Wednesday, July 30, 2008
There really is a bigger story in our industry this week then the issue I have been yammering about on my blog daily. The story is the fact we are at the start of a glass shortage and it is a problem that will grow and have a significant effect on our industry as the year goes on. There are several factors at play here that brought this on, and while for some the poor economy makes it seem very unlikely that we’re running short on glass, it apparently is true. Basically a combination of a planned decrease of float capacity, coupled with untimely repairs has been enough to start the handcuff process. Add in the explosive growth of solar products (which eats up glass like crazy) and you have the mix that is causing the problems. Some products are already on allocation and expect the problems and delays to worsen. What can you do? Communication is one major step. Having a great relationship with your suppliers is another. It’s amazing actually we are headed to this juncture, but it was due to happen eventually. Also keep in mind, that this will probably spur another price increase from the primary guys- my guess is September. End of day, it is what it is… but I believe this to be very real and to be taken very seriously.
-- Another classic industry name is being phased out with Oldcastle starting to minimize the Vistawall name. In fact when you go to www.vistawall.com the name Vistawall only appears once on the front page, and that’s in the announcement that Oldcastle bought them. I think things like that are expected, but Vistawall’s name brought a lot of prestige with the architectural community and I just found it surprising that its going away. So add Vistawall to Amarlite, Aldora, Extrudite, and the countless other classic aluminum manufacturing names that have went the way of the Dino.
-- Folks the GANA Fall Conference is coming up and its one to come to. From a technical side it’s a great opportunity to get up to speed on the issues that affect you and your business. Some serious talent attend and work to make sure your interests are protected. In addition it’s a tremendous networking event. For more info go to GANA’s website HERE. The dates are September 8 to 10 and its in the great state of Texas- with the meeting held conveniently at the DFW airport Wyndham. Seriously, it is worth the time.
-- Saw an ad this week in the new USGlass Magazine from a company called “Glassopolis”… I can say I have never heard of them- but I can say it was one of the better ads I have seen in a long time. Creative, eye catching and memorable… Good work to whoever did it.
-- Congrats to the Seattle Mariners for having peanut free sections planned for their games. People who don’t have food allergies or have kids with them (like I do) have no idea how wonderful this is. Believe me, every little thing helps and hopefully folks can survive without their peanuts for a game or two. Thanks to BGO for the heads up on this!
And again, I promised no mention of NFRC on this- so if you want that pure comic gold, see the other posts below (and the messages too!)
To the links… Vegas Construction Edition
Lots of building in Vegas- but the speed and need could be compromising safety. A few pieces this week on the safety issue on building these new casino hotels-
-- LA Times weighs in HERE
-- Wall Street Journal HERE.
Video of the week:
Thanks to Stu who sent this one in… ah the cellphone that can do EVERYTHING! I wonder if it can do NFRC certifications?
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
So If you are not about NFRC blather skip it and wait til tomorrow. (and the normal post will be NFRC free!)
Anyway... a few items...
Remember the NFRC is about policing our industry. While the software they have has merit and could have serious value, all of the other stuff that is attached to it (certifications, inspections and costs) are what the problem is and will always be.
The NFRC had success in working with a residential industry that needed it, but time and again their lack of knowledge of the commerical industry and blatant lack of care of the commercial industries opinions makes me and many, many others crazy.
There's a Q& A up with Jim Benney at Glass Magazine's website and its pretty interesting to read. (Click Here for Q&A) The questions were solid- the answers- not so much. It was obvious again that money and the profiteering is controlling this adventure. And even people who are just getting into this for the first time are seeing it. Its amazing... just follow the money...
Anyway on the Q& A a few thoughts...
Jim was asked what NFRC is doing to engage interest... he noted he spoke to the AIA and they'll do some marketing and work with people to incentivise them to be early adopters. He then complimented the "Visionaries" of TRACO and Arcadia... yep sure... visionaries... they are the only sheep out there that are anywhere near supporting this Titanic of an effort... Industry 6000... NFRC 2. I'll never understand how TRACO with the intelligence they have there buys into this... unless of course there's a revenue stream that they see happening... and in that case, how can they be the only ones? It just does not make sense.
