Dirty laundry

Yesterday, we published a special e-glass weekly report, breaking the news that Trainor Glass had filed for Chapter 11. An underlying question arises in these situations. What is important to cover in what is, after all, a bad news story for all involved, especially the former employees and suppliers that are owed money?

In bankruptcy stories, we try not to start by posting whatever financial details we gain access to. Many have told us they appreciate how we handle bankruptcy news because merely listing who’s owed what calls out companies potentially already in difficulty. The true value in covering bankruptcy stories is far deeper and more important.

With almost everyone I spoke to over the last several weeks about Trainor, the first reaction was shock followed by this question: What happened to cause such a large company with a great history, and what appeared to be good management, to fail? 

Other questions naturally follow, such as, are there more to come? What challenges do we still face with tight credit? How will Trainor’s failure affect the industry going forward? What lessons can we learn, for example, about pricing for market share rather than to cost? Will suppliers change their business practices to protect themselves better in the future?  

Katy Devlin’s in-depth report on the ripple effect Trainor’s closure will likely have on the glass industry addresses many of these questions, and there are still more to be asked.  

In these days of “expose-all reality TV” many Americans are riveted by the hyperbolic, often sleazy details such shows produce. I have several otherwise thoughtful, tasteful, discreet and informed friends who watch "Mob Wives." They tell me it’s like driving by an accident; you just have to look.  

Human curiosity is a powerful driver.  It’s what you do with it that counts.

The author is publisher of Glass Magazine and vice president of publications for the National Glass Association. Write her at nharris@glass.org.

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