Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Industry on TV

Wow in one week glass was featured on TV twice, but for opposite reasons. First the bad stuff. You may have seen the link from USGNN earlier in the week about shattering tabletops… if not, to see the video CLICK HERE. Anyway I’ll give you 100 guesses where these table tops were made… and the first 99 don’t count…. Yep our friends in Communist China. Remember what’s made in China is not of the same quality or standard as what is made in North America. I can’t wait for the glass installed at the various casino’s and high rises to start to fail, because they will- just like the tabletops. Oh and by the way, the Chinese company that made the bad table tops for such retailers like Home Depot and Kmart…. They’ve gone out of business. I am just continually amazed that people will take the bait and bring in the inferior and dangerous material from China, it really is like playing with fire.

On the good side, I got to see a positive piece on Guardian’s Showerguard glass on the TLC show “Designing Spaces” over the weekend. It was a pleasure to see our industry promoted so positively. Especially given all of the junk we take as an industry, whenever you can get a feature done that truly promotes the technology and breakthroughs, it’s good to see. If you haven’t seen it yet, check your listings, as I am sure it will be repeated. Congrats to Guardian for pulling some good pub.

By the way, on the China bad table top piece, they interviewed someone from the NGA. I was shocked, I didn’t know they did anything other than trade shows and door stickers… you mean they actually know what happens with glass? Man I learn something new everyday.


-- After last week’s note on the upcoming NFRC Board Election, I got several e-mails from people involved giving me some insight on who would be good, bad and otherwise for our world if they won a seat on the board. Amazingly 3 races have candidates running unopposed, which is sad and pathetic. Including the automatic seat for the pseudo NFRC subsidiary- California Energy Commision. Its amazing that no other candidates from any other states could be found.. WAIT… you know why… because 47 other states (Oregon and Washington state also drink the Kool Aid) probably realize that this group is not worth their taxpayers time or money. Another unopposed race is Joe Hayden from Pella. Hopefully he realizes that his company now owns a commercial aluminum window manufacturer and will take into account their true needs, as well as the industry that EFCO serves. Last on this, if you have a vote or you know someone who does, please make sure they use it. In the 3 races that are actually running, I would suggest voting for some fresh blood, like Freddie Cole of General Aluminum in the Fenestration Category. In addition a vote for Steven Rosenstock of the Edison Electric Institute would be good too since a win for him would remove Alecia Ward from the Board as she has never been, in my opinion, fair or open to anyone or anything from our industry. Sadly, the chances of her losing are 10,000-1, but a guy can dream right?

-- While I am on my negative tone… how depressing has the news about the economy been? Residential is scary bad, existing home sales are simply plummeting, major home builders are down 40 to 50% and laying off huge chunks of workers, and even staples like Target and Lowe’s are off as well. Plus the Architectural Billings Index flattening out is a worrisome trend too. Just not a good run we are in right now. I think I need to go take a stress pill.

-- Plus I saw that parts of Colorado got snow this week… are you kidding me? Man winter can not be here so soon!

-- Football pick… yes the record is now 1-1 after the stellar choice of Green Bay… this week my pick is Detroit getting 3 at home vs the Bears… yes I know I have to be nuts, but I just have a feeling that the Lions will spring the upset and their high powered offense will thrive against a banged up Bear D. I guess we’ll see if I am Mush or not this week.

-- One more China note… I got an e-mail from a major industry player who has a “SAY NO TO CHINA” pin and he was proudly wearing it in London this week. He said that he got some cross looks and a few unkind words for displaying his feelings with the button. Anyway, I appreciate him showing his pride and doing the right thing and putting up with those who do not see the evil.

No video this week as I do link to the Glass table top video above- I just could not embed it here. Sorry.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A great book, a bad pick, and Survivor in China

I guess this is calm after the storm… last week with the show, so much was happening. This week it’s mellow. So instead of a main story then a bunch of quick hitters, this week it’s only of the quick hit variety…

-- In case you missed it, there’s been some give and take on Pella/EFCO on a previous post. Including the name of the guy who I guess has been hired to take over the EFCO operation and some correspondence on the possible reduction of employees at EFCO. On that, it was posted a few times that EFCO had started to let people go, which I seriously find hard to believe. It is the busy season isn’t it? Regardless that has been a fascinating situation for sure.

