News to Know: Top Headlines of 2018

Glass Magazine
December 17, 2018
COMMERCIAL, RETAIL, FABRICATION

The most-clicked news stories of 2018, brought to you by e-glass weekly.* 

The top headlines of 2018 show a North American glass industry experiencing exciting growth—including new facilities and planned float lines—and facing new challenges—including tariffs and capacity constraints. Following the year’s multiple major acquisitions, and some business restructuring, the industry has a new landscape and new opportunities going into the new year. 2018 also saw hardship within the industry, and the defining resilience of its people in the face of it. Below, Glass Magazine presents a compilation of the most-clicked news stories of 2018 from GlassMagazine.com.

Industry Acquisitions

CRH’s Americas Products Division Acquires Coral Industries

CRH’s Americas Products Division acquired privately held Coral Industries Inc. Coral is a fabricator of framed and semi-frameless glass shower enclosures, custom frameless glass shower doors, and architectural glass and aluminum products, primarily in the southern United States.

Coral will operate independently, as a CRH Company, led by its existing management team with the exception of Coral’s founder and CEO, Mac McAllister, and longtime president, Al Askew, who are both retiring after the transaction is completed. The remaining members of the management team, including Grant and Lewis McAllister, will continue to lead the business.

Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope Acquires Sigco LLC

Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope, part of CRH’s Americas Products Division, acquired privately held Sigco LLC, based in Westbrook, Maine.

“The acquisition of Sigco is the next step in executing our growth strategy for our glass fabrication and architectural aluminum products businesses,” says Nathan Creech, president of Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope. “Sigco’s unwavering focus on customer service, its entrepreneurial culture and its leadership position in New England makes it an ideal fit for OBE.”

Sigco will operate as Sigco, a CRH Company, led by Dave McElhinny and the rest of the existing management team.

HMI Cardinal Acquires Woon-Tech

HMI Cardinal, one of the largest domestic manufacturers of custom glass shower enclosures and a key supplier of commercial glazing solutions and artisan glass, acquired Woon-Tech, based in Whitinsville, Massachusetts. Woon-Tech, also known as Woonsocket Glass Fabricators, is a leading manufacturer of glass shower enclosures in New England. The company is also a nationally recognized fabricator of other specialty glass products including glass entrances, mirrors and full-color digitally printed glass.

According to company officials, with the addition of Woon-Tech, HMI Cardinal expands its shower glass manufacturing capabilities outside of its Louisville, Kentucky, headquarters. In addition, the acquisition extends the company’s specialty glass fabrication capabilities.

As a new subsidiary of HMI Cardinal, Woon-Tech will retain its new manufacturing facility in Whitinsville, as well as the management team and employees under the leadership of current President Chip Rogers.

American Insulated Glass Acquires Innovative Glass of America

American Insulated Glass LLC acquired Innovative Glass of America, a North Carolina-based glass fabricator and wholesale distributor. This deal enables AIG to expand its market reach and product capabilities across the southeastern United States.

IGA offers an array of fabricated glass solutions, including Vetrotech fire-rated ceramics, Keralite Select F and Select L, Spandrel HT, ShowerGuard and impact laminated glass, along with a range of decorative glass solutions. With a new fabrication facility recently opened in Birmingham, Alabama, along with its current facilities in Pensacola, Florida, and Atlanta, plus IGA’s facility in Dallas, North Carolina, AIG now covers the entire Southeast market.

Expanded Capabilities, Capacities

NSG Announces New U.S. Float Plant for Solar Market

Officials from NSG Group announced May 11 that the company will invest nearly $350 million to expand production capacity of transparent conductive oxide coated glass for the solar market. The investment will fund the construction of a new float glass production facility in the United States, and the upgrade and restart of a currently dormant float line in Vietnam, to take place in the next three years.

