nharris's blog

We’re just at the beginning of our journey combining two impactful trade associations—the National Glass Association and Glass Association of North America. I’ve learned a lot this past year, and even more since Feb. 1 (the official merger date), and again more last week during our Annual Conference in Napa, California.

One realization has not changed. After 28 years in the glass and glazing industry, my deep appreciation for what the legacy GANA volunteers have achieved and continue to strive for at meetings only intensifies.  

Intensifies is the operative word. Our global industry is ever more complex and demanding, and the impact is felt first on the technical stewards of glass technology, processes, codes and standards.  One way to recognize what we fight to protect is embodied in the annual awards dinner.       

Focused and aware industry volunteers drive the association’s technical activities. The following stand-out volunteers were recognized for their contributions.

The organization’s highest recognition, the C. Gregory Carney Member of the Year Award, went to Rick Wright, director of technical services, Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope. Wright has decades of experience and leadership in the glass industry. He has been a longtime dedicated contributor to association technical activities. The award is named after industry leader and former GANA Technical Director Greg Carney, who passed away in 2013.

"Rick exemplifies all that Greg Carney represented in the glass and glazing industry," says Urmilla Sowell, NGA technical director. "Rick tirelessly advocates for glass in several standards and codes bodies—ANSI Z97, IGCC and SGCC, ASTM AND GICC—not just the association. He has served on the GANA board and is a great asset to the association and glass industry."

Kayla Natividad, architectural technical services engineer from ‎NSG Pilkington received the Energy Division Member of the Year Award. “This is only her second Annual Conference, but she has jumped in eagerly to the association activities since last spring,” says Mark Silverberg, president of Technoform North America, who presented the award. Natividad “has participated in the Energy Applications [Glazing Informational Bulletin] specifically, but has also contributed to multiple other task groups within the flat glass and insulating divisions.”

Bobby Chestnut, sales project manager, Standard Bent Glass, was recognized for his work in the Decorative Division. Chestnut has chaired the task group on How to View and Assess Decorative Glass Products for the last two years. “He signed on for this task at one of his first meetings, choosing to jump right in,” according to James Wright, sales director, glass division, ICA North America, who presented the award. “He has also used in person meetings such as Annual and Fall Conferences to convene his task group to make headway together in person,” Wright says.

Jeff Haberer, director, technical services, Trulite, was recognized for his contributions to the Laminating Division. “A long-time member of the glass family, [Jeff] has contributed to various organizations continuously throughout many years. His contribution to NGA/GANA has helped us probe issues deeper and more thoroughly due to his ability to look at issues and opportunities with various perspectives,” says Julia Schimmelpenningh, industry technical leader, customer applications and service lab manager, for Eastman Chemical Co. Schimmelpenningh presented the award to Haberer. “Jeff’s contribution to the laminated glass area over the recent years has proved to be just as valuable to the industry as his previous concentration on the insulating glass side. We honored Jeff with the Laminating Division Member of the Year award because he not only drives us to be better, but he provides the background for the laminated glass industry to thrive.”

The Tempering Division Member of Year Award went to Ren Bartoe, director, glass and industrial technologies, at Vesuvius. Bartoe has been a long-time supporter of the legacy GANA organization, with active involvement in both the tempering and marketing committees. He also serves on the Integration Task Force, a group of association volunteers dedicated to successfully integrating the NGA and GANA. Bartoe was unable to attend the Annual Conference; Marcus Bancroft, sales manager, Americas, at Vesuvius, accepted the award on his behalf. 

Mitch Edwards, technical manager of Guardian Glass, was recognized for his work in the Flat Glass Manufacturing Division. “Mitch has been an excellent resource to the association with his 10 years serving as the FGMD Technical Chair,” says Sowell, who presented the award. “Mitch also collaborates on several task groups within the tempering, insulating and decorative divisions.”

Joe Erb, commercial sales specialist for Quanex Building Products, received the Member of the Year Award for the Insulating Division. Erb has more than 20 years of experience in the industry, with an in-depth knowledge and awareness of the high-performance glazing industry. Erb has been a long-time volunteer within the legacy GANA organization, and is a regular contributor to Glass Magazine. Erb was unable to attend the Annual Conference. 

The final division award went to Ted Derby for his work in the Building Envelope Contractors Division. Derby, of Intertek, previously served for a decade in business development at glazing contractor LCG Facades. “Ted has been attending the BEC Conference for over a decade. Over time, he has taken on leadership roles within the BEC membership’s task group, most notably as a member of the task group updating the Blue Print Reading and Labor Estimating Course,” says Sara Neiswanger, NGA’s senior manager, GANA member services. “He has also acted as the grader of the Blue Print Reading Course for the past four years. He has taken a true interest in the students’ progress and understanding in completing the course and has also played a key role in helping translate the manual content into a complimentary online platform.”

