Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Super Blog?

Its Super Bowl week, so in honor, I can jump on board and make my Blog the official Glass Industry Super Bowl Blog. Yep I'm reaching aren't I?

Anyway on to what's happening out there...

- It was a big news week, and one of the biggest items was the announcement that Eric Rapp is joining AFG. Or is AGC NA (more on that below). Anyway, move wise this is a coup for AFG/AGC NA as Eric Rapp is one of most talented people in our
Industry. I've only had the honor of talking with him on a couple of occasions, but I've always come away better. Good man with a humungous job ahead of him. Best of Luck Eric.

- Speaking of AFG, I missed that they announced in December that they are changing their name to AGC NA. AGC stands for Asahi Glass Company, which is the ownership group behind what was AFG. Funny thinking back to the mid 90's, I produced a customer news letter for our company and I noted that we used LOF Low E and not Asahi Low E. Well my brother got a phone call from Jim Bradford, who was the head of AFG at the time, kindly asking us to stop. Well 10+ years later and the term Asahi Low E is here. This move is more baffling then Kawneer's logo change. At least Kawneer still is known as Kawneer. Now all of the ads and marketing that was done as AFG is worthless and confusing. Plus how many people will start confusing AGC and ACH (Formerly Visteon)? It’s another end of an era, as when I started you had Guardian, PPG, LOF, Ford and AFG... and now only the first two listed are still known by those names. But no harm, as anyone who reads specs these days know, AFG can join Spectrum, Hordis, Polar Pane, Cesar and the many other companies that either don't exist or were consolidated into others but still are listed.

- I wonder how many people caught the note on USGNN about the Montreal library that had glass falling from it. The story is amazing from the fact that instead of fixing the problem, the library is just going to build some awnings around it to catch the falling glass! Their reason:

Replacing the thousands of glass strips -- each about half the size of a small bedroom door -- with other tempered glass panels would cost "two or three years of work and several million dollars," she said.

But she said that would not reduce the risk of breakage.

What am I missing here? This simply makes no sense. The article goes on to say that 30% of the glass is at risk because "it does not meet the National Standard for tempered glass" So instead of getting the root core of this problem and figuring out what is wrong all the way around, we'll just put up an awning to protect us from broken glass? How come I never have bad jobs go this way for me? Seriously though, if someone can explain to me the reasons behind this, please do. The entire article is here if you want to read and scratch your head along with me:

- OK enough of the heavy stuff- let's talk football...

Before I get to my Super Bowl, pick, as a Steeler fan, there's only a few more days until either the Colts or the Bears take the stage as the latest and greatest Super Bowl champs- so in honor of the 2006 Steelers, this week's video pick is a tribute to that team. (Made before they beat Seattle in SuperBowl XL, but great music, so that's why I like it) So bottom line- if you like the Steelers click the video- if not, I'll find good comedy for next week.

As for the game... my pick... take Manning and the Colts... this is their year... Plus Tony Dungy will school his protégé Lovie Smith making all the right calls to figure out the vaunted Bears D in the 2nd half. Final score 30-16 Indy.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Glassweek 2007 Wrap

Well the 2007 edition of Glassweek is over... and some random thoughts from it.

And not to be confused, I am writing this from the perspective of Max the blogger/fabricator/marketing foof and not as the GANA BEC Chair or Board Member.

* I am amazed at the technical talent that gathers to work on behalf of our industry. I know I have said it before both here and in my column in USGlass, but as an industry we are very lucky to have "volunteers" like this who work extra-time to help develop our industry.

* The brand new Decorative Glass division has insane potential. That division has some fresh faced folks ready to go to work to bring some semblance of standards and structures to that growing segment of our industry. Congrats to Kris Vockler and all involved for a great start.

* As you may have seen on USGNN the IG committee had some interesting debates, that will be continued in the Fall, making that segment of the GANA fall conference a must-attend. Note that the GANA Fall conference is held at virtually the same time as GlassBuild America in Atlanta, so you can really get the best of all worlds.

* If you are a glazier and you don't have the GANA Glazing Manual or some of the other incredible GANA reference materials, you are doing yourself a disservice.

