Sunday, October 04, 2015

Positive Notes Continue

I listened in on a construction forecast webinar this week and it was basically more of what we we’ve been hearing.  Positive for the non-residential side for 2016, with including some improvement on the institution side of things.  Hotels and recreation also are primed for a big year as well.  But the interesting part was when the analyst was reviewing material costs and when he got to flat glass he said something along the lines of “Usually flat glass costing is like their name… flat, but lately we’re seeing a rise.”  He then added basically a regurgitation of the Wall Street article saying there’s short supply and job delays because of it.  So the narrative that was floated out there a few weeks ago is growing especially when it’s hitting the indicators and analysts.


--  I’ve always been a big fan of Donald Jayson and Bendheim for how they do business.  Now recently another great item to add to the list, when they went 4th generation by adding Benjamin Jayson to the business.  Obviously I have a special place in my heart for the family business, and I love seeing the latest generations joining our industry.  Congrats to the Jayson family!

--  Just a heads up- the folks at SAPA are doing for the first time in New York City an Architectural Workshop for architects, designers, and building consultants.  Great opportunity for those groups to learn some of the intricacies of metal and help them with design.  So if you fall into that category, you should look into- date is 10/14 and more info is here.  Props to Mark Spencer and the team at SAPA- they’re always on the cutting edge.

--  Communication was a big theme during GlassBuild America and recently I ran into a decent read on tips for effective construction communication. 

--  Off topic from the industry… if you want an amazing read and book you will not want to put down, grab “13 Hours, The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi.”  This book by Mitchell Zuckoff was amazing.  It is non political, so they’ll be no discussions of what happened or did not happen in Washington or with politicians.  It is about the men who had to deal with the attack and protect the annex and compound there.  It’s told minute by minute with incredible detail.  Amazing read.  Evidently a movie is now being made from it- I am scared Hollywood will ruin it.

--  Bad news from the latest release of jobsite safety numbers.  The construction world is in the midst of its most dangerous year since 2008.  I know so many companies stress safety to the furthest extent, yet the injuries and fatalities keep happening and now at a pace that is really depressing. 

--  I really thought the Alcoa news from last week would make more waves than it did.  The announcement that the organization would split into 2 companies got a little reaction and then everyone moved on.  Industry wise the question is on where Kawneer lands.  As expected the release and comments say all will continue to be normal and that’s to be expected in the short term.  But as with every deal it sure bears watching to see what, if any changes come down the pike there.


Frivolous lawsuit alert.  I’m sure this will get settled out of court with big cash changing hands… to the lawyers at least.

Wow, this is so ridiculous.  Any HR folks out there experience this one???

Great photo.  Great story.


Well I hope if I get to go back to Dusseldorf next year that my pilot is as good as this person.  Check out this landing with a severe crosswind happening.  Wow.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Beware the Misleading Headline

A common practice in newsrooms all over the world is the use of “sensational headlines.”  Usually these are statements that leave a key word in or out and are misleading enough to catch your attention.  In the old days the term would be these “sell papers” but now in the heavy online age its “gets clicks” or “clickbait.”   So when I saw the headline on (thanks to the great @tedbleecker twitter feed) that said “Architects Billings in August Signal Construction Slump” I knew to take it with a massive grain of salt.  The story attached to the misguided header was about the release of the August Architectural Billings Index (ABI) which slipped in it’s main metric to 49.1 from the previous month of 54.7.  The way that indicator works is any total under 50 means a decrease in design services.  So this was a negative month by that accounting, and thus the assumption of a slump was trumpeted.  However when you start to look deeper, and when it comes to data, you owe to yourself to always look deeper, the situation is still nowhere near a “slump.”  The main indicator was down, but other key indicators were still up, and still rolling along- including inquiries and contracts.  Many of the other deeper indicators also remained positive.  So while there’s been some slippage, I don’t think calling it a slump is even close to accurate.  Especially on the basis of one month of anything.  Obviously the overall worries that I hit here a lot (transportation, workforce, materials etc.) are still prominent, the fact is the base remains in an optimistic state.  In the end, CNBC succeeded with their headline… it got me and many others to read and comment on it, probably driving their pages views quite a bit higher than it would normally be but they’re completely wrong.


