Max Perilstein's blog

We can debate the merits of programs like LEED until we’re all blue in the face. The bottom line, though, is the performance and sustainability of the building when all is said and done. And while the various green rating systems are pivoting and making efforts to evolve their programs into ensuring long-range success, there’s one process that guarantees it: the Net Zero building.

Slowly but surely Net Zero is taking off. It's important in the glass industry, because the process rewards the glass/glazing performance and basically will force those pesky HVAC guys to size their efforts correctly. Too many times we get blamed (unfairly I must add) for the oversizing of HVAC units because there’s no trust in fenestration. With Net Zero, we’re all working together and the playing field does level. There’s a ton to this process, and it's still pretty raw, but I do believe it will be in the mainstream sooner than many think.

Elsewhere…

  • Speaking of sustainability, one of the great champions of the effort in our industry is Mark Silverberg of Technoform. Last week he was named to the AAMA Sustainability Steering Committee. Can’t get a better man than that to be a force in the effort!
  • The energy of the trade show/industry conference is the hottest in years. So far 2014 is showing a major uptick in attendance and excitement. A couple more regional shows are coming up to be aware of. The 27th Annual Mid Atlantic Glass Expo hits April 30th in Greenbelt, Md.  Then in Canada, the Canadian Glass Association's Glass Connections conference in Nova Scotia (would love to go, birthplace of the great Sidney Crosby) comes through on June 4-5. Both events will provide excellent learning and networking potential. And don’t forget about the granddaddy of them all, the biggest show in all of North America: GlassBuild America, in September in Vegas. That floor is filling up nicely, and it will be an incredible event not to be missed.
  • After a hiatus in doing interviews on the blog, we welcome that segment back. One area of the business that I am always fascinated by is switchable glass, specifically  liquid crystal and suspended particle products. These products are growing in usage thanks to the boom on the decorative glass side. It’s surely moving up from the “niche” category. So it was great to catch up with Anthony Branscum, director of architectural sales at Innovative Glass Corp. in New York, and talk with him about the growth of the product, some of misconceptions out there and more.

MP: What do you think is driving this positive direction and usage?

Anthony Branscum: I think it’s mainly because the products have come a long way and are now beyond the “Proof of Concept” stage. Architects around the country, and the world for that matter, are realizing the practical benefits of using these products in their designs. Perhaps more importantly, they have gained confidence that the technology will last when it gets out there. They have become educated consumers. 

MP: Speaking specifically on the liquid crystal product, there’s been talk recently in different circles about uneven performance and products failing. Do you think such talk is legitimate or is it being overblown?
 

AB: I have heard and read some of the same things you are alluding to. There’s a lot of posturing going on within the industry right now. Some suppliers of switchable glass are spending a lot of time bashing their competitors instead of talking about their own virtues. They believe it makes their product appear as if it’s “the best”, but what they’re really doing is hurting the industry at large. They’re creating a perception out there that the product won’t last.  It is simply not true.  When fabricated properly, one can expect many years of service from liquid crystal technology. Of course, there are companies that don’t produce a great product, but they are not the majority, and time will eventually run out on them.

MP: What should buyers do or look for to make sure they are dealing with the right people?

AB: They should make sure whoever they are dealing with can provide them a functioning sample. They should ask for a copy of the warranty. They should definitely ask for references and perhaps ask to see a job local to them where the glass has successfully been installed. If the vendor can’t satisfy these requests in a timely fashion, they should think twice about going too far with them. 

MP: You and your company have been in the switchable space for more than a decade. What are some of the biggest changes you have seen with the product offerings?

AB: The biggest change has been the advancement in the clarity of the LC films when they are in their clear state. The industry has come a long way in achieving better clarity. The second notable advancement would be the film widths. The product is available in wider widths than ever before. This helps satisfy most of the common architectural sizes we come across.

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.