OK elsewhere in the world...

* Got great feedback on my take on the logo change by Kawneer. As one person put it, at least the Kawneer salesfolks will get all new wardrobes.

* I was taken to task for making fun of the glut of Self Cleaning Glass in one e-mail. But I'm sorry, when there's more options for Self Cleaning (including aftermarket) than there are for Low E, that’s pretty nuts.

* Many takes on "24" in the workplace, not to mention comments about this past Monday nights incredible episode featuring Jack's brother. Here's a few of the Jack-isms that were submitted:

--- "Chloe, upload the edgecut dimensions to my PDA"

--- "We don't have enough TIME to get you that IG unit, our country is at risk"

--- "Dammit!" (Can work no matter what and had this by itself from a few folks)

--- "You're gonna tell me where I landed on that quote, or I'll make you tell me"

--- "Listen to me Bill, we have to do whatever it takes to get this order done."

There were a few more but of the same gist as the above. And again if you don't watch 24, this means nothing.

As for the video take- it comes from Saturday Night Live (yes, amazingly, something funny from a new SNL) and it’s about the controversy surrounding Atlanta Falcon QB Michael Vick. As you may or may not have heard, Mr. Vick got held up at the Miami airport because he did not want to surrender his bottled water before security. Well after he did, the bottle was found to be a 2 piece bottle with a fake bottom. And in the fake bottom a foreign substance. SNL takes a comical look:

And yes, the police are clearing Vick and saying there was no illegal substance but something is still fishy and regardless the piece funny.

That's all- and don't forget visit the USGlass Message Boards and feel free to get over any cyber-shyness that affects you!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

At Glassweek in Sarasota

Live from Glassweek in Sarasota...

GANA Glassweek is a yearly gathering of glass product and equipment manufacturers, suppliers, and fabricators. Years ago it was THE gathering but consolidation in the glass industry thinned the ranks and really business operates a bit different now. Even with that, you still have all of the high powered execs from the above mentioned groups. (And no I am not counting myself amongst the "high powered")

We had a few speakers today and one that was scheduled who had to cancel. The speaker who canceled was talking about one of my favorite subjects- China. I do not know why he canceled, but I won't be surprised if I hear he's now in the cell that Jack Bauer vacated last week. (If you watch 24 you'll get that- if you don't sorry but don't worry it probably wasn't that clever anyway).

Anyway the big item I wanted to bring up actually came to me earlier this week and then was mentioned by one of the speakers today. I got a call that Kawneer was changing its beloved legendary blue logo. The person told me that "I need to write about it on my blog" and I told him there's no doubt I would.

If you missed it, USGNN had the news on this on Wednesday. I was shocked. I mean why would you change one of the most recognizable pieces of your business? It made me think back to my first day at Arch... as the "Marketing" Manager...When a very wise man said to me...

"Marketing.... Who the hell needs Marketing"

He was right because sometimes people "market" just to justify their existence. Changing a logo cries that out. But that's not my company and business, and they can do what they want, but there will NEVER be a glazier that will say to his buddy:

"Ya know Frank, this material is just so much easier to use since they went with that warm, red, stylized K for their logo- thank goodness they switched"

End of the day it’s their decision and they are smarter than me, I'm just a pop-tart stealing, communist Chinese fighting, NFRC is a nightmare type of guy. So what do I know....

And as for other marketing... I present this video- if this was actually a real product it could probably sell!

I swear if my brother and I got into crime that would be us.

More later in the week!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Another Week in the Life

Another week in the glass and glazing industry….

* The biggest story to me was that US Aluminum now has new owners. That story broke late last week. Will it have any effect? Maybe, maybe not. The Aluminum side has been pretty mellow in comparison to all of the consolidation on the Glass side of the ball. Where could the big change happen? Well, maybe US Aluminum will answer the bell and get involved on the NFRC and code level for one. They have been relatively non existent in that process over the last few years while basically all but one of the other major aluminum manufacturers have been involved.

