Monday, July 14, 2008
—By Jenni Chase, senior editor, retail and auto glass, Glass Magazine

Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado’s “Tiny Town” boasts the oldest kid-size village and railroad in the United States. How does this relate to retail glass? Well, like a typical small town, Tiny Town features a grocery store, a library, an auto repair center and … a retail glass shop. That’s right. Tiny Town’s Gump Glass, pictured here, offers tabletops, mirrors and auto glass, among other products and services.

With the inclusion of Gump Glass, the creators of Tiny Town make an important point: The retail glass shop is an essential part of any community. The editors at Glass Magazine agree, which is why we’re dedicating an entire section in each issue of the new Glass Magazine to glass retailers. In the July/August 2008 issue, set to hit your mailbox the end of the month, you’ll find information on the latest trends in decorative bath enclosures, advice on how to hire the right people and step-by-step instructions for handling glass cases. If you’re a combo shop, check out the auto glass section as well, where you’ll find installation instructions, technical tips and other information.

And we’re just getting started. Retail glass shops are as diverse as the communities they serve, and we want to hear from you about the types of articles you’d like to see in upcoming issues. Please share your ideas!
Monday, July 7, 2008
By Matt Slovick, editor in chief, Glass Magazine
Matt Slovick
A week before I left for vacation, Rob Struble, manager of business communications, growth initiatives and performance glazings for PPG Industries, stopped by the office.

I mentioned I was taking my daughters to the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, and he said: “We did the glass.”

This photo from its Web site shows the PPG IdeaScapes China Azuria Spectrally Selective Glass on the Royal Towers, where I stayed. The small area connecting the Royal Towers appears to be a walkway. However, it’s the 10-room Atlantis Bridge Suite that goes for $25,000 a night.

Atlantis reports the suite was a staff of seven, including butlers, cooks and maids. The article says guests have included Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Celine Dion, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates and Donald Trump, although it is most frequently occupied by Saudi sheikhs or high-rolling businessmen visiting the largest casino in the Caribbean.

And what better way to enhance the casino than with glass sculptures from renowned artist Dale Chihuly. The resort is based on the mythical sunken continent of Atlantis. Chihuly created the Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon for inside the casino and Crystal Gate for the entrance. Chihuly’s Web site says he used new forms and glassblowing techniques developed specially for the entrance project. The owner, South-African entrepreneur Sol Kerzner, was so pleased with the first three creations, he commissioned a chandelier as well.

A quick review of Atlantis: a great resort but extremely expensive. If you plan on eating at the resort, buy the meal plan. And bring your own sunscreen. I saw someone buy four spray-on bottles for $99.
Monday, June 30, 2008
—By Katy Devlin, commercial glass and metals editor, Glass Magazine

During a 10-day stretch this month, I took seven flights, maneuvered throughout five airports, dealt with one lost bag*, faced one cancelled flight and spent one night in the Atlanta airport (I recommend Terminal C. The lack of the armrests on the seat rows makes for a surprisingly comfortable make-shift bed). I also traveled on completely full flights and paid noticeably more for my tickets.

During my ample hours of airport meditation time, I contemplated the cause of my uncharacteristic travel woes. I shifted away from the ever-so-tempting urge to blame my annoying waits and detours on the airlines. Rather, I placed blame much more accurately on rising fuel prices (plus a little bit of unpredictable summer weather and a pinch of bad luck).

The airlines are struggling, and it seems the days of empty flights, cheap tickets and free perks have ended.

Fuel costs directly influence fares. Currently, about 40 percent of an air fare goes to paying for fuel, up from 15 percent in 2000, according to a June 13 Reuters article. Domestic tickets cost 6.8 percent more per mile compared to last year, according to a June 20 MarketWatch article. United, American and Delta have increased domestic fares by up to $60, and even discount carrier AirTran upped fares by $30, according to a June 17 article.

