Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It's time for the BEC!

Just a few weeks after the NBA invaded Las Vegas, the best of the best in the Glass industry will hit the strip. Starting Sunday it’s the BEC- Building Envelope Conference and it is truly THE event in our industry. Why can I say that? Well simply the amount of people and where they are from makes the difference. In attendance you will have:
4 of the 5 Commercial Float folks, The top 3 national glass fabricators, The top 5 Aluminum manufacturers and fabricators and of course the main attraction- some of the best and brightest glazing contractors in North America. This is truly an amazing event that helps educate the industry, and keeps people networked throughout. If you are missing it this year, too bad- just make sure you make it next year when BEC gets combined with Glassweek to make a superconference.
In next weeks post, I’ll give the high and lows (if there are any lows) from the BEC floor.


- Our Architect got voted off Survivor last week. Amazing! An un-likable Architect- who woulda thunk it? Her tribe kept calling her bossy… too bad. Anyway, I would hate to be in her path now that she’s back in the states, the post-Survivor bitterness can not be good for anyone.
- Last week’s post gave off some great back and forth in the comments section. If you did not see them, it’s worth it. Arlene Stewart jumped in on the LEED conversation and brought up some interesting angles. Just click on “Comments” at the bottom of that post.
- BEC is not the only meeting that is going on next week. The NFRC has one of their membership meetings as well- this time in Austin, Texas. Congrats to the NFRC for finally having meetings in cities that are actually accessible and not 2nd mortgage expensive. I guess I need to now watch what I say as in the latest NFRC Update, hot off the presses today, in the message from the Chair, Marcia Falke takes issue with the NFRC’s treatment in the press. She defends what they do, and of course throws out the classic threat that their legal team will take care of any “legal” issues that came up. Oh well. I would fully expect that as they have a high powered PR firm, Potomac Communications that has had their way with the press in the past. But lately some of the tone has changed, and plus the internet and blogs have allowed more free communication- which means no immediate spin from Potomac. But really at the end of the day does it matter? The NFRC is above all, the DOE has better priorities than control them, so really they’re worried about how I or the press covers them? That’s priceless. Wouldn’t it be better if they worried about their programs that have extra layers of oversight and cost in them will affect the public?

- Did you see on DWM's website the bad news from the residential side. Obviously that is not good. It seemed to be a matter of time before the bubble burst, and it seemingly is here. Hopefully the stats are wrong and the rebound will be quick. The report (seen on does give positive news on the commercial side however. But still, residential slowing, even if you are not on the residential side of the ball is not good at all.

- Tuesday's horrible day on Wall Street was blamed on the Chinese and their market sell off. While I have hammered about the Chinese influence in our industry, yesterday shows what affect they do have on the world economy.... and that my friends is scary. Today it looks like the markets are rebounding plus many have taken air out of the China theory saying that Wall Street had a computer glitch that affected trades- thus the downturn- but still worst day since 2001 and the fingers pointing towards China is worrisome all around.

This week’s video choice… the video is titled “dumb cheerleaders” but that is totally wrong… it really should be “lack of coordination by cheerleaders, band members and others” Its good stuff and I know I am not the only one who would be a mess out there!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Answer is...

Each week USGNN is asking some pretty good questions… and I figured its time to at least give my take…

This week’s question: What do you feel is the glass industry’s environmental responsibility?

My answer: In reality the glass industry, at least from the Fabricator and Glazier is as responsible as they can be to support the environment with the programs that are in play. That said, the programs, headed by the all famous LEED are weak when it comes to involving and incorporating the Glass and Metal side of the business. Until LEED or any of the other myriad of “green” programs can step up and give proper value to our side of the industry, it really does not matter what we do.
That said, we do work with a highly recyclable product and as an industry I think we embrace the ability to do right by our environment. We would get so much more mileage if the “green” folks would notice us over here in the corner… that is if they tear themselves away from the waterless urinals, wheatboard and bike racks that all get more credit than glass and aluminum.

- And on a related matter, how does Power Coating of aluminum, which releases no VOC’s into the atmosphere get no advantage over traditional paint finishes? There’s more to this story, but I’ll throw that out and see what happens…

- I could not imagine working for USGlass fulltime. In the last several weeks they had to cover Glassweek, the Builders Show, AAMA, IGMA, and the Auto Glass Show with BEC and NFRC looming up ahead. Unreal. And I probably missed one or two- like I am sure USGlass sent reporters to the NBA All Star Game in Vegas too.

