glassblog

Monday, April 1, 2013

Last week, the glass industry―via a piece in a Toronto newspaper―took more heat. Once again, the construction of condominiums with a ton of glass were the focus of a very rough and pretty much one-sided piece. For me as a glass guy, it was a tough one to take.  While the article was probably geared toward developers and designers and their choices of materials, when I read it, I just saw a very broad-brush wiping of an entire glass industry with an extremely negative stroke.  I don’t know what materials are used in these condos and I am sure there are some brutally weak ones, but the way the article was written made it sound like there are no glass materials that could EVER be good enough.  Meanwhile, for as mad as I got reading the piece, when I mentioned it to a good pal of mine from Toronto, he was not fazed at all.  Evidently, bashing like this has been going on for a while.  Still, it is a shame that we as an industry are being pretty unfairly portrayed yet again.

Elsewhere…

  • Viracon premiered a new logo and website this past week, and I must say, I was impressed.  First off, making a change to the look and logo of a company as iconic as Viracon is not easy.  Also, rebuilding a website (something I do a lot) is very difficult.  Viracon aced them both. The new logo is sharp and clean. In regards to the new site, I will admit I struggled to find a few things, but it's new and I am an impatient person.  The new tagline elicits memories for me of Herb Brooks in Miracle. It's incredibly cool that a classic Minnesota-based company has a tagline that makes me think of one of the greatest people the state of Minnesota has ever given us.  Anyway, major kudos to all that worked on this effort!  Job well done.
  • Quick wrapup of BEC: this was the last conference led by Henry Taylor of Kawneer as chair.  Henry was my choice to replace me in that position five years ago, and he did a tremendous job despite some really rocky roads.  Henry’s a good man that I am sure will continue to give back to the industry.  In his place, I am thrilled that Jon Kimberlain of Dow Corning is stepping in.  Jon is a true-blue talent in our world and he’ll be amazing in that spot.  Plus, I love how active Dow Corning is getting in our industry; very good to have their support!
  • Unfortunately, I have a sad note to report: Mike McAskin of Great Lakes Glass in Michigan passed away. Mike was an industry vet who had just bought Great Lakes a few years ago and was building it into a very strong player in the region.  He was a good, fair, classy man, who always took time for people to come pitch him ideas, products and services. It is a tough loss for all of us. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the staff at Great Lakes.
  • The Final Four is set.  I am happy for my Michigan friends who have made it to the biggest stage after being bounced by Ohio U last year, and I'm thrilled for Tony Kamber, the biggest Louisville fan in the industry.  Should be a fun run to the title.
  • Last this week; the ABI did go up once again.  We’re now on a roll here. The new projects inquiry was the best it has been in six years. But as always, I do worry about the reliability of this report, as we should be busier right now (based on old reports) than we seemingly actually are.

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

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It’s not often—if ever—people assume I watch “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” but I plan to, now.  Last Friday, I met Tom Hahn at the Home Design Show in New York City, where he stopped at the Mr. ShowerDoor booth. Owner Tom Whitaker and I learned that Hahn’s daughter, Yolanda Foster, is one of the newest housewives on Bravo’s hit show, and also that she asked her project manager Dad to make her an all-glass refrigerator for which he used shower door panels. The entire unit was insulated and is a big hit on and off the show.

View a photo gallery from the show.

As I simultaneously visualized the contents of my fridge and wondered how to respond to Hahn’s, “I’m sure you’ve seen the fridge” statement, I was also thinking, “only in New York.” That’s because seconds before this encounter, Whitaker and I were discussing suitable captions for the photo he had just snapped of Roman Abramovich’s $1.5 billion yacht parked just outside the show that is held every year at Pier 94 on Manhattan’s West Side. After reeling off a few options, we decided on: “Show attendee scores prime Manhattan parking space.”

Without a doubt, the handful of glass, window and door exhibitors mixed in among 10-burner ranges, premium wine refrigerators, rare carpets and “accessory works of art” are targeting New York’s elite and their designers. So in addition to hearing unusual stories, it’s always interesting to see what suppliers bring to this home show.

