Monday, July 15, 2019

I enjoy a whole range of podcasts, and our industry has a brand new one from the guys from Edify Studios. Brad Walker and Brad Glauser of Edify do a great job with it and to date have had some very interesting guests and topics. This week’s edition is close to my heart as it’s a special edition about Mercedes Benz Stadium and features Tom O’Malley of Clover Architectural and Court Reece of Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope. They give a great inside story to the glass and glazing products on this amazing structure. Well worth the watch/listen. You can download in podcast form via Apple or Android or for an easy watch and listen: here it is on YouTube. 


  • Remember only a few more days to go to get entered in the VIP Tour of Mercedes Benz Stadium. If you have not registered for GlassBuild yet, do it now to be eligible. Aside from the awesome glass and glazing you’ll also see all the great pieces of the stadium including locker rooms and field! This is a tremendous opportunity and experience!
  • The Dodge Momentum Index was up nicely for June and that surely calmed some nerves with the way things had been trending both with this index and the ABI. We are still slower pace and performance wise than last year and there are still signs of soft times coming in the second half of the year but we’ll take a positive report like this any time. 

10. Honolulu: Higher on list if you see my main man Lyle Shimazu or the great Earnest Thompson.

9. Austin, TX: For the weird in you.

8. Asheville, NC: I have never been. Guess I need to!

7. Nashville, TN: Incredibly hot now—BEC there in 2020 proves it right?

6. Chicago: To me this is overrated. Sorry my pals from the Windy City.

5. New York City: I can see it, so much to do, etc. So much energy.

4. Savannah, GA: I like it but is it really fourth best??

3. New Orleans: Nope. Not for me.

2. Santa Fe, NM: Wow. help me out anyone who’s gone—is this really that good?

1. Charleston, SC: Love it, great place… is it No.1 though?

But for me, how is San Diego not in the top 10?? I’d make it No.1 probably.  

Big 3 Interview

Eric Fortin, general manager, Northwestern Glass Fab

I only recently got to meet Eric Fortin and immediately I said to myself “this would be a great interview,” and sure enough it was. As you can see below Eric has got it together! I love that this is someone that was from outside the industry and has now come in and made a serious difference. Talent like what Eric possesses is crucial for our wellbeing and growth as an industry and I look forward to getting to know him better and also seeing him at the various industry events!

I have to start with your time in the United States Army. You were a troop commander with some serious responsibilities. What was that time like for you and how often do you use the lessons and experiences gained there in your daily work at Northwestern Glass Fab?

I have to first give kudos to mentors. I met a very influential gentlemen during college who helped me understand what leadership is all about. He was the first real leader I had ever met. This gentlemen’s name is Mr. Wilbur Wolf III. Mr. Wolf helped me to determine that joining the Army as an active duty officer was the right thing for me to learn about myself, leadership and how to lead people. Once I was in the Army, it was a dream of mine to one day lead a cavalry troop. Over the years I worked my tail off and positioned myself to make that dream come true. I was fortunate to be a troop commander for a unit that was resetting from a previous deployment to again deploy. I say fortunate because the timing was such that I took command of the unit in Colorado and immediately prepared to deploy. As the commander the other leaders and I trained, deployed and then returned the unit to Colorado. In my opinion, if you are going to lead soldiers, this is the perfect scenario and challenge. The responsibilities as a commander are significant. As a commander of a deployed unit, you are truly responsible for people’s lives.

My apologies, but before I respond to your question, I have to again be appreciative to mentors who helped me take what I learned from the Army as a leader and to apply it to the business and manufacturing environment. I was extremely fortunate to be invited to be a part of an absolute world class company in the glass business. This company has a history of taking ex-military leaders and helping them make the transition to manufacturing. The experiences they provided helped me to establish a foundation of what “right looks like” in successful business organizations. Without two mentors who offered me this opportunity, I more than likely would not be in the glass industry. That company is Cardinal Glass and those two gentlemen are Dave Pinder and Mike Arntson. Like the military, I tap into my experiences with Dave and Mike at Cardinal every single day.

