Sunday, July 14, 2019

Podcast Plus

I enjoy 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, 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.  So 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 2nd half of the year but we’ll take a positive report like this any time.

--  Loving a new list... top15 vacation spots in US and there’s some stunners on here… here’s top 10 though

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, IL- 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 4th best??
3- New Orleans, LA- 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 #1 though???

But for me… how is San Diego not in top 10??  I’d make it #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 well-being 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 “start up” still with only being 3 years old.  What are the advantages and disadvantages of being so “new” to the marketplace?  I also ask this, as I know you have “start up” 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.


It is amazing that she thought that this was a good idea.

Surviving Niagara Falls!


Has to be the video of the Edify Podcast mentioned above!  Check it out!

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Free Agency

So the NBA is in the middle of free agency where player’s 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 vs. 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 (and you better be) time is PERFECT to register NOW because the contest that is running currently is an awesome one.  Register before July 18th 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.  The supplied their products on and inside the building and they are sponsoring this 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… initial schedule for EXPRESS LEARNING is out and guess what… I am not on it!  So the education won’t be sullied by my presence this year.  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, its worth seeing what made the lists- plus Chris is all over the trends too- 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 too.  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…

Possibly an easy one to start… What are some of the biggest differences in architectural glass space now vs. when you started? 

·      The quantity of furnaces and glass fabricators.
·      The vast variety of low-e 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 2 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 4 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 2 + years from time of bid to start of a project, that was really hard for me.

Fun one to end… top 3 “must have” food choices and why… mine would depend if I am dieting or not…LOL

#1 Salads and 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!


Tremendous way to get attention to get something fixed!

Best penalty ever for a crime? 

This is a very cool way to help the schools


THIS is the way to do yard work!  (Click link- couldn't Embed)

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Review and Interview

We kick off this week with the latest Glass Magazine review and it’s a favorite of mine because it combines the “Top Glazier” issue with an awesome custom GlassBuild cover.  Good stuff right off the bat!  Because the focus is the “Top 50 Glaziers” this is a jam-packed edition with everything you could possibly want data and detail wise.  Also inside this issue- a tremendous article from Greg Oehlers along with a great piece on workforce development.  Great insights and should not be missed.  Meanwhile ad of the month was tough because this is a popular issue, there’s a lot more ads… but the winner is my friends from Bohle America.  Gareth Francey designed a piece that got me to stop and look.  That is always a big key for me ad wise.  Really easy on the eyes and interests me for more info.  Well done and congrats!

Before I get to this week’s interview- just a couple of quick notes…

Long time industry leader Ron Parker is leading a charge to defeat ALS.  Here is more info on how you can help!

Ride to Defeat ALS will be held on Saturday, July 20th at Mt. Angel, Oregon. If you would like to donate to support those living with ALS and their families, please click here!
Each and every donation will:
·      Fund a treatment and finding a cure for ALS
·      Provide hands-on support to local families during their journey with ALS
·      Raise awareness for a disease that is NOT rare and occurs every 90 minutes in the US
Your gift to this worthy cause is tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law

--  No blog post next week since it’s leading into the 4th of July holiday in the US.  Hope everyone celebrating and has a safe and enjoyable holiday.

Big 3 Interview
Monique Salas, National Healthcare Business Development Manager, SAGE Glass

This was a fun one for me as Monique brought totally different skill sets to our industry (She was in Pharmaceuticals) and she is a must follow/connect on LinkedIn.  In addition as those of you who read this blog consistently know I am huge cheerleader on dynamic glass, so the fact Monique has an incredible understanding and approach with it, was driving force to do these 3 questions…

You have extensive experience in the dynamic glass space.  There is great confidence that this space will continue to have significant growth.  Aside from the fact you sell it, why are you so bullish on these products?