Jim was unable to address the question of "policing" the industry. Of course we have all said its a great design tool- but still no one can truly say "WE NEED POLICING" Every architect I have talked to agrees with the software and design tool but is dead against extra certifications and steps. Thats why they have CONTRACTS. You know legal documents.
When asked about costs he danced by that stating its out there in some form or another- which it is, but not complete or confirmed... because Jim knows that will cause a whole nother adventure when the costs come through.
ATTENTION GLAZIERS- This is how Jim states you'll be paying:
The software will charge the manufacturer
to store data, (pay me!)
to use the software, (ka Ching)
for label certificates, (oh yeah!)
for program dispense, (mo money)
for lab fees (never forget to tip your labtender!)
and for IA [independent agency] fees. (can't let the IA's go hungry too!)
The IA fees will be set by the IAs.
Bold face and parentheses mine... Yep look at them thar fees... (looks like at least 6 different things to pay for!)$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Sickening... and for what?
And to further that, when Jim was asked about the pretty much guaranteed bottlenecks that will happen when this happens (IF it happens)...
"Simulation industry is ready and waiting for the business. We’re accrediting new simulators every six months. It’s a growing industry."
HUH YOU DON'T SAY! An industry is growing because of this completely un-needed program? And its the Simulation Industry too! hmmmmm
Oh but I guess Jim missed the note I had up yesterday that the simulators don't have much experience with Aluminum... oh yes this is going to be great!
Last Jim had to get some digs in about being a "consensus".... its amazing that people buy into this stuff... On one hand they are a 501c3 (take a drink) but ohhhh wait on the other they are "consensus" group and that's how "consesus" groups work.
Folks the only reason they are trying to play the "consensus" card is they know groups like AIA, ICC etc promote the importance of "consensus" decisions. Saying NFRC is a consesus group- especially on this issue is insane... though actually there is a consesus.. basically our entire industry with the exception of two "visionaries" are against this thing..... but even when votes go that way they are ignored and overturned... way to listen to the consensus guys!
Its a joke. I guess the highlite for me is that with all that is out there, the chances of this being the SS Titanic are still pretty good. The shame is the time, effort and resource that is wasted.
The next two days should be interesting... obviously they'll keep pushing their angles and we'll keep hammering away here.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Its basic PR stuff... but the funniest unintentional post was the re cap of the speech by Michael Collins. He sees the residential market crisis coming to an end...
On the same day the markets got killed as the International Monetary Fund said there is no end to the housing slump.
The story on the housing debacle can be found HERE.
USGNN is out and of course the story they have was never mentioned on the NFRC blog. Best line in the story and it truly sums this whole adventure up:
Thoman responded, "Our [NFRC] background in simulation doesn't really apply to aluminum products. Our experience is in simulating wood and vinyl products … and we have less date on the CMA products," he said.
And there ya have it... once again... yep lots of wood and vinyl on commercial jobs. Now granted this is just talk on the simulation side, which actually is a must, but still the admission is comical.
More to follow I am sure!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
-- First off was the message from current NFRC head Joe Hayden of Pella. In one of the most arrogant statements ever uttered by NFRC (which is saying something) Joe paraphrased from one of the most legendary speeches that this country has seen when he wrote:
“Ask not what NFRC can do for you, ask what you can do for the NFRC”
I want to hurl. My goodness, now the NFRC is as crucial as JFK? Amazing. Isn’t that offensive? I mean what’s next “I have a dream… NFRC everywhere” paraphrasing MLK? But beyond that, the piece was on being a good volunteer- which was the theme throughout. Towards the bottom, Joe stated that the volunteers within NFRC need to step up or the work that needs to be done, won’t be. And thanks to a provision that passed the board a year ago, people from the “Affected” industry shall bear the work to be done on their specific programs. (Meaning commercial industry on CMA) Well as an industry vet noted to me in an e-mail:
If he says that is the case, then who’s doing the “work” on the CMA for our industry? Hmm good question… surely not our industry since everytime we bring something up, offer ideas or even get things to votes (that we win big) it gets shot down or overturned by the Board. I haven’t seen a lot of input from the affected (no glazier, no architects etc.) industry, so this work should not have been able to be done.