-- If you are a member of NFRC and chances are if you read this blog, you are not, mostly because commercial glaziers and fabricators are not, then please vote in the upcoming election. Study the candidates and see which one will truly represent your needs and vote. As for the membership issue, its brings to mind yet another point… you gotta love that the NFRC, backed by the DOE, attempts to police an industry that most have no idea who they are. So it proves you can know nothing about what you’re getting into but if you have the right backing, in our world you can do whatever you want.

-- Did you see that the Architectural Billings Index came down to a more realistic level this week? That truly makes sense, the numbers previous were like funny money, just seemed way too out of the realm of reality. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll take it, but I really have a hard time trusting any number or report coming out in and around our industry. Why? Because I have been apart of some of the methodology and I am telling you I just don’t think the science is there.

-- Speaking of science, I may donate my football brain to science after my MUSH pick of Cincy last week. I told you, I have a knack for picking the wrong team. Anyway this week’s pick of the week is… Green Bay +5 at home vs San Diego… I just think GB’s D is solid and Norv Turner is scary as a coach….

-- Book to read? “It’s Not About The Truth” by Don Yeager. It is the inside story of the Duke Lacrosse case where from last year where 3 Duke Lacrosse players were accused of rape and were pretty much convicted in the court of public opinion. Simply riveting, especially when you see how a rogue DA pushed forward a case without even KNOWING the evidence or interviewing the accuser. Just amazing stuff.

-- Video of the week is the preview of one of my favorite shows… Survivor… which spends this season in CHINA of all places! Dang wish I coulda sent a “SAY NO TO CHINA” pin to one of the contestants…. Should be interesting to see if they ruin the show buying into the communist propaganda…

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cleveland 51 Cincinnati 45

Wow... that sure did not take long to show why they call me "Mush"

How in the world is that the same Cleveland team that lost to the Steelers in Week 1?

Well 0-1 with the picks....

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Show Wrap and More

Well put another glass show in the books… the final day of the show was slow and a few exhibitors were trying to skirt the rules and sneak out before closing time because there was just no action to be had. So final analysis was that the first day was “decent”, day 2 was solid bordering to good, and day 3 was forgettable. Next year the show goes back to Vegas, but the intrigue will be if the equipment guys and the foreign contingent will do this show in the same month as the gigantic glass show held every other year in Germany. Resources will be spread thin and so decisions will have to be made, which in turn will surely have an effect.


-- Now that the show is done, the countdown can begin for the ultimate industry gathering- BEC. The annual BEC event, in Vegas, February 17-19, has an extremely strong agenda and great speakers. It is simply not an event to miss. More detail as we get closer.

-- I saw the new look and logo of the former AFG… Now known as AGC, I really was expecting more. Their logo is seriously generic, and their new ad, just featuring a blank white business card that looked like something that the nightshift at Kinko’s would make. Just baffling… you change your name and look, you want to make a splash… I mean I may not agree when Kawneer dropped its legendary blue look, but at least they have come with color and design…

-- Amazingly depressing article by Charles Cumpston from when an economist spoke at the show. If you missed it, click HERE. Basically this economist is echoing what I am hearing all over, that a recession is coming and 2009/2010 may not be very pretty. Plus if that wasn’t reminder enough, those of us still in Atlanta got to see in the local paper and big story on “Why talk of a recession” keeps happening. To read that, which is interesting, click HERE.

-- Football is off and running… which is great… and you get stories like this… Which NFL team is the most popular amongst women? Amazingly it is the black and gold of the Pittsburgh Steelers! Obviously they polled some very intelligent women….

