Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A wild wild week

Wow, a wild week… Wall Street continues to drive everyone crazy, the residential meltdown continues, another primary glass manufacturer changes course, and my two “favorite” subjects in the world actually hook up. First up the bankruptcy of the parent company of Hurd Windows. The residential side is getting battered and for some folks, it’s not a sad thing. See the residential manufacturers held a major hold on the primary glass guys for years. The primaries gave in to the temptation and made sick deal, sometimes long term, even to the detriment of the rest of the industry. So now that the tide has turned, I think more than a few people are sitting back and enjoying the loss of power, even if it has a negative effect on their business.


-- The more you follow the whole Wall Street bailout stuff the more frustrated/upset/blown away you get. I am of the school that if the Govt bails these guys out, they better not be taking home 35 million dollar bonuses. And quite frankly some of those sick bonus checks should be looked at. What a mess. Still the whole thing is scary as heck… and they are talking “Depression” and that is wild… everytime that word comes up I think of the movie "Cinderella Man" and it just shakes me. Let’s just hope we get through this.

-- The offshoot of the credit crisis continues to be the postponement of projects. Backlogs are taking a hit all over thanks to this mess and until comfort returns it could be a very squeamish time.

-- You may have seen the PPG announcement and if taken the wrong way, you would assume they are taking significant capacity out of an already tight market. In reality they are closing auto glass tanks and will soon re-fire a couple of massive floats. So as long as we don’t have any more floods or hurricanes, we should not see a decrease in availability. That said, we are still in a shortage, especially on some products (Clear for sure), and that will continue to hang over us for a while.

-- What are my two “favorite” (sarcastic) things? Well most who know me would guess NFRC and China. Well how about this… the NFRC thanks to a grant from the US State Department will be doing work with China. Unreal. What work will they do? Well as their release cryptically explained the NFRC will work with three Chinese building energy organizations along with some American entities to develop a building certification program. TREMENDOUS! Let’s see you have failed miserably including and working with the industries in the States but you are ready to take on China. Plus I love that our tax dollars go to this… between the bailouts above and the wasted money that DOE and the State Department give out, it makes you nuts. Amazing… I wonder how many meetings a year the Chinese have? I wonder if anyone falls asleep during those meetings like they do here… I just think its comical and China and the NFRC are made for each other as neither listen to their constituents… As always I could go on and on but I won’t…

-- Oh except for one thing, the sign off of the NFRC release stated: “We make it easy to choose Green!” Um isn’t this greenwashing? Can I call the FTC? How exactly do they make it easier to choose “green?” Anyway you slice it, it’s obvious that this is their overpaid useless PR agency at work… “Hey guys, let’s promote that we are “green” that works for everybody!”

-- Just curious do you get bizarre chain e mails telling you if you do something that Microsoft or AOL or Applebees will give you money? I still do and it just makes me question my friends that actually may think this stuff is true. And when you see the chain of people, these e-mails are everywhere… oh by the way, copy and paste this blog and e-mail it to all your friends and you’ll get $20 from JC Penney.*

Off to the links…..

-- Vegas starting to feel the economic pain. A lot of people expected this to happen eventually, well it looks like it’s here.

-- What if the Presidential election ends in an Electoral College tie? This is a fantastic piece explaining how it could happen and what the nightmare scenarios are if it does… worth the read.

-- Do you hate the surcharge? Well guess what, even drug dealers are adding it on to their deals. Seriously.

Video of the week

Cool Movie alert… October 3rd, “Flash of Genius” comes out and looks to be very interesting… True Story too… the trailer is our video of the week…

* not true

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The after effects of Ike

No doubt a tough weekend in Texas and our thoughts are with everyone still battling to get back to some semblance of “normal.” Anyway if this storm proved anything it’s that there is no doubt that the need for Hurricane Impact systems is a must. I cannot imagine the Insurance companies sitting this battle out especially when you see the success of the product vs. a Hurricane of Ike’s strength. So the time is here… but even if they can get these coded, the next step will be to get the codes enforced… and since this is a safety issue it should take precedence. But sadly that is an area that has been lacking, like in South Carolina where some people turn the other cheek and don’t put the right material in and no one is holding them accountable. And of course this is yet another reason why I am not for the NFRC way of doing things. The NFRC will end up monopolizing time from code officials that need to be used on safety issues like this… not the un-necessary police action that they are attempting to get by.


-- Yes it is amazing that I can incorporate NFRC into almost anything huh?