That also could be a shot at people who refused to speak last meeting because quite frankly their thoughts were being ignored, so why bother?
-- Next up, Jim Benney announced a code of ethics for its MEMBERS! Amazing coming from a group that takes pride in its secrecy, works deals for Board Members and for years has skirted simple things like “transparency” now they want the members to be “ethical”… and for what reason per se? Talking to a blogger? Plus he mentioned 501c3- take a drink.
-- Oh and speaking of Blogs.. they announced in this newsletter that the NFRC will blog from the meeting in Chicago. Classic! So now it will be great to see how this is spun. A year ago, Marcia Falke and others measured their words in the meetings stating “what you say here could be on the internet tonight” and now their own org is doing it! Hey it’s about time they did it and plus its more material for all of us to get humor out of. Especially when you know they’ll leave out big parts. How do I know this? Well a few years ago in Atlanta we had a meeting.. the esteemed Deb Levy was there for USGlass. She wrote a story on it and so did NFRC’s overpaid PR agency. Both were at the same meeting and yet the stories were as different as night and day. Believe me this should be fun. Something tells me when Greg Carney, or Marg Webb or even with the gang from NGA attending make a speech, motion or point- that won’t end up on the blog… but you’ll get tons of John Hogan and Jeff Baker.
Oh there’s more, but I don’t want to kill the entire post… so maybe I’ll go with another post later in the week. Plus I know I’ll have e-mails to react to as well.
I wish I knew why a program that is destined to fail miserably gets me so worked up. I really do wish I knew.
-- Thanks to everyone who e-mailed wishes of a fun and relaxed vacay- it surely was my best vacation ever. Despite the worries going in- it really turned out great.
Disney really has all the angles covered… my favorite is the fact they have sponsors for virtually EVERYTHING there. All of the major rides have “Sponsors” and even the paper towels in the bathrooms are sponsored. That to me is incredible.. and brilliant.
-- My brother asked me if Disney was slower because of the economy and it really was not… but the kicker was the majority of attendees… and I mean a significant majority… were foreigners. In fact I believe the entire country of Brazil was empty last week because they were all at Disney.. in line ahead of me. Seriously, I have been to Disney several times, but this time really was heavy on the foreign contingent and that means that while Disney is not suffering, it does show that from a US standpoint, things are off.
-- Got an e-mail on the mailbag and the comment on the being as fat and happy as a Buddha which raises a great question…
Aren't most buddhist monks practically skeletons? I mean, they live a very simple life and don't gorge on anything, much less food. (And I know the book Siddhartha was fictional, but wasn't it based on the life of Buddha? In which case, the man was rail thin once he got his life together. After the whole, live to excess thing.) We have this notion that Buddha was fat and happy, but I wonder where that image originated.
Anyone know? If the Glass Pundit still reads this blog, I have a feeling she would know how this all came up…
-- Has anyone seen the commercials from Oklahoma bajillionaire T Boone Pickens on his plans to wean us off our addiction to oil? According his testimony in front of congress his idea is the following along with Windfarms and solar…
He has been touring the country with a plan to cut oil imports by switching the use of domestic natural gas from firing power plants to powering cars. He hopes the federal government and private investors will build a massive wind farm system in the middle of the country from Mexico to Canada to replace the natural gas that would be used for transport.
There are some 8 million vehicles in the world that run on natural gas, but only about 140,000 of them in the United States, said Pickens, adding that he owns a Honda car that runs on natural gas he taps from his home line.
And this from a guy who made his money in oil! Whether you like him or not, the goal to go to alternative sources really needs to be a major priority.