We are very early into the New Year, but the economic indicators and predictions are all quite bullish. The Architectural Billings Index and Dodge Momentum Index both have been plugging along in the positive. In addition, cash flow predictions are finally improving and pointing to a healthy bump in nonresidential construction starts. So, while we have legitimate concerns on supply and transport, at least for the near future, the business climate is still looking to be very ripe.

Elsewhere…

  • Excited to say there’s a new blog out there for everyone to check out. One of the industry's true influencers, John Wheaton of Wheaton-Sprague, has joined the blogosphere. Check out his initial efforts. With the incredible insight that John is always sharing, usually on Twitter, his blog will easily become a must read.
  • Speaking of must-reads, major kudos to Katy Devlin of Glass Magazine for the coverage she provided from the BAU event last week in Munich. Katy went solo to the show and cranked out incredible, timely coverage via Twitter and on GlassMagazine.com. She made the show come to life, allowing all of us unable to attend at least have the ability to follow along in real time.
  • I mentioned this a year ago, but was at this airport again this week. Dulles Airport is absolutely a masterpiece for a glass geek to take in. Simply awesome applications everywhere.
  • It was on the trip to D.C. this week when for the first time ever I had a cab ride where the cabbie did not have a GPS. So I’m running the directions from the GPS on my phone. I am still scratching my head on that one. How can you be in that position without that tool? Another reason I try and do Uber instead; those guys HAVE to have GPS.
  • I was doing research this week and I ran into an old Glass Magazine article penned by Greg Carney. Man I miss that guy. With the annual GANA events coming up in the next several weeks, I have a feeling I’ll be thinking about Greg a ton.
  • Those GANA events I speak of, the Annual Conference and BEC, are scheduled for early March in Las Vegas. BEC, thanks to the incredible leadership from Jon Kimberlain of Dow Corning, is really primed to be another excellent edition. The agenda this year is very strong with some great speakers including Joseph Puishys, the CEO from Apogee. A few people in the know have told me that Mr. Puishys is an incredible public speaker. So I am looking forward to that for sure. In the coming weeks, I’ll surely highlight more of the agenda as well.
  • Last this week, I have to ask, outside of the New England fans (including the great Dan Pompeo of Architectural Glazing Solutions who is off the charts with his support of Boston area teams), is anyone rooting for the Patriots next week? I am on record already with my Seahawks support and prediction, so that’s not changing. But I just wonder if there’s anyone who’s not a normal fan of either team rooting for New England. Regardless, I will be watching the game for the commercials as much as the game itself.

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.

It's a different post than normal this week, as I am just talking one subject—books. Over the holidays I read one of the best books ever: What Did Jesus Drive: Crisis PR in Cars, Computers, and Christianity by Jason Vines. The book is an extreme look inside the world of public relations at the highest level, where the media spotlight seems to be on 24/7. The majority of this book is how Vines, the PR lead for Ford and Chrysler (among others), handled major public relations issues with his companies, and the strategies and thoughts behind the decisions. Plus there's some great background on the most successful marketing plays ever pulled off in the auto industry. The best part of this book was the style of writing; it was written like you were having dinner with the author who's just telling you stories about his days in the trenches. No “political correctness” scrubbing, just the whole story in a conversational manner.

So what does this have to do with the glass business? Basically my immediate thought was that we are pretty fortunate as an industry that for the most part our PR crises do not go mainstream and if they do they surely peter out quickly. In addition it gave me perspective on how to handle events if they came up. Overall it’s just a great business read on the inner workings of the car, computer, and Bible industry. (Yes, a portion of the book is dedicated to a company with the task of reprinting the Bible and that was pretty fascinating to me. I never expected that industry to have any issues that is for sure!) Those of you who know me and have been reading this blog since 2005, know that my favorite all-time business book is The Disney War by James B. Stewart. I have to say that this one may knock that from the top.

Next up on the list is Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! by Nicholas Carlson. Should be interesting to read especially right after the Vines book.

That’s it for this post; I apologize for no links or video of the week. We’ll be back to normal next 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.

