Sunday, November 16, 2014

A BIG deal in the works??

The acquisition part of the glass industry has been pretty quiet in the last few years.  While some smaller deals have taken place, the mega deals have not.  Well I can tell you that if the hot rumors blowing up my phone and e-mail are true, there is one such mega deal coming soon. Simply to say if this deal happens it will change the landscape of the industry again.  Back in my past life I could throw the names out there (like I did when I broke the EFCO-Pella and Oldcastle-Vistawall deals) but things are different these days.  People are more careful (me included) and companies like to float things to throw me off the scent (yes I have been told as much), so I’ll just leave it at the teaser above.  In any case I’m grabbing the popcorn and sitting back waiting to see if/when this one happens…. It should be very interesting.


--  Guardian announcing the closing of their Floreffe, PA plant will be the third domestic float plant to go off line in the last year now.  So you now can add that to the many (nine at least) gone since 2006.  In some circles you are hearing that this whole tightening of glass supply may be made up.  All I am saying is its now down to pure math & logic.  It’s A LOT less capacity matched to better and improving business conditions.  So as a consumer of glass you have two choices… look for a conspiracy and start arguments or plan to be proactive and be on top of your game with active communications and prepared logistics.    Your choice… but math and logic are on my side on this one.  And if the tightening does not turn out to be serious, guess what… your business actually got better because you had to become even more efficient than before.  No downside at all to that.

--  There is one other major potential tightening of supply in the world right now that could be a concern… that would be a potential shortage of Chocolate.  Amazingly as this story breaks down for you, even a product like this suffers from many supply chain issues too.  Glad I am back on the diet again as when I get off M&M’s may be $10 per bag. 

--  So I have to ask my readers in California for some insight into what I am hearing is a massive mess with Title 24.  Evidently municipalities are developing their own codes which are confusing and beyond the current written code in place.  This “wild wild west” mentality is throwing the various code inspectors into a bit of a flux and thus delaying code decisions and actual occupancy of buildings.  So folks in California I’d love some input on what is happening there and if it’s as crazy as it sounds.  Or is it just the good ole California way of doing business?  At the end of the day though it’s already tough enough to do business when you are dealing with codes and ratings as it is, but a moving goal post is surely not fun.

--  Speaking of energy…. In Washington DC it will be interesting to see if the change in the make up of the Senate will help the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill get off the ground.  There are some positives in that bill that would be good for our industry for sure. 

--  Coming soon… my list of potential Industry MVP’s…  last year’s winner was Tracy Rogers of Quanex.  Who will take home the prize in 2014?


--  This could be tremendous news.  The cause of ALS possibly found…

--  12 year old runs away and lives in an IKEA store for 6 days.  Wow.

--  Very sad story and the need to do something with regards to the Greek system at colleges.  The drinking and initiation process have to get under control.


The Seattle “Seahawk” lands on a poor guys head.  Crazy.  Maybe because the guy had good hair, something I will never have to worry about!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

2015 Forecasts Looking Strong

The first major forecast for 2015 was released last week and it was chock full of positive news.  According to the Dodge Data & Analytics report, commercial building will be up 15% next year.  In addition they’ll be nice gains on the institutional side and thankfully on the public works segment as well.  The public works business been stuck in a bad place for a while, so gains there are not only good for our industry but in overall life as well.  So the only hesitations to have now are pretty simple.  Will this report be accurate, as we all know these projections in the past haven’t exactly been picture perfect.  And if it is correct, will there be glass and drivers available to deliver said glass to meet these additional needs? 


--  Despite the optimism above there were mixed messages from the various monthly reports, the ABI was strong and has bounced back from a soft middle of the year, but the Dodge Momentum Index has not been stellar recently though it is in the positive territory, just not as solid as it was earlier in the year. In addition spending on Non Residential construction also dipped which could be a red flag as well.  

--  A few of you out there may have heard me tell the story on how I desperately wanted to be selected for jury duty a few years ago and was passed over.  Making me the only person at the courthouse that day mad at being sent home at 11AM.  Well there’s a jury trial coming up, so massive, so major, and quite frankly so unreal that even I would not want anything to do with it right now.  Even though I actually find the subject to be fascinating because it involves our industry in a way.  What I am talking about is the breach of contract trial regarding the Harmon Hotel at CityCenter in Las Vegas.  The trial is expected to last one year.  Yes you read that right… a year!  There’s going to be more three million pieces of evidence and 35 lawyers will be involved in this trial that actually wrapped 12 separate cases into one.  Now if I were retired, I would LOVE to be on this jury.  Heck I have felt for years now that an oral history/book on the CityCenter project would be riveting, so doing this trial would be the icing on the cake.  But not meant to be and given the numbers of the folks brought in my odds would’ve been long anyway.  407 prospective jurors from an initial pool of 6000 will be whittled to 8 jurors and 12 alternates when all said and done.  This surely will be one to watch, I am hoping for some good coverage, or who knows may Glass Magazine will send me to be their court reporter….

