Tuesday, February 26, 2008

And back to normal... whatever that is...

Back to normal.. BEC is over… my NFRC rant off my chest… so now what do I talk about? Well there’s actually a lot of “housekeeping” type items to get through, because so much is going on and only so much time… So here goes…

Cleaning off the desk… first the old links…

-- Did you know the leader of Iran has a Blog? Here’s the story… and no I do not think he’s taken on the NFRC issue… yet….

-- This is an older link but the whole “Green” thing has led to a job boom…. And not just with test labs trying to cash in on the commercial glazing industry… (yes another shot). Green really is a cottage industry… click here for the story.

-- And yes people actually do click through these stories by the way, its funny my link on the “Global Cooling” actually got a lot of action.

-- This is probably my favorite old link that I needed to get on here… it’s about the city of Seattle wanting a ban on Microwave popcorn. You know it’s not a surprise since Seattle is the home of Uber-NFRC supporter John Hogan. (John being the best traveled city employee in the history of the world... man I'd love to work for the city for Seattle!)
Its going to be just a matter of time before they get John involved and all microwave popcorn must go through an NFRC approved IA and then physical testing and then the bags labeled…. and you "kettle" corn people.. don't try acting like your popcorn is different! Popcorn, like glass.. is the same whether its in a 100 foot house or 80 floor skyscraper! Seriously the folks in Seattle need to have their popcorn policed by a true 3rd party set up! C'mon Jim Benney and company get on this one! And if I ran this one before I am sorry, but its too hilarious not to show again.

OK enough on NFRC…

-- Well I have started to work on the annual From the Fabricator Power List and that should be coming your way in the next few weeks. The list has most of the same groups as 07 but a few new ones, so tune in.

-- Speaking of “power” GANA really flexed their muscle last week with simply a tremendous back to back effort of Glassweek and BEC. There simply is no comparison for the high quality of people who attended those events. The annual glass show may get more quantity, but nothing compares to the quality of the past week.

-- Major thanks do need to go out to the fine folks at GANA who really work their tails off to make the experience easy and enjoyable in Vegas.

-- I did get several e-mails asking why I did not re-cap more of BEC than I did. Good points on all, I did believe that the press did a good job of covering and there was not more I could add. That said, I think the presentations we had at BEC this year were super. Probably the biggest problem we run into is the fact that some presentations are extremely technical and others are the opposite, so there’s always that middle problem we have. I must commend guys like Joe Solinski and the pair from the Façade Group (Stanley Yee and Richard Green) because they had some heavy presentations but still were able to keep the group enthralled. Other speakers like Mike Burk of Edgetech went the more simplistic route… his use of a glass scraper will always be remembered. But all in all a great event, so instead of me re-capping, make plans to attend next year….

-- Was asked at BEC.. What are the hot products that aren’t the norm? (Basically not the Triple Silver low e’s etc) My answers were: The Sunscreen…. Seeing that pop up all over the place… Makes sense in the world of LEED that’s for sure… so either a sunscreen or frit design is a must really…. right behind it is Bomb Resistant material… so high quality companies like Arpal Defender and the others that produce this material are probably very busy. It’s a shame though that products to defend our lives are so popular… then again the old house alarm is still very much in vogue too, so I guess this makes sense.

-- As I wrote last week… love Baseball and training camp… cracked up when I saw Hunter Pence, the young star of the Astros will miss a week of training camp after he walked through his glass doorwall… I guess he needs those little stickers you see? Man that must’ve been one great clear patio doorwall… I bet we should keep mirrors out that guys house for the time being since he’ll probably walk into one of them too…

-- Did anyone watch the Oscars? Have you noticed that the Oscars, Emmy’s and Grammy’s all have had their lowest TV ratings ever this year? Think the real world is tired of Hollywood or is the ability to get things on the internet, quick and when you want, make watching TV not worth it anymore? For me, I did not see any of the nominated movies… though they did say look for Hannah Montana to be nominated for best song in next year’s event… so I have that going for me. But bottom line is if you haven’t seen the movies do you care?