It's a  very packed blog this week, but before I get to the news portion, I want to remember a great man who passed over the holidays. Lowell Rager, formerly of Libbey-Owens-Ford and best known from his days at Ford and Visteon Glass, passed away at the end of last month. Lowell was absolutely one of the nicest and classiest gentlemen in our industry.  A technical icon, he knew everything and what he did not know he learned with great ferocity. He was, among many other things, the guy behind educating the industry on the turtle code. The code was so bizarre that many could not believe it, but Lowell knew everything there was to know about it and the glass that was needed to save turtles and other marine life. Lowell carried himself with style, always dressed nicely, with a smile and solid handshake.

One of the last times I saw him was a mid-summer day in Detroit, at a jobsite that had the always fun “quench marks” on the glass. Lowell deftly explained and handled the issue better than anyone I have ever known. He did this all while not breaking a sweat—wearing a suit and tie—in the searing Michigan humidity. Cool and in control. No one else could pull that off.  Whenever I would compliment Lowell in my blog or in person, he would tell me I was “much too kind.” Well, I can say he deserved every compliment and then some. The world and our industry is not as good today and in the future without Lowell. Rest in peace, my friend.

Elsewhere…

  • No doubt the fall out from the Trulite-AGC deal dominated the industry last week. The biggest surprise was the immediate closure of some of the acquired facilities. I had totally misread that. Maybe I am naïve or just plain clueless (don't answer that!), but I did not expect facilities to close so fast. I figured some would, just not on day one. Probably the only silver lining is the fact that those who are losing their jobs should be in major demand since qualified employees are very hard to find in our industry. Still sad. And now the watch begins to see how the rest of the industry reacts to markets being consolidated.
  • Also there was a tremendous comment (and my attempt at a reply) posted on my blog on the Glass Magazine site that talked about how the industry has changed. Great take; worth reading and considering.
  • Last week I recapped my 2014 predictions. Now it's time for my five fearless predictions for the glass and glazing industry for 2015.
  1. Instead of one big acquisition in our industry, I am predicting several smaller ones, maybe along the lines of five or six this year. I do think one sale will be a company who no one expected would sell.
  2. The “bird safe” revolution for glass will grow with more and more architects starting to ask for it.
  3. With North America now loaded with more digital printers for glass than ever, 2015 will be the year where their usage in several industry segments takes off.
  4. At least two major companies will return to participate heavily in GlassBuild America this fall. With the show being a premier attraction, some companies who have skipped will realize they can’t miss it again.
  5. The glass shortage will have an effect but the transportation issues will be even worse—items that the industry will have to be very creative and proactive to deal with.
  • Speaking of transportation issues, this is another angle on what we are up against, from the Detroit Free Press on January 4th: 

For example, a nationwide shortage of truck drivers recently forced Ann Arbor Township-based shipping company Con-way Freight to launch its own driver school. The firm provides 12 weeks of training at no cost for prospective drivers, who spend half of that time earning compensation for dock work until they receive their certification.

Con-way expects to train and hire 50 Michigan-based truck drivers in 2015 — all of whom return to their homes at night, unlike long-haul drivers — and about 1,600 nationwide. The company gave a "significant" raise to its current drivers in June and plans to deliver another one in January, said Con-way Freight President Greg Lehmkuhl.

"More than anything else in the next few years, it's a war for qualified and safe drivers," Lehmkuhl said. "The whole industry is raising wages to attract people into the driving profession."

So glass haulers, already short on qualified people, now have to take on nimble companies looking to control the game themselves. Not to mention, fabricators who need to hire or keep drivers face the same pressures. This is a tough one, folks.

  • Last this week, a crazy one. I am pretty much a protectionist when it comes to North America, so what to do when the United States and Canada get in a fight over building material supply? This is a bizarre story involving steel: who makes it and where it goes. Reading it makes me feel like a kid between divorcing parents. Make sure you scan some of the comments, too; some wild takes there. Let’s hope diplomacy, compromise and logic take hold here instead of backbiting.

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.

