Monday, January 27, 2014

John Swanson, editor and associate publisher of Window & Door, Glass Magazine’s sister publication, passed away on Sunday, January 19, 2014, in Manhattan. As we mourn John's passing, please feel welcome to use the memorial page at to share thoughts, memories and condolences. 

At the end of 2013, I visited the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. After wandering the grounds awhile, I walked inside and the first thing I saw was an exhibit called, At the Window: The Photographer's View. My first thought was, “I have to tell John about this.”

The photographs were evocative, funny, pensive, thoughtful and a little startling. Art is supposed to make you pause and reflect. These made me think about John.

Among the things I would have told him was, there were no door photos! As all who knew him know, John was a fenestration industry editor-advocate. Doors, he would repeat, are an integral part of the market we cover. He pushed us to remember that and so much more.

John's vision for the fenestration industry originates in a now-defunct magazine of that title. I first met John in 1993 at the interGLASSmetal/Fenestration World show when its official magazines, Glass Digest and Fenestration, were owned by Ashlee Publishing in New York. As the new publisher of Glass Magazine, owned by the National Glass Association, my sales team and I were there early to set up our new booth in the "enemy camp."

Of course, I already knew of John Swanson, having studied fenestration’s well-established leadership; it was the only game in town. I soon spotted him in the middle of a show aisle, surrounded by several other people. What I didn’t know as I walked up to introduce myself was that these were among his many industry groupies, the work friends he would stop to talk to at every meeting and every trade show during his 26 years covering the industry.

I was struck instantly by his gentle, almost reserved response to my intrusion into this congenial gathering. John was never one to use his deep knowledge, his intelligence or even his physical height to intimidate, much less make anyone—even an erstwhile competitor—feel unwelcome.

This was two years before the National Glass Association bought what was to become Window & Door magazine and another two before John agreed to come work for us. His one condition: That he run the magazine working and living out of New York City. No problem, we said.

Eventually I came to know John's more unreserved, ‘Wild Turkey’ side and fully appreciate his often cryptic, dry sense of humor.

I visited John in the hospital in mid-December. It was no surprise to find his room a little crowded; this time, the “groupies” surrounding John were three of his University of Rochester friends. They had all worked together, including John’s wife, Lee, at the college newspaper. As he had done 20 years earlier, John made me feel welcome. His friends and I commiserated about the seismic changes in publishing. They shared stories and told me about when they found out that two among them—John and Lee—had secretly been dating awhile. They told me how surprised they were, and then how surprised they weren’t, and how happy they were for this couple “who belonged together.”

When I told Lee that the entire Window & Door team was in the Virginia office and planned to celebrate John by toasting him with his favorite drink, Lee wrote back to me with this:

Yes, let the Wild Turkey flow! Please tell everyone that he treasured being a part of this industry and working diligently in it for so many years. It was his great pleasure to meet so many people across the country who touched him with their hard work, perseverance and their realness. He was like them in those ways, and I think that's part of the reason people held him in such high regard. He also knew how to keep his mouth shut and listen - how great is that?

Great indeed. We’ll miss you, John.

Harris is vice president at the National Glass Association, and publisher of Glass Magazine and Window & Door. Write her at

Editor's note: In lieu of flowers, the Swanson family is asking that those who wish to make a donation in John's honor give to The Barnstable Land Trust. The Barnstable Land Trust is the conservancy organization that is responsible for acquiring and preserving land on Cape Cod, including the Swansons' beloved Lowell Park (home of the Cotuit Kettleers) and Eagle Pond, site of hundreds of family walks. "We believe that a gift to the Trust represents the convergence of the things that John most treasured in life: the Cape, open spaces, baseball and family," says his wife, Lee.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

The industry once again came together to do the right thing, and won a victory in the battle for the wall. This is something that everyone in our part of the world could easily agree on: less glass in a building is a BAD thing. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the “Battle” to protect our industry. With Glass Magazine taking the lead media-wise to push it, and great work from trade groups like GANA and AEC (among many others), this issue got the attention it needed. Add in the amazing Dr. Tom Culp to present and fight for our way of life, and the winning formula was set. This week, the results came down positive for our industry, and with it a validation that glass can be a great part of high performance building options.

We can take a victory lap and savor it for the moment, but I can tell you there will be more challenges to come. We still have to push our innovation and technology and we still have naysayers working against our efforts, hoping they can find cracks in our approach. If you just got involved, please stay involved, and let’s keep moving our industry forward!