I have a sincere desire to make spaces cleaner and more beautiful.  Our living and healing spaces are very important for our mental and physical health.  Natural light is a significant component that aids overall wellness.  Starting in the late 70’s, researchers started to study the impact of natural light on patients. Overwhelmingly, patients exposed to natural light began to heal faster, require less medication and report increased comfort in the presence of natural light.   Smart glass now offers the missing element and I find that incredibly exciting.  A façade that changes without disruption of color or uniformity on the exterior, yet provides thermal comfort and greater satisfaction for occupants inside. It is a winning combo that meets the needs of the design community, building owners and most importantly, patients.

Imagine if you will, you walk into a hospital and in the lobby, there are no blinds or curtains.  Yet, the welcome staff is not interrupted by glare or heat. It sounds silly, but these are real solutions to increase productivity and thermal comfort.  Now, take it a step further and imagine you are a patient in a hospital room with little or no mobility. You want to see outside, but that would depend on your Nurse coming in to adjust your blinds of curtains. This could be several minutes or even hours away, depending on how many patients they oversee.  In my opinion, this can be solved in designing spaces with smart glass intelligence.  I have had the unique ability to sell in both spaces, thermochromic & electrochromic.  Thermochromic being a passive technology that operates on radiant heat; Electrochromic an active technology that allows occupants to override with control (app or wall device).   I have come to respect each type or now believe that they should be used in collaboration.
Thermochromic in common spaces, where control is not necessary (lobbies, hallways, and prescription pick up).  An electrochromic in patient rooms, giving the patients the ability to use an app to control their own thermal comfort.  I hope leaders in both subcategories will start to work together on projects to meet the needs of the client.   To me, it is not a one size fits all, but a true deep dive into the building delivering evidenced based designs fusing Thermochromic and Electrochromic.

I’m a big fan of yours for a bunch of reasons but maybe the biggest is you have a sincere desire to constantly be giving back.  Where did this value come from and why should we as a society be doing more of this?

First off, that is very kind; thank you that means the world to me.  I would say that there are many contributors ranging from experiencing the adversity of a mixed raced background to the lessons of gratitude & kindness instilled in me by my Grandfather who passed away when I was 10.  I started off my career in the non-profit and quite frankly wanted to “change the world.”  I don’t think it is uncommon for young college graduates to have these ideals. The reality is the burden of education debt, often command paths.  Living in the Bay Area on a non-profit income is very difficult, if not impossible. In such, I made a conscious choice to exit and enter into a profit generating space.  However, the agreement I made with myself is to not abandon my desire to impact the world positively.

We can all do something for someone. This includes the Earth we live on and all of the inhabitants that exist together.  Recently, I have made attempts to help save the monarch butterfly population with the simple act of dedicating space in my yard for the plants they enjoy. These are the types of activities, if done by several of us, can reinvigorate an entire population of butterflies. It is birthed in the philosophy of acting locally but think globally.  I believe that many people have a sincere desire to do something but feel overwhelmed on the various choices of “volunteerism” and the commitment therein.   The truth is, we can all do small acts that can help us feel like we are making a difference.  Because at the end of our lives, we are not going to be happy with how much money we made.  We are going to remember the lives we impacted & the differences we made.

You have been associated with the health care world for a great portion of your professional career, so I have to ask which professional is more challenging (can be both good and bad) to work with- the Doctor or the Architect?

Ha! This is a GREAT question and hilarious! ARCHITECTS for sure.  In my time in the Pharmaceutical industry I had to work closely with Physicians to help meet the needs of their patient populations.  Therein, there was a clear connection to medication and outcomes. By that I mean, if your patient has an elevated AIC and I have the leading Diabetes medication on the market, there are clear evidenced based connections for our dialogue and collaboration.  However, we are not quite there with the design community and Smart glass. Even though, the data exists on natural light & we have shifted into evidenced based design as a standard, resistance remains widespread largely due to color.  I have heard from many Architects that they believe smart glass is just too dark. 

The reality is that the rendering never includes blinds or curtains. Architects demo a beautiful picture that is not realistic.  In reality blinds and/or curtains are typically down when the occupants have inhabited the space, which equals little or no access to natural light, resulting a dark or artificially lit space.  I hope that more Architects will start to apply a larger lens when thinking of designing with Smart glass in SD or DD.   Money can actually be saved with using Smart glass earlier; results being  smaller HVAC systems, blind reduction/elimination and spaces can be reimagined to produced better outcomes.  I am hopeful that Architects with start to see Smart glass in the same way Physicians see medication… as a tool toward provide wellness.