-- In this miserable winter, there are some great books out…especially if you are a sports fan. If you like sports, and have not seen the website deadspin.com you probably should check it out. And now the editor of that site has a book called “God Save The Fan” out and it’s a tremendous read. If you don’t like sports then disregard…

Last for this post... A while back I wrote about the book “Bringing Down the House” and how much I loved it and how I thought it would make a great movie. Well at the time, I was told Kevin Spacey had taken it on as a project and sure enough, March 28th, the movie version of the book is coming out. Thanks to Matt, here’s the trailer for looks to be an AWESOME flick called “21”….

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Manifesto Quick Add

Yep I missed this in the rant below... why the NFRC actually matters? Because between states and future code changes, providing a full system calc with a "certification" will become the norm. California is already on this and surely not the first. Because of the need to reduce the energy consumption, there will be more of a push on this angle and as of this writing NFRC will be the only game in town... like it or not.

Also NFRC will be adding IG Certification to their wares... yep, why trust the current system that works so well when there's money to be made!

What's crazy is there are plenty of industries that WANT NFRC- like Dynamic glazing, Window Films, Garage Doors etc... all of the consumer style products... yet they waste time on us. ((And why do consumer style products want them? Because they have a track record of protecting people who NEED protecting. They should just stick with what they are good at))

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The NFRC Manifesto

With the skyrocketing popularity of this blog, it’s become apparent through e-mails and conversations that many people have no idea why I harbor the feelings I do towards the NFRC. So in an attempt to lay those out… here goes… ((WARNING YOU NOW- THIS IS LOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG.)))

I fell into this battle.. purely by accident… an accident that I bet the folks at NFRC probably wish never happened. Because as much as they play off to ignore me, by my articles and blogs, they’ve had to work harder to get their agenda through… (and yes they would say different, but starting with the long article I wrote for USGlass a few years ago, the attention paid to NFRC has been more than they expected or have ever gotten before.) Anyway, when I was sent to a meeting in Baltimore because my co-worker Cliff Monroe could not attend, I was stunned by the goings on. Here was a group that was looking to police the commercial industry with nary a clue of what is done in said industry. Seriously. They were working up rules and plans, but without knowing the difference between Solarban 60 and a Pepperoni Pizza. It made me ill. I asked around the room and many people told me to “deal with it” because the NFRC had succeeded on the residential side, they had the DOE in their back pockets and basically they could not be denied. In fact, some guys in the room, who had attended for years, were so beaten down, they said they felt the same way as me at the start but then realized how fruitless trying to fight was.

So when I left the meeting I started the research and was stunned. This was a group that had no idea what they were getting into on the commercial side because they had no commercial representation on their Board whatsoever. They decided to jump on the commercial world because as the minutes and notes show, “it was for the good of the NFRC” and it was an “untapped market” – SEE THAT still sticks in my craw. An NFRC Board Member made that comment and it ACTUALLY appeared in the minutes (the minutes have changed a bunch since those days- now they are a cleaned like Meryl Streep in Silkwood) UNTAPPED MARKET= MONEY FOR US!!!

So everytime that Marv Stover- then the Chair of NFRC would make some comment about mandates or Gary Curtis who has been seemingly a board member for life at NFRC would say “its in the codes” I could never… ever.. get past the above comments. Sorry guys, your intentions were always to take your seemingly successful program on the residential side and move it to the commercial. No one would stand in your way and bam, the IA’s, consultants, labs, and academia would have a new revenue flow from the clueless on the commercial side.

Now I have to stop and make a comment that must be clear…

As an industry, no one I know of is against the ability to rate whole systems. In fact everyone I know wants it. I WANT IT. It’s a great tool, it’s a great avenue for showing how our products can work and succeed in an environment that is begging for more energy efficiency. However what I have been against is the money… the complexity… and the way this thing has to pass with the blatant ignoring of the industry that it will affect.

Now back to the story… when the questions started to flow on why this program was needed, the NFRC started with the whole “Congress Mandated it” angle. Except they did not. Nope. Nada. Sorry. So when that was shot down, the next excuse was “its in the codes” and that too proved to be incorrect. I remember sitting in Chicago as Ken Nittler, former NFRC Board member feverishly went through his code book trying to prove that indeed the codes called for NFRC to police the commercial industry. Greg Carney from GANA shot him down all over the place. And a note, if Greg Carney was a pilot in a war, and the arguments that Greg has shot down were planes, Greg would be the most decorated soldier in the history of the world.