  • Last week’s post on the DOJ sparked a ton of conversation for me. The common theme was that this result surely gets the attention of the other folks involved currently in battles with foreign concerns. And that opening a plant somewhere else in North America as a “depot” of sorts as a way to get around duties may not fly. This will surely be one to watch, and with issues underway (especially regarding curtain wall) it will be fascinating to see what happens next.
  • Cleantech took an absolute beating from 60 Minutes a few weeks ago. The piece was extremely negative, and even poorly done in parts. Believe me, I could do hours of documentaries on the past ineptitude of the DOE, and even I felt that this feature was too off the wall. Note, I do think the current group at DOE is solid and has potential, but the past group deserves a ton of heat. In any case, as an industry, we do have significant technology connected to cleantech, and bad and outdated attitudes on innovation in that category will hamper us. It’s frustrating that the answer is always immediately “No,” and the questions are “Why” instead of “Why not.” And while I get the taxpayer and government support angle, and don’t like all of it myself (and there’s some amazing arguments on all sides out there), I believe if done right, cleantech is a must for our world as whole. 
  • Two major players from Pilkington are hanging it up. Rex Tracht and Paul Baskwell are retiring after more than 40 years at Pilkington. I know both men, and respect and like them a ton. While I am sure the folks replacing them will be solid, it surely will not be the same not seeing Paul and Rex at industry events or at various fabricators I get to visit. Enjoy your retirement, men! You will be missed!
  • Make sure to check out the Video of the week again… A fun one for those of us who have to do conference calls. Really comical stuff.
  • Last this week, in the commercial glass industry John Swanson was not real well known. However on the residential side, as editor and associate publisher of Window and Door, he was a titan and a force. Sadly, John passed away last week, leaving this world way too young at 52. John was incredibly respected and for many was the conscience of that industry. No question his passing leaves a massive void. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.

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

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 20, 2014

A big story that probably did not get as much traction as I would expect dropped last week when the Department of Justice announced that Basco Manufacturing will pay a $1.1 million fine to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act in conjunction with the duties that were levied on Chinese aluminum being imported into the United States. The fact that the Aluminum Extruders Council was able to get the DOJ involved and active in this case is pretty impressive. I think many folks did not expect any blowback or penalties because in the past our government either would not focus on it or they would take a light approach. There was little fear of the consequences of circumvention. Obviously, this is not the case here. The main issue in this case was something called “transshipping”--shipping the material from China to somewhere else and then off to the United States. Ironically, when these duties came out, I asked that exact question: Is this a practice that people could try? I was told point blank that it would be “impossible to pull off” and it turns out in the end it was…


  • You know I hate to keep bringing it up but I have to. The NFRC was back in the news again pushing their services and abilities when it comes to commercial windows and energy codes and ratings. This time it was during a webinar to promote its rating systems. In simple terms, they are trying to get commercial acceptance, and it's just not happening.  But gotta give them credit for trying. (My guess, it's because of class guys like Tom Herron, who do care and try to make it work.)
  • I am really stunned that the great blog post from Jenni Chase on last week’s glassblog only garnered the one comment. There’s no question that Obamacare is a massive political football and opinions can be strong. I guess possibly so strong that people do not want to even step into that debate…
  • View picked up another huge investment last week with $100 million coming their way.  More and more people are seeing that there’s going to be a major appetite for all sorts of smarter or dynamic glass (electrochomic and thermochromic, among others) and they are speaking with their checkbooks.
  • Make sure you check out my Video of the Week as it features one of our own on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. Kawneer Regional Sales Representative Brian Burch was on vacation in Los Angeles when he ran into the cameras from Jimmy Kimmel and had to show off his moves… Go Brian Go!  And thank you  to Rod Van Buskirk, who brought this to our attention and now probably has Brian pretty fired up at him!
  • I saw that the Sacramento Kings basketball team will now accept Bitcoin as currency.  I still can’t get my head around how the whole Bitcoin will work. Can’t wait until some general contractor tries to pay in Bitcoin in our industry….
  • On the entertainment side, Emma Thompson was robbed by not getting even a nomination for an Oscar for Best Actress in Saving Mr. Banks. So wrong.  Also the movie Lone Survivor is getting a lot of buzz. I have an Army buddy who has seen it and said if you want a true and realistic view of what goes down in our current conflicts, this movie was right on. I have not seen it yet, but going to have to…

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

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

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Is it possible to talk about Obamacare without bringing one’s personal politics into the discussion? Judging by the conversations around my dinner table, I’d say probably not, but I’d like to try. In past issues of Glass Magazine, we addressed how the new healthcare policies under the Affordable Care Act would affect business owners and their employees. Now that many of these policies are finally being put into place, it’s time to ask: what changes have they brought to your company so far?