-- Also on Ike… the remnants did damage everywhere it went including far away (from Texas) places like Columbus, Ohio and Pittsburgh. That was an epic storm.

-- Would’ve liked to have seen the networks grab a guy like Greg Carney and have him explain why if the JP Morgan Chase Building had hurricane systems in it that the glass would not be 3 feet deep all over the street. Then again if Greg goes on TV, he’ll become a star and leave us to work with Letterman and Leno…

-- The other disaster of the week was the stock market. When someone posted about Lehman Brothers on my blog last week, I don’t think I or anyone else realized that other shoe was in the process of falling. The market is scary, and the bail outs from the Feds are not the greatest medicine either. I am bothered by so much of this- these guys conducted business terribly- their greed got the best of them and in the end we all will be paying for this. Not only that, but as the poster noted, this does give the bad guys an angle. If United Airlines stock could drop like a rock based on a rumor, it is truly scary how fragile our markets really are. Basically we have to all hold on as this will really be a bumpy ride.

-- Hey maybe now some of these CEO’s won’t take 75 million dollar bonus checks eh? Insane.
The other effect of the banks and credit crisis is the fact it will hurt the deal making and acquisitions in our industry. Some companies may go under and some deals may not get done. It will be very interesting to see who becomes collateral damage thanks to this.

-- And while I am ranting- how is Oil priced at $92 per barrel but gas prices are still atrocious? Yes I know a major portion of our supply shutdown for Ike, but the Oil prices have been dropping for a while before that and the price going down was surely not matching the pace of when it went up… Seriously as frustrated as people may get on pricing on our industry, it really is a walk in the park compared to gas prices.

-- Hey does anyone know when the 24 hour all Sarah Palin network starts? This way instead of every channel running a special on her, all can go on one station.

Off to the LINKS…

-- Lindsay Lohan hates Sarah Palin. How come I have a feeling when the Obama folks see this they say to themselves “yeesh- we really don’t need your help!”
((UPDATE-9/17 Obama actually comes out and says "No Thanks! This is comical!)

-- A new poll shows a good amount of men love their Blackberry more than their wives. As for me… um… well you know I love my wife, but man without my little buddy… wow.. tough call… (Thankfully my wife does not read this blog!)

-- For those folks who fly all over like me.. the dread of charging for baggage is taking effect with overhead bin issues now. I think seriously the next move for the airlines is to charge for your carry-ons too. I mean it really is the next frontier if you ask me.

Video of the Week

Not the normally funny or happy video this week….
Not sure if you are following the tragic case of Caylee Anthony. She is the 3 year old girl who disappeared and many folks are pointing the finger at her mother. Anyway this story is tragic enough but then you see the circus out front of the Anthony house- it’s like a scene from Spinger. Very sad. A toddler is probably dead and man oh man people just go nutty.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Seriously I am not nuts.

Well am I crazy? Wait don’t answer that because I know the answer already. I am sitting on the plane returning from the GANA meeting from Dallas pondering that question as it regards to the glass shortage. I am convinced we are in one, but a prominent player in our industry stated publicly he didn’t see it that way. So am I nuts or are the instincts and info I have and know correct? At the GANA Fall Conference (more below by the way) keynote speaker Russ Huffer of Apogee stated that he believed there was sufficient capacity available. During the Q&A of his speech (which was excellent by the way) I asked him to clarify and he did. Basically at this point he doesn’t see what I see. So what is right and what is wrong? All I can say is my intel and research shows a significant tightening of supply with the shortage on docket. I talk to a lot of people and I can do the math too, and I just feel pretty strong that my opinion is right. But after Mr. Huffer’s speech, I was perplexed. Am I being scammed or played? Are people of all walks of life lying to me? Is this all Sarah Palin’s fault? What in the world is going on? All I can say is at the end of the day, I truly believe that I am right- all signs, details and evidence point to the shortage. This is not propaganda. But so help me, if I find I have been played… well look out… nothing is worse than a bitter blogger… heck ask the NFRC.


-- I was at the GANA Fall Conference for 2 days… another first class and excellent event. Once again great insights and education going on. Dialogues that were built to inform and protect the industry and of course top notch networking. With tightening budgets, the one expense that should NOT come out is attendance at these events- way too much value there.

-- The rest of Russ Huffer’s speech as I noted above was excellent and is available via podcast from GANA. He hit some very interesting points on coated glass usage, markets, imports and solar. The speech is about 30 minutes long and not a waste of time if you're interested.