NSG’s expanded global production capacity for TCO glass is expected to accelerate a shift in the company’s product portfolio towards value-added products, while supporting a long-term supply agreement with First Solar, the world’s leading provider of comprehensive photovoltaic solar systems, according to NSG officials.

NSG officials say the company’s investments in value-added products, including solar glass, are intended to drive its growth strategy while supporting the increased use of renewable energy.

Vitro Glass Launches Operations of Jumbo MSVD Coater at Wichita Falls

Vitro Architectural Glass launched its new jumbo magnetron sputtered vacuum deposition coater at its Wichita Falls, Texas, manufacturing plant. The coater allows the manufacturer to produce energy-efficient glass in sizes 112.5 percent larger than standard size lites, the company reports. Vitro can now meet architects’ growing demand for low-emissivity glass in sizes as large as 130 by 204 inches

The jumbo MSVD coater applies Solarban solar control low-E coatings on a variety of large-area glass substrates in standard thicknesses while providing precision color control and aesthetics. It will produce more glass-per-energy-unit than most MSVD coaters currently in operation, says the company, while increasing the plant’s annual low-E glass production by 20 percent.

Vitrum Glass Group Opens Manufacturing Facility in Alberta

Vitrum Glass Group celebrated the grand opening of its new 65,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, located in city of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. The new facility currently employs 35 employees who manage and fabricate local orders for shower doors, railings, monolithic glass products and tempered glass.

The new facility is highly automated, and currently houses a new tempering furnace with a capacity of 10,000 square feet per shift. The seaming equipment, CNC cutting, and edge polishing stations are also highly automated which allows Vitrum Glass Group to fabricate and finish a shower door in under 5 minutes, according to company officials. A state-of-the-art laminating line will be installed in the very near future, officials say, with plans to have it producing laminated products for the spring of 2019.

Guardian Glass Celebrates North American Jumbo Coater Start

Guardian Glass is now producing jumbo coated glass in North America. The company recently completed all testing on its jumbo coater in Carleton, Michigan, and started coating its float glass with Guardian SunGuard SuperNeutral 68 HT coating. This jumbo coater is Guardian’s 12th globally and the company’s first in North America.

The first project to feature glass from the new jumbo coater is One Campus Martius, in Detroit. The project is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2019.

Customers can order jumbo Guardian Glass products in standard 130-inch by 204-inch sizes, as well as special orders at 130 inches by 240 inches. The jumbo glass lites will be available in 6-, 8-, 10- and 12-mm thicknesses, with coatings available on clear, tinted and low-iron float glass substrates.

Press Glass to Build Second U.S. Facility

Press Glass Inc. will build a second plant in the United States, to be located in Henry County, Virginia, not far from Press Glass Inc.’s original U.S. facility in Stoneville, North Carolina. The 280,000-square-foot plant will be built in Commonwealth Crossing Business Center. Company officials estimate that the $43.5 million-dollar plant will be commissioned at the end of 2019.

The new plant will specialize in production of glass for commercial buildings and will be equipped with state-of-the-art machinery. The Henry County facility will gradually increase its performance and offered range to ultimately provide a full range of products demanded by the target market. The new location will require an estimated workforce of 200, say company officials.

New Business Strategies

Viracon to Close Utah Facility in March

Viracon Inc. ceased operations at its St. George, Utah, facility in March 2018. The plant is the smallest of the company's three U.S. manufacturing locations. The closure follows several years of productivity improvement and new equipment and infrastructure investment at its Owatonna, Minnesota, and Statesboro, Georgia, facilities.

"Viracon has invested over $100 million in its Minnesota and Georgia facilities over the past five years to improve productivity and introduce new capabilities, the most significant of which is the ability to fabricate glass sizes up to 130 inches by 236 inches," says Kelly Schuller, president, Viracon. "As a result, it is possible for us to close our Utah plant to reduce our overall cost structure without impacting customer service or our six- to eight-week lead times.”

The St. George closure will affect just under 200 of Viracon’s 2,300 employees.