So the NFRC had to soldier on, and used their situation in California to try further their agenda. Ironically… or coincidentally… or conspiratorially on the same exact day that our industry had a great meeting with DOE, the NFRC announced that California had DEMANDED that the NFRC have a new commercial rating program in place asap. First off the timing was insane- same day? Plus big deal California asked for it… like Gary Curtis, the state of California has had a seemingly permanent spot on the BOD at NFRC for years. So it was a pretty shrewd move. See California had been (and still is) suffering with NFRC’s initial disastrous foray into the commercial realm with the site-built program. That program is so bad that no one uses it and that’s why California desperately wants another. Filled with loopholes and work arounds, it was and is a total joke. (Hmm, you’d think they’d want to avoid embarrassment the second time around eh?) Anyway, by California asking, this now gave NFRC a more legitimate impetus to enforce their will on the unwilling industry.

Still that’s flimsy and they know it, thus they work the code angle and have also tried to reach out to architects. In one very comical but should be infuriating attempt, the NFRC BOD approved 60K for Gary Curtis (Board member) to have his company “educate” architects on the new program… except at that time, there was really no settlement of the “new program” and no software and no plan… but hey, he’s a board member and he may know an architect or two, so lets give him the cash!!

See the money angle is part of what galls me here- if this program and membership were inexpensive and the program seamless I would be quiet. But its not- and so when the NFRC tosses around a no bid 60K gig like that like its Monopoly money, well that makes me nuts. Plus wouldn’t you think that GANA or IGMA would be better served to make that sort of presentation? Since you know they are nationally known organizations with tons of respect? Oh no, a private consultant who has sat on our board since the start of time is a MUCH BETTER choice! See and if GANA or IGMA was on board then it would be taken seriously too… nah too logical… and logic and NFRC do not make good bedfellows.

I should clarify that I have no issues with the staff of NFRC, but its Board Members that are truly in this to profit from the program. They are people that are strictly in business to profit from stuff like this and not anything else. And maybe if the board was set up to the way that the NFRC tries to tell people it is, then it would not be an issue, but at one time in the last 3 years, the Board and its Ex Officio’s featured 23 people with no connection to commercial… with 1 person with a slight commercial play. That’s it. And yet, I am supposed to feel confident that they are looking out for the good of the public? Which public- their kids and spouses? ((And now the Board is still extremely slanted though there’s now a couple commercial based folks on there- better but still awful really))

Through this the DOE has tried to say the right things but the NFRC summarily ignores them. Marc LaFrance has raged at them in public sessions, but when the time comes they pass on his assessments and implement what they care to do. The best examples of this are:

At that ill fated meeting with DOE (the same day as the California announcement) the folks at Viracon were gracious enough to offer NFRC an opportunity to have people at an upcoming membership meeting in Minnesota to tour their plant. This was a great offer since at the time, some of the brain surgeons at NFRC believed every IG unit on a commercial job should have an NFRC label- except when Don McCann from Viracon showed them a picture of one of their major monumental jobs and asked how they should label thousands upon thousands of units. So it was quite obvious that a tour would help educate. The DOE was all for it. They informed NFRC that it would a very good thing to do. And the NFRC…. Ignored it. You know it was more important to have a hoe-down in the ballroom than see one of the best commercial glass plants in the entire world.

And to this day, no effort has ever been shown by the BOD of NFRC to see a glass/aluminum operation, despite offers from everyone. Yep, lets police your industry, lets make oodles of cash from your industry, but learn about your industry… nah I think I’ll pass.

The 2nd one was when the votes for allowing a manufacturer to be an ACE (and yes no one understands that outside of us who attend) was held and it was incredibly Unanimous that the manufacturer should be able to do their own calcs… you know HELP STREAMLINE the process. Plus the manufacturers offered to have a ton of un-neccesary oversight placed on them… yet despite the vote and despite everyone with half a brain seeing the logic… the NFRC wanted to “kick the tires” some and just could trust us evil people… or maybe they couldn’t take the precious possible business away from the labs and others who would stand to profit. So the consensus of the group was unanimous… and yet it was ignored.. blatantly.