Personally, I know of several people who have benefited directly from Obamacare. That said, I also know of a business owner who closed his doors due to the additional costs the new healthcare system presented his company.

I admit that I don’t know all the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act, but I’d venture a guess that my exposure to both the positives and the negatives is indicative of Obamacare overall: it has its upsides and its downsides.

It’s an issue that evokes strong emotions in all of us. My question is: politics aside, what has your experience yielded so far?

Chase is editorial director of Glass Magazine,, e-glass weekly and e-glass products. Write her at
Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The battle to protect our industry from reduced usage of glass is on the front burner again, with a proposal at ASHRAE 189.1 to reduce window to wall ratio by 25 percent. The task group from ASHRAE 189.1 recently contacted our industry with some proposed exceptions that they feel could resolve our “issues.” It is mind blowing that this dance continues. But it does, and the simple answer to their reply here is…NO. The exceptions they laid out won’t solve our areas of very legitimate concern. And once again, despite the best showing we have had as industry consensus, we are still battling.

If you are a member of GANA, GICC, or AEC, you were alerted about this already. If you are not, you still need to get involved. We don’t need a ton of your time; we just need your support. Obviously having a large segment of the industry involved the last time was not enough. We need to show more. And we need to CONTINUE to stand up for ourselves and say that reducing the window area by 25 percent is wrong, and actually works against high performance building design.

Thankfully we have Dr. Tom Culp leading us, and he’s been brilliant. But we have to stand behind him, or otherwise we’ll all be looking at structures with tiny little windows in the future. There’s no way anyone reading this blog could want that, right?

Learn how you can get involved. (The deadline to lend support is today.) 


  • Guardian announced last week it is making a change at the top of their flat glass division. Obviously, my first thought is best wishes and health recovery to Scott Thomsen, who stepped down due to undisclosed health reasons. Scott made a major impact in his time at Guardian in many areas (products, innovations, people, etc.), and was a passionate supporter of the industry. He will be sorely missed from that standpoint. But with what he created, his legacy will live on. As for Guardian’s strong support of the industry, I am confident that it will continue no matter who is in charge.
  • Interestingly, one of Scott’s main pushes over the last few years was the “The Battle for the Wall,” fighting against efforts like the one listed above to hurt our industry. On the day he steps down, that issue comes back. 
  • The weather this past week did not help my prediction of a great year. Thankfully the worst of it is gone, but there’s no question last week was not exactly the busiest business week we will all have! As for the actual weather itself, that was a memorable event, and I hope I never see or hear the phrase “Arctic Vortex” again! 
  • Also making news over the past few days… Glass Apps acquired the smart film manufacturing assets of Citala. Glass Apps makes some excellent advanced interior switchable glass, and I was very impressed with their product and team when I met them at AIA last year. Looks like now they are continuing to grow and move. 
  • SAPA is back with another excellent educational opportunity in the return of their Profile Academy. Scheduled for Feb. 6-7 in Atlanta, and with a focus on building and construction, this Academy is a great way for folks to learn more about aluminum, its design, treatment, usages, and so on. This is something on my bucket list for sure, and I have been unable to attend in the past. But I will eventually get to one! 
  • Government waste is a major frustration for me. I have railed here before, and it amazes me that we as a world allow it. At the end of last year Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma put out his annual manual on it. While some items are political footballs, there are many legitimate and infuriating things happening with public money. It’s shameful. Here’s a quick look. 

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

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

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Entering the new year, the staff at Glass Magazine is putting together the 2014 Top Glass Fabricators report (to be released later this month), and I have some good news to share: Not one―not ONE―of this year’s Top Glass Fabricators reported sales were down over the previous year. Rather, 91 percent said they’d seen an increase in sales, with just 9 percent reporting sales levels had remained the same.

Also encouraging heading into 2014: more than three-quarters of Top Glass Fabricators said their future expansion plans include the introduction of new products and services.

Not a bad way to start the new year! Are you experiencing the same?