Whitaker’s private label stainless steel Volante, for sliding frameless shower enclosures, appeals to the red-bottom shoe crowd.  Down the aisle, Lillian Gorbachincky, president of Cosmopolitan Glass, showcased her company’s sparkling decorative glass options. She sketched for me the almost finished artistic installation she designed of carved Lalique-like glass for three Tiffany windows at the Fifth Avenue flagship store. Rumor has it, Leonardo DiCaprio will be sharing the spotlight with her windows for a Great Gatsby inspired jewelry line.

Growing up in the 1970s, I remember thinking antique mirror looked a little cheesy on my best friend’s dining room wall.  But after visiting the Artique Glass Studio booth, I was ready for my own home makeover.  Maybe it’s age (the antiquing process?) or just how it’s been re-done, but I wasn't surprised to see Jay DeMauro talking to a different young hip designer each time I strolled by.

Bieber Architectural Windows & Doors showed a beautiful bronze-clad window and its minimalist Slim-Profile Window with concealed hinges, perfect for the skinny pant set walking the show.

At Chautauqua Woods Fine Doors & Entryways, you could see a custom entry door ‘in progress’ for a residential castle in Alpine, N.J. The artist homeowner supplied her own CAD drawings for the elaborate and massive solid mahogany door which was displayed “two stages away from its final version.”

Riviera Doors & Windows displayed several residential and commercial doors, including a line of folding doors for either application. David Lenkowsky showed me photos he’d just taken of an office installation where the client requested acoustical panels imprinted with the Manhattan skyline. Open the doors and—presto—the real skyline appears.

NanaWall was perched on an elevated platform so attendees could more easily view the company’s smoothly operating slider. Eastern Regional Sales Manager Chuck Braun noted that the New York Metro area is one of the company’s strongest. Happily, the residential market is gaining again. In fact, everyone I spoke to reported an improvement in show traffic and interest compared to the last couple of years.

I’m glad to hear it; maybe now I’ll get some time to kick back and watch Bravo’s Housewives.

Harris is publisher of Glass Magazine and vice president of the National Glass Association. Write her at nharris@glass.org.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

One of the things I value most about working in the glass industry is its sense of community. Even though we are an industry of thousands, we are a tight knit group. When a glass company fails, we all feel it. When a groundbreaking product is introduced, we all get excited about its potential. And when a member of our industry is injured or killed on the job, we all mourn. My prayers and condolences go out to the family, friends and coworkers of the employee at Insulpane of Connecticut and Orchard Glass Distributors in Hamden, Conn., who was killed last week on the job.

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

Monday, March 18, 2013

It’s that time again; the extremely popular Glass Magazine Awards are back. Like last year, I am very excited for the people portion of the awards since this is a great way to recognize the talent in our world. Plus, the ballot is open to the industry, and it’s great to have a say in such a prestigious award. So if you have not seen the info yet on the Glass Magazine Awards, here’s the link. Check it out and start nominating!

Elsewhere…

  • One guy who should get a nomination in the Glass Magazine Awards Best Sales Rep category is Dave Michaeli of AGC. I thought of him this week when I saw his alma mater having its pro tryout day. All those guys striving to be an Idaho State Hall of Famer just like him.
  • It’s March Madness! Sadly, my alma mater just missed getting back to the dance, but no matter, it will be a blast to follow as always. My picks for the final four are Louisville, Ohio State, Florida and Miami, with Louisville winning it all. Remember, I did pick the Super Bowl right this year, so I am on a roll…LOL.
  • The consumer confidence index saw a major decline in March due to several factors, including the sequester and gas prices. In my opinion, it was a matter of time before the unconscionable gas gouging finally bit into the economy. Why no one of importance seems to pay attention to the games the oil companies are playing is beyond me. Unfortunately, the trickle down will continue to be a drag on the economy. And we are seeing it in our industry, with another set of price increases on the way.
  • Great piece here from Susan MacKay and Paul Gary on the Affordable Care Act. The more you know, the better you will be.  Susan, along with the excellent Matt Johnson, will present at the upcoming Glass Management Institute. If you are in business, you will not want to miss their presentations, as well as the others that are lined up.  When it comes to understanding new laws like this, you just can’t afford to miss it.
  • For the first time in who knows how many years, I missed the annual GANA BEC conference this week. Schedule conflicts did me in.  I hate missing all of the folks I usually see there. Hopefully, I’ll catch up with everyone at AIA and GlassBuild America.
  • Last this week, I struggle to remember birthdays as I get older, but I always remember that St. Patrick’s Day is also the birthday of a good guy and former co-worker of mine, Dave Gillikin of Hartung Glass Industries. Hope you had a great one Dave!