Off to the links…
-- How about this as a sign that you can live your life as a blogger… this guy gave up his MEDICAL practice to do the blog thing full time…
-- But on the flip side, this Mayor had a blog, then he started to rip people left and right and had to close it up… entertaining read… no political correctness course taken in this guys city!
-- They had to adjust the design of the outside of the New York Times building because too many people were climbing it! Incredible- I am sure that is the last thing the designers ever thought would happen!
-- Hey the head of Bank of America see’s 2009 as a better economic year! Wait, how in the world could we take his word for it… isn’t it the banks that helped get us in these messes?
Video of the Week
A funny quick one that was sent in by Larry… this could’ve been me if anyone allowed me near a truck as I have no clue of space and heights like this… good stuff…
Monday, July 14, 2008
Q I gotta ask, how do you have time to do all of this?
Some weeks are easier than others when it comes to cramming it in my days. Long plane trips are great though for getting this done. I also though did cut back to once a week, unless the news merits it- so that’s helped too. Last, I really can’t blow it off anymore, with the traffic I have been getting, I’d feel like I’m letting people down if I miss.
Q I’ve followed the NFRC stuff for the last few years and I am baffled. Does it really mean anything? No one has really ever clearly shown what it is, and why I should care. I get that you hate them, I just don’t get why I should.
Great comment and question and one that I went back and forth on with the writer. I’ll try to be brief here… does it mean anything? Sure it does- it’s a policing organization with no concept of commercial glass or aluminum barging its way into your lives. If they succeed, you’ll have more costs and more steps in doing an already difficult job. So you should care because it will affect your bottom line. Keep in mind though that the only thing going for you and us is their lack of knowledge, which should/could doom this whole adventure anyway.
Q You’re offbase on NFRC, your industry needs what they are offering and it doesn’t matter, its going to happen if you like it or not.
I get a few of these, and I have no issue with the other sides opinions. But the sentiment shown in the quote is part of the reason this will most likely fail… the whole “we’re gonna stuff this down your throat angle” tends to turn people radical.
Q I have yet to work with an architect (and I work with many) who grasp or understand what NFRC is attempting.
Oh c’mon seriously? I mean the NFRC paid a board member 60K to educate them! Once at a meeting the following line was uttered by an NFRC Board Member:
“If the architects don’t buy into this, we can shut the lights and go home”
Yep, lets conserve energy shall we and shut the lights. As I said then I say now… funny that the concern was the architects accepting, since no one cared if the industry would.
With that we’ll leave the NFRC alone for the rest of this post.
Q Will you watch the Olympics or will you boycott since its at your favorite place?
I’ll watch since I enjoy sports- I do hope that some of China’s disgusting ways do get exposed though. As for boycotts, our President should be boycotting the opening ceremonies… but then again he surely likes to do things his way… right or wrong.
Q What’s the next great glass product?
People ask me all the time on this and I really think that the triple stack revolution that PPG started will keep growing. High visible light with low solar heat gain. As for new styles, I think really the focus will be on PV, and Dynamic Glazing like what Sage offers.
Q Why do people ignore using the proper Low E’s in the proper regions?
A great question that deserves its own post and article actually and that is coming. This is a dirty little item that should be exposed too.
Q Do you get along with the other bloggers and columnists?
I feel like I do, though I think my style is different and so sometimes people believe there’s something there when there is not. I have a lot of respect for them for putting themselves out there. As for columnists, I can tell you that is very hard- coming up with fresh approaches every other month (for me) is tough. I can not imagine how guys like Lyle Hill do it month after month.
Q Still think the Dodgers will win the NL?
No I think not… and no way will I jinx the Cubs- done that in the past. Bizarre as it may seem, I like the Mets now. And that sound you hear is a huge Mets fan in New Berlin, Wisconsin cussing me out for jinxing his team.
Q Seriously who will buy the AFGD’s?
This was a part of a longer e mail… and at press time… I have no idea… I had heard many rumblings about a major player buying the whole kitten caboodle, but that keeps getting shot down… It’s probably going to head to the private side- though anything is possible at this point
Q You seriously liked the interview with Hathaway?