Chase is editorial director of Glass Magazine and its sister publication, Window & Door. Write her at

Monday, January 6, 2014

I hope everyone had a great set of holidays and is ready for a super year ahead. I have very positive feelings about 2014. I liked the way 2013 ended, with most companies busy and most regions seemingly in good shape economically. And I liked the forecasts, even though I know they are usually wrong. More than that, it’s just a feeling I have that we have very good things coming our way in the next year. And so to get it started, here are my five industry predictions for the next 12 months.

  1. There will be one major acquisition in the glass fabrication side of the business that will have the industry buzzing. Otherwise, 2014 will be light on the merger/acquisition side. But look out, 2015 will be crazy with them.
  2. Both GANA BEC and GlassBuild America will be hugely successful. And yes, I have worked or do work with both of these, so consider my bias. But I will say both are primed for big years. The BEC 2014 has a very strong agenda, and I have seen the plans for GlassBuild America. I promise you that you will be impressed and want to be there.
  3. A new green rating system will start to take hold. Right now LEED is beyond dominant and will continue to be the major player, but look out for one of the smaller organizations to break through. (More on that possibility below.)
  4. The code battles will continue, and I believe an unlikely ally (another industry) will join forces with the glass industry, giving us a stronger voice in the proceedings.
  5. The use of 4th surface low-E will continue to grow and become a much bigger player in the specification process.

I could go on and on, but this gives you a taste of what I see in my crystal (glass) bowl.


  • I noted above that LEED will be challenged more significantly in the new year, and I truly believe that. Whether it's from its opponents who may be working off of misconceptions or desire to improve their own interests, or from better systems, I think it's going to happen. Want more flavor on it? Check out this story.
  • During my break I was almost tempted to log on and blog when I saw the blurb about the NFRC seeking more commercial manufacturers to come on board to support the CMA process. Evidently, the commercial manufacturer has been slow to accept and jump on the NFRC’s program. That does not shock me at all, and I think the mountain here is very high to climb. They are doing some of the right things to improve their communication, but there’s still that nagging issue of its actual need. The NFRC has effectively (although this is debatable, too) made the case for need on the residential side; it’s still never come close to being successful on that effort on the commercial end of things.
  • One forecast I really hope is accurate is the “Smart Glass” one, projecting $700 million in 2013. I am so into that space and hopeful for it. It truly is the disruptive force we need to keep moving our industry forward.

Some random notes from my time off:

  • Those of you who fly, you have to love the Delta safety video. They took the most-ignored process on the plane, and went creative with it, and it's brilliant.
  • I saw Saving Mr. Banks over the break. Great movie. And Emma Thompson is your lock for Best Actress Oscar.
  • I also saw a great documentary on the group Journey and their new lead singer from the Philippines. They found him while searching YouTube, and this movie told the entire story.  My bet is this will become a Disney movie soon; too amazing of a story not to.
  • I'd like the Seattle Seahawks—my favorite team as a kid—to win the Super Bowl. I hope I’m not jinxing my friends in the Northwest with that pick, but I love Russell Wilson and really think he gets it done.

Stay warm folks... this winter blast is off the charts....

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

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, December 16, 2013

2013 was another year of change for the U.S. glass industry, with mergers and acquisitions topping the headlines and news of bankruptcies and shuttered businesses seeming to slow. In the face of continued depressed growth in construction, major companies announced price increases, along with strategic investments in personnel, product development and equipment. The year also saw the passing of longtime industry leaders, whose mark on the glass business remains evident.

To close out 2013, we once again bring you the the most-clicked news stories on, in order.

  1. Dlubak Bankruptcy; Grey Mountain Purchase
    The top story of the year was the bankruptcy of Dlubak Corp., the resulting bidding war for its assets, and its eventual purchase by Grey Mountain.

    Complete coverage: 
    Dlubak Corp. Files Chapter 11; Goes Up for Sale

    Potential Bidding War Brewing for Dlubak  
    Dlubak Auction Set for September 23  
    Grey Mountain Wins Bidding War for Dlubak 
  2. Viracon Temporarily Closes St. George Plant, Invests $30 Million in Owatonna Facility
    Viracon Inc. announced in February that it would temporarily close its St. George, Utah, facility for approximately two years beginning in mid-April 2013. Officials said the temporary closure would better align overall capacity with the demand expected over the next two years. The news of the St. George facility shutdown came on the heels of an announcement from Viracon parent company, Apogee,  that it would invest $30 million in Viracon's Owatonna, Minn., facility. 
  3. Suppliers Announce Price Increases
    The industry saw two rounds of price increases from glass manufacturers in 2013, one in April and a more recent increase in November. Some fabricators also announced increases.