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, March 11, 2013

While the Capitol escaped unscathed from last week’s highly anticipated ‘Snowquester’, the federal government could not manage to avoid the budget sequester—the implementation of governmental budget cuts that went into effect March 1. Of the sequester’s $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, an estimated $4 billion come from reductions in construction spending, according to a March 3 Engineering News-Record report.  

Some in the construction industry fear the sequester’s sharp and widespread cuts could injure the building sector’s still-slow recovery. “Industry firms will feel the pain, but not all at once,” ENR reported. 

The Associated General Contractors of America released a 24-page sequestration report in February, providing a closer look at the construction segments that would feel the budget reductions the most. While several government construction arenas are exempt— the Highway Trust Fund, the Airport Improvement Program, Department of Veterans Affairs accounts, and General Services Administration accounts—the impact of the cuts on other parts of governmental construction spending could be severe, and could cause a ripple effect of slowed spending throughout the economy, according to the report. The sequestration cuts to construction for this fiscal year “could put some 114,000 jobs, $13.6 billion in GDP and $4.4 billion in personal income at risk,” according to the report.

Rich Walker, president and CEO of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, adds, "Sequestration will only serve to weaken the economy further, and have negative repercussions for our industry, which has been slowly gaining ground since the recession. Government overspending is more than a scraped knee or elbow. It’s a serious injury that we all suffer from, and we cannot continue to cover it with a flimsy Band-Aid that falls off after a few weeks." Read a blog from Walker about the sequester and government spending.

Government construction types likely to be hit with cuts include military facilities, U.S. embassies and infrastructure at the local level, according to the AGC report.

“If you work closely with government projects, you may see some effect on your business,” says Howard Holesapple, VP of Sales for Consolidated Glass Corp. However, “we have to remember that [the cuts] are a fraction of the overall amount of government spending. … The budget this year is actually more than last year,” he says.

Despite the narrow scope of cuts to construction by project type, Holesapple adds that the overall sequester could cause uneasiness among consumers and building owners. “When people start talking about governmental cuts, people get scared and stop buying and building,” he says.

How do you expect the sequester to affect your company, the industry at large and the overall economy? Are you changing any 2013 business plans because of the sequester? Leave a comment below, or email me at kdevlin@glass.org.

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

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to go to an eighties-themed NBA game featuring Debbie Gibson as the halftime performance. So I was already in “throwback” mode when the e-mail came in from an industry friend with a crazy piece of news from an old nemesis of mine. Yes, the NFRC has returned to the radar like it was 2005 again. Now this little tidbit is nothing like what I battled over for years, and I have moved on, being too much of a fan of Tom Herron, NFRC’s excellent senior manager of communication and marketing, to pick on anything else now that the major battles have passed. But that said, this one was too much not to comment on.

NFRC sent an e-mail to its membership that had chosen to be partners in an Energy Star program. After thanking them for doing this and mentioning how wise and wonderful the decision was, the next paragraph dropped the doozy: “As an Energy Star partner, you have the option to participate in a verification program. However, failure to enroll for verification testing or to respond to requests for products or information in a timely manner will require the National Fenestration Rating Council to inform the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

Yep, so you have the “option” to participate but if you don't do so, we’re turning in you into the authorities! Ummm, that means you actually don't have the option if you don’t want some muckety muck from the EPA on you. So why not just spell it out: it’s not an option, it’s a requirement. Plain and simple right? I swear, it’s like old times again. It was loose, inconsistent language like this that started the whole fight. I guess it is true that everything old can come back and be new again. I can go on and on, but if I start ranting on NFRC again, I’ll become that crazy outlier blog no one will want to read.