Why? Well one board member in her election profile noted that 72% of her income comes from NFRC related activities. Hell why would in her right mind would she vote for the manufacturer do ANYTHING she could do? So many of the others follow the same tasks, and then you have the large residential guys who have been under NFRC rule for years who can not stand the thought of the commercial guys having a more simple system then them. I was told that point blank… if we have to go through it- so do you. So when you have a board made up of residential folks, special interests supported by said residential folks and then the rest being people being affected bottom line by the implementation of a program, there is no way the proper call will be made.

Next up is the fact that residential and commercial are starkly different. Yet even though that is known by most, even Rich Karney of he DOE noted that recently when he talked about energy star for commercial, the folks at NFRC ignore that too…. See they’ve never taken the time to learn commercial, so ignorance.. is… bliss…. It’s the Sergeant Shultz theory… “ I KNOW NOTHING!!”

On the money side, the NFRC loves to spend it… in fact on their 2006 tax return over 300K to their PR agency- Potomac. That’s twice as much as they spent 2 years before… gee why are they spending 150K more now? What messages are they trying to get out… 300K for PR? Man they must need lost of it eh? One of the projects that 300K buys you these days was the hilarious “case study” that Potomac did last summer with 3 code officials. They found 3 people from the tiniest possible towns and let the hilarity ensue. My recap is here on the blog, but in short, it was the biggest waste of funds around. So that money should be put to defraying the costs of these programs… nah lets pay our PR agency. That money could’ve been offered to a professional to start education of system ratings… nah let’s find a code official from “One stoplight town, Texas” and ask him about commercial buildings. With Potomac making 300K per year, I am in the wrong business. And part of that 300K was to watch me at the last NFRC meeting and see what I do…. Man I woulda saved them the time and gave them my itinerary! In addition that same tax return had WinBuild getting 115K. The owner of WinBuild is Bipin Shah who also used to work at NFRC and was one of the original architects of this commercial effort. 115k? seriously? So you have all of these volunteer task groups and people WHO KNOW the industry willing to help and you pay 115K to an ex-employee?

Add in the 200K spilt between the 2 law firms and man you have some serious cases out there…. My point is, maybe before thrusting an immature, possibly impossible program on the world, maybe those funds should be spent defraying some costs? Nah… why should they? As long as they can do whatever they want… they will.

NFRC is like the IRS- no competition. When an effort to get AAMA 507 to be approved as an equal in the codes came up, NFRC fought it like crazy. Why… “Because it will be confusing for the code official” and people could “game the system” without the trust of NFRC. Well that’s not true at all- the bottom line is they have a monopoly and they have a fledgling system that probably will fail. If they had competition, its failure would be guaranteed. So all the big guns came out and fought it and despite incredible efforts from many people, the NFRC’s push was too much. A very sad day indeed.

By the way, one other note on the Board…. Its funny, the NFRC tries to play off their “holier than though” set up. You know the whole “we’re a 501c3” and “looking out for the stakeholder” and so on. Yet, at one time one company controlled a handful a votes by having one person from said company on board, and then their lawyer holding a second spot and another spot held by an organization that received significant funding by said company. Now that arrangement has been put down, but still it was there… along with other great maneuvers like trying to sneak new people on the board when folks had to resign and so on.

I count a few people on the commercial side that are pro NFRC… I have no clue why they are, but they are. Some see it as a road to legitimacy because their products have terrible reputations in the market place and they believe an NFRC cert will miraculously help them. Some see it as a revenue stream. But they are truly the minority. Most though see the value in the whole system calc and most would work hard to develop the program to make it work- but not under the “our way is the highway” conditions of NFRC.

So here we are on the cusp on the now named CMA program (also known as the TITANIC) being enacted for 2009 in California. The software is supposedly ready but there’s still holes and costs and issues that are out there. The fact of the matter is if this program does not streamline, does not get seriously less expensive, does not get less complex, it will fail like the site built.