To cut costs, many of the major airlines are reducing flights. Delta, for one, is cutting capacity by 13 percent, according to a June 19 New York Times article. Fewer flights mean less travel flexibility—likely the reason why I was forced to take two 6 a.m. flights in this most recent travel spree, despite a personal promise never to fly before brunch-time. Limited flights also mean that missing a connection could become an even-more annoying adventure, as the time until the next available flight is certainly increased, and perhaps overnight. And, fewer flights mean crowded planes creating less space for carry-ons (and beware about checking a bag, because you’ll soon have to pay for that as well), longer boarding and de-boarding waits, and no empty seats, which sadly means no more lay-down midflight naps.

So, what’s a traveler to do in these tough travel times? I recommend booking early, packing light and buying a neck pillow. Oh, and come with ample patience, and avoid blaming the airlines and their personnel** for your travel pains unless it really is their fault (and even then, try to be nice about it).

*Did you know that you can buy items from unclaimed baggage? Check out the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Ala. They buy truckloads of unclaimed baggage and flip it—thankfully my baggage is not included in their unique wares, as it was returned to me after a brief journey to Puerto Rico.

**I was on a plane in taxi at Washington Reagan three weeks ago right as a thunderstorm started to roll through. As sideline rain obstructed our view of the constant lightening flashes all around, and strong winds shook the plane as it sat on the ground, a fellow passenger in front of me became livid and berated the flight attendant about missing his connection on the other end. Really?
Monday, June 23, 2008
—By Katy Devlin, commercial glass and metals editor, Glass Magazine

In the next 18 months, the commercial rating program from the National Fenestration Rating Council, Greenbelt, Md., should be complete, according to NFRC’s technical services manager, Ray McGowan, who delivered a presentation about the program during the BEST Conference in Minneapolis.

Some industry leaders involved in the CMA development process say the program is a “freight train coming,” despite strong opposition from manufacturers, glaziers and industry organizations, including the NGA. They say not even the anti-NFRC group that has recently formed will be able to do much to block the program at this point, particularly since NFRC has a green light from the U.S. Department of Energy.

So, are you ready?

Sure the much-contested program, called the Component Modeling Approach, or CMA, could receive almost no market acceptance and follow a fate similar to NFRC’s Site-Built program, its first attempt at commercial system ratings. However, California and Seattle are poised to become early adopters of the program, and some industry representatives say other jurisdictions will likely follow suit, making CMA part of the codes.

For contract glaziers, this would mean you would likely be placed in the role of specifying authority, or responsible party, for executing the rating program on specific projects. (“It’s not definitive, but it’s more than likely [contract glaziers] probably will be the ones doing it,” McGowan said during his BEST presentation). Are you ready to sign the licensing agreement with NFRC, pay for licensing and the label certificate, and hold liable for the ratings?

For manufacturers, this would mean you will have to pay to have an approved calculation entity rate your products (although manufacturers do have an option to have their own ACEs) and cover the costs for an inspection agency to monitor those ratings. And, you would have to pay to place products in a database. Are you ready to cover those costs, and to incorporate those steps into your processes?

I won’t try to predict what’s going to happen in the next 18 months and beyond. However, I trust the industry experts who say it is coming whether the industry is ready for it or not, and companies should prepare. Learn more about CMA in a detailed October 2007 article from Glass Magazine. And it’s still not too late to get involved and get your voice heard. NFRC’s Summer Meeting takes place July 28-31 in Chicago.

Please feel free to email me with questions about the program. I’m not sure I have the answers, but I can certainly point you in the right direction.
Monday, June 16, 2008
By Sahely Mukerji, managing editor, Glass Magazine

