Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Once again its time for Lionel Hutz

Beware; I am in a pretty bitter mood for some reason today, so some of the posts have that flavor. Anyway, the sirens are buzzing… and that means its ambulance chasing lawyer time! I really get amazed with our legal system in this country- whether it’s the criminal side or the business side. Logic and proof sometimes don’t have a chance. The latest “chase” was in Tuesday’s USGNN on the lawsuit filed on the energy surcharge. Now I have to say I have issues with the surcharge, but even so I gotta say these actions are just wasteful exercises. This suit is based on the same flimsy evidence that the last one was… both based on something that happened in Europe, that folks (lawyers with dollar sign eyes) assume (and quite frankly hope) must be happening here too. That’s where the lack of logic comes in. Its like these guys just cut and pasted a suit together, found a plaintiff and SHAZAM, they’re in business. Yeesh. Bottom line is as an industry we have much more serious battles ahead, not to mention a shaky economy, so events like this just take resources away and eyes off the real issues that will affect ALL of us for years to come.


-- Our condolences go out to Tom Crawford of Donisi Mirror on the passing of his father, Roger. Tom is also a Board member at GANA and very good one at that. Our thoughts are with him and his family at this tough time.

-- Saw an interesting blurb on the IGMA meetings… it seems that Keystone Certifications terminated their agreement with IGMA to provide admin services for the certification process because they want to do their own…. And of course their own will probably be with NFRC (Shocked!)… and the head of Keystone and a huge decision maker inside NFRC are the same person… ah forget it.. not worth the keystrokes….once again it’s the classic self-fulfilling prophecy… or is that profit-cy?

-- Kudos to the gang at Vesuvius for their ad in the latest USGlass Magazine recognizing the efforts of Stan Smith upon his retirement and welcoming Bill Yanek to the fold. Very classy move and one that was probably the brainchild of Ren Bartoe of Vesuvius- one of the best industry guys around.

--This past week I got a call from a loyal reader asking why I don’t delve outside the industry more… I guess he can only handle so much Chinese NFRC debate eh…. Well… here’s some… I am going this weekend with my daughter to see the Hannah Montana Concert movie… she came to Detroit twice for live concerts and I failed twice to get tickets, so the movie will have to suffice. Anyway, I’ll have the extra duty ear plugs in. And I know I am not alone because everyone I speak with who has a daughter between 6-13 all live and die for Hannah Montana. The girl is a dynamo and here’s hoping that she stays good and doesn’t become another Britney.

-- And while on the celebrity stuff… can you believe that magazines pay millions of dollars for semi-celebrity baby pictures? Evidently, as this link will tell you, Nicole Richie is getting a million dollars for new babies pic… my goodness what is wrong with this world?

-- The Super Bowl is this weekend and it’s time to make the call… First off I just want a good game… that would be great. A game where the game is actually better than the commercials would be super. As for the game itself, I just can not see the Patriots losing. They have too many weapons and quite frankly they carry themselves with cool business-like savvy. End of the day Tom Brady will come through… gimpy ankle or not and the Pats will win 31-20.

Last I know I have been lacking for videos but thanks to Dan, I present a great one on the world of outsourcing. It really is a comical must-watch!

((( I had it embedded here but it started right with the blog- probably not best for people at work... so CLICK THIS and you'll be taken to it. Good stuff!)))

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A "Nickel" for your thoughts?

When USGNN linked the story about the Des Moines Library last Thursday I had a feeling that a new discussion issue would be right in front of us. The original story was from the local paper and did not have the details that we as industry look for or care about. Soon after the details began to trickle out and it brought back an old industry bugaboo… Nickel Sulfide Inclusions. The whole Nickel Sulfide thing was a hot topic back in the 80’s and early 90’s but it faded away because glass made domestically was improved to contain virtually no Nickel Sulfide. Thus any breakage that may have occurred was linked to something else on the job. It’s back now, and on this job, because the glass was made overseas. (And keep in mind, Glass from communist China has it because they ignore the sophisticated advances that the others in the world have made) So while it seemed to catch everyone’s eye and the call for unnecessary heat soaks rang out, the answer is simple… buy glass made in North America and Nickel Sulfide is a problem you probably WON’T have. Just another reason to support the home fires….