-- And speaking of football, I had a few people ask me about my picks. See I am known as a horrible picker of games… in fact my brother and cousins have a nickname for me… “Mush” - it means whatever I pick, take the opposite. Anyway, to share my “Mushness” with you, each week I’ll give you my pick of the week. We’ll see how I do. My pick this week…. Cincinnati is favored by 7 over Clevelandtake the Bengals and run, the Browns are simply brutal. This actually seems too easy… so we’ll see if I am right or I am Mush.

Video of the week, as promised, Britney Spears absolute disaster of a performance last weekend. It is so bad, but you can’t take your eyes off of it, the true definition of “trainwreck”

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Glass Show Day 2

Day 2 from the floor....

-- Much better day overall... floor was busier and while some of the end spots of the show (the middle very busy, both ends a little lighter) were weaker, all in all most exhibitors I talked to were very pleased with the effort. So all in all a good day for the show. (At this point GlassBuild's Denise Sheehan probably needs CPR, I just complimented the show- since I am not sure I have ever said anything close to a compliment....)

-- One of the folks I stopped at was Walker Textures. Their booth looked very good and I am loving their new product line. Good stuff. Plus I think the attendees agreed, their booth was jumping.

-- Also it was very respectful on this very sad holiday of 9/11 that the organizers did recognize such with a memorialized poster right at the entrance. Its a tough day because of the memories, but we always must pay respect to the people who passed that day and never forget them.

-- The SAY NO TO CHINA buttons are virtually gone! I am simply STUNNED. I guess there's more than just me that feels that way eh? And its funny, I saw a bunch on the floor today, but a few other folks that I asked did not. (maybe they don't look for stuff like I do) All I know is that my suitcase will be a ton lighter going home.... so they are somewhere....

-- I think about 10% of the exhibitors here have Chinese ties. But a lot of their booths are not busy. Comically, at some of those booths, the people working it, COULD NOT SPEAK ENGLISH! Yes, that is special huh?

-- I loved the recaps of the debate between NFRC and Marg Webb from IGMA. But the big key is this.... if you have an issue... then go to an NFRC meeting and make your thoughts known. Pass along your expertise and try and get your questions answered. This industry knows we need a simple, reliable, whole system rating system, we just do not want an expensive monopolistic adventure that may be on tap with NFRC. Competition could be the cure for this.... and again to stress... We want the best energy efficient products possible.. all day, every day. Just don't ruin it by making be tested every which way from Tuesday when one legitimate one will do.

My regular post, with video of the week (should be the Britney Spears trainwreck) will come for Thursday.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Glass Show Day 1

Quick notes from day 1 at the GlassBuild Show...

-- Attendance seemed sparse to decent. Sections of the show were empty- but its day 1- so I will with-hold further judgment.

-- I will tell you the people who pre registered and did not have their badge sent to them were bummed because the line was super long to pick up your badge on site. It just looked like their were a lot less stations available to produce the on site badges or the people doing it were struggling, but people in line were grumbling.

-- Typical hall set up- though the aisles are short but very wide. Feet will hurt because nothing is close in Atlanta or at this show.

-- I am amazed at major companies who come to this show to make a splash. Especially the ones who everyone knows. I mean do you really think there's a glass shop or glazier who walks into Oldcastle's gigantic starship enterprise looking booth and says: "Hey never heard of y'all- can I buy glass from you?" I mean shouldn't they have/know every customer by now? See I think the approach of EFCO and Viracon made more sense... smaller, simpler booths that were a place where their customers could find them. But end of day, what do I know... wait don't answer that.

-- The SAY NO TO CHINA pins are starting to populate on the floor. Tomorrow will see more I am sure. I did get more than a few looks from the Chinese vendors... the looks were more confused than anger. Though I rode the elevator in the hotel with a gal who stared at my pin and then gave me the dirtiest look I have seen ever.

-- Thumbs up to the ton of food options on the floor, usually a disaster at an Atlanta show. Thumbs down, 2 chicken sandwiches and 2 waters... 24 bucks. Ouch. I think I am in the wrong business.