Nicole Harris is president and CEO of the National Glass Association.


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Thirteen years ago, David Fitchett approached the National Glass Association for help in forming a group of glass professionals. His idea was to build a peer-to-peer network of glass company entrepreneurs along the lines of the World Entrepreneurs Organization, of which he was a member in Garner, North Carolina, home of Carolina Glass & Mirror, the company he started in 1993 with Mike Wilkins. 

The Glass Professionals Forum in 2011: David Uhey, Guy Selinske, Tom Whitaker, David Fitchett, Angelo Rivera, Bob Brown, Chris Mammen, Steve Mort, Bill Evans, Newton Little, Nicole Harris

Over the years, these now 12 glass company owners from across the country have helped one another develop and improve their businesses. Through an open, trust-based sharing of problems and offered solutions—and a good number of beers—this band of brothers also formed deep and lasting friendships. 

David died on Friday, October 23, at the age of 52 of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  His obituary notes that he was “a founding member” of the Glass Professionals Forum (GPF). One of David’s many admirable traits was his humility. Every time one of us would acknowledge his founding father role, he would gently brush it off, sometimes with a wry remark, always with a warm and engaging smile. 

Founding and guiding the group was just his first gift; his quiet foresight had far-reaching consequences. The same guiding principle of thought leadership and positive change were reflected in another voluntary body. It’s not at all surprising that several members of this peer group have also served on the National Glass Association’s board of directors. Each of them brought clear-minded, improvement-driven focus that continues to this day. 

In the early years, especially, I joined the GPF as they visited each other’s company locations.  The agenda included a tour of the hosting member’s facility, a meeting, sometimes a special tour or presentation by an industry supplier. And of course, a couple of dinners full of laughter and good-natured ribbing. I was happy to share both the camaraderie and many of their best practices in the pages of Glass Magazine.

Many of my inspirations for bettering the industry originated with David’s idea to form a glass industry-focused peer networking group. Many of my happiest industry meeting memories are from these GPF gatherings.  

I am proud and ever grateful to David to call myself a sister among his band of brothers. 

Nicole Harris president and CEO of the National Glass Association and Window & Door Dealers Alliance. Write her at nharris@glass.org.


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A glass company you can count on, of course.

Steve Albert learned from an earlier tragedy—the February 2014 Columbia Mall shooting—what to do when the calls started coming in on Saturday night from Baltimore. Steve, a sales rep at his family’s glass company, S. Albert Glass Co., Beltsville, Maryland, sprang into action while at a wedding in New York City. Thankfully for the property manager and several store managers at a commercial property in the heart of Baltimore, Steve had his phone on and picked up. “We need you to come board us up!”  And the need grew as the glass continued to break and the looting amped up. 


“Communication is No. 1 in a crisis,” says Steve. And you have to be quick about it. This is Steve’s 5-point action plan:

  1. Give the customer under duress every way to contact you and also the numbers for other people in your company just in case you can’t be reached.
  2. Call all your suppliers right away to tell them you will be needing them to supply the “go stuff” –no quoting, no orders, no deliveries—you’ll be picking up directly. 
  3. Put your installers on standby.
  4. Arrange for someone else to do your “regular” job, including calling customers to tell them you have to postpone handling non-essential jobs.
  5. Get to the site (once safe) to assess the damage.

With most everyone busy now, lead times are a problem. “I call as many suppliers as I can,” says Steve, emphasizing “this is not a regular job.”  On Monday night, more calls came in for another property and Steve and his crew were on the site the next morning with temporary acrylic sheets to make the storefronts secure and presentable until the tempered glass replacements are fabricated and installed. “Only us glass people know it’s not glass,” notes Steve. 

We know this: The Baltimore riots and the resulting property damage won’t be the last.


Nicole Harris is president and CEO of the National Glass Association|Window & Door Dealers Alliance. Contact her at nharris@glass.org.

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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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 www.windowanddoor.com/john 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 nharris@glass.org.

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.



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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  nharris@glass.org.


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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 nharris@glass.org.


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"This could all be yours one day." In my 23 years in the glass industry, I have known many business owner parents who have said similar words to a would-be heir and have been rejected. Real or imagined, there's a sense that careers in high-tech or finance appeal more than the world of construction or manufacturing, even if it means calling your own shots once dad or mom (finally) retire.

