will resonate, and you’ll likely evaluate yourself and your employees against each skill. When I did so, I was reminded that the NGA publications team has collaborated virtually for more than a decade (though we have yet to set up Yammer or avatars), and we’re working hard to develop and share our new-media literacy.

The 30-year-old bar owners also are already using these future skills as they operate in the old-world construction trade, in this case, relying on novel and adaptive thinking to create a one-of-a-kind bar. I was struck by the informality, the fluidity and the pace of their enterprise. That’s not to say what they’re doing doesn’t require self-discipline—they’re up early and working at all hours on their latest venture—but they’re using sources in ways most of us couldn’t have imagined 10 years ago.

I thought about how slivered almonds, laminated between a mirrored-etched and possibly back-painted and backlit substrate would look as a kitchen counter.

Then I thought: It’s probably been done, and I need to recalibrate my novel and adaptive sense-making cross-cultural design mindset. And for sure, I’ll also ask my transdisciplinarity-driven cognitive load managing virtual team for input.

But first, I’ll eat a few nuts.

The author is publisher of Glass Magazine and its sister publication, Window & Door, and vice president of publications for the National Glass Association. Write her at nharris@glass.org.

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