-- Saw the guys from Technoform, which is a solid company by the way, since they are making materials that are positive for energy efficiency (which we like)and because both Milind and Dave read this blog. Thanks for reading guys and keep up the good work.

-- I never saw the jars and glass containers.... I wonder what happened to that. If you don't know what I am talking about, a few months back it was announced that their would be a pavilion at the show for the glass containers... I of course made fun of it on this blog.... I guess the idea was too comical to be true eh?

So we'll see what Day 2 brings....

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Industry Superstars

Who are the true superstars in our industry? One magazine does its “most influential” but what people are the ones who really get it done? I decided to throw that together, but using a topical approach… fantasy football. Yes, it is football time and more likely than not, you may be in a fantasy football league. So to bring both mediums together, here would be my superstar industry team and the real life football player they compare to. One note, you won’t see anyone from Arch on this list, as I am blessed to work along side tons of superstars, so naming one or two would leave tons out. Plus with world wide viewing on this blog, their egos may be hard to contain! Anyway, on with the list…

Greg Carney- GANA = LaDanian Tomlinson . Yes to me Greg would be the first pick of any draft. The guy eats, breathes and lives our industry and somehow knows enough about every aspect to speak intelligently at whatever function he attends. So if LT is the guy everyone should want in a fantasy league- then Greg is his equal in our industry. The best part is by working for GANA, he is there for EVERYONE, which makes him even more valuable.

Julie Schimmelpenningh- Solutia = Sean Alexander. Yes the smart fantasy player would compare Julie to TJ Houshmanzedah just based on the adventurous last name. But in reality, Julie is more like Alexander, a solid superstar who produces year in, year out. Julie stands out because not only is she the gold standard laminated wise, but she also really does a super job on several volunteer positions. Plus anyone who’s ever been in a rut with a tough laminated question, knows how clutch Julie is with coming through with the answers.

Brian Craft- Guardian = Frank Gore. I’ve always been a big fan of Brian, even though he doesn’t read the blog! Still like Gore, who came back from a severe, career threatening injury, Brian came back from a life threatening disease and seemingly never missed a beat. The best part about Brian is he really tells it to you straight, there’s no “car” salesman in him. That’s a nice touch in the world of “telling you what you want to hear, instead of what you need to hear”

Christine Shaffer- Viracon = Peyton Manning. You know how the Colts have all of those great players, Harrison, Wayne, Addai but it’s Manning that really makes them go. To me that’s how I view Christine. She’s among many talented people, but without the angles she takes marketing and in the press, no way do they get the “love” they get from the trade magazines. Viracon has that super reputation and they’re always positioned perfectly. Hey lots of companies produce well, but not everyone gets the constant positive pub that Viracon gets and to me that credit goes to Christine.

Mike Gainey- Azon = Tom Brady. You know that solid presence that Brady brings to the game? Well when it comes to spacer, Mike is the comparison. Consistent every time, Mike has taken the challenge of promoting a high end product and done very well. Its one thing to sell a popular glass, its another to promote a product that makes sense but is more expensive and somewhat unknown and unappreciated. To me his approach has worked and as we head more into understanding the needs for high end spacers, his efforts will pay off.

Scott Surma- Decotherm = Mo Jones Drew. If you never heard of Jones-Drew, he’s the lighting fast scat back for Jacksonville. Scott works the same way, he’s never stopping, never hesitating and always trying to find that next gear. I’ve never seen anything else like him. Seriously, Scott’s energy level and passion is kinda bordering on the insane, but his efforts do pay off, so it’s worth it. I just wonder if the guy ever knocks it down a gear or he’s always going 1000 miles per hour. Maybe when he becomes a CEO….

So that’s the list, and I know I missed several.. folks like Kris Vockler and Tom Culp come to mind immediately. But I gotta start and stop somewhere. The moral of the story is our industry has some serious players, some you know and some you don’t, but they are out there, and that bodes well for us going forward….