The largest lesson that I learned from my time in the military and that I apply daily is perspective. As stressful as some days can be, a tough day at work today isn’t really that bad. It could be always be worse. In general, everyone will go home to their friends and families at the end of each day. I also apply the lessons of patience, but decisiveness, to maintain flexibility because most things change and do not go the way you want or planned. Also, to let leaders lead. As often as I can I try to give my leaders my intent and then let them lead their teams. This allows them to be creative in accomplishing the goal. Everyone learns a ton when leaders are given the freedom to own and accomplish an objective with their teams. Lastly, I learned about taking care of people. We are all in the people business. If you take care of people, they will take care of you.

Your company (Northwestern Glass Fab) could be considered a “startup” still with only being three years old. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being so “new” to the marketplace? I also ask this, as I know you have “startup” experience in your past, so this was not your first adventure.

I want to start with how lucky I am to be a part of the Brin Glass companies. This is such a fantastic bunch of people. I truly have the very best boss in Bill Sullivan. Anyone who knows Bill understands what I mean when I say this. Northwestern Glass Fab as a part of Brin Glass has been around since 1912. Three years ago, NWGF separated from the Brin Glass Company to once again be known simply as Northwestern Glass Fab, instead of Brin Northwestern. This meant moving to a new standalone location and to establish itself as a standalone profit and loss division. A lot of the changes made since I’ve joined the company were very much in order to start over. What used to work very well no longer works. We hit reset and I believe we are now postured for growth and another 100 years of success. I’m so very proud of my team during the past 16 months. Change and culture change is not easy. Our success is truly due to the team for having an open mind, patience and the will to fight through adversity.

Fun one… what is your all-time favorite movie, or movies if you can’t just choose one and why? 

I was a business and history major in college and I am kind of a space geek. With that, my favorite movies are Apollo 13 and the recent Apollo 11. I am always impressed with what it took to put humans in space and on the moon. It took fantastic teamwork, dedication and a constant fight against adversity. The people who accomplished these wonderful feats were so smart and committed. It always impresses me when I watch those movies. Before I die, I hope to one day truly understand what a black hole truly is.

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

Max Perilstein 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, July 9, 2019

The NBA is in the middle of free agency, when players’ contracts expire, and they can move to a new team. It also seems to be the same way in our industry, with a ton of folks moving from one company to another in the last several weeks.

Change can be good and refreshing but I have to say this is the most movement I have seen in a short time in my years in this industry. It will be interesting to see if our movement continues or if this was just a blip on the radar. And meanwhile, yes, I am thrilled that Kawhi Leonard went to the Clippers versus the Lakers.


  • The Architectural Billings Index barely stayed in positive zone last month, but it did. The Northeast is the drag right now, which will be something to watch next year to see if they get softer in those areas. The big news? Firms that specialize in commercial and architectural were up nicely, so that bodes well for the majority of our industry.
  • If you are coming to GlassBuild America, now is the perfect time to register, because of the awesome contest currently running. Register before July 18, and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a custom VIP Tour of the fascinating Mercedes Benz Stadium right next to where GlassBuild is held. This stadium is incredible and well worth seeing. Major props to the great folks from Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope and Clover Architectural Products. They supplied their products on and inside the building, and are sponsoring the contest and helping with the tours. This is a great way to round out your Atlanta trip, so register, and get in the contest!
  • Also on GlassBuild, the initial schedule for Express Learning is out. There’s a ton there, but the one right now that I think will draw a massive crowd is Chris Phillips laying out “Best and Most Interesting Shower Enclosures” of 2019. I have been seeing some of the candidates he may show, and if you’re in the shower game, it’s worth seeing what made the list. Plus, Chris is all over the trends. Don’t miss it.

Big 3 Interview

Wardi Bisharat, architectural glass sales at PRL Glass Systems and Aluminum

I was really lucky to get to work with Wardi when I was at Vitro America years ago. Wardi is not only one of the most talented people in our business, but she’s also a really cool person. To me she was always upbeat and positive, and she has an energy about her that just exudes greatness. When I asked her to do this interview, she noted she’s different in person than on paper, but I disagree. She’s right on track with the insights. (The rise of laminated—so on target). And she’s solves the debate that some people may have on who’s got the best French fries out there.