--  By the way the industry ended up in another article in a traditional setting with the Toledo Blade doing a “glass capacity” piece with a focus on hometown player Pilkington.  Not a bad attempt with some content lifted from the previous pieces and also a mention on glazier availability.  Here it is.

--  I was alerted this week about a petition online regarding the 179 Tax Deduction.  179 allows businesses to deduct the full amount of the purchase price of equipment (up to certain limits), it is a fantastic incentive for businesses to purchase, finance or lease equipment this year.  However at the start of this year the deduction limit was reduced to 25K.  It used to be as a high as 500K.  This deduction is a huge help to small and medium sized businesses and if you are one of them and you were just at GlassBuild America about to buy machinery, then signing this petition is something you need to consider.  Take a look here and decide for yourself. 

--  Congrats to the team at Dip-Tech on the launch of their new website.  Really sharp from a look and layout standpoint but the key for me on this one was the depth of the info.  The site was heavy on detail and resources.  Well done!
I’ve recognized many new sites here so feel free to send me links to yours to check out- I always love to see what people are doing and sharing here when I can.

--  Lost in the shuffle of the big news of the past month (CRL deal and GlassBuild America) the call for abstracts for GlassCon Global 2016 came out.  This will be the 2nd edition of the highly regarded event and it will be in Boston next July.  The education and insight that comes out of events like this are extremely helpful for the advancement of the industry.  If you are interested in presenting and reaching a diverse and impressive audience click HERE.  Deadline is October 15th

--  Last this week… in my coverage last post about GlassBuild America I missed a few items.  First, the 2016 edition of GlassBuild will be in October, not as it usually is in September.  There’s some conflicting info online at non GlassBuild sites but the dates are October 19-21, in Las Vegas. Please make a note of that.  Also if you are not following @GlassBuild on twitter, please do so.  That feed is rolling and will be a great place for updates and insight throughout the year.  And finally I forgot to note and congratulate the amazing work the staff of NGA/WDDA did.  To handle thousands of people from all over the globe and hundreds of exhibits of varying sizes and needs is a challenge, and the folks that I had the extreme honor to work with did it and did it extremely well.  Simply amazing to watch it all come together.  Congrats to everyone there for a job well done!


--  After the book I am on now, this one is next- the taking on of those pesky e-mail spammer, scammers.

--  As a huge dog lover- I salute this pilot for doing the right thing to save a life!!

--  Virtually every day in the news there’s a story really goofy or bizarre and you see it happened in Florida.  Here’s one for this week.


The thing I hate about twitter is the negative discourse.  Some folks are downright viscous and classless and that’s sad.  So I enjoy when people can make fun of those who tweet such nonsense.  Jimmy Kimmel “Mean Tweets” is good TV.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

GlassBuild 2015 Recap

GlassBuild America 2015 is now in the books and it surely confirmed that we are in the midst of a very positive or “up” cycle in our industry.  Whether it was the busy show floor, including a 2nd day that had action rivaling some of the best shows I have attended in my 24 years in the industry, or the insight from the experts that were provided via forums and express learning, or possibly just the multitude of meetings and social gatherings throughout the center and town, you walked away from this event feeling very good about the current economic landscape as it pertains to our world.  Obviously we have massive challenges, including workforce, supply, and transportation to name three, but at least we are sitting on what appears to be a very solid base.

The other main overall takeaway I have is that this is no surprise.  The last few editions of GlassBuild have been momentum builders with increasing enthusiasm each year.  Sharp companies and attendees have been taking advantage of this and growing their business, 2015 just added more people to the mix. With the indicators strong I do expect 2016 in Las Vegas (October next year instead of traditional September) to be off the charts in regards to exhibits, attendees, and most importantly, business done!