2015 is off and running. But before the calendar turned, the deal that I hinted at finally came to life. The purchase of the AGC fabrication locations in the United States by Trulite is a big deal. Whenever you have one large operation buying another there’s going to be disruption in the marketplace. For both organizations, in my opinion, there are positives out of the gate. For AGC, the deal allows them to focus efforts on the company's core competency of float manufacturing and coating. For Trulite, it gives them more critical mass in terms of locations and talent.

As for the industry, it’s another major consolidation to deal with, and the fallout that comes with it. That fallout will possibly/probably include reactions from other companies looking to keep pace, or fill territorial holes. That process surely won’t be a dull one to watch. In the end, deals this size will be judged a year from now when integration is complete and all of the parts and pieces are where Trulite wants them to be. Until then, we’ll be watching the ripples and also keeping mind of a few other deals that are percolating out there. A new year is underway and it's going to be fun.

Elsewhere…

  • In my first blog in 2014, I made predictions for the year. How did I do? Below are the predicitions with my comments in italics:
  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.  

    – It took until the last days of 2014, but I got this one right!!
  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, and I promise you that you will be impressed and WANT to be there.

    - Count me as 2 for 2. Both events were fantastic and must attends, as they will be this year as well.
  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 breaking through.

    – Unfortunately despite some good efforts out there, LEED is still the monster; I am not sure anyone will knock them off soon. This also may have been more of a wish than a prediction.
  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.

    – This actually was somewhat quiet. We had the win early in the year and not much else happened. So count this as a miss.
  5. The use of 4th surface low-E will continue to grow and become a much bigger player in the specification process.

    – I am seeing more of it but not as much as I thought. Give me a ½ right here.

So, final tally: 2 dead on, 2 misses, and 1 almost. Not bad. Next week I will run my predictions for 2015. Stay tuned.

  • Congrats to my friend Donald Press over at Okalux North America as he continues to build a nice team there, with the latest being the addition of Peter Stattler to the team. Peter brings even more talent (on top of everything Donald and his current team posess) to this group. Nice move!
  • Speaking of talented friends, Ted Bleecker fits that description and he’s one to follow on Twitter (@tedbleecker) for insightful and interesting links on energy and solar related matters. Last week, he linked a good one worth sharing here on the top 5 reasons 2015 will be a positive year in the energy world. Good stuff. 
  • Another interesting article I found while enjoying the holidays was this one on the Miami Heat suing the architect of their arena. Some neat insight into construction overruns and egos. 
  • Last this week, my fearless and sure-to-be-wrong choice for the Super Bowl… the Seahawks. Yep, going the easy route of a No. 1 seed. Since I like the Seahawks and their fans so much, I hate to even put them in such a jinxed position. Though on January 5th, 2014, I picked the Seahawks to win last years' game and my stink did not stop them then.

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.

With this being my last “scheduled” blog of the year, it’s a great opportunity to look back at 2014 and review our world. The big take away for me is that this is the year the industry came back. While not everyone is swamped, I would say most are experiencing their best performances in a quite a while. That is truly a relief, as I know there were some people riding this storm out wondering if it would ever come to an end. I sincerely believe the positive momentum will continue into 2015.

2014 was the year that most trade shows came roaring back. GlassBuild America was very strong as were several other trade conferences. It was good to see the momentum and numbers returning, as those of us who always supported knew that these were “must attend” events no matter what. Participating in these events will be even more crucial in 2015, because we have a glass and transportation situation on our hands, so knowing the answers that only a show or a conference can provide will be extremely important.

Also, there are a couple of other highlights from this year I want to quickly touch on. We had the always-incredible Dr. Tom Culp leading the industry to a victory in the code arena. And our industry got a major boost with Nicole Harris taking the reins at the National Glass Association; her effect will surely be felt in 2015 and beyond. It's with people like that on our side that truly keeps me optimistic.

As for the year itself, I think the most surprising story, and most under reported, is pretty recent: the crazy drop in oil prices, sending gasoline prices in the United States to levels that I don’t believe anyone ever thought would happen again. While I am stunned seeing gas prices in the mid- to low-$2.00 range in some places, I can’t help but think this is temporary. But, regardless, that is a pretty major hole busted in the oil bubble that looked impenetrable forever.