And with basketball on the mind- Here is this week’s video- a dunk where the guy does a 720… which is simply amazing, I can’t turn around that much on the ground, let alone in the air:

- Survivor Update- Our Architect Sylvia is still alive. Though her tribe hates her. They called her stubborn and arrogant. Plus they said she’s bossy and she pushes people around. Andthey were mad because she had Spectrum Glass in her specs and they went out business years ago…. Well they said everything but the last part… anyway, she is alive… barely… for another week.

- Lastly this week… are you into baseball… do you play fantasy baseball or have you ever wanted to play and never found a league. Well through our friends on the Auto Glass side of the world, we have started a league. What’s it cost? Nothing- Its for fun and for bragging rights (and updated standings on the blog for thousands to see each week!)
I know I can count on Jim Fairley for sure to join us, but everyone else is welcome- we have plenty of room in our lst league and if that fills up we’ll start a second. If you want more info- e-mail me at I will tell you this, being in a fantasy baseball league makes you enjoy baseball so much more.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

An Architect on Survivor?

Not sure how many people watch the TV show Survivor anymore, but in this season's new cast, there is an actual, real live, breathing, Architect as one of the contestants. Amazingly in the first episode, the Architect had a huge role, because the "Survivors" had to build a camp from blue prints- so her expertise came in handy.
It will be interesting to see how long she survives on the show, and I will track that here. She made it through week 1 already. I just can't wait til they do a confessional with one of the Survivors and they say:

"You know that Sylvia (Architects name) she's great but she only will talk to you when she needs you.. otherwise she never answers my calls..."

Now THAT would be reality TV.

Other items for the week:

- Did you see Kim Mann's tremendous article in the January edition of USGlass? It is a fantastic piece about the NFRC and their "mandate" or lack thereof. If you don't get USGlass (and SHAME on you if you don't) e-mail me and I will get you a copy. But bottom line is Kim does a strong job of laying out some of the serious issues that dog the NFRC.

- Speaking of the NFRC, not sure if you caught the blurb on E-Glass Weekly this week that talked about the CMA process. That is the process that I have been moaning and groaning about. Anyway, below is a great passage and let's see if you catch why I get so mad:

Marcia Falke, president of Keystone Certification Inc. in Etters, Pa., and board chair for NFRC, says the board scrutinized the role of a manufacturer ACE during its meeting and “decided if there was adequate independent review—100 percent review—it would meet requirements.”

According to the current CMA, all product calculations done by a non-independent manufacturer have to be approved by an IA. NFRC has four IAs, including the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the Window & Door Manufacturers Association, both of Schaumburg, Ill., Keystone Certification, and the National Accreditation & Management Institute Inc. of Newport News, Va.

Note who one of the four IA's are: KEYSTONE. Note who the head of the NFRC is: The president of KEYSTONE. Do I need to say more?

And as bad as that looks I actually believe Marcia Falke to be more fair than the test labs that dominate and really profit from the process.

- Reaction from the IBS show... the last 2 days really did well, wiping out any fears of Day 1's slowness. Also I heard from several people who commented on my "Chicken and the Egg" theory on building a new home. There is no question that new home starts are severely affected by the amount of older home inventory and the slow pace to which they are moving. I am glad I am not the only one who feels that way.

- And finally... on the Tuesday edition of USGNN, a piece from the AAMA meetings titled: Global Competition a Hot Topic. If you did not read the first half of that piece you need to. More info on the growing Chinese influence and some good food for thought.

- As for your video enjoyment- I usually try and keep the pieces between 2 and 2:30 in length, afterall you are busy and I appreciate that you take 5 minutes out of your week to read this. However this piece is about 3:40 in length but worth it! It is a story from CNN on a very rude Eye Doctor in Canada. It is simply amazing to watch.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Day 2 at IBS

More from the International Builders Show after 2 days...

- No doubt it was busier today than yesterday. While still not packed to its usual capacities, the halls were better attended for sure.

- Funny side was there was an entire magazine available at the show dedicated to showing you how you can sell some one on buying a brand new custom built home. Gave lots of tips and strategies, except one... HOW in the heck are you supposed to sell the home you are in now? It's comical... Here the push is on new homes and yet isn't a major problem the inability to sell your current home? I think I'm in the majority when I say I'd move in a heartbeat, if I knew I could sell my home (which at this point in the economy in Michigan- it's not happening.)