    Complete coverage:
    Glass Price Increases Set to Go Into Effect This April
    Guardian Announces Price Increase
    AGC Announces Price Increase  
    Pilkington Announces Price Increases  
    Oldcastle Announces Price Increase 
  4. Trulite announces new CEO
    Trulite Glass & Aluminum Solutions announced the appointment of a new CEO, Paul Schmitz. Schmitz replaced Jeff Leone, who served as CEO for the previous two and a half years and was responsible for the successful integration of three companies: Arch, UGC and Vitro.
  5. Jury Indicts Five Individuals for Conspiracy to Smuggle Chinese Aluminum into the U.S.
    A Federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment against five individuals and three companies for conspiracy to smuggle Chinese aluminum into the United States and conspiracy to commit money laundering. 
  6. Apogee Acquires Alumicor Ltd.
    Apogee Enterprises, Inc. acquired Alumicor Ltd., the Toronto-based fabricator of aluminum frames for window, storefront, entrance and curtain-wall products for the Canadian commercial construction market. The transaction was valued at approximately $52 million.  
  7. MiTek Acquires Benson Industries
    MiTek Industries, a Berkshire Hathaway company and supplier of advanced engineered structural connector systems, equipment, software and services for the building components industry, acquired Benson Industries LLC. Benson provides the design, pre-fabrication and installation of custom unitized curtain-wall systems for high-end commercial, hotel, residential, governmental and institutional buildings worldwide. 
  8. Trulite completes acquisition of Western States Glass
    Officials from Trulite Glass & Aluminum Solutions LLC announced earlier in the year that they had finalized the acquisition of Western States Glass Corp. Western States Glass has a long history of operations in northern California, with production facilities in Fremont, Fresno and Sacramento. As a result of this acquisition, Trulite and Western States now serve all of California. 
  9. Workers in Connecticut, California Die in Glass Accidents
    Tragic glass accidents took the lives of two workers this year—one in an incident in Connecticut at Insulpane, and another in California at Thermalsun.
  10. Longtime Industry Leader Greg Carney Passes Away
    C. Gregory Carney, a longtime technical leader in the glass industry, passed away Nov. 13 in Gulfport, Miss. Carney began his career in the architectural glass industry in 1981, and was involved in glass design, specification, fabrication, installation and field inspection for construction projects around the world.

For a compilation of the biggest stories in 2013, based on editor analysis and reader interest on, see the upcoming January/February 2014 issue of Glass Magazine.

Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Write her at

Sunday, December 15, 2013

This past weekend, I saw “American Hustle” by David O. Russell, and it is richly deserving of the almost universal accolades by movie critics. What I haven’t seen in any of the film reviews so far is a shared appreciation for the hero’s childhood roots as a sleazy con artist—breaking storefront glass to help boost his father’s struggling glass business.  It’s a hilariously cringe-worthy (if you’re in the industry) set-up that had me remembering the baseball-bat-wielding auto glass guys from days gone by. People’s heads, tongues and jokes wagged every time we published one of those smarmy incidents.

This year’s top glass industry news stories cast a more business-correct  theme of mergers and price hikes, but they make clear that most everyone is hustling—in the positive sense of the word—to  make the right, bold moves for future health and prosperity.

And to that I say, here’s to a strong year-end and even stronger 2014 for all.

Nicole Harris is vice president and publisher of the National Glass Association.  Email her at

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Over the last three weeks, I've encountered three instances of memorable life-work tips, memorable because each is a simple list of three things. 

It's not the first time I've encountered the power of three.  Years before TED talks, I read an article about how to give a memorable speech. The author advocated whittling down to three key points; it’s the number of ideas most humans retain in their short-term memory.*   

So here’s a P3 concept for this week brought to you by Angelo Rivera of Faour Glass Technologies. Angelo  says he focuses on three things in his business every day:  People, Products and Performance. It’s one of those statements you think about a long while after hearing it.  It focuses on what is most important with clarity and brevity.  Plus, alliteration aids memory.

I asked Angelo how he came to his three-word mantra.  “I was 25 years old when I started using it,” he told me.  “It came about in a conversation with my mentor, and I adapted it and adopted it ever since.” This explains both Angelo’s strategic mindset and his company’s success as one of the glass industry’s top innovators.     

Here’s to the power of three.

*That number used to be seven and some say it is four. Close enough.

Nicole Harris is vice president and publisher of the National Glass Association.  Email her at

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