Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Snow Filled and Bumpy

Winter is “officially” over according the calendar but I am pretty sure we still have a few more storms left… after all 2007-08 brought us the 6th worst winter… EVER…. Now combine that with a slowing economy and you have many people wringing their hands hoping for dry springs, and a boost of the economy… unfortunately… its not looking like that will happen. Gas prices keep going up (yep but let’s sue the primary manufacturers… where’s the ambulance chasers on the gas issue?) and most of the economic indicators are still not comforting. Worst is yet to come? The AIA Billings Index came in with its worst total since October of 2001…. And we all remember how depressing it was then. Guess we need to strap in, cause its going to be a bumpy ride.


-- The CRL-Somaca deal is done… now you wonder if the CRL people will go take a class in marketing 101. The way they handled the whole thing- including this bizarre statement (right here for your comic relief) still stuns me. I know they were probably mad that the deal was blown up, the day before it was announced, but c’mon guys.. get a grip.

-- Saw that Keystone Certifications is expanding their business… they announced a new Insulated Glass certification program. Yep, what a shock that is eh? Let’s see they worked with/for IGMA then broke off on their own. And they did it at virtually the same time NFRC began talk of having a need for IG cert…hmmmmm… and then you know all of the connections between the two… and yet no one ever sees anything wrong with this stuff? So it’s just a matter of time before the folks at NFRC try and minimize the incredible efforts of a legitimate group like IGMA so they can further the agenda of one of their own. And by the way, always remember that an NFRC board member must put the NFRC’s needs ahead of their own… so that works REALLY well when those needs intersect nicely. And by the way, why does this matter? Because the more NFRC controls without true independence (and choice- since NFRC loves the monopoly!) the more we all will pay… and yet no ambulance chasers are willing to take this one on…. I guess they have to wait for another suit to copycat after.

-- I wonder- anything new with the good ole Des Moines Library? Other than bringing the term “heat soak” back into vogue of course?

From the Links this week…

-- Yes even our passports are getting “outsourced” and this is a very disturbing article about it…

-- A 16 year old dies in Florida after breast augmentation surgery. The story is here.. the question is WHY? How in the world can it even get to the point where teenagers are having un-needed surgeries like that?

-- Would you pay money for the dirt from the Yankee Stadium infield? Evidently people actually will.... again.. I am in the wrong business.... I just hope they get that dirt certified by a group like the NFRC... (immediately the folks at Keystone are looking at this) seriously its an interesting article because I never understood the whole souvenir angle...

Last, I am thrilled that Duke is now done- yes I know I picked them, but again method to madness was simple- they go out I am happy… they win it all… I am happy. So now with the Sweet 16 left…. Did UCLA dodge the bullet and now they’ll run the table? Kansas looks good too… plus you have to like Texas playing in their home state the rest of the way…. But all that said- I am going with North Carolina… and that yell you just heard was from USGlass’ own Ellen Giard Rogers because the Tar Heels are her team and I just pretty much jinxed em… sorry E…

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Top 5 Industry Groups

So what industry groups really hold the power? Which trade groups are the ones that are truly there for their members? Which groups are in place to only further their agendas? Well below, we take a crack at the 2nd Annual Top 5 Industry Groups a.k.a. The Power Poll. The difference this year, is I am only doing groups that were created for our industry and not oversight (so no NFRC or IECC on this one- saving that for a different post) So without further adieu….

#5 AAMA- Stunned huh? Yes I know I have taken my share of pot shots over the years at this group, but at the end of the day, they do work for their membership. In their defense, they have a goofy path to navigate in regards to their relationship with NFRC, so its hard to blame them for everything there. Bottom line is AAMA does work very hard for the commercial industry and really a heads up, if you are a commercial player and you are a member of WDMA and not AAMA, you really need to do some soul searching. It’s a shame that the AAMA/WDMA deal did not happen because it would of rid us of a group (WDMA) that has absolutely no conscience when it comes to commercial buildings. Regardless, AAMA deserves to be on the list no matter what the circumstance. (And considering I am not really well like there, I am sure that they are just thrilled with my endorsement!)

#4 National Glass Association (NGA)- If the AAMA one didn’t floor ya… then this one probably will. I struggled with this quite a bit because I have always been on the “window sticker and trade show” bandwagon. I guess I put them here based on overall potential. They have power by name, they have an audience and outlet and if they ever decide to really go for it, they could be strong. We saw some sparkles of that with the intense letter from NGA to NFRC a few meetings ago, but it really needs to be more consistent. Some of the issues that the membership wants covered take time and energy and just don’t go away with one flip of the pen. (NFRC, China as two) Still I have a feeling that folks like Rod Van Buskirk will not sit idly by going forward, as a focus seemingly is on the horizon. So for now, based on pure potential to represent their members and industry, #4 it is.

#3 Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC)- I write about Dr Tom Culp all the time and as the face and personality leading the charge for AEC, they really have a great guy. His task is huge since there are really people out there… seriously… who believe you can do a skyscraper in New York City using Vinyl. Yep. And sadly, there’s a bunch of people who actually ignore all of the things wrong with that concept and promote it. So Tom has his work cut out. But between him and the staff at AEC, they truly do take their members interest to heart. I have seen them work compromises on issues that looked impossible to bridge, and that is not an easy gig in the world of the trade org.