What are some of the biggest differences in architectural glass space now versus when you started?

  • The quantity of furnaces and glass fabricators.
  • The vast variety of low-emissivity coatings and the availability of coating on various substrates; exotics (I love that word).
  • The rise in demand for laminated options.

I have had the privilege of exceptional training over the years to keep up with the changing products.

You’ve been at PRL for almost two years now, after several years at companies owned by large ownership groups. What’s it like to be back in family business style of ownership? Was there any adjusting needed to settle in at PRL?

We have four owners and over 500 employees at one location. It is a very impressive operation with an amazing amount of talent. The owners are hands-on and work as hard, if not harder than the rest of us here.

I did not bring a backlog with me and started from zero. As you know in our commercial world, it can take two plus years from time of bid to start of a project. That was really hard for me.

Fun one to end: Top three “must have” food choices and why?

#1 Salads—they are not always healthy or low calorie.

#2 Avocados—love them on everything

#3 McDonald’s French fries. What can I say, I have a weakness for them.

Thank you Wardi. You continue to be one of the best around!

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

Max Perilstein 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, July 8, 2019

The future of the glass industry is smart—smarter glass for smarter buildings in smarter cities, according to presenters and organizers at the 2019 Glass Performance Days, June 25-28 in Tampere, Finland. “Smart cities, smart buildings and smart glazing are our future,” said Jorma Vitkala, chair of the GPD organizing committee, during the GPD Opening Ceremony. “Changes are happening faster than ever before. But we need to continue being the catalysts for ideas and innovation. … We must embrace new ideas, new technologies, new relationships. We must be ready to meet the needs of our customers and our customers’ customer.”

Many of GPD 2019’s seven simultaneous, all-day sessions—covering a variety of topics including smart technology, glass and sustainability, R&D, façade and market trends, and more—looked at the next-generation glass products that could be essential to bringing the industry to the next level.

Some takeaways:

  1. Performance. The market will continue to demand better performing products, and codes and standards will continue to require the same. “The global need for environmental energy and sustainability is reshaping the nature of glass,” said Arto Metsänen, CEO and president of Glaston. “Energy efficiency has always been a challenge. As a material, though, glass is very competitive in terms of CO2 reduction. It provides a unique opportunity for the sustainable development of the world.”
  2. Collaboration. Innovative industries require collaboration, said Teppo Rantanen, executive director of the City of Tampere. “Companies talk about new ideas because they know what they get back will be better,” he said. “How do you work together with other companies? How do you share?” 

    Developing next-generation products and processes, and achieving next-level performance goals, also requires this collaboration, added Metsänen. “We can only succeed if we work together,” he said. “No company or individual can do this alone.”
  3. Complexity. The adoption of digital design has changed what’s possible with the building façade, allowing complex shapes and curves that were never before possible. “We’re not building rectangles and squares,” said Stanley Yee, façade design and construction specialist for Dow. “We are seeing complex architecture, complex units, oversized glass, curves.” 
  4. Digital factory. Glass industry manufacturing has also seen advancements. Most new machines are networked. Companies can track products, and progress and performance of individual machines, the full factory floor, or even global factory locations. “We’re looking beyond Industry 4.0,” said AJ Piscitelli, application engineer and project manager, FeneTech Inc. “It’s the digital factory. It’s Industry 4.0, IoT, supply chain management.”
  5. New methods and materials. The GPD exhibit floor offered a sneak peek at product and production solutions to come (or in some cases, what’s already here). Innovations included transparent insulating glass spacers; next-generation coatings for performance, bird-friendly design, switchable capabilities and more; and advancements in the way products are made, including laser technology and additive manufacturing, or 3D printing.  

Katy Devlin is editor in chief of Glass Magazine. Contact her at Follow Glass Magazine on Twitter.

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