-- The comical part of the Des Moines Library job is that the glass was from Germany and it was very expensive. The taxpayers in that town are furious and they have every right to be. That EXACT look could’ve been reproduced using several domestic methods at a fraction of the cost and with no Nickel Sulfide included. (Not sure on the performance goals, but I can pretty much guarantee that could’ve been handled domestically too)

-- It is a real shame. This may be the first time I can remember that someone went overseas and paid more…

-- Plus the job is a LEED one… I guess they didn’t get the local manufacturing credits eh?

-- CONGRATULATIONS to USGlass Magazine for taking a plum sponsorship at the BEC event in Las Vegas next month. With every heavy hitter in the industry there, that sponsorship will continue to prove USGlass to be the industry voice. Furthermore, by being a sponsor USGlass is SUPPORTING the industries efforts and all of us should be thankful. And that sentiment goes for all of the companies who are sponsoring that event… It is money well spent and will be thoroughly appreciated.

-- Speaking of Vegas… saw this week that one of the new Hotel and Casino projects going up in Vegas is in some trouble… The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino is now facing foreclosure… due to open in late 2009, I guess we will see if they can get it cleaned up and back on track. That is one of 4 major projects happening right now there and you have to ask yourself, when will enough be too much? Eventually someone is going to “build it” and no one will “come”

-- A wild week so far on Wall Street… despite the up and down nature most of industry related stocks are hanging in OK… possibly the rate cut makes investors think that building will keep going on the commercial side, and maybe they are thinking the worst is over on the residential side… it bears watching….

-- On the flip side though, with the economy getting tighter, rumors do run rampant… most of the ones I get are about the possible closings of companies in our industry…. If any of the e-mails I get come true, it will be shocking and sad that some of these places are going by the wayside. Then again, there’s segments in our industry that are very fat… and in lean times, unfortunately not everyone can make it. Should be interesting to see what pans out and not… since the rumor of a companies demise has always been a popular one in our industry BUT its accuracy level is about the same as Brett Favre’s was on late Sunday night…

-- Last, I am looking forward to the Super Bowl… I’ll have my pick in this space next week. Remember I pretty much nailed last years game- even with the score listed! So we’ll see if I was a one year wonder or not…..

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Reaction to the List

I can tell you lists are great for Blog traffic… Last week’s “What to look for in 2008” was one of the most read posts since the whole Pella/EFCO deal last fall. In all of that traffic were plenty of e-mail with thoughts, opinions and omissions. Some of the best are down below, and THANK YOU to all that checked in!!

By the way the success of the “list” means my competition will probably start doing them anytime now. Then again I am used to that.

3 Great items that really could’ve made the list…

1. Jobsite Security- HUGE issue for the glazing community because of the on going desire to steal materials… especially copper and aluminum. No matter how safe or how hard you try, the bad guys are seemingly winning. And this issue is not just for jobsites, I got this link a while back- and meant to post- talking about a Louisville glass company getting their materials stolen…. However when you see the amount the company says was stolen, you have to wonder how long this could be going one, because that’s a lot of money. Regardless, this is a MAJOR issue and because of a struggling economy, along with desperate people, it will be a pain for glaziers going forward.

2. Blast Resistant Glazing- How I missed this I do not know. This is everywhere and expect it to grow and grow. Problem is that communication and understanding of specifications is VERY murky right now. That problem really leaves the glazing community in a major lerch. LUCKILY for all of you, the BEC has a great presentation scheduled on this. Yes another, reason to come to the BIGGEST and BEST glass gathering of the year.

3. Decorative- Dang I was a space cadet huh? My apologies to Kris Vockler, Scott Surma and all of the fine deco folks I work with either at GANA or in the industry. Decorative glass continues to be a solid growth item and more and more mainstream folks are getting it. To me this will be just like glass guys buying metal folks…. Sooner or later you’ll have people NOT in Deco buying operations to get in it.

I had several others come through that I debated off line and again I appreciate it.


-- Quick rant after reading a trade magazine… there was an ad in there that promoted a company’s ability from “Coast to Coast” yet said company has no operation west of Kentucky…. So I guess they meant East Coast to the Gulf Coast maybe? Or could it be the “Coast” of the Allegheny to the "Coast" of the Hocking? Anyway, I love to pick….

-- I was in attendance at the ABC meeting in Dallas a week ago… once again tremendous stuff. I was late due to flight nightmares but I did get there in time to be a part of the discussion surrounding competition for my pals at the NFRC. It was a spirited debate, but as always, you can count on Greg Carney at GANA to make the right points and he did again. Basically the NFRC is hoping to convince the code orgs that they should keep their unbelievable monopoly. Here is hoping that logic prevails. Anyway, can anyone tell me why the NFRC is above competition? Its stunning and worse yet, the people who think that a 1 system approach is good for the marketplace or the public is delusional.