Overall, I am feeling bullish about 2015. Yes there’s the glass and transport issues I have been nagging everyone on, but I think the smart end of this industry will make it work, and in the end I see things going well in the next year. Bring it on!

Elsewhere…

  • Congrats to my old friend Kirk Johnson who has taken on a new role as vice president of business development at Glasswerks. He will do a great job with them without a doubt.
  • Pretty interesting in depth story on the energy efficiency adventures at the Freedom Tower. It was supposed to be the “greenest” building in the United States. It's not happening... Nothing to do with the glass, but actually the fuel cells and the effect from Super Storm Sandy. Great inside story to read.
  • My ad of the month in Glass Magazine goes to the gang from Safti First. I absolutely loved the two-page holiday spread and seeing the faces to go with all of the names. And fun for me to see some faces I had not seen in years. Good to see old friends Tom Olson and Joe Marini in there, among others. This was an excellent layout and execution--overall really well done.
  • OK, so that’s all for me for 2014. So, please allow me to wish all of you a happy holiday season and a healthy and profitable new year! Thank you for allowing me into your world each and every week; I truly appreciate it! See you in 2015!

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.

Last week, I noted the handful of people who were considered for the 2014 Industry MVP award, but did not come away with the title. The time has now come to recognize the winner, and like some other mainstream publications have done in the past, I went a little non-traditional with the choice this year. Instead of picking a person, I picked a company. I looked at everything this company did this past year—its continued support of the industry and its growth—and it was a slam-dunk. Because it’s a company known for its team effort, I couldn’t just pick one person out. So I decided to recognize the whole lot (though I will mention one individual below).  

The 2014 winner of the “From the Fabricator Industry MVP” is ... C.R. Laurence Co.. From an industry standpoint, CRL is always there at every show and event, always supporting, even though, in many cases, they probably don’t have to. But I believe, and have been told, they do it because it’s the right thing to do for the industry. I sincerely hope it continues. From a product standpoint, CRL released more excellent innovations this year including a unitized curtain wall and window system unveiled at AIA that has game-changing potential. Plus, their software releases are huge as well. And yes, when it comes to people, CRL delivers there, too. So many make a difference, case in point a guy like Brad Thurman, who is as impressive as they come. I've seen Brad in action and he represents his company and this industry with absolute class. And he’s just one of many there that do a great job, led by excellent ownership and management. So, there you have it, a little different than the typical, but in my opinion, a company that deserves the props.

Elsewhere…

  • The new Glass Magazine is fantastic and one column is a must read. Please check out Katy Devlin’s piece on the transportation issues facing our industry. It is worth your time.
  • I know I am harping on the transportation issue and on the glass capacity issue (and I am told other writers are taking the opposite of my insight on a few of these items). But I continue to talk with people every day—people who are in the trenches—and these issues are real. I guess you can choose which magazine or writer to believe, but when it comes to the best interests of this industry, I feel like I have your backs. And, what’s the worst thing that can happen...you get ultra organized?
  • Well just one more blog scheduled for 2014. Will the big deal I have been talking about for the last few weeks happen? Things got very quiet last week. Maybe it’s the calm before the storm, or maybe we have a “runaway bride” and the deal was iced. We shall see. If/when the deal does happen, I’ll blog about it.
  • Last week, I attended a semi-interesting webinar on green building. For the most part the confidence of continued green building growth is still very strong. A few tidbits I found interesting: China’s 3 Star energy program passed LEED to become the second most popular energy related standard in the world. (EnergyStar in the United States is No. 1); plus, did you know that Singapore offers a rebate for retrofitting buildings to become energy efficient? (an incentive here surely would be nice); finally, the analysts on the webinar felt that the move to green growth was now more about financial advantages than environmental.
  • Last this week, for the first time in my life I hurt my back. And I can tell you I have no idea how those of you with chronic back problems do it. You all are my heroes. My goodness this is brutal, and I hope temporary, as I have little to no pain tolerance…


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.