--  Speaking of Glass Magazine, I was delayed in giving my “best ad of the month” award… So in the awesome October issue, some previous winners continue to stand out (Kawneer, Cardinal, Quanex) but the nod this time goes to PPG for not only their clean and catchy back cover ad, BUT the companion specialty website to go with it.  PPG has been very active creating specialty websites for specific products and promotions and they did one as well with this ad.  It’s a sharp and forward thinking maneuver.  Well done and major props to Pat Kenny, Rob Struble and everyone there who had a hand in this. 

--  Last this week, big time congratulations to my friend Jim Ventre on his promotion at Gardner Glass Products.  Jim is now Vice President of Flat Glass Sales at Gardner and that basically means he’s now big time… so that also means he’ll probably never talk with me again!  Seriously though Jim is one of the industries nicest guys, and it’s great to see him rewarded for his talent/efforts.


--  Yep no one will have similar twitter name to mine.. I feelbad for guys like this who do get caught up in the world of confusion.

--  Could this really be? Hundreds of federal workers on paid leave.. some up to 3 years worth?

--  Comical link from a pal in our industry (or his brother actually)- very  “creative” and surely odd…


So NASCAR now features post race fights?  Bizarre and crazy… here it is if you missed last week’s donnybrook.  The action picks up at the :58 mark.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Starting to think about 2015

With glasstec done, we are now in the final stretch of 2014.  The next eight weeks will set the tone for 2015 because of the various economic and industry conditions that are in play.  The most major and the one you will certainly hear the most about is the primary glass supply.  Certain styles of glass are already harder to get than they have been in recent times and that issue is going to get worse.  Add in the transportation issue that I touched on last week and we’ve got a challenging road ahead.  It is somewhat depressing that we find ourselves in this ordeal.  We’ve waited for a more normalized run of business and now that is here (in most places) we have to deal with these other obstacles.  So enjoy the end of the year, celebrate the holidays, but get ready (and prepare to be more organized than ever) because 2015 is shaping up to be a very interesting year.


--  Because I was away, I missed the passing of Phil Blizzard, last of YKK AP.  I was so saddened to hear the news.  Phil was a great man and truly a unique character in our world.  My condolences to his family and his friends and co-workers at YKK.  He will be missed.

--  News this past week that the USGBC will delay the closing of the older LEED rating system (LEED 2009) until 2016 is absolutely no surprise at all.  The new LEED version is starkly different and once again the USGBC had no idea how long jobs take from the initial stages until product arriving on site. So it was terribly obvious that the new LEED version could not be the only program offered and they had to make a move.  Plus this gives me time to try and understand the new version better… that will be a challenge for sure.

--  Speaking of green, I heard some so-so reviews on Greenbuild.  Many felt that attendance was off and the lack of true decision makers was down.  To me there have never been many decision makers there, so that is not a surprise.  Next year the show is in Washington DC, so I am sure everyone involved is hoping to get that attendance boost that a show in the heavily populated area like DC brings.  Whether it brings actual decision makers I still have my doubts.

--  One leftover from glasstec…  I was very impressed by the products that Dow Corning had on display.  Some serious out of the box thinking happening there.  Obviously Jon Kimberlain must have a hand in all of that greatness. 

--  Also the experience of flying Delta and flying through the Atlanta airport could not be any smoother.  The Atlanta airport blew me away- from the moment we landed at the international terminal, the layout, instructions, and helpful people were spectacular.  Obviously much different than flying through Atlanta domestically where it is so crazy.

--  Once again following the Conners Sales Group on twitter (@ConnersSales) paid off with a link to an interesting story on mock-ups for glass.  It was a well-done piece by Vivian Volz and her blog looks like one to add to the reading list especially when she’s writing about building products.

--  Am I dreaming but did it really snow in several parts of the country this past weekend?  Winter is predicted to be a bear… I guess its getting a jump on things.

--  Last this week, thanks to the LinkedIn notifications I get… a happy birthday to 3 great industry guys.  So have a good one Ryan Kerch of Quanex, James Wright of Glass Coatings and Concepts, and Kelly Townsend of Tubelite. Normally I don’t note all birthdays but figured it would be nice to give a shout out to these excellent folks… plus for some reason I like November birthdays!


--  A runner finishing a race with a broken leg.  Impressive!! I get a blister and I am ready for painkillers and surgery.

--  Not sure what is better here- the article on a guy using cones to reserve and protect his car on a NYC street or the comments below.

--  Wild story of just camping out at a KFC to get over a bad relationship… I could see doing this actually... if it were a Dominos.

--  BONUS link- since I missed last week…  the most ridiculous excuses for calling in sick!