-- By the way GANA did extend the deadline of BEC and that’s good considering how many late arrivals there’s been. Major props to Carol Land at GANA- she is the one handling all of this and she has been spectacular. Between the late adds and all of the changes everyone has had to make and times that by 700, well it’s a miracle Carol hasn’t hidden under her desk. She deserves major thanks because come 4 weeks from now, no one will realize how her efforts made registration and check in so smooth. (To sign up CLICK HERE)

-- I have talked in the past that a bad part of LEED is that people will use products just to get the “point” and not care about the overall effect of the building, process etc. Well I saw it happen in real time this week and it was ugly. The architect’s originally specified product came in just a tiny bit short in performance. So short that it was probably a statistical tie. But because of LEED fear, the architect chose a new product that “met it” and in turn spent 50k more. Hey as the manufacturer and I am sure the glazier would agree, that’s fine by us, but really will that owner realize what is happening to him? My fear is things like this will sour people and the green movement could take on a negative turn. Then again in the rush to be more green then the next guy, said owner probably would pay 100k just to show off his certification….

-- By the way, LEED is getting more competition... (see even the might USGBC has competition!) Its called Social Economic Environmental Design Network but they are using the acronym SEED...(I guess SEEDN, just isn't as cute eh) Anyway the story about SEED (and they lovingly call themselves "SEEDlings") is HERE. I say the more the merrier... see competition is good.. monopoly bad. Building owners will have another option if they want to be "green"

-- Last, I have been remiss on the football side… but here’s hoping for a New England-Green Bay Super Bowl… that game would be one surely worth watching… instead the way it has been of late… a game played in between all of the new commercials….

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

2008- The top things to look for....

It’s time to look at what the Top 10 subjects/issues/happenings/goings on for our industry in 2008. Some are new and some are the old favorites, but all will be in your life during the 12 months. Anyway you slice it, we’ll have to be on our toes going forward because it looks to be a bumpy ride.

10. Size does matter- Darn it, I always hoped it didn’t… but anyway… on projects and on individual pieces, look for the sizes and jobs to get bigger and bigger. The medium to small projects are the ones drying up and the large jobs are coming in with lots of quantities and huge sizes that will challenge everyone in the chain.

9. Health Care- This will always be an issue, and it will probably continue to get worse. It’s major frustration for companies of all sizes. Did you know that some companies have decided to NOT even offer it- some in our industry never have- which is stunning to me on how anyone would work there.

8. NFRC- Not number 1 and that may surprise people. I am so convinced that the Titantic, AKA the CMA (which is the rating/certification program that will be willingly forced upon us) will fail, that I am not that worried. But I will follow, monitor and surely have fun with the process because having a monopoly like that should not be given a free and easy pass.

7. High profile departures and changes- I see this year to more active then normal in people leaving or retiring. For instance we know Stan Smith of GANA is retiring and he will be missed (though the deft maneuvering of GANA hiring a solid guy like Bill Yanek surely softens the blow) and there may be others. In fact, I just heard a pretty heavy hitter on the metal side just left his company and I am sure more of that will be coming down the pike as weaker companies cut back and stronger ones try to snap up talent.

6. New Products- 08 should see some the growth of the newer glass products (one example, Guardian’s smooth Crystal Grey series) as well as metal options (the Sunshade trend is hitting for folks like Kawneer and EFCO and others) and of course the new technology from the dynamic glazing side (Sage) and photovotalics… or however you spell it.

5. Ford/Visteon/ACH- The glass company that most know as Visteon will officially have new owners and a new name in 08 (yes another name) and hopefully stability. Will they come out with new products to make a splash? And more importantly, will the new owner recognize some of the awesome talent they have there and keep it on board?

4. China- It’s not going away. Getting somewhat less popular thanks to how many people are getting burned but I still get at least 2 e-mails a day from companies in China that have “found” my company and want to do business with us. Just remember, they are the fox and doing business with them gives them easy access to the henhouse. No one can say I did not warn you.

3. Residential and the BOTTOM- Sometime in 08, the residential side will hit the bottom. The markets right now are sick, in fact USA Today had THIS depressing article on the worst yearly start to the stock market- ever. Obviously that’s not good news for either residential or commercial, but the bloodbaths will continue on the res side and its not going to be pretty.