Folks I could go on and on…. But its been 5 pages already and if you made it this far- congrats. I write this so you can see some of my frustration and feel some of my passion. The worst part is no matter how hard we all work, our efforts will be minimized because this group somehow holds the keys. No matter how incredible to efforts of Greg Carney, Marg Webb and Tom Culp (to name 3) are, it does not matter. They all represent significant portions of the industry that will be affected. All have heard from a serious majority of their membership that they need to fight. (I believe Greg may have just 1 person that is FOR NFRC in its current form in the ENTIRE GANA organization!) Yet despite that, the DOE will do nothing to force NFRC to work with the consensus, and there’s no one else who can step in. So all we do is sit back and watch. There’s no reason to attend meetings anymore and quite frankly why should Greg, Marg and Tom even talk at the mic at the meetings. Their words are ignored. And even if NGA decides to actually attend a meeting, they’ll get to see in person that their opinion, like ours, does not matter one iota. No I think we should let them speed this nightmare ahead, allowing them to think that they know better (you know since they know our industry and products so well) and then watch it blow up all over the place.

I do hate that strategy because I don’t need anymore headaches then I already have. I love this industry. Been in it for 15+ years with roots from my great grandfather spurring back to 1898. I am friends with many and just get sick of the thought of the crap that they’ll and we’ll have to deal with because this group wanted to hit an “untapped market.”

Thanks for hearing me out. As I have said many times, this blog is therapy for me, and my therapists are the thousands of you who take the time to read it each week. And by the way, if you want a less conspiratorial, crazed opinion of NFRC and its effect on you then call Greg, Marg or Tom and they, with level head will surely give you the details.. with a lot less color I am sure.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The BEC Wrap and More

Another fantastic (in my opinion or “IMO” as the young people say) BEC is now in the books. The obvious highlight was US Olympic Hockey Captain Mike Eruzione. I knew I’d enjoy it, because I am a big time sports fan, but I was worried that maybe he would not connect with the rest of the crowd. Well as I usually am… I was very wrong… the guy was unreal! The message that Eruzione delivered was super, he was able to mix the classic story of the team’s success with the underlying tone of good solid business practices. Afterwards a throng of people lined up to get pictures with Eruzione and have items signed by him. Seemingly everyone had a story and a connection with him and he was as personable as can be, despite not feeling great and being pressed for time. The meeting was already going great at that point, but he truly was the ultimate finisher.

Other BEC thoughts…

-- The receptions on Sunday and Monday were the most well attended I have experienced. At times on Sunday night you could not get around the room without seeing someone you knew or wanted to know. The networking aspect there was simply off the charts.

-- Events like this are great because I get to see people I normally don’t run into. Whether it’s the Glass Pundit herself, Kris Vockler of ICD, old friend Mike Gainey of Azon, or the king of West Virginia Joe Staffileno of ACH, it’s a great chance to re-connect. Best part for me was the amount of people who mentioned that they read this blog. I truly appreciate that. Funny moment was when Stanley Yee of The Façade Group (and one of the excellent presenters during Monday) told me he reads this blog but “he doesn’t always agree with everything I say” I responded that I was thrilled he read and I sometimes don’t even agree with everything I say!!

-- Shep Hyken, who did a tremendous job kicking off the event, is really one of our countries under-rated speakers. The guy is so personable, and his ability to mix magic, humor and message should earn him at least a cable talk show… then again, TV would probably ruin him. Still if I had to pick one presenter to have at a sales meeting, it would be Shep.

-- Last a thanks to Rick Kalson and Dave White, lawyers from Thorp Reed, who presented once again this year. Good guys who truly wanted to educate and inform our crowd. We’ve had professionals in the past that mailed it in, but these two surely did not and in fact I was blown away that they took the questions and queries from their day 1 speech and worked on replies and answers for day 2. That is top notch and truly appreciated.

-- I’ll probably have more BEC thoughts, but for now I am pretty fried… plus I am already trying to think of movies and themes for next years Top 10 list…


-- The Architectural Billing Index went down… badly… in January… the real effect there is 9 to 12 months away… now I think we need to see how February hashes out before major concern comes in for the prospects in 2009. We know everyone is busy for 08… and jobs that are drawn in mid 08 will go in 09… the worry has to be the lenders getting more skittish and stopping work in its tracks. We’ll watch it…