-- Had a comment on the fire rated wire glass lawsuit issue that got lost in the EFCO/Pella storm last week. The comment was interesting as it did bring in Pilkington’s interest in the wire glass side. The one thing I have to bring up though is this material that’s in the middle of the fight is not just good ole traditional wire glass. It is a fire rated version of such, which makes it much more valuable and avoids the liability that traditional wire offers. The fact is traditional wire glass is going the way of the dinosaur, fire rated material is here and growing, thus the fascination of this suit. This is seriously a big and growing segment of the industry and the outcome of this play will have repercussions all the way down the chain.

--Sent the first batch of SAY NO TO CHINA pins out this week… thanks to all who ordered! I will have them at the show and I have a feeling you may see them at more than a few booths.

-- Speaking of China.. Mattel just recalled their third batch of Chinese material, the Chinese Military HACKED into our defense computers (READ HERE), and the newest edition of Glass Magazine has an interesting piece on the Chinese in our industry. In that piece I am quoted, and in one area, I mention that at least 3 jobs went awry with Chinese material, but the people involved “denied” that any problems took place. For which my comment is: Do you expect anyone who sold their soul to the devil and got rooked to admit it in a trade magazine? Anyway, the China beat continues.

-- This week’s “Green” note… is being “green” while working the bar-b-que. Wow, we are now working the green angle while working the grill. Story is HERE. Amazing stuff, I swear, I want to announce I am the first truly “green” blogger and see what pub I get.

-- Did you hear EFCO sold to Pella? Just checking… by the way, I was erroneous on the “major” consultant last week. No consultant can be “major” if they did not know that this deal had been going down for a while. Also I stand by my comments on the deal on the other post. While there’s interviews that state other things, its like the China deal… do you really expect anyone to come out and say “Yes we will have to contract some shared service staffs?”

Video of the week comes from the UPSET of the century, Appalachian State (alma mater of a few major mirror folks by the way) beats Michigan. Here is the video from the stands of the blocked kick to end the game… check out the depression around the happy folks from Appy State.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Pella owns EFCO, now what?

The postmortem on the most recent big deal in our industry...

For EFCO...

A change from a family owned business to being a division of a gigantic company should be interesting. Some people like working for family businesses, and others don't, so this change may be as much as a benefit for some as a distraction for others.

The worry about your job is probably a big one for a lot of EFCO salespeople. Especially the manufacturer reps. No matter what the press release says, there's just no way that Pella will carry separate sets of salespeople. While it won't happen right way, it will happen. The question is who would Pella keep.. the current Pella group that knows little of commercial and nothing about aluminum or the EFCO folks who are all commercial and would be weak on the res side

Will they truly be melded into the Pella culture? That is always a major issue in deals like this A lot has been made that Pella and EFCO both being heartland type companies think the same so the culture should transfer. But just because your close in location does not mean you see things the same way. Plus EFCO folks will have to be aware that they me thought of us the ugly stepsister- a syndrome that happens when a big company comes in and tries to assert itself.


Welcome to the commercial world truly. Its a weeeeeeeee bit different than your used to. Should be interesting to see how they react.

I guess those snarky ads ripping aluminum will have to go into mothballs huh? Yes Pella runs ads that degrade aluminum, and now you own a huge aluminum producer.... guess you need to start understanding and promoting aluminum eh?

Pella now will have more to do with my favorite folks at NFRC. Yes they know the drill well from the residential side, but maybe they'll see why the commercial side is different now that they own a piece.

Will Pella get involved in the other commercial industry activities? Will they show up at GANA and get involved at AEC and so on? They should and if they don't that would be sad.

Bottom line:
Should be interesting to see how the cultures truly mix and how Pella deals with being totally out of its element. Plus the collateral damage of the people who could lose their jobs is somewhat depressing, but with this industry ALWAYS looking for good people, I have a feeling anyone who wants to bolt will find a safe landing spot.

Now we do move on, and the rumblings of the next big deal have actually started.. yes, at least 2 more deals are percolating... as soon as I have more I'll post it...