Lixil and Grandland Agree to Terminate Planned Permasteelisa Transaction

Lixil Group Corp. decided to terminate the share transfer agreement between Lixil Corp. and Grandland Holdings Group Ltd. The decision followed an Oct. 22 announcement that Lixil Group and Grandland were unable to secure approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States for the planned transfer of shares of Permasteelisa S.p.A., a subsidiary of Lixil, to Grandland.

Lixil Group is now focused on developing a strategy to support Permasteelisa’s long-term growth as part of Lixil.

"We are really pleased with today's announcement by our shareholders, as it confirms that Lixil Group is fully committed to supporting and working with Permasteelisa to put the business back on a strong growth footing,” says Riccardo Mollo, CEO, Permasteelisa Group.

National Headlines

3 Seriously Injured, Suspect Dead, after Shooting at WTS Paradigm

Several employees of industry software provider WTS Paradigm were shot on Sept. 19 after a gunman opened fire at the company’s Middleton, Wisconsin, offices.

According to Middleton Police Chief Charles Foulke, three employees were seriously injured during the shooting. Since the original reporting, all were released from the hospital. The gunman was identified as 43-year-old Anthony Y. Tong, a Madison, Wisconsin, resident who moved to the area in March 2017 and started working at WTS Paradigm in April 2017.

Tong was shot and killed by responding law enforcement, said Foulke during a same-day press conference.

“We, like everyone else, are shocked and saddened by this senseless act. The WTS Paradigm team remains strong, and we will get through this together with support and help from colleagues, family, friends and the community. We will find the strength to recover and move forward,” said Ryan Mayrand, WTS Paradigm marketing manager.

US Announces Tariffs on $200 Billion of Chinese Imports, Including Glass

On Sept. 17, the Office of the United States Trade Representative released a list of approximately $200-billion worth of Chinese imports that will be subject to additional tariffs. The action came at the direction of President Trump and took effect on Sept. 24, beginning at 10 percent, with a planned increase to 25 percent on Jan. 1, 2019. The list of more than 5,700 products includes float glass and fabricated glass products, such as tempered, laminated and insulating glasses, and mirrors. The list also includes related products, such as opacifiers, colors and similar preparations used in the glass industry.

The announced tariffs follow previously instituted duties on metal products—25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum.

Concerns have been raised about the potential impacts of the tariffs on the overall economy. “Tariffs could be a threat to the business cycle growth,” said Connor Lokar, economist, ITR Economics, during a presentation at the National Glass Association’s Glazing Executives Form, held Sept. 12. “The idea that we can do this without a cost is just not a reality. Prices are going to increase. … That is really going to be a pressure point for the global economy.”

In addition to cost concerns, glass industry officials warn of the tariffs' potential impact on the domestic supply chain and on the ability of companies to develop accurate project bids.

Employee Dies in Accident at Fuyao Glass America Facility

A forklift operator died as a result of an accident at Fuyao Glass America’s Moraine, Ohio, facility, according to reporting by WDTN.com. According to the report, the employee was killed after a load of glass weighing about 2,100 pounds fell from the forklift. Police and medics were called to the scene, where the male employee was later pronounced dead. The coroner has ruled his death an accident, and police continue to investigate the accident.

AGC's Tennessee Plant Experiences Glass Leak

According to reporting from the Kingsport Times News, AGC Inc.’s plant located in Churchill, Tennessee, experienced a molten glass leak on Feb. 5, 2018, that resulted in firefighters being called to the scene. One employee was transported to the hospital after sustaining injuries including heat exhaustion and minor burns.

Tom Segelhorst, AGC human resources manager, says that the leak was caused when the No. 2 float line was being drained in preparation for rebuilding. During the process, a leak occurred in another part of the tank, according to Segelhorst’s statement.

*From Jan. 1, 2018 to press time, Dec. 17, 2018.