-- As you may have seen on USGNN yesterday… the good guys lost again in efforts to give people a fair choice in realm of system ratings. Yes the NFRC led by residential manufacturers and special interests (who all get paid and sponsored by certain residential suppliers) were able to successfully oppose the opportunity that would allow AAMA 507 to be an option. I’ll possibly go into this more next post… but it’s amazing that once again the commercial industry WHICH IS SO DRAMATICALLY different than the residential industry can not get its voice successfully heard because the residential folks and special interests hold the cards. Obviously this issue will go on and on… and truthfully when the NFRC CMA sinks like the Titanic because of cost, complexity and leadtimes then maybe people will listen. By the way, Jessica Ferris of NFRC was at BEC and I was legitimately happy she attended. I think she saw a professional industry and people who are focused on taking care of their customers. (and not out to scam them) Also NFRC Board Member Kerry Haglund attended for the 2nd year in a row, and that too is greatly appreciated. Her appearance shows that she wants to learn what we do, and her input on items during our technical meetings were extremely beneficial. ((And yes when I say “learn what we do” I have many reasons for that, but still the fact that DOE asked NFRC to take Viracon up on the offer of a tour and Open House at their Minnesota facility 2 years ago and that request was ignored, proves that the NFRC BOD has no desire to see what we do. Because when they do, they’ll realize how bad their program really is- because we are PROFESSIONALS dealing with PROFESSIONALS… with contracts… and specifications… and not with John Q Homeowner about to be ripped off by some fly by night window company. But alas we can’t be trusted, even with so much oversight it would choke you.))

-- Enough of that… gives me a headache and quite frankly not worth it. Then again that’s why I am what I am.

-- Vegas note- congrats to Viracon for kicking butt on the CityCenter project. As an American who is pretty Anti Communist China, seeing great American product, next to horrible looking stuff from the far east makes me proud as hell.

-- Lightening the mood…. Baseball spring training is here… and once again this year I’ll be too busy to do my dream… someday… probably when I retire, I want to spend a few weeks in March going to all of the Spring Training sites in Florida But also the best part of Spring Training is that possibly this horrible winter is almost over! If I have to snow blow one more time, that will be too much.

-- The Hollywood writers strike is over but it went too long to have 24 show up in 2008… now 24 will return in January of 2009…. Man I miss Jack Bauer. Also I was impressed by how many people went to the Friday Night Lights petition site from this blog last week. Guess I am not alone in appreciation for a fantastic TV show.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More from the economy side

I got tons of e-mails and response to last week’s post on the economic condition of our industry. Probably the most interesting one was this one below that was left on the site. It really does hit the target pretty well:

I think you hit it right, the major curtain wall contractors are very busy. The projects in their line of sight are awarded bas
ed upon design intent and not full blown multiple bidding wars. The shortage in 2008 is not glass and metal, its capable glazing contractors and engineering. Old school general contractors will pay dearly for this as they have lost touch with the marketplace. Suppliers will be challenged to assist small contractors that have been pulled upstream to tackle these high $$ projects. It will be a very interesting 2008.
The smaller project market has plenty of capacity and thus lower margins everywhere. The hurdle for all of us is to kee
p our heads on straight and not bite on the "this is the last best project" and "I have to have this one" mentality.

BAM! It’s a great take that also plays off the angle of people leaving their home markets in search of work. And that’s whether you’re a glazier or fabricator. No matter what anyone says, the small project market or the “everyday” stuff is getting tighter. That will truly force people into scenarios that they are not comfortable or capable. I’ll be curious to see what the flavor on this is at BEC.


-- Ah BEC is just about here… and so is Glassweek. For folks that do not know, Glassweek is a tremendous technical event. Years ago it used to be the network event, but quite frankly that mantra has been passed to BEC. Glassweek now is where the work really gets done. The amazing technical brains of our industry are there and they all work to the betterment of what we do. It truly is a sight and all of us should be appreciative to the volunteers who spend countless hours on these efforts.

-- As for BEC, the numbers for this year are astounding. And the people expected to attend seriously look like the “Who’s who” of our industry. If you are missing this one, your missing a dandy. Obviously you’ll get full reports from USGlass editor Megan Headley and the USGNN crew as well as some possible blogs from me…

-- Hey anyone up for “Global Cooling?” After spending the first part of the week in miserable Michigan… I believe in it… and so does this article… which is now taking the opposite track of the whole Global Warming trend…. Can you imagine if we go to a reverse of the LEED program? Now that would be a fun one to spec for.