Green glass, green furniture, green rugs … what’s next? Why, green TV of course! Launching this month, Planet Green is the first and only 24-hour eco-lifestyle television network with a robust online presence and community, according to the Web site. “Its on-air content will reach 50 million homes with more than 250 hours of original green lifestyle programming.”
Use the channel finder to see where to tune in and browse for upcoming shows.
Greenovate offers tips on how to green your home and lists solar-powered skylights and Energy Star products as necessities to save 40 percent on energy bills while increasing property value by 25 percent. “For every $1,000 in annual reduced operating costs that a solar electric system offers, greenovators can see an increase in home value by up to $20,000,” the Web site states. Other greening suggestions include bamboo flooring, countertops made of recycled newspapers, air-injected shower heads, non-toxic paints and drought-tolerating landscaping.
Another show, Greensburg , offers vignettes on the destruction of the Kansas town by a tornado in May 2007 and its green rebuilding. Read my blog on this.
On its Web site, Planet Green offers fan sites, articles about how to go green, and forums where users can interact and exchange ideas to improve the environment and use sustainable products. Its sister site, , offers latest in green news, opinions, interviews and trends. One of the entries on the site expresses doubt about David Fisher’s glass solar-powered Rotating Tower in Dubai and its claim that the building will generate 10 times more energy than required to power it.
Watch the show, surf the channel and let me know your thoughts.
Monday, June 9, 2008
By Matt Slovick, editor in chief, Glass Magazine
Matt Slovick

Were you ever in a courtroom facing a judge, wishing you could switch roles and make the decision?

Well, I can’t grant that specific wish, but I can make you a judge – minus the gavel.

Glass Magazine’s third Crystal Achievement Awards are on the horizon. The deadline for submissions has passed. Numerous companies from across the country have submitted achievements in architectural glass products, manufacturing and marketing. This year two new categories have been added for the glass retail market: Best Retail Showroom and Mirror Installation – Residential.

I’ve contacted many of you by e-mail, and thank you to those who have judged in the past and agreed to judge again this year. For those who have not yet responded, expect a reminder from me this week.

And for you who have not been asked but would like to get involved in this outstanding program, here is your invitation.

How does it work?

You’ll receive a packet with categories, descriptions of the nominations and a photo. You’ll make your top choices in the category. It’s that simple. If your company happens to have an entry, you’ll have to pass on that category.

If you’re interested in being a judge, please e-mail me at and be a part of this of recognizing innovation throughout the glass industry.

Sunday, June 1, 2008
By Matt Slovick, editor in chief, Glass Magazine
Matt Slovick
My latest business travel for AAMA’s National Summer Conference has taken me to Hershey, Pa., the self-proclaimed Sweetest Place on Earth.

Yes, Chocolate Avenue and Cocoa Avenue do exist.
Other than the chocolate bar, Hershey is also known for its amusement park, Hersheypark.

I grew up in Pennsylvania, and I’ve been to the park numerous times. I can see it from my window at the Hotel Hershey, and it pains me that I won’t be able to ride Fahrenheit. The coaster’s description on the Web site reads: “This hot new vertical lift inverted loop coaster will ascend 121 feet before plummeting down a 97-degree drop – the steepest drop in the United States!”

For the record, I’ve ridden Kingda Ka, which is the tallest, fastest roller coast on Earth, at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. It reaches 128 mph and climbs to 456 feet.

When you check into the hotel, they offer you a free Hershey bar with or without almonds. But during the meetings, those mini chocolate bars are in arms length on every table – milk chocolate, dark chocolate, Krackel and Mr. Goodbar. I attended two meetings today and probably ate a dozen of them. Come on, they are really small.
The largest Hershey bar commercially available weighs 5 pounds and costs $35. The ½-pound bar in the hotel room costs $3.75 or $7.50 a pound.

When the maid stopped by this evening for “turn-down” service, she supplied four Hershey Kisses and an information sheet that included Today’s Hotel Hershey Historical Fact: In June of 1905, the original chocolate factory was complete in downtown Hershey.

I discovered the tours of the factory ended in 1973. Now when you visit Hersheypark, the Chocolate World ride is a 12-minute tour explaining the process of making chocolate.

I thought I’d end this post with more Hershey trivia. Did you ever wonder how Kisses got their name? I was told it was the sound of the original machines that squirted out the dabs of chocolate.