Elsewhere…

  • But wait… another one of my old staples is China, and that too hit my radar this week. Legendary technical consultant Greg Carney dropped me a note with a link to a story of the growing amount of vacant skyscrapers in China.  As Greg correctly noted, the scary part is if this issue causes the Chinese government to stop investing in real estate and the glass guys there run out of places to supply, the dumping that could take place in North America could be off the charts. Here’s the link; it is one story to watch.
  • Before I go back to 2013, just a heads up on a movie coming out that is based on an incredible, true story from 1994. The movie is called Pain & Gain, and it stars The Rock and Marky Mark Wahlberg. It will surely be made with a Hollywood spin and be a buddy film sort of thing (based on the trailer). However, the true story is so unreal, so amazing, and filled with just mind-blowing twists, it’s a shame it won’t be covered accurately. The story is here. It’s three parts long but worth it when you get a moment.
  • And last from the past, a word of congrats to a former co-worker of mine, Howard Holesapple, on his new gig as VP of Sales at Consolidated Glass in New Castle, Pa. Howard is riot, and I'm glad he left his band “Howard and the Holesapples” to stay in the glass industry.
  • Before I end, we’ll come to the present for the last item of the week. The news that Grey Mountain’s Consolidated Glass Holdings named a new president and CEO broke on GlassMagazine.com late in the week. I will say the same thing here that I said on my blog when the new CEO at Trulite was announced: I wish them the best of luck, as there’s a bunch of excellent people in the organization. It will surely be interesting to watch how this progresses.

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, March 4, 2013

“Most people don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan.” Have you heard that before? “Plan? We don’t have time to plan. We have to move this ship forward with our own efforts.”

What’s the value of planning in your business? Do you have a regularly scheduled time to plan, or do you only plan when forced to do so?

We use two types of planning at our company: immediate and long-term. Immediate planning involves having a regularly scheduled time to address day-to-day and week-to-week issues. It is “urgent” planning. We conclude each day by planning for tomorrow’s activities and jobs. We conclude each week by planning for the next week’s activities. This type of planning is centered on executing tasks at specific times: Who is going to do what, when and how? People do this naturally. Immediate planning, for the most part, is not a learned skill.

Long-term planning is a learned skill. It requires a different thought process from the immediate planning we do naturally. It is difficult, because the events―and the timing of those events―are unknown. Some might never occur. We have to put long-term planning in our schedule and intentionally focus on doing it. Long-term planning is “important”, but we must make it “urgent”.

Long-term planning has three components: goal setting, succession planning and contingency planning.

Goal setting asks three questions:  Where are we?  Where do we want to be? How do we plan to get there?

Succession planning asks one―possibly two―questions: 1) Do you want your business to continue after you are no longer active? 2) If yes, what are your options, and how do you plan for those options?

Contingency planning asks one question: What if? Think about situations involving employees, customers and vendors. Anticipate what you would need to do if something happened. The object is to eliminate surprises.

Which of these areas of planning have you been delaying? Why? Does fear stop you? Do daily or weekly crises get in the way? You will control much of your future business by doing long-term planning. Let’s talk about it in future blogs.

The author is president, Evans Glass Co. in Nashville and chairman of the board for 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.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

There are certain authors, actors and musicians that I absolutely must follow, and whenever they come out with new material, I am sure to get it. Well, lately in the blog world, there have been a few people that fit that role. Every time they post, it evokes thought and reaction. Here are some that just deliver again and again.

First up, Jenni Chase on Glass Magazine’s site is on an absolute roll. Last week’s post on the low-cost competitor had the industry buzzing. The comments to her piece were insightful, interesting, and for some, controversial. When a true class act like Bob Lawrence weighs in, like he did here, you have to pay attention. The give and take, in the mature manner that took place, was refreshing. More debate is sure to come on that issue, and that’s the beauty of Jenni’s takes. Whether it’s this piece or being a glass “geek,” she gets people talking.

I am also a fan of Jeff Razwick’s blog on the Technical Glass Products site. This past week, Jeff took on the subject of school safety and laid out several arguments and insights. In some cases, blogs are meant to just get you thinking, and Jeff usually takes that task.  Basically every time he writes, it leads to discussion. Great stuff. The post can be found here.

Others? I miss the old Division 8 blog. That one had a ton of potential, but it went away and I am not sure why. I do like when guys like Mark Silverberg of Technoform blog, and I am a huge fan of anytime Jon Kimberlain of Dow Corning posts. Plus, the great takes of folks like Rod Van Buskirk, Bill Evans and Chris Mammen are in that must-read category.