Now on to my annual show review of the people, products, and adventures on the floor…

Clearly one major stop was the CR Laurence booth because of their news making last few weeks.  It was enjoyable to get a few minutes with Mr. Friese and Lloyd Talbert to personally congratulate them on the deal.  Also at CRL spending a few minutes learning from Jeff Phillips and Joe Schiavone was incredible for me.  I love gaining knowledge however possible!  Visited for basically a split second with old friend Matt Hale of YKK as he had people lined up waiting to catch up with him.  Never bad to see Dan Poling of Schott though once again I failed to get a picture of him with me to show my wife I was hanging with a James Franco lookalike.  Ran into Jim Gildea late in the show and that was great blast from the past.  Speaking of the past I had not seen Dave Alexander of Guardian in quite a while, so that was surely an unexpected plus.  Two of the coolest guys in our world? Devin Bowman and Dave Vermeulen of Technical Glass Products were there and I am always blown away at everything that company does.

There was lots of discussion about the now debunked article in the Wall Street Journal throughout the floor.  Was great to catch up on that with the always-on point Pat Kenny of PPG.  More PPG, the legend Rob Struble was at the show so that could be why things went so well…. Speaking of “doing well” that would pertain to Ralph Aknin, as it was great to see him and see him looking healthy and well.  Plus getting to meet Sandi Jensen and Leslie Idems at the same time was a show-maker for me.  Good people. 

GlassBuild allows me to meet people who may read this or industry people I have admired but spent very little time with.  In that category, getting to talk with Greg Abrams and Chris Murphy of 310 Tempering was great.  Smart and focused guys who will do well.  I was humbled that Dip Tech VP of Sales Erik de Jongh noted that he read my blog- that was unanticipated but appreciated!  And getting a chance to meet the new CEO at Dip Tech Alon Lumbroso was an honor for sure.  Wanted more time with Gus Trupiano of AGC but failed there. Next event for sure.  Thank you to Dave Hull of Glass Guru for stopping me to say hi and introducing me to a few of his new franchisees he was shepherding through the show. 

The show always has a reunion feel for me as well as I run into so many former coworkers I respect tremendously.  People like Cliff Monroe of Oldcastle Glass, Tony Kamber, Joel Smith, and Scott Sallee of AMG, Mike Dishmon of Virginia Glass, Henry Taylor of Kawneer, Erik Stumpf of CGH, Scott Cook of GGI, and Manny Valladares of Aldora.

I missed tons and heard from them after, hated not seeing Rodger Ruff and Scott Goodman of AGC and Tom O’Malley of Clover.  Though Tom’s doing so well right now I don’t think his handlers would allow me near him.   I can always say I knew him before he got big.

One note on the Glazing Executive Forum… the panel that I had promoted here on the blog was very good.  The key takeaway this excellent group presented was communication at every level.  So needed, so crucial, yet so under-rated and under utilized.  The companies and people that are aggressive communicators will be better off in challenging supply times than those who are not.  As for the members of the panel… I did not know John McGill of YKK and he was impressive.  I do know Chris Cotton of Dlubak/CGH as we share a distinction of being the “other brother” to more powerful and popular industry siblings.  Chris was great too.  But the star was Garret Henson of Viracon.  I joke a lot with Garret, but in all seriousness, he was incredible in his presentation and his insight.  Strong, clear speaking style that resonates with our audience.  Only Joe Puishys at BEC this year was a better speaker in my opinion.   Sorry in advance Garret for the abuse that you will get within the walls of Viracon, but you deserve the props.

From a product standpoint- Software was really notable, including some excellent solutions for the glazing contractor I had never seen before.  Labor saving equipment continues to be robust, specifically the glass installation/handling machinery.  My old favorite Dynamic Glass had a good show as well; Pleotint smartly landed in the bustling “Dream Showroom” and was busy from start to finish, while Sage had several well-attended demonstrations on how to install their product.  It was a very intelligent move to educate the installers and get them familiar and comfortable with the product.

Best clothes… Past winners PPG and Salem were decent, but not enough to beat Quanex.  Great colors for women and men, really clean and classy.  On that note, I only get to see fine people like Brian and Kim Kress, and Ryan Kerch once a year at the show, so was nice to visit them and not only chat but admire/envy the look!

The show was also strong social media wise.  I enjoyed running the GlassBuild feeds for a few days and interacting with some great companies.  The periscope piece is a work in a progress but was fun to do.  Just wish I had an extra hand or two so I could do all I wanted to do with this stuff!

So that’s the wrap up… bottom line is we are in a good place, let’s keep moving on it.  Communicate strong and make it happen while the climate is ripe!!