#2 IGMA- I gained a ton of respect for this group and their leader Margaret Webb over the past year. A few years ago I thought IGMA missed the boat in trying to slow the NFRC Titanic, but in reality, that boat was steaming on by no matter what anyone did. In the meantime I got to see first hand the pure fire and focus that IGMA has for its membership. They want to do right by the industry and not create scenarios to make money for themselves or for some testing agency. Their agenda is strong throughout and they have movers and shakers from all of top companies in our industry involved. Plus their Canadian roots are important since on many issues the Canadian way has proven to be better than what we do in the USA.

#1- Glass Association of North America (GANA)- Yes I know it’s a homer pick, but even taking myself out of it, this organization, when you study the facts is clearly deserving of this spot. They are the only group that is able to bring the true technical focus over so many different segments of our industry. They get tremendous and talented volunteers to work on programs that are meant for education of our industry. They are as easy to access as you can get. They have a great website that is a treasure trove of info and tons of manuals that are simply a must for anyone in this business. Plus they boast the best tech guy in the industry in Greg Carney. Membership fees are not in the stratosphere, they are affordable and clearly drawn. If they have a downfall its probably in the fact they try to be everything for everyone- a noble cause but impossible. But still I believe they try and do everything they can to meet their members needs- and at the end of the day isn’t that the goal?

Conclusion: There are a lot of companies that actually belong to all 5 of the above because all bring unique values. The key really going forward in our weird and wacky world is who will keep the overall best interests of the industry at the forefront? Who will step up and educate? Who will position their memberships to have the resources they need to survive in both a goofy and world economy? That’s what you want when you join a group like the above. I mean the shows and meetings at nice locales are great, but your trade groups are there for the reasons above. Everything else is gravy.

Elsewhere this week….

-- Last week I said I was depressed on gas going to $4- evidently in some places it has already. Ugh. Gee how about this idea, instead of wasting time, money and resources on what will be a loser law suit in this industry, why don’t we go after the Oil industry? Not like BP and the gang aren’t making record profits….

-- Just asking…. Is this another example of more companies competing with their customers? Tuesday PGT Windows announced a joint venture with glazier ASI of Indianapolis. And yes while the linked article states that it’s for the curtainwall ability, the fact remains that ASI is an installer and most likely PGT will be looking to sell this new arrangement to installers. The question really is- How can another installer be comfortable with this? ….especially if it’s the style of job ASI is famous for?

-- On USGNN there was a note on Rex Glass celebrating their 50th year in business. Congrats guys! Good company and always well run… and very true that they are dedicated to their customers- and that is a huge reason why they have done so well and continue to do so.

-- It’s March Madness baby… and considering my basketball picks have been terrible (see note below) I am scared to death to make picks public… but what the heck… my final 4… UNC (because my friend “E” would kill me at the next meeting I see her at) Kansas, Texas (cause you have to love the great state of Texas!) and Duke. Then I have Duke beating Kansas in the final… why you ask? Because I hate Duke and that will be precisely the reason they win it all. And if they lose in the first round and all my brackets get destroyed, I’ll actually be happy.

-- I was in Vegas last week and it was slower than normal. Even with the World of Concrete Show happening. Recent articles out, including one in the Financial Times have said that it’s been a tough 1st quarter there. Well at least I can say with my horrid basketball picks that I did my part in trying to stimulate the Vegas economy. Yeesh. (A special assist to the gangs at Louisville and UConn for helping this process along by laying eggs)

-- The highlite for me was seeing legendary professional Video Poker player Johnny Bigbucks. Yes it was a thrill to watch this guy dominate a machine during a huge Video Poker Tournament- where Johnny was going after the $20,000 first prize. Man oh man, I wish I woulda played more Nintendo as a kid. Anyway, I left before the tourney completed so not sure if he won, but after seeing Mike Eruzione in Fenruary and now Johnny B in March, nothing in April can top that.

Video of the week... to get you pumped for the NCAA Tournament... "One Shining Moment" from the year 2000 when the Mighty Spartans of Michigan State took home the title... (Note that the Sparty is Johnny Bigbucks favorite team)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mistaken Identity and the Ambulance Chasers

The lawsuits are frivolous. Plain and simple. And now its somewhat personal, yet confusing since last week’s note of Perilstein Glass joining the suit… which followed with my (and my brother’s) e-mail box overflowing with curious questioners. To answer everyone- that is not us.. and its not our former company either. I believe it’s our cousins, but have not had any discussions for years with them and quite frankly did not realize they are in the industry anymore- oh well, you learn something new everyday. I know that some people believe that these are good- but I am telling you they are not and in the long run, our industry will hurt more all because a few lawyers chased this ambulance. Believe me, they are in for their money- a quick buck. And here’s hoping that primaries kick their behinds. Is everything rosy in this industry? No. But did we have happen here what happened in Europe? No way. And that’s the bottom line- these are just cut and paste adventures with some folks to front it- lawyers that hope to roll it into class action and maybe hit the jackpot. And this is exactly why lawyers get bad names- and good legal folks like Kim Mann and Rick Kalson stand out from their crowd.