* And speaking of NFRC, I can’t let this latest tidbit go by. Rumblings from behind the scenes have the Board of the NFRC starting their little games again. I won’t go into huge detail, because quite frankly this whole NFRC thing is an acquired taste, but the bottom line is that the Board is working to remove manufacturers from the testing process- which means MORE MONEY FOR THE TEST LABS…. And more money for companies like ATI, a gigantic test lab that pretty much gets whatever they want from the NFRC and their membership. (All for a $400 investment in membership, what a deal!) Anyway the whole thing is sickening. In short, the manufacturers had agreed to EXTRA oversight if they could do a portion of the testing themselves, and that was not good enough. The worst part is, there is simply no one to whom we can complain to. NFRC has DOE snowed, and basically the NFRC reports to no one. It is simply comical. You’ll remember this passage in a year or two when you have to pay through the nose for calculations to meet codes…..

And yes I know I said I would quit, but I also told my wife I’d stop sneaking Pop-Tarts down to my office, too... some things are too tough to give up.

Before I go on.. this week’s video… another movie trailer… for the funny Will Ferrell… it's no Rocky, but looks like it has potential.

Other stuff to ponder….

* I also saw in USGNN that there’s another “self cleaning” glass out on the market. Thank god, I was worried that we would not be able to make due with all of the hundreds of options already available. (And this is not to say that all of those options are bad, but man, that pool is already pretty packed and with some really good options too)

Sorry I am in a sarcastic mood today, but NFRC news does that to me.

Some new features here will be a weekly look at Low E glass and a monthly “Book to Read” when you have time.

The Low E features will begin within the next few weeks and you will also be able to note them on Paul Bieber’s blog as well. Paul started a thread on the USGlass Message boards about changing the name of Low E and I found that pretty interesting. Bottom line is our goal to push more Low E usage (no matter who makes it- Low E of any flavor). So look for those tidbits soon.

The Book feature- The first entry is “Bringing Down the House” by Ben Mezrich. This book is about the MIT students (true story) who figured out how to “beat” the house in Vegas at Black Jack. It is riveting and I am just stunned no one has made a movie out of it yet. Mezrich also has a pseudo sequel out for it called “Busting Vegas” so if you read the first one, go get the second one- similar story but different enough to be worth it. Bottom line- If you are intrigued by Vegas and like some adventure, these books are worth it.

All right that’s it for this week- I’d be remiss if I did not mention that the best show on TV started this past week. 24 is back and it's in fine form. Gonna be a fun few months on the Jack Bauer roller coaster. But can you imagine Jack running a glass plant? Now that I would pay to see with lines like “Dammit, we have to get that truck loaded by 5AM or else!” If you are a 24 fan and you have some other Jack Bauer lines, feel free to send ‘em to me and I’ll list them here…

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Reaction to the Top 10

First off thanks for making last week's Top 10 post my most read posting ever. That was really cool and a great way to start 2007. However, that list did spur controversy. What controversy you ask? Well evidently I missed a handful of items that people felt should've been on the list. So here they are...

(And yes, these would be better on the message board or as "comments" but we are still working on the cyber-shyness of our industry. Hey no matter how you communicate, don't stress it, keep it coming!)

Missing items:

1. Decorative Glass- I got hammered on this by several people, actually. Basically, the tone was "How could you miss this?" Well, honestly, I did consider it, and it could've been on the list for one big reason. 2007 will be the first full year of "legitimate" Decorative Glass. What does that mean? Well GANA now has a decorative glass division and that move alone will help take deco from the back room to the front page.

2. Labor needs- I think it's legit, but to me its not getting the drumbeat that it was getting a few years ago.

3. Scratched Glass/Scraper usage- A window cleaner friend of mine wrote me on this and there's been PLENTY of debate here. I think I'm going to save my thoughts for a future entry.

4. Phone Scam- Yep, I missed it- I mean that Phone Scam that is hitting glass shops everywhere is simply nuts. I feel horrible for everyone who has been caught in that nightmare. As if you don't have enough to worry about everyday in business- now you have these shenanigans.

5. USGlass Blogs and Message Boards- Geez, wonder where that came from. But you know USGlass was the one that made USGNN a must read each and every day- and slowly but surely the message boards and blogs will be "must reads" too.