- With 100,000 people expected at this show, a very intricate network of shuttle buses was created to move people around. Needless to say, I was stuck on the worst shuttle bus in history- as my driver came to my hotel via Tampa.

- Also wanted to clarify that there is much much more here than just windows and building products. Literally anything that has to do with building a house is represented. Some examples:

8 exhibitors showing Home Alarms (Only 8, with millions of houses, I would've expected more)
16 exhibitors showing Barbecue Equipment (including one from China. Now if you have to buy your BBQ from China, that's going overboard isn't it?)
112 exhibitors showing Bathroom Accessories (Bathrooms are just more important than anything else in my opinion)
4 exhibitors showing Ice Makers (Wow imagine the Blogs about that on US
26 exhibitors showing Mailboxes (No wonder I can't upsell glass to a builder, he's too busy deciding between 26 different mailbox suppliers!)
16 exhibitors showing "Shower Heads" (I never knew there'd be so much variety in the shower head racquet)

Anyway point is that this is a very diverse show and while windows and building products are the dominating force, there is a whole other side of it.

- Speaking of shower heads and that technology, when I win the lottery my first purchase will be one of the showers that was on display here- with showerheads virtually everywhere inside the shower stall. I mean you don't have to move, water gets you from every possible direction. That has to be one relaxing shower.

Finishing this post off with a video- as was noted in the comments from yesterday's post- Scott Surma of Decotherm brought up the famous "Cedric the Entertainer" Super Bowl Commercial. Here it is:

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Live from the Builders Show

As promised... Thoughts after day 1 of the International Builders Show.

- All of the major players are here booth wise but one thing was missing. People. Day 1 was slower than I can ever remember. Not sure if maybe people were caught in different areas than me, or worn out after long opening ceremonies, but the floor was not as packed as years past.

- Not a lot of China. The dishware variety and the country. I liked that.

- The economic vibe from the show floor was of a positive one, slow traffic not withstanding. Most folks I chatted with felt confident that the residential side of the business will be strong again soon, with some even stating that it never got weak for them.

- Guardian made a major statement boothwise, a very strong showing. The relevance is that for most folks who attend the industry functions like GlassBuild America or even the AIA show, do not see Guardian there. So seeing their presence here was a pleasant surprise.

- There's not once piece of real estate inside the convention hall that does not have a poster or advertisement on it. Even the steps have ads on the carpet. Plus the bottled water was even sponsored. This is a marketing persons dream and nightmare all at the same time.

- Another nice booth was Fleetwood Windows. They had a small crowd ogling their huge bent sliding glass doors.

- On the Deco side, the gang from Stained Glass Overlay had good variety at their location and a cool theme, with all of their folks dressed like lab techs or professors. It was eye catching.

Other than that day 1 was uneventful.

Other items for the week:

Once again China continues to be a hot subject. There's no doubt that e-mails I get for this blog are China related 3 to 1.

Frequent blog commenter, Jim Fairley sent me a great link to a BBC story about the United States taking on China and their subsidies at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The entire piece is here

But some great paragraphs from it are:

China uses tax legislation to "encourage exports and discriminate against imports

Called for a "level playing field"

"China's subsidies can particularly distort trade conditions for small and medium-sized American enterprises and their workers."

By requesting a consultation with the WTO, the US is starting the first phase of a legal complaint.

Ah maybe some progress huh? Only time will tell but maybe, just maybe we are headed in the right direction.

Ok to finish, lets go lighter... The Super Bowl is done as is the Super Bowl commercials which I found weak this year. So I went and found a classic Super Bowl commercial from the past to share and enjoy:

Possibly another update from Orlando later in the week.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Next Update

This week's update will come from the floor of the International Builders Show in Orlando... Well not from the floor exactly but from an overpriced Disney hotel room nearby. (And yes is there anything more painful than being in Orlando, at a Disney resort, on business? Yes I am a Disney geek, so for me, this is torture.)

Anyway, should be an interesting time.

2 quick leftovers from last week:

1- Thank you Jim Fairley for the comment and insight- (You can view by clicking on "comments" at the end of my last post) I also received a few e-mails that also brought the same angle. I guess I need to start thinking Globally and not just in North American terms.

2- I have to pound my chest... Super Bowl XLI finished Indy 29 Chicago 17, yours truly predicted Indy 30 Chicago 16. Not bad for a guy that goes by the betting nickname "Mush" Did I bet the game however... of course not... I'm just not that smart.

Next post hopefully Weds Night or Thursday AM to meet my USGNN deadline.