Recently, it seems I'm hearing more prodigal son/daughter stories. Rick Dominguez, Jordon Glass Machinery, grew up seeing his father come home tired after long, sweaty days cutting and installing glass in and around Miami. "I didn't want any part of that," he recalls. So Rick pursued an accounting degree and landed at a top multinational firm in the Northeast.

As it happens, he, too, put in very long days, working up mega-corporation financials plans. But the salary did not pay out in fulfillment. When a new opportunity arose to morph the family glass business into a glass equipment import sales company, Rick came home.

On a recent visit to Jordon, several things jumped out at me. The kids' toys tucked under desks and alongside tools in the shop; the relaxed, smiling atmosphere; and the Glass Magazine float manufacturing poster hanging on the wall behind Rick's desk.

Rick's life changed when he opted to apply his financial skill set to his family-focused world of glass. Though he still works hard to grow the business, he also has time for projects that bring him greater fulfillment in life--such as applying his social media skills to host "Theology on Tap" gatherings. Scroll down to the third photo.

Inspiring? I think so, starting with how to attract top young talent into--or back to--the family glass business.

Harris is publisher of Glass Magazine. Write her at nharris@glass.org.


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On the dos and don’ts checklist, it pays to remember your company’s fleet, even if a fleet of one, is a moving, multi-ton business card. 

I was reminded of this the other night as I spotted this fine specimen parked—legally, no less—on the street. Clean, informative, big numbers and type designed to be read on the move. I was impressed enough to scan the QR code and look at the company’s web site. Checkmark another “do” done right; easy to navigate on my phone. I’ve been thinking about a built-in cabinet at home, and this company made the right impression. I will call to get a quote.

I walked up another two blocks and there it was; the DON’T Truck. Also white, but that’s where the comparison ends. It was dirty and its signage was handwritten in magic marker, no less.
I felt a twinge of chagrin because unlike the DO truck, the DON’T truck is of the glass industry. In fact, the crew was installing a new glass storefront, and maybe not surprisingly, they were as unimpressive as the truck. A couple of them were lounging on ladders, one was smoking, all were wearing grubby sweatshirts, no company logo in sight, no gloves, no lifting belts. On the plus side, they did have the area roped off, which was good because there was broken glass on the sidewalk.

Now it’s true, I don’t have a storefront project in mind, and maybe the GC and the store owner are slobs, too. Maybe they needed and got the job priced cheap. 
But the fact remains: I was not impressed. In today’s instant gratification/expectation world, impressions—be they in person, on your website or on your truck—will drive business to or away from you faster than ever.

The author is publisher of Glass Magazine. Write her at nharris@glass.org.


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The morning of May 23rd started off just right. Sixty architects from across Florida came to Tampa to attend our glass + metal symposium. The event, endorsed by AIA chapters Tampa Bay, Florida Gulf Coast and Orlando, and hosted by Crawford-Tracey, Centria Architectural Systems and Glass Magazine, provided four AIA Health, Safety and Welfare learning units.


The half-day event included an ASTM E1105 water demonstration hosted by Chris Matthews, Glazing Consultants International. To watch a video of the water test, click here.

The half-day session featured presentations on the structural integrity of high performance commercial glazing and metal systems, for which Crawford-Tracy, Centria and corporate sponsors, Viracon, GCI Consultants, Hurricane Protecting Industries and Dow Corning shared their expertise.

We took a mid-morning break in the hotel parking lot to watch an ASTM E1105 water test conducted by Chris Matthews, GCI, who clearly demonstrated why 90 percent of every building envelope lawsuit is water-related. So far, so good.

Lunch was served; our expert panel was ready for questions.

And then it hit.

Symposium presenters and sponsors from right to left: Bob Ford, Viracon; Bob Waltersdorf, Centria; Ray Crawford, Crawford-Tracey Corp.; Bill Bonner, Crawford-Tracey Corp.; Jeff Robinson, Sales Executive, Hurricane Protecting Industries; Dean Kauthen, Centria; Chris Matthews, GCI Consultants; Jon Kimberlain, Dow Corning.

“We can find different ways of doing things, using new applications, products and materials we didn’t have five years ago,” said one architect, “but the biggest challenge I have is the subs telling me, ‘no we don’t do that.’ Poor craftsmanship is my biggest complaint.”

And with that, the symposium became a conversation about the lack of skilled labor, specifically, glass and metal workers. Someone pointed to the downturn, noting that many glaziers left the construction industry over the last five years. Another pointed to the prevalence of “dumpster diving” pricing and “value engineering” around the specs and their effect on quality. This combination is sure to increase pressure in the entire building envelope chain, especially if you believe that glazing is forecast to be one of the top five jobs in the next five years.