Yes I enjoyed the insight. Not everyday you can get that type of detail. Deb’s interviews never fail to come through. Its funny people thought I would be totally against it or hate based on the competitive landscape and that’s insane really. Good stuff is good, no matter the set up.
Q Do you still get e-mails from EFCO folks?
Not really. I used to get but as the deal settled in, they went a way. I’ll get a stray one here or there- but it’s not like it used to be. Still I’ll always be thankful to them for giving me a major heads up. That deal and the coverage here made this blog legit. It also forced, sadly, other deals to be done even more secretively, meaning my flow of info on deals really dried up. But we keep after it. In the end, I was happy that I was able to keep the EFCO folks in the loop and that was the biggest thing people commented to me about.
Q You’ve been quiet on AAMA lately- I thought you hated them?
Nah, just always wanted more. And really lately they’ve been doing all they can for their membership and the industry they serve. Shame it may have taken a bit longer than I woulda liked, but bottom line is they are doing the right things.
Q Are you going to do the industry superstar thing you did last year and if so will you take a nomination?
I am going to do it and I am always open to nominations… though I do have to know the person. Gonna be a tough one as the folks last year were and are so GOOD, it’s a challenge to prop people of the same abilities.
Q Lawyers! I can’t stand them either. It’s so nice that you just let them have it when you do. Though I think they are in the rights for going after the glass guys, I just am not a fan of the profession.
As I have said before outside of the legend that is Kim Mann and BEC speaker Rick Kalson, I am not a lawyer guy. As for the suits, believe what you want but the lawsuits filed against the glass manufacturers could not be more frivolous. Just blatantly sad. The shame is as I have written before is the resources that will be lost because of this whole charade- just tragic.
Q "China grows fat while embracing Western Lifestyle"?? I embrace ancient China--the "BUDDHA" was fat and happy!!
Classic- that's how I am living my life from here on out!
That’s it for this special “vacation” edition of From the Fabricator!
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Can rumor and speculation ruin a company? Can a company with 18 billion in reserve die within a week thanks to said rumors and speculation? Can a company with years in business and with every resource at its fingertips be destroyed in one simple interview? The answers are sadly yes and that’s why the stock market and being a public company is a taste I want no part of. For details on what I am talking about above you can click on this incredible article in Vanity Fair. It breaks it down based on the destruction at Bear Stearns. The article is 9 pages but well worth the time. Sometimes people wish to hit the big time and big money of being public- but after reading that article, there is no way I’d want to be anywhere near that action.
-- Speaking of the stock market, another angle of watching the “Street” in action was seeing the reaction to Apogee’s 1st Q results. The analysts expected one thing, the company missed it and BAM, the stock took a major hit. (Down 18% out of the gate) Everyone from Jim Cramer (of Mad Money fame) to the Motley Fools weighed in on what happened. It did not matter that the company did well performance wise, all that mattered was it missed its expectations.
By the way an interesting interview with Jim Cramer and the CEO of Apogee HERE.
I am still stunned that Apogee did not blame the fuel and energy more. Sure seems to me that would be an acceptable excuse. Then again what do I know, I have no stomach for this stuff.
-- Oh and note, fuel and energy are an issue- no matter how you slice it. It amazes me that people figure that they are covering their costs in the most volatile time we have every experienced. And that’s not a shot at Apogee but at everyone who sluffs this current scenario off.
-- One thing that bears watching in the coming times is the issue of “Greenwashing”- the FTC is getting involved and I think it will become an issue of people propping their materials for being “green” without he proper backing or understanding of the process involved. Its gotten way too easy to say “we’re green” and now the shoe is on its way to dropping. And no this is not to endorse a 3rd party style, NFRC like system- once again there’s checks and balances in play that will do the trick- without additional layers and un-necessary costs to burden everyone.
-- By the way, this blog is Green… ha ha ha. See using that term alone, just added another 10% in traffic! (This off of what I learned from the Times last week)
Off to the LINKS!!