It’s time for our annual look at who the most valuable player is in the glass and glazing industry for 2014. There are quite a few great candidates but there is only one winner. I have selected the winner and that announcement comes next week, but I did want to run through the other candidates in contention. I do this mostly because I believe in shining the spotlight on those extremely deserving people. So here goes, the runners up for the “2014 From the Fabricator Glass and Glazing MVP.”

  • John Wheaton, Wheaton and Sprague: Whether you do work with him, follow him on Twitter or hear him speak, you've surely noticed John's incredible passion and care. He shows great interest in the industry and its future. This is a guy who is always promoting awesome projects and work in the field, even if he didn’t have anything to do with it--unselfish and classy to the core.
  • Rick Wright, Oldcastle BE: Similar to John Wheaton, Rick shows passion for the industry. He can sometimes be on the other side of popular opinion on issues, but always has a reason and solid logic. Rick cares for how we (the industry) are presented in public and is extremely active in the trade organization world.
  • Tom O’Malley: Tom’s on this list because he went out on his own this year, seemingly 10 minutes after the recession lifted, and built a business, Clover Architectural Products. So basically this is a guy who could’ve done anything, anywhere, yet stuck his neck out big time. Folks, that’s serious confidence in our industry (and himself). Plus he’s always on the edge of innovation and bringing new and positive items to our world.
  • Bernard Lax, Pulp Studio: When I think of Bernard, I think of this famous quote: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Basically while Bernard is not front and center at trade meetings, when he does express his thoughts they carry a ton of weight. He is not afraid to speak his mind, especially when it comes to health of the industry and the safety of our stakeholders. I probably get to talk to him once or twice a year, but those conversations always have meaning and value. Plus he has an insanely creative mind, which is also a plus.

Now of course there are many others that would be up for this that I have noted in previous editions and awards like Julie Schimmelpennigh, Valerie Block, Chris Dolan, Kris Vockler and so on, but I wanted this list to be of people I had not nominated and noted in depth before. The winner comes next week!

Elsewhere…

  • For those of you who only read my blog when it's reposted on GlassMagazine.com and published in e-glass weekly, I did post last week on my original site, so if you want more insight on the latest deal talks, green stats and some cool links, please check it out.
  • So which states had the biggest year-over-year gains (October) in construction employment? The winner may surprise you as it did me. The top 5…

5. Utah
4. Illinois
3. California
2. Texas
1. Florida

Yes, the Sunshine State led the way and I do find that surprising for sure. Could be a signal that the slow-to-recover market there is starting to perk up.

  • Last this week, it's December which will seemingly go very quickly, and while that’s good from a personal standpoint, from a business view these last two months are tough ones. After the 18 work day November, the holiday season may not have as much cheer with such little time to get work done!

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.

The acquisition part of the glass industry has been pretty quiet in the last few years. While some smaller deals have taken place, the mega deals have not. But I can tell you that if the hot rumors blowing up my phone and e-mail are true, there is one such mega deal coming soon. If this deal happens, it will change the landscape of the industry again. Back in my past life I could throw the names out there (like I did when I broke the EFCO-Pella and Oldcastle-Vistawall deals), but things are different these days. People are more careful (me included), and companies like to float things to throw me off the scent (yes, I have been told as much). So, I’ll just leave it at the teaser above. In any case, I’m grabbing the popcorn and sitting back waiting to see if/when this one happens. It should be very interesting.