2. Consolidations- We had 3 major buys in 2007 and I can see at least 3 more in 2008. Glass and Metal will marry more. I believe that Kawneer and YKK will do something as well as I can see Marvin and Jeld Wen trying to follow Pella’s lead. All will be very interesting to watch.

1. GREEN- No doubt, 2007 was a banner year for green building and it will get only bigger and more prominent in 2008. This is a movement that is really affecting everyone in every walk of life. In fact states with old failing economies like Michigan are pinning their hopes on revival through the whole “green” process. They want to be the leaders in green and “green technology”- should be interesting to see how it all plays out.

So there you have it… the top 10 things to look for in the new year….

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What an end to 07!

Wow… I thought the last 2 weeks of the year were supposed to be the slow, boring time for news… well obviously not… at least not in 2007 speak… the obvious big news was that Apogee purchased Tubelite. It caught me off guard… I guess this was a case of being a victim of my own success. When OC bought Vistawall and EFCO went to Pella, I was getting tips and leads like crazy… well this one I got nothing… amazing. I knew Tubelite was for sale… as mentioned here before, every major aluminum manufacturer with the exception of Arch has been for sale or sold in the last 2 years. But even with that out there, it still caught me off guard.

My analysis: This is the type of consolidation you will see more of… now Apogee has joined OC in following the Arch model of having both metal and glass together. And because of that, more is coming, but in reverse… I think you will now see metal folks buying glass fabricators… and some of those rumors are already out there… and hopefully I’ll be on them better than I was on this one. The big piece will be how the whole synergy will work between Harmon/Tubelite/Viracon… it looks easy on paper but sometimes in reality it is tougher…Regardless it continues to show the changing face of an industry and this is really only the beginning….


-- Not sure if you saw the Motley Fool write up on Apogee on a USGNN last week. It’s right HERE. An interesting read because of the fact our industry was in the spotlight of a major main line site. Sure its not good pub, but it was still publicity and we don’t really get much at all industry wise and it was interesting to read a true outside take.

-- How depressing is the housing news? The housing slump is its worst in 12 years and today Standard and Poor’s predicted that the residential bottom probably won’t hit til October 08. Yikes… this is going to be a very ugly year on that side of the ball. Meanwhile commercially, I think everyone is confident and hopeful, but it is still a very scary slope we are on…

-- Speaking of scary… Oil hit $100 a barrel today. Insane.

-- Another item that may have flown under the radar was the info on PPG’s Auto Glass deal going off the tracks. That news, in case you missed it, is HERE. If that deal falls through its back to square one for PPG on the auto side and if they were entertaining thoughts of selling the flat side, it probably would not even commence until the auto gets gone.

-- The NFRC quietly announced their new board structure in December… Marcia Falke, who in this space takes a ton of heat because of being the Chair is still on the board but no longer chair. Instead, in what is a cunning PR move, (and surely unintentional, since “cunning” and “NFRC” do not go together when we talk PR) two actual manufacturers take the top 2 spots. Joe Hayden from Pella and Steve Strawn from Jeld Wen are now atop the board… and while both are good people who have spent tons of time on the NFRC beat, the reason its cunning PR, is now NFRC can try to deflect its obvious self interest bent by moving a person who made 72% of her income from NFRC down and putting guys up from companies who do other things to make money for their company... instead of creating systems within NFRC to do so. Remember, these people take an oath to put the interests of NFRC ahead of their own… but when those interests are the same and a good NFRC moves equal money in the pocket of board members companies, then does that matter? Sadly its all window dressing… this group will still go full speed ahead with the Titanic CMA and not care about the massive iceberg they will hit…

-- I did mention that Randy Johnson passed away during a post during the holidays. Its still a tough one to grab onto.. Randy was truly a character and very well liked player in the markets he sold into. A memorial service for Randy is scheduled for next week and I believe the fine folks at USGlass will have more on this as it comes close. Until then condolences must go to Randy’s wife Joyce and his family.

-- Last, yet another reminder about BEC… spots are filling but there is availability, so make your plans now. This year really is the best program yet- please check it out at If you are a glazier, fabricator or manufacturer, you are truly missing out if you do not attend…

-- I got some great pictures of folks in Communist China applying their trade... here is the first one... gotta love the welders mask... yep no OSHA in sight there... then again they do not respect human rights... so worrying about proper safety equipment? nahhhhh.

Yep... I can only imagine what they are wearing inside the glass plants....

*** LATE ADD***

A simply hilarious story about China and the Olympics from the sportsblog Deadspin... CLICK HERE its worth the read!