No Links or Video this week because of the insane length of the main blog.  Those will return next week.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Glass Goes Viral

Note-  A little longer of a post this week because of the big news from last week and GlassBuild America kicking off this week.

One story that I have been talking about for a while and Glass Magazine has been all over for months hit the mainstream media in a big way this week.  A story that led with thepremise of glass being short in supply first appeared in the Wall StreetJournal on September 8th. (Thank you old pal Scott Surma for the initial lead on it) After the first posting of the article many other sites followed in with their takes as well, making this somewhat “viral” at least as our world is concerned.

First and foremost the original article from the Journal had some serious flaws to it.  The biggest was noting that a product shortage forced real estate companies into the “glass” business.  However their example firm, actually makes unitized curtain wall, so that move in no way alleviates any pressure a glass shortage would have.  That’s just a hole in the story logic and their “problem” would be more of a fabricator/glazier issue, which is in fact is a serious problem possibly as much as a tightening of glass capacity. 

When it comes to glazing, especially major, high-end contracted projects, the field of qualified players is very limited.  Basically because of many factors, only so many companies per market really want to get into them or have the ability to do so.  These are sophisticated projects that if you do not have a good team, including top-notch project managers your entire business could fail with one bad turn.  So blaming a glass shortage the way the article initially intended and then going into the installation issues in the way the article ended, was off base. 

This WSJ article really is more about a glazing issue, featuring costs developers never expected to pay, and lead-times they never expected to wait.  Why?  Because they’ve always enjoyed the benefits of the opposite.  Most feel our industry has always been too “competitive” when it comes to the first issue and way too expedient on the second.  Lead-times especially have thrown many in the chain because it’s always been a “just in time” world.   We surely spoiled the masses there.

So in the end there are two takeaways.  First there’s no doubt despite the confusing nature of some of the articles out this week, we do a glass shortage.    It’s been building for a while.  It’s something I have been banging on and telling anyone who listens to prepare for.  I know some are questioning if it’s real, and while they may make calls to find out, anyone who works in this business on a day to day basis knows it’s a very difficult climate, worse in areas that are further from the primary plants and especially bad on certain styles and sizes of glass.  What used to always be there is simply not available right now.

Second we do have an issue with installation- especially a shortage of quality project managers.  That is something that is not new to readers of this blog either.  When you add these up with the other factors in our world (transportation, recovering economy, stressed equipment etc.) this is what happens….

As noted above many sites picked up on this original story.  But one article really caught my eye.  It was by huge tech blog Gizmodo.  This one took the lead from the Journal, stayed in its lane focus wise, and then also pointed out the excellent work that Katy Devlin and Glass Magazine did to show what is happening here.    Plus the story featured the line of the year for me:

     "Maybe most interestingly, this isn’t the first time a glass shortage has hit the world. Katy Devlin, editor of Glass Magazine (yes, there is a glass magazine!)"

That last sentence so true.  And if you’ve been reading the Glass Magazine you knew about all of this long before the main stream stumbled upon it.


--  Last note on the above for now… Props to Matt Tangeman of Custom Glass Machinery- he attacked the comment section of the WSJ story like a champ.  Great insights provided.  Nice work Matt!!  

--  GlassBuild America kicks off this week and I am looking forward to seeing as many people as I can.  Once again I’ll be the goofy looking guy wearing the yellow vest that looks like I stole from the ground crew at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport.  So please stop me and say hi….As for the show the exhibits I have been researching have me excited to see the innovation and advancements.  And I have to say the amount of education this year is like nothing that has ever been at a conference or show before.  It’s amazing.  Also a side note- during the Glazing Executive Forum, a great panel will be held on the lead-time subject featuring Garret Henson of Viracon, Chris Cotton of Dlubak/Consolidated Glass Holdings, and John McGill of YKK.  Three companies and three excellent people to provide some views on a very challenging world right now.

--  If you are unable to attend (I am sorry, tough one to miss) I will be tweeting from the GlassBuild America twitter account @GlassBuild and also doing Periscope sessions from there to show you some education and forum happenings.  So follow @GlassBuild on both Twitter and Periscope.  And my guess is they’ll probably never let me near either account again after this…. so don’t miss it!