-- USGNN is a very powerful…. And people read it…. And if you miss one word… one very important word on a press release… many will notice it…. At least I know there are people who have the same passions I do… except in other disciplines! And by the way… Heat Soaking is NOT a 100% option to eliminate breakage… but then again many of you knew that....

-- Stepping back the Heat Soak issue is an interesting one- that’s for sure. Jim Fairley started a thread over at the message boards on it and I can tell you that even though people may not comment in public, they are surely not shy in private. The debate will be how useful is it and will it be mainstream… and both of those questions do usually get people going.

-- Speaking of USGNN, normally every Thursday they link to this blog.. however last Thursday the link went to a new blog edited by USGlass Publisher Deb Levy…. The very coolly named “Deblog” made its debut with a fantastic piece on my favorite subject. If you missed it… click here.

-- I don’t have a ton to say on the NFRC meeting- I was not there and judging from the news reports, it does not look like a lot new happened. Congrats to Greg Carney and Marg Webb for taking a stand though and refusing to waste their valuable time making comments on ballots… especially since they have been usually ignored in the past. Bottom line is still the same.. unless NFRC has an epiphany and decides to try and create a cost effective, simple program, the CMA is still going down like the Titanic… Whoomp… Whoomp… Abandon Ship!
(The odds of NFRC and its profit gathering portion of the membership actually coming to their senses is about the same as the Pirates winning the World Series this year)

-- Gas is looking like it will be $4 this summer… man that is depressing…

From the links this week…

-- Yes even the Pope is into green… check this link out where the Vatican says “Recycle or else!”

-- But on the flip side… this article about a plane that flew from Chicago to London with 5 passengers! Man every flight I am on anymore I think I have to either sit on someone’s lap. 5 passengers? The Pope should have a fit over this and really, in all seriousness, how can they let this happen?

-- This link on the cost of groceries going up… and I am sure someone in that industry is making snide comments on that too… gee thrilled about that late July trip to the supermarket that will cost $50 in gas and then through the roof for Milk and butter…

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I'm not there because of the "Day Job"

This past weekend I had a bunch of e-mails asking me what my plans were for the NFRC meeting this week. Sadly, I had no plans since I was not attending. But obviously I’ll follow along via USGNN. Regardless it was nice that people who in the past could care less, actually now are tuned in and getting more curious. Will all of that make a difference? Probably not, but you do never know and quite frankly, like I have said before the proof will be in the pudding when the new programs come out and then swim or most likely sink….


-- I do wish I was at the meeting though so I could take part in the “homework assignment” that new NFRC chair Joe Hayden asked for. He asked for suggestions to make NFRC more successful. Um… wow… see how about this one… before imposing your will on an industry… maybe learn it and respect it? And while you’re at it, maybe you should sincerely try and create a system that truly adds value to the “stakeholder” and not profit to the NFRC elite… Damn… why did my day job have to interfere with my love of NFRC tormentation….

-- Yes.. “Tormentation”….. see what dealing with the NFRC does to someone?

-- Solutia emerged from bankruptcy this week…. And here’s hoping only good things for everyone involved there. Solutia has some of our industries best and brightest people and many of them had to do extra duty down the stretch to get the ducks in a row to emerge from the current situation. Now hopefully the can concentrate on the main stuff- selling and marketing material.

-- My friend Jim Fairley posted an interesting topic on the message boards about “Daylighting” and he also noted the lack of greening at the past BEC event. (More Vegas than the event itself) I agree- the level of waste in Vegas is still way beyond where it needs to be- then again IT IS a city of excess afterall. But it was comical to see a “renewable energy” show there and yet very little care or promotion on keeping it “green.” As for GANA, paper was limited by the sponsorship of the flash drives (a trend that is here for the long run) and more and more these conferences will have less and less paper… but then the next question is… what is worse… 700 laptops all running at the same time for 8 hours or 700 people with 25 pages of handouts? Hmmmmmmm

-- Is it the end of an era with CRL buying Somaca? Looks that way based on the USGNN news report from Tuesday. Consolidation's long arms reach in all segments and sectors....(Additional Note- I am amazed that CRL would defend something like this publicly one day before they dropped it on the workers... didn't they ever hear of "no comment"?)

From the links this week:

-- Communist China speeds up military growth… (click here) yep keep supporting them folks… and yes I know when or if war hits the things we use daily will also be affected, but I am talking industry only… of course…

-- VERY interesting article about the founder of the Weather Channel and his feeling that Global Warming is a FRAUD. And after shoveling for 99th time this winter, I’d love to see some more evidence of global warming… please…. (and yes I know one has nothing to do with another…) Anyway a good read…

-- How bout this headline: Builders Adjusting Business Plans to Survive 2008. Huh you don’t say…. Depressing but interesting article none the less.

-- Last, this column about building green (residentially) and variables involved… I liked that he noted that cities like Seattle have had their “own” programs… hell afterall that’s the city where they certify everything from glass to microwave popcorn!