Elsewhere…

  • Guardian announced the closing of its Floreffe, Pennsylvania plant, which will be the third domestic float plant to go off line in the last year now. Add that to the many (nine at least) gone since 2006. In some circles word is this whole tightening of glass supply may be made up. All I am saying is it's now down to pure math and logic. We are facing A LOT less capacity matched to better and improving business conditions. As a consumer of glass, you have two choices: look for a conspiracy and start arguments, or plan to be proactive and be on top of your game with active communications and prepared logistics. Your choice, but math and logic are on my side on this one. And if the tightening does not turn out to be serious, guess what? Your business actually got better because you had to become even more efficient than before. No downside at all to that.
  • There is one other major potential tightening of supply in the world right now that could be a concern. A potential shortage of chocolate. Even a product like this suffers from many supply chain issues, too. Glad I am back on the diet again because when I get off, M&M’s may be $10 per bag.
  • I have to ask my readers in California for some insight into what I am hearing is a massive mess with Title 24. Evidently, municipalities are developing their own codes, which are confusing and beyond the current written code in place. This “wild wild west” mentality is throwing the various code inspectors into a bit of a flux and thus delaying code decisions and actual occupancy of buildings. I’d love some input on what is happening there and if it’s as crazy as it sounds. Or is it just the good ole California way of doing business? At the end of the day though, it’s already tough enough to do business when you are dealing with codes and ratings as it is, but a moving goal post is surely not fun.
  • Speaking of energy, this time in Washington, D.C., it will be interesting to see if the change in the make up of the Senate will help the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill get off the ground. There are some positives in that bill that would be good for our industry for sure.
  • Coming soon will be my list of potential Industry MVPs. Last year’s winner was Tracy Rogers of Quanex. Who will take home the prize in 2014?

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.

The first major 2015 forecast was released last week and it was chock full of positive news. According to the Dodge Data & Analytics report, commercial building will be up 15 percent next year. In addition, the forecast predicted some nice gains for the institutional and public works segments. The public works business has been stuck in a bad place for a while, so gains there are not only good for our industry, but for overall life as well. The only hesitations now are pretty simple: Will this report be accurate? (as we all know these projections in the past haven’t exactly been picture perfect.) And, if it is correct, will there be glass available, and drivers available to deliver said glass, to meet these additional needs?

Elsewhere…

  • Despite the optimism above, there were mixed messages from the various monthly reports. The ABI was strong and has bounced back from a soft middle of the year, but the Dodge Momentum Index has not been stellar recently. However, it is in the positive territory, just not as solid as it was earlier in the year. Spending on nonresidential construction also dipped, which could be a red flag as well. 
  • A few of you out there may have heard me tell the story on how I desperately wanted to be selected for jury duty a few years ago and was passed over, making me the only person at the courthouse that day mad at being sent home at 11 a.m.  Well there’s a jury trial coming up that's so massive, so major, and quite frankly so unreal, that even I want anything to do with it right now. Although I actually find the subject to be fascinating because it involves our industry in a way. What I am talking about is the breach of contract trial regarding the Harmon Hotel at CityCenter in Las Vegas. The trial is expected to last a whole year, with more than three million pieces of evidence and 35 lawyers. The trial actually involves 12 separate cases wrapped into one. Now if I were retired, I would LOVE to be on this jury. Heck I have felt for years now that an oral history/book on the CityCenter project would be riveting, so doing this trial would be the icing on the cake. But it's not meant to be, and given the numbers of the folks brought in, my odds would’ve been long anyway. Over four hundred prospective jurors from an initial pool of 6000 will be whittled to 8 jurors and 12 alternates when all is said and done. This surely will be one to watch.
  • I was delayed in giving my Glass Magazine “best ad of the month” award. So in the awesome October issue, some previous winners continue to stand out (Kawneer, Cardinal, Quanex), but the nod this time goes to PPG for not only their clean and catchy back cover ad, BUT the companion specialty website to go with it. PPG has been very active creating specialty websites for specific products and promotions, and they did one as well with this ad. It’s a sharp and forward thinking maneuver. Well done and major props to Pat Kenny, Rob Struble and everyone there who had a hand in this.
  • Last this week, big time congratulations to my friend Jim Ventre on his promotion at Gardner Glass Products. Jim is now vice president of Flat Glass Sales at Gardner and that basically means he’s now big time… That also means he’ll probably never talk with me again! Seriously though, Jim is one of the industry's nicest guys, and it’s great to see him rewarded for his talent/efforts.

Read on for video and links 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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