This spices up a boring government meeting.

LOOK OUT- This gin got recalled for having TOO MUCH alcohol in it!

The do say everyone has a twin… and in this case that was true and huge.


With Independence Day in the US coming up- I decided to go with one of my favorite Muppets (Sam the Eagle) to take the patriotic role in promoting this holiday in the video of the week!

Sunday, June 16, 2019


Plenty of rundowns came my way about the AIA show and the majority of reports were that it was not very good for the exhibitor.  That’s never a surprise since AIA is not ever geared to take care of or support the folks on the floor, but this year I think it may push people off the bus finally.  Our industry desires architects the way I desire pizza, (intensely) but when you are spending 6 figures for minimal return, it may be time to recalculate the approach.  AIA next year is in Los Angeles, which has people tempted, but I just can’t see it being any better because the show model is what it is and always will be…  For additional perspective this very good recap (along with very helpful insight) from Mark Mitchell is worth checking out.


--  The agenda is out for the Glazing Executives Forum at GlassBuild and its dynamite.  Aside from the yearly economist talk, there’s an awesome pair of presentations- “A New Type of Glazier: From Glass Company to Building Enclosure Expert” and “Labor Power Hour: Engage Your Front Line to Increase Your Bottom Line” – both of these sessions will be worth the price of admission and then some.  Seriously look hard at this- link is HERE.

--  If you are EXHIBITING at GlassBuild make sure you check the last e-mail you received from the show and take advantage of the free webinar on “Increasing Brand Awareness & Driving Qualified Booth Traffic” – it is a fabulous session and worth your time.

--  Personnel news… an old friend lands in a new spot.  The great Bob Cummings has taken over the role of VP of Architectural Sales and Marketing for Consolidated Glass Holdings.  Bob is one of those guys that everyone loves.  Not likes.  Loves.  So I am sure there are many thrilled folks out there especially having him back in the fabrication side of our industry.  Congrats to Bob on the new gig and it will be nice to have him back in the mix at all of our events!

--  At the end of the month the bi-annual Glass Performance Days will take place in Finland.  This event is the international home for excellent technical insight for the glass world and features education in many different ways and settings over its time period.  In addition a major award will be presented… the Jorma Vitkala Award of Merit will be handed out during the opening reception and there’s a ton of very good and interesting candidates up for it.  Click HERE for more details on the award and the nominees.  Personally I’d love to see Ren Bartoe win it as a fitting cap on his epic career in the business but there’s no bad candidate on the list…

--  Last this week I was on an excellent webinar about travel security with regards to electronics.  Learned amazing insights on the dangers in USB ports and airport boarding passes along with other dos and don’ts. (Boarding passes and luggage tags- shred them when done, the bar code contains a ton of info on you)  The moderator also put up a slide of the riskiest airports with regards to WiFi and data.  So heads up here they are:
5- Newark- having spent so much time there in my life, this does not surprise me.
4- Southwest Florida (Ft Myers) Shocking at first but then you think, snowbirds could be great targets.
3- Houston Hobby-  I have never flown in or out of there- so no idea.
2- John Wayne- Whoa Pardner… the Duke would not be happy with his name on    a “risk list” like this.
            1-    San Diego!  This stuns me.  I love San Diego- love that airport- so its amazing that your data and privacy may be more in play there anywhere else.

So fellow road warriors be aware when you are in these airports- use your VPN etc. to stay safe!


Not sure if I believe the excuse but interesting none the less

A “V Shaped” Plane… coming to your airport in 2050

You gotta read this parking space story!


I know a lot of you out there enjoyed the amazing run of “Jeopardy James” the guy who dominated the TV Show Jeopardy for weeks.  The run is done, but he recently did a fun interview that gave some new insight…