-- As you may have heard Barack Obama is giving his acceptance speech at the Denver Bronco football stadium. What you may not know is the disaster behind the scenes of that convention. Great read here- and the best part of it is that the caterers can only supply food of certain colors! Seriously. Isn’t that food racism?
-- This billionaire says the
--My revenge on communist
-- The volatility of pricing for materials… is everywhere!
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Folks, the latest issue of USGlass is simply incredible. If you have not gotten it yet, wait til you dig in. The centerpiece is another tremendous interview by Deb Levy. In Deb’s past she’s interviewed all of the big hitters and this issue she added another one to her list in Oldcastle head Ted Hathaway. It was an interesting interview and while I am sure many of you expect me to take shots, I am not. Afterall the guy pretty much has the same “love” of
Oh and someday I fully expect a Deb Levy special edition of great interviews… like the ones she has done with Bill Davidson, Roger O’Shaughnessy, Leon Silverstein and so on.
-- In that same magazine was a guest piece by my pals from the NFRC that was simply mind blowing. First off, there’s a new drinking game in the industry- everytime the NFRC states they are a 501c3, you must drink. Believe me it’s their badge of honor and they use that line more than you can believe. Anyway… the highlite of the piece, which was the typical non speak that they put out, was this line.
OK… yep… this was after they noted that they are not like an AAMA or GANA- which are member driven orgs. But yet they want you to believe that they are “listening” to the consensuses- all the while making sure the board has the final decision to do whatever they want. You can’t have it both ways. And believe me this group has had MASSIVE consensus driven votes that were overturned at the board level… hmmm… consensus? Really? If they are a consensus based org, then call me Denzel Washington. What a freakin joke. By the way, the reason they try and promote the whole “consensus” thing is because they know that’s a hole in their MO. They have to appear to at least “appease” the masses, when in reality they’ve ignored the masses from day 1.
--One more note, that was sent into me by a loyal reader of this Blog…
I just noticed something new on the NFRC website (home page) and thought I would pass it along to you...
What Does the NFRC Label Mean?
Energy Ratings You NEED and Can TRUST
I wonder if their marketing guru's believe if you capitalize a whole word it will make the reader BELIEVE what they are reading!?!
I love it- other people see the stuff I see now. And yep this is what 300K a year to a PR agency gets you. So I think I should try their approach… The NFRC, where hard earned MONEY comes to US, for services that no one NEEDS, and no one ASKED for, and in the end NO ONE will USE!
-- Been getting a bunch of e mails asking me about rumors and details on AGC and their future. All I can say, is it’s been pretty quiet out there. I’ve had fun though reading and researching some of the rumors people are sending in- so keep em coming- you never know when one will stick… after all it was in that style that we broke the EFCO-Pella deal.
--This month on HBO Real Sports they did a piece on
VIDEO RENTAL OF THE WEEK….
“Maxed Out”… great name but not the reason its here… it was a documentary about our dependence on credit cards and how the credit card companies take big time advantage. Interesting on several levels and worth the watch.
FROM THE LINKS….
-- Super article here talking about the demise of the great state of
-- Get ready for a new way to get your milk! Brand new funky containers that can keep costs down. The best part of this article is how people are furious because they can’t figure out how to pour from the new containers!
--Something makes me think that the NFRC will pay 300K next year for this advice that’s listed here for free in the New York Times…. Its how you can get your products noticed by the use of words (and probably CAPITAL LETTERS!)
VERY COOL WEBSITE TO CHECKOUT…
From loyal blog reader Dave… a cool site.. it’s the Birthday Clock… and it’s one of the neater things to try out. Amaze the family with it… enter your birthday and watch all of the relevant and irrelevant stuff come up… Click HERE
VIDEO OF THE WEEK…
Thanks to Pete for this one… its now been proven to be a fake… (Though Pete has a world class softball player for a daughter- so I could see her pulling this off) but still very cool stuff…
A happy and healthy holiday weekend to everyone… celebrate and do it safe of course… and thanks to everyone who sent the above links in- it is appreciated!!