Summing up the frustration and the stakes for these architects was the sentiment that “the building codes don’t get me the building, the craftsmanship does.”

Sixty Florida-based architects earned four Health, Safety and Welfare learning units at the Building Envelope Symposium co-hosted by Crawford-Tracey, Centria Architectural Systems and Glass magazine on May 23 in Tampa, FL.

To be sure, I know many excellent glazing contractors who take the time and spend the money to train their glaziers. It’s also true that the National Glass Association's Certified Glass Installer Program is recognized in AIA MasterSpec Section 088000-GLAZING, Paragraph 1.8 B. Installer Qualifications: A qualified installer who employs glass installers for the Project who are certified under the National Glass Association's Certified Glass Installer Program. Unfortunately, this spec falls by the wayside if not championed by the architect to the building owner and general contractor.

I know that many of these same excellent glazing contractors read e-glass weekly’s blog posts, so I encourage you to email me at nharris@glass.org with your perspective.

And assuming we’re all thinking about the glazier shortage, here’s a plug for the glass and metal industry’s most focused career center, which as of tomorrow is re-launching with a mobile-focused responsive design: http://jobs.glassmagazine.com/. I’m hopeful that by our next architect symposium, we’ll be talking about “more good glaziers.”

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

It’s not often—if ever—people assume I watch “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” but I plan to, now.  Last Friday, I met Tom Hahn at the Home Design Show in New York City, where he stopped at the Mr. ShowerDoor booth. Owner Tom Whitaker and I learned that Hahn’s daughter, Yolanda Foster, is one of the newest housewives on Bravo’s hit show, and also that she asked her project manager Dad to make her an all-glass refrigerator for which he used shower door panels. The entire unit was insulated and is a big hit on and off the show.

View a photo gallery from the show.

As I simultaneously visualized the contents of my fridge and wondered how to respond to Hahn’s, “I’m sure you’ve seen the fridge” statement, I was also thinking, “only in New York.” That’s because seconds before this encounter, Whitaker and I were discussing suitable captions for the photo he had just snapped of Roman Abramovich’s $1.5 billion yacht parked just outside the show that is held every year at Pier 94 on Manhattan’s West Side. After reeling off a few options, we decided on: “Show attendee scores prime Manhattan parking space.”

Without a doubt, the handful of glass, window and door exhibitors mixed in among 10-burner ranges, premium wine refrigerators, rare carpets and “accessory works of art” are targeting New York’s elite and their designers. So in addition to hearing unusual stories, it’s always interesting to see what suppliers bring to this home show.

Whitaker’s private label stainless steel Volante, for sliding frameless shower enclosures, appeals to the red-bottom shoe crowd.  Down the aisle, Lillian Gorbachincky, president of Cosmopolitan Glass, showcased her company’s sparkling decorative glass options. She sketched for me the almost finished artistic installation she designed of carved Lalique-like glass for three Tiffany windows at the Fifth Avenue flagship store. Rumor has it, Leonardo DiCaprio will be sharing the spotlight with her windows for a Great Gatsby inspired jewelry line.

Growing up in the 1970s, I remember thinking antique mirror looked a little cheesy on my best friend’s dining room wall.  But after visiting the Artique Glass Studio booth, I was ready for my own home makeover.  Maybe it’s age (the antiquing process?) or just how it’s been re-done, but I wasn't surprised to see Jay DeMauro talking to a different young hip designer each time I strolled by.

Bieber Architectural Windows & Doors showed a beautiful bronze-clad window and its minimalist Slim-Profile Window with concealed hinges, perfect for the skinny pant set walking the show.

At Chautauqua Woods Fine Doors & Entryways, you could see a custom entry door ‘in progress’ for a residential castle in Alpine, N.J. The artist homeowner supplied her own CAD drawings for the elaborate and massive solid mahogany door which was displayed “two stages away from its final version.”

Riviera Doors & Windows displayed several residential and commercial doors, including a line of folding doors for either application. David Lenkowsky showed me photos he’d just taken of an office installation where the client requested acoustical panels imprinted with the Manhattan skyline. Open the doors and—presto—the real skyline appears.

NanaWall was perched on an elevated platform so attendees could more easily view the company’s smoothly operating slider. Eastern Regional Sales Manager Chuck Braun noted that the New York Metro area is one of the company’s strongest. Happily, the residential market is gaining again. In fact, everyone I spoke to reported an improvement in show traffic and interest compared to the last couple of years.

I’m glad to hear it; maybe now I’ll get some time to kick back and watch Bravo’s Housewives.

Harris is publisher of Glass Magazine and vice president of the National Glass Association. Write her at nharris@glass.org.

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