Congrats to the San Francisco Giants on winning the World Series.  But overshadowing their win… somehow… was the presentation of the MVP award and a really nervous rep from Chevrolet.  I am convinced this was a plan and set up (because why would Chevy send a Zone Manager to one of the biggest events in sports- this is usually reserved for C Level folks) and if it was it’s paying of nicely for Chevy because the buzz is strong.  If you missed the moment… here it is…

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Look Back at glasstec 2014

The 2014 edition of glasstec is in the books and quite simply it was amazing.  Having never been to this event I did not know what to expect and despite studying like crazy I was still caught off guard by the pure size of everything.  Mostly every booth (or stand as they call them at this show) was monstrous.   The equipment on display was breathtaking and as a glass geek, I just was in awe at so much of it. If there was a disappointment (other than horrendous internet at my hotel) it was the weakness in glass technology.  I did not see the innovation that I expected and honestly I think we had more innovation with glass products at GlassBuild.  But that was minor because the equipment, the software, and the ability to see how people do things from all over the world was more than enough to make this an incredibly memorable week.

Overall the show was packed and people very positive about the future.  The only scary part was the scuttlebutt about tightening glass supply in North America and the very obvious and frustrating lack of trucking that is causing delivery delays.  The themes of 2015 will be logistics and planning because our industry is not the same as it was 5 years ago.  We have less float plants, less available trucks and drivers and now major improving economic conditions.  So if you are a fabricator, you need to plan and inventory differently than you have in the past and if you are a glazier, make sure you and your fabricator are communicating leadtimes effectively because they may be disrupted due to transport issues.  I will have much more on this in the coming weeks.

As I always do after a show… the seen and heard… and its quite long this time appropriate for a long event like this… Lots to get to…

--  Hardware was everywhere and great usages and advancements continue.  That all glass look with classy hardware is just awesome and it’s only going to get better.  What was the “in” product that seemed to be everywhere?  Blinds in between glass.   Stunning since that is not exactly a new technology.  Also quite a bit of decorative, though I heard from many that the styles on display were not eye catching and I must agree. 

--  Busiest booth?  Guardian. Especially on day 3 of the show.  The place was like a Vegas nightclub, people jam-packed in there.  Somewhere in that mass of humanity I did get to chat with the super Amy Hennes who now has helped point me the right direction at yet another show. Thankfully I got in on day 1 of the show before the masses descended on their spot. Also great to visit with Chris Dolan, Jay Phillips, and Matt Hill.  I feel horrible I never could spend time with my favorite Chinese connection Dan Plotnick.  He was just too busy. But not seeing me is best for his street cred in China. 

--  Coolest machinery?  Everything I saw was awesome, but 2 stood out for me.  (1) The loading/unloading robot that the tremendous guys from Salem showed me at the Bavone booth.  That will help efficiency in plants for sure.  (2) The cutter from Turomas Tecnocat was incredible.  Fast, quiet, and seriously effective. I watched in awe for a while, including a part where it cut 1” thick glass like the hot knife through butter.  Thank you to Juan Pablo Herrera of IGE for getting me my own private demo there.

--  Seen out and about… Got to visit with Doug Marren at Eastman and even saw Aimee Davis from there as well- she no longer works on our side of the industry, so I never get to see her, so that was a treat!  Met for the first time Ruby Singh of Glassfab.  Seriously good guy and was also nice to see Mike Goldfarb of Glassfab too.  I had not seen Doug Studt from Torstenson Glass in quite a while so super to run into him.  And always a pleasure and honor to see Bernard Lax of Pulp Studios. 

--  Pat Kenny of PPG was stationed right across from the NGA\WDDA booth so catching up with him was excellent.  It was his first glasstec in many years.  Meanwhile Max Hals was making yet another triumphant appearance at the show- he’s been here every year since 1982.  Such a good man, glad we have the same name and people confuse us sometimes- I benefit from that deal that’s for sure!  Getting to chat with Ren Bartoe is the best though, he interrupted a conversation with others to say hi to me and I appreciate that.  Got to spend time with Manny Borda of IGE and it was fantastic- pure class that man is.  And speaking of class as well as “cool” Michael Schmidt of Forel fits that description.  Meeting with him in the massive Forel exhibition was a neat experience.  And while in that booth I visited with Steve Bouchard of Glass Distributors Inc. which was totally enjoyable.

--  No Diego Cuevas of Onyx as he had to work Greenbuild but their booth was busy and I got to meet the very sharp and intelligent Mila Plaza who was covering the stand for them.  I love that solar is gaining traction.  Getting a few minutes with Steve Weidner of NSG/Pilkington was awesome.  He treats me better than I deserve.  Always good to see Scott Hoover of Tecglass/Arrow as well as spending a little time with Carey and Chris Mobius of Garibaldi.

--  Not seen? I saw Devin Bowman of TGP at the airport in Atlanta and then never saw him again.  Rob Botman and Jordan Richards of Glassopolis were at the show, but never saw them and rumor has it they owned the town at night with legendary outings.  Nice. 

--  Last, on my final day here, I went for a nice (but icy cold) run along the Rhein.  Portions of my lungs I think are still behind in Germany floating along that river.  Somewhere my running idol Jeff Ziesche of CRL/US Aluminum has to be smiling about that one.

I’m sure I missed more than one thing and we’ll catch that next week as we return once again to normal…. 


I hope you can give me a pass on both of these- internet was not great in Germany, so looking up and finding anything was not going to happen.  They’ll return next week!