Other than that, I had plenty of comments on the China angle. Some amazing horror stories were passed on to me, including one company that went to China for material because it was cheaper- and the Chinese company eventually went around that company and sold the customer direct. Sickening stuff.

Outside the top 10 stuff...

The warm weather- what effect will the mild winter, so far, have on the normal cycle of glazing in the East and Midwest? Normally January and February are the worst months, but will that change now?

The Snow- The flip side is poor Denver that has gotten enough snow for the entire country. Now I'd assume that is a region that will have a bumpy start to 2007.

As for the video of the week... when I was taking my whacks about missing items from the top 10, I ran into this pretty cool video...

Note- some people have noted that the videos have not worked for them. I am working on that and apologize.

Have a good one... and let me know if anyone sees the Ohio State football team... They are due in Arizona for a game Monday the 8th.

Update Coming Soon

Update coming tonight...

But just curious, does anyone know when the BCS Championship game is? I am still waiting for Ohio State to show up....


Now that was an ugly game.

Anyway, glass related thoughts and a pretty cool video to come later.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Top 10 for 2007

You know its a very slow news time right now... In fact as I was told yesterday, its not a slow news day... Its a dead one. So what do you do when things are slow... look ahead with one of those classic "forecasts" for the upcoming year.

So without further delay, the Top 10 Glass Industry Discussion issues for 2007.

10. Dynamic Glazing- Huh, what is it? It's the ability to have glass go one extra step in working to reduce the energy costs. It is expensive, but a better and easier option than Sunscreens or other shading mechanisms. The leader in the field is Sage and its something you'll hear more and more about as time goes on.

9. Price- Would it be a year if people didn't discuss pricing- increases and decreases- no matter all of the great things to talk on- this will always be an issue.

8. Surcharge- See #8. Its funny, people who want to make an issue out of the surcharge suffer from the same problem I do when I talk NFRC- no one seemingly cares.

7. NFRC- It may only be my issue... but its my Top 10 list dammit. Ah someday you'll see...

6. Health Care- Now this is a MAJOR issue for our industry and many others. The costs and difficulties surrounding the health care angle are staggering and downright scary.

5. Shortages- Will there be shortages in Glass or Aluminum this year? Some grumblings are out there, but I am on the side of supply may be tight but not out.

4. BEC- Yes shameless plug- but the next time you can get 600 of the industries most powerful people in a room, let me know. BEC will and for that will be a top issue in 2006- remember, its the who's who of the glass and glazing industry.

3. Green- Green Building was listed as one of the Top Trends for 2007 by one major newspaper. So expect the calls to ramp up asking about recycling and usages. Maybe though someday the USGBC will realize that glass and aluminum can play a bigger role in Green glazing- but until then we'll be relegated to the position after "do you have a bike rack" (Seriously)

2. Low E- Yes my fellow blog mate, the Professor, Paul Bieber will surely say this is #1 and I think its pretty darn important. Using Low E everytime, everywhere should be a major goal for this country. No building or dwelling should be without it. Way too many benefits here that last for a lot longer than people realize. (and yes as a tease, much more on Low E coming soon to a Blog near you)

and the #1 top issue in our industry for 2007:


CHINA. Look out folks, the China freight train is coming. In fact I know of one fabricator who loves to bang his chest for how great he is, suffering because he's done a couple of jobs with China that have gone very bad. Believe me, this is not an NFRC like issue where there's sides- every North American Manufacturer, Fabricator and Glazier should be on the same page here. I can go on and on- and probably will as the weeks go on- but for now- consider this the top "issue" for 2007.

Ok and so since I did a Top 10, the video for today is a classic David Letterman top 10- with help from Dr. Phil... Enjoy.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Belated Hunnukah Wishes

A couple of weeks ago I posted a Christmas video and commented that I couldn't find a Hunnukah video. Well this morning I was alerted to the one below.. featuring actual NBA players... and in my opinion, its pretty funny.

So a belated happy Hunnukah (Mom) and hope everyone had a safe and happy New Years.