Elsewhere…

  • Is the fact that we are in such a relatively slow industry news cycle right now a good sign? I think so; less turmoil is best. But it is tough to be a blogger who loves to comment on relevant news.
  • I recently completed the first of four interviews I am doing for Glass Magazine and I am very excited about it. Being able to shine the light on some serious talent in our industry is exciting. The first one for 2013 will be out soon!
  • One of the architectural sites I love to follow had a good thread on one of their message boards that asked, “What are some of the ‘coolest’ new products you have seen lately?” Being a site for architects, it had responses on some wild self-healing concrete along with other marbles and gypsum. No glass or aluminum has been mentioned... yet.
  • The same thread included a post from someone who wrote how she was annoyed by people promoting “green” products with no documentation or basis. It's amazing that still continues, despite FTC fines and a focus on ”greenwashing."
  • Last this week, can you believe it is March? Get ready for baseball to kick in, and March Madness to take place in College hoops. Maybe spring weather will actually make an appearance too… would nice to be warmer, but I’ll take cold over a wet spring, since rain is bad for jobsites.

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

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, February 25, 2013

According to glassblog contributor Rod Van Buskirk, there are a few contract glaziers in every market that don't follow the rules. In an effort to cut costs, they might install improper product, underpay their employees, or disregard their union expenses. And with so many building owners focused on the bottom line, these companies sometimes win the job over their honest, quality, possibly higher-priced competitors.

Apparently, this is also true in the fabrication side of the business, where 48 percent of this year's Top Glass Fabricators said competing against low-quality companies would be their biggest challenge in 2013.

So how do you, as a high quality company, compete? How do you set yourself apart from competitors that rely on cutting corners to guarantee the lowest bid? And how does the extra effort affect your margins? As an industry, we're all looking for solutions to this problem. What is yours? 

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

Sunday, February 24, 2013

This past week, the latest Architecture Billings Index came out, reflecting its best performance since 2007. So, is it time to party? Can we take this seriously? Sadly, my answer is … no. I just have a nagging feeling that this report was a fluke, and that next month we’ll be off the trend again. Plus, the positive ABI from last year has not really had a direct effect on our industry (especially in specific geographies). At the  end of the day, I enjoy following and commenting on these reports, but I am reluctant to believe them.

Elsewhere…

  • Want to read a depressing story that will make you angry about government waste, corporate greed, lawyerly deception and overall ineptitude? Check out this piece on the Home Affordable Modification Program and see how efforts like this can go very badly.
  • Last week, I hammered the cruise world after the Carnival debacle and I heard about it from several people.  Former Texas Glass Association Professional of the Year David Ozment of Binswanger Glass was not pleased with my comments, given the effect a cruise slowdown could have on his Galveston territory. And he’s right.  If the cruise industry suffers, the effect it will have on its ports will be dramatic. Still, I wonder how many people saw that coverage and decided, no way, not going on one.
  • Amazing news: last week, I had a brief interaction with the folks at the Department of Energy and I must say, the new blood is very very good. We have hope, folks. Good people at that organization could have an incredibly positive effect on our industry.
  • If you read this blog, you know I like lists. This one though was tough. I picked it up thanks to the fantastic Twitter feed of Earnest Thompson, and it was Forbes Magazine’s “top miserable cities” for 2013. The link is here, but as a preview, a lot of Michigan and California cities are on the list.
  • Kudos to the team at MyGlassTruck.com for their latest fundraising success. You might remember these guys as the folks with the memorable exhibits at GlassBuild America. They also are pretty amazing when it comes to raising money for breast cancer, and last week, they announced they passed the $10,000 mark in secured donations. Great work gang!! Plus, I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves in Atlanta this fall!
  • Last this week, I read that Lance Armstrong was paid $31 million by the US Postal Service as part of the cycling team's sponsorship deal. I guess this is yet another reason why that organization is so deep in debt. I would’ve loved to be in that marketing and strategy session to hear what the justification was on why they sponsored him, and more importantly, how they thought it would drive more people to use an archaic mail and delivery service. And I get brand awareness--live for it--but that argument doesn’t play here for a ton of reasons (majority of races overseas, lack of TV exposure, tainted sport, etc.).

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

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

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