And Milton S. Hershey’s middle name was Stavely.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Katy Devlin, Glass Magazine’s commercial glass and metals editor, interviewed several architects on film during the AIA Convention in Boston to learn about the state of the industry and hear what the design community wants from glass and glazing. Watch the video.

Read news from the convention in the May 20 issue of e-glass weekly.

Monday, May 19, 2008
—By Katy Devlin, commercial glass & metals editor

The swanky swag bags of lavish jewels, cutting-edge gadgets and trip vouchers from the Hollywood awards shows can easily top $40,000 in value (celebs must pay taxes on these high-priced “gifts” since an IRS cracked down in 2006, according to E! Online).

While there were a few flat-screen TV and iPod giveaways, as well as a car raffle during the AIA Convention last week, the giveaways on the tradeshow floor were markedly less glamorous than this year’s Oscars. Even so, free is free, and many of the more than 20,000 attendees came home with packed bags of their Boston swag.

Of course, there was an ample selection of lanyards and pens and bags (oh my!), in addition to the expected edible goodies—mints, Jolly Ranchers, chocolates and popcorn. But, in my walk amid the about 800 exhibitor booths, some swag items really caught my eye.

Officials from Edgetech IG, Cambridge, Ohio, took a traditional giveaway and upgraded it with its “Predator Pen.” Thanks to Joe Erb, product manager at Edgetech, for helping us catch the pen in action.

Thermique Technologies, Chicago, provided one of the most popular giveaway items at the show—a plastic construction document tube. One of the other high-demand items was the perpetually filled bowl of Bayer Aspirin packages from Sheffield-Plastics, Sheffield, Mass.

Our booth neighbor, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, Schaumburg, Ill., handed out tape measures, very popular among the architectural crowd. While Linetec, Wausau, Wis., handed out yo-yos, very popular among the Glass Magazine crowd.

Apple Cookie & Chocolate Co., Turtle Creek, Pa., provided one of the more unique swag treats—solid chocolate molded into hard hats, hammers and other construction-related shapes. Stuffed animals were a popular gift, including the Dalmatians from Schott, Elmsford, N.Y. And many companies also gave green. Edgetech, Weyerhaeuser Co., Federal Way, Wash., and several other companies gave trees to plant.

My personal favorite swag item was the fine pair of glasses from Arkema Inc., Philadelphia. Now, be honest, who looks better, Amanda Behnke, the NGA publication department’s special projects coordinator, or me?
Monday, May 12, 2008

—By Jenni Chase, editor, AutoGlass Magazine

With the cost of everything from gasoline to coffee to stamps on the rise, the thought of spending money on retail glass services may be less than appealing to many of today’s consumers. Let’s face it, it’s more fun to spend that economic stimulus check on a new TV than a shower door.

But before you lower prices in an attempt to attract customers, consider the following statement from the National Quality Research Center at the University of Michigan: “Quality plays a more important role in satisfying customers than price in almost all … industries. Price promotions can be an effective short-term approach to improving [customer] satisfaction, but price cutting is almost never sustainable in the long term.”

Companies that focus on quality tend to fare better over time in the American Customer Satisfaction Index than companies that focus on price, according to the research center.

And it’s OK to charge a premium for that quality service. Higher prices and customer satisfaction are not mutually exclusive.

Take supermarkets, for example. Food prices rose at twice the rate of overall inflation in 2007, yet customer satisfaction with supermarkets reached its highest level in 14 years, according to the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index results.

On the flip side, low-price provider Wal-Mart saw customer satisfaction rates slip to an all-time low in fourth quarter 2007, trailing all other department and discount chains in the ACSI, said Professor Claes Fornell, NQRC director, in his fourth quarter commentary.

“With quality lagging, low price in town is not enough to keep Wal-Mart in the middle of the pack in customer satisfaction," Fornell says.

“As customer satisfaction improves, the demand curve shifts upward, making room for more pricing power," he explains. "It is not that higher prices lead to higher satisfaction, but higher satisfaction makes it possible to charge higher prices."
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