--  Of course on my blog next week… the recap of the show… people seen and products checked out and more.

--  Last this week, a shout out to my good friend Kris Vockler and the folks at ICD High Performance Coatings.  ICD was given an award by the state of Washington for their efforts on hiring America’s veterans.  The Vockler family are simply awesome people, and they back it up with the way they do business and the people they hire.  Congrats!


Sharing pictures with a Gorilla?

Here you go- the worst passwords from the Ashley Madison hack.  There’s been what a million stories on passwords and yet people still use “123456” as their favorite.

This “mayor” is just so wrong.  I feel for the poor people of her city.


I love College Football and once again this past week was filled with upsets and great ending- best one?  The Fighting Irish… back up QB with the perfect pass to win their game with :12 left.  Wow!  What a win for Notre Dame!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Rest in Peace Dave Helterbran

The term “Class Act” is probably now overused.  But today I am going to use it as a tribute to a man who truly deserves that moniker.  After a heroic run of battles against illness and cancer, long time industry manufacturers rep Dave Helterbran passed away late last Tuesday night.  Now Dave was a TRUE class act.   Everything he did led you to that conclusion.  His overall attitude and approach always put you in a better place after a talk or visit with Dave.  He always met me with a smile and with a positive outlook on everything.  And I know I was not the only one that felt that way.  Dave cared tremendously about his product lines.  Being a manufacturers rep is not an easy business (I know there’s folks who think it is- sorry you’re wrong) and Dave always handled the adventures there well.  You could say he always handled that with class…  He was fortunate to work with some excellent people and companies that appreciated him until the end, like Mike Scanlon and the folks at Trelleborg.  Dave leaves behind people who loved him, loved working with and for him, and he also leaves behind a legacy with his daughter Lindsay and Son in Law Dustin as they continue their rep firm Texas Glazing Solutions.  Lindsay and Dustin are a lot like Dave.  Lindsay was blessed with Dave’s smile and overall genes and Dustin picked up on the Dave’s attitude and acumen pretty fast.  They will do well in this business because Dave prepared them right.  In the end, we lost yet another great person in our industry and world, and that is surely sad.  My thoughts, and condolences go out to the entire Helterbran family, his friends and associates on the loss of this classy gentleman.


--  Some good news… my friend Mike Gainey picked up a new great gig recently joining the team at Ensinger.  I have known Mike a long time, he’s one of the few people who actually dealt with me in every past life I had in this industry… and actually still likes me.  (or at least I think so..) Anyway he’ll do great in this new slot and I am thrilled for him.

--  Did you see Google changed its look and logo some?  I do not like it.  Not sure why a company so established would go that direction.

--  So I saw a piece this week on 5 emerging building types to master and a few jumped out at me for importance to us.   One was “Bioclimatic” where the structure is built to have a more intense connection with the climate zone of its location.  Another was Net Zero Energy and I have been on that bandwagon for a while so it’s good to see that continuing to pick up steam.  The last and possibly most interesting is “Resilient” buildings.  These are structures built to maintain functionality or bounce back quickly in the face of extreme weather.  Some examples ranged from the simple like elevating buildings to avoid flood waters, using operable windows instead of fixed because of humidity to more intense like flooring that can flood but dry out and resume service without issue.  In any case I share this because our industry has a stake in all of these and needs to keep innovating and communicating what we do so we are involved in the process.

--  Last this week courtesy of the always reliable twitter feed of Conners Sales Group.  It’s a fascinating battle taking place with Turner Construction and the city of Santa Clara, CA about a hospital and priorities.  The story can be found here and I have a feeling we’re not through hearing about it yet.


--  Wow not a healthy family dynamic here…

--  GREAT APP for virtually walking you home a night.  We live in a scary world, nice to see ways to combat that

--  Maybe I am old but I don’t find this funny or cute or anything.  Then again if it keeps this DWI offender off the real roads… that’s great.


As many of you know I have soured on the NFL because I think the commissioner is horrendous and league management inept and greedy beyond absolute belief.  And that’s before I get to the well being of the players.  Well with this new movie coming out, I could possibly be joined by some converts.  Looks wild.