-- Baseball is right around the corner and this week, some interesting pieces on the new stadium for the New York Yankees were out. A good one with pics and detail is RIGHT HERE. And I gotta say I have a feeling the IG in that stadium is gonna look mighty fine…

-- Congrats to the gang at ACH… also known as Ford.. or Visteon Glass… according to THIS newspaper article, (and be sure to read the comments- wild stuff )the union accepted the contract which means, ACH will get sold and become a new stand alone company. The main hope here is that the people at ACH that are there now, will still be there when the new folks take over, since some of the industries finest people work there and losing them would be a disaster to the new company and would probably hurt our industry if they did not end up somewhere else within.

-- Do you watch Friday Night Lights on NBC? Chances are if you do, you love it. And if you enjoy it, then you probably have to fight to keep it on the air, since amazingly not many people watch the show. Man, great TV, and it goes basically un-noticed. Makes no sense… Anyway, the blog BEST WEEK EVER is trying to do their part with petitions and so on. So if you like, you may as well join in, you never know what could happen… CLICK HERE to sign on.

The video of the week is in honor of the keynote speaker at BEC… Mike Eruzione. Captain America scores the goal, the Miracle on Ice is made and man, you can NEVER get tired of seeing stuff like this. Can you imagine being there during this? Wow! Seriously, its 57 seconds of pure chills!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Which way is the wind blowing?

For months now I have hammered the notion that economy is shaky… in shambles… a mess… but is it really? Lately I am getting conflicting signals, hearing that people are swamped and backlogs for 08 are solid. In fact even on the USGNN message board, people have noted that they’re busy and all is well. So what is it? Good or Bad? My take is that it’s both and it depends on your mix, your market, and your strategy going forward. Obviously if you are in residential it is ugly… though even a handful of those guys are holding their own… but the majority are not. If you are just a laminated supplier, then your probably feeling pain since there’s more laminated capacity than there are orders. If you are a commercial player that deals in larger projects, you are one of the lucky ones.. whether its glazier or supplier, that business is still solid and points to be that way for a while. Bottom line though is all of the major economic factors are still trending downward… the nervousness of the Fed is not a good sign, and quite frankly we’re due for a downer sort of cycle.


-- How do you know times are tough? When glaziers and suppliers leave their home markets and go thousands of miles away to do jobs. Seeing that all over… and some of the glaziers are very good friends of mine and they are doing what needs to be done to keep busy… but I do worry that is a scary slope to be on. As for the supply side, it’s never easy to do work from far, far away… but lately lots of people are trying and good luck to them cause its an adventure….

-- I have to admit the Hannah Montana movie was actually good. Yes it really was. Disney is brilliant and that girl is extremely talented…. My goodness any street cred I had in this industry just disappeared with the above lines….

-- The ambulance chase continues as I hear more and more people being pressed by lawyers to file suit against the primary manufacturers. I got a copy of an e-mail making the rounds trying to bait folks into jumping into the fray. It really is amazing… I wonder if these ambulance chasers really realize that they folks in North America are not going to take this lying down… that they won’t get cash because they think this is just like Europe… And like I said last week it’s a huge waste of resources that will eventually costs us a lot more than people realize.

-- The New York Times is reporting that thanks to inflation the communist Chinese now have to increase prices of their export material… So could the days of people buying glass and aluminum for the lowest prices imaginable will be ending??? Not likely since most Chinese companies are desperate to get material here and will and HAVE given it away basically… so even if they raise prices 20% they’ll probably be 20% low still… the thing that will slow the tide is the quality issue… poor quality, bad service, and Nickel Sulfide (they have it in bunches compared to microscopic amounts in Western style floats) will be among the factors… and so will the fact that you have no legal rights or remedies when you buy from them… so as always.. Buyer beware…

-- Great Super Bowl and congrats to the Giants… Also props to the many folks who pulled off bets on the G-Men… a glazier I know in Vegas made a small fortune on the G-Men and I hope that he’ll be in a treating mood come BEC….

-- Speaking of BEC… just a few weeks away… and the anticipation is really over the top. Man what a great event that will be!

-- And speaking of GANA… please all… Take the time to do this survey for the Decorative division…. That division has great leadership and vision and they want to be the best possible group they can be. CLICK HERE for the survey… it won’t take a ton of time and you will be doing your part to help out.