-- Another item that came out of these meetings was the importance of getting involved in the code process since it will truly affect all of us. The best and easiest way you can have a voice and stay in the loop is to join the GICC- Glazing Industry Code Committee. It is an inexpensive and intelligent way to get up to speed and PROTECT your company. Seriously if you are not a member- go to this website and check out. It is truly worthwhile.

-- From the bad news side- condolences go out to the friends and family of Ed Coleman. Ed was an architectural guru for LOF for many many years and major player in the Southeast. While I did not know Mr. Coleman those that did spoke glowingly of him and he will obviously be missed.
-- From the good news side… Congratulations to the Surma family as Scott and wife Anj welcomed their newest addition on Monday night- baby boy Cooper. As far as I know everyone is doing well and I am very happy for the ever expanded Surma clan. Meanwhile, there is probably no truth to the rumor that little Cooper Surma already has a line of binky’s and diapers and has been setting contacts with all of the other babies in the nursery. Man if the son has the dad’s energy- look out.

-- By the way, check the comment left on last week’s post about the Lehman Brothers debacle. I will cover in more detail next week- but it’s a great “food for thought” comment and more proof that we are vulnerable in so many areas and in so many ways.

-- I am truly humbled when I meet people who have been reading the blog and mention it to me in person. I ran into one of them at the show- Michael Burriss of Cytec- nice meeting you and thanks again for reading. Of course I was also fortunate enough to run into one of my favorite people Stanley Yee as well there- along with so many other good folks who follow along with my “therapy” on line here. August by the way I had my best traffic of 08- not sure why- possibly the fun and frivolity of the NFRC meeting, but in any case- thank you

Off to the LINKS….

I had terrible internet access in Dallas for some reason, so I am way behind, but thanks to my good friend BGO- I have links to share. So thanks again Brigid!

-- Green is everywhere and now we have the Top 5 “Green” Cities… check em out here.

-- Can you believe a hockey game ended with a score of 82-0? Well one did… I am amazed, I mean after a while wouldn’t it just get old scoring like crazy? Shouldn’t there be a mercy rule?

Video of the Week:

And yet another kudo to BGO- you may have heard about all of the parachuting screw ups in College football recently… well captured on video is this classic from Cincinnati… big time ooops…

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Why its not propoganda and more

USGNN on Wednesday ran a piece on whether the contract glazier thought a glass shortage was happening and quite frankly the answers in there did not surprise me. I did not expect anyone to take it seriously, even though it should be taken as such. But the amazing thing is some of the comments that were made by one of the interviewed parties.

A breakdown of the quotes:

"Raw materials are becoming more expensive, not in less supply.

Really? How exactly do you know that? Are you tapped into the Soda Ash issue that is hampering the float guys right now? It’s an amazing comment. What do you know that we don’t?
“The construction market may be sluggish for a while, which will be good for keeping material costs down, but as the market picks up I see manufacturers charging more for product and using energy costs as a umbrella”

Using energy costs as an umbrella? You mean the fact diesel, natural and automobile gasoline are at insane levels right now- so that’s just an absorbable crutch? You mean in your everyday business you’re not paying more for energy?

"I believe that talk of a glass shortage is more propaganda by manufacturers than an actual problem we would face."

Most people think this way but it’s because they ignore the facts. Let’s review some of them shall we…

1. You have had major float plants down for repairs. Now when a float goes down for repairs it’s not down for 24 hours, its down for weeks and months. Floats are not exactly the simplest to operate. This is without the catastrophic shutdown at PPG’s plant in Texas damaged by the flood- that affects a tremendous amount of capacity.

2. AGC pulled a ton of capacity out of the market when they closed some facilities. The market is not as depressed as some people think (or are experiencing) so people are still buying glass at solid levels.

3. Solar. The need for the solar industry glass wise is huge. Solar projects literally eat glass. As that segment continues growth that too takes capacity away.

As I have noted here and in my upcoming column for USGlass, if I truly believed this was manufacturer BS, I would call it. Believe me; I have never been shy that way. (Ask any of the primaries that know me) At the end of the day, the reason that so many glaziers are not feeling the tightening effects are because the fabricators (and their stellar purchasing people- like the folks I am honored to work with) do amazing things to ensure their branches stay on top the products they need. Someday though, even their best efforts may not be able to get glass when everyone has been so accustomed to getting it.


-- One last comment on the above- so if you realize that raw materials are more expensive, then there should be no problem with price increases right? Somehow I bet there’s a litany of reasons ready for why those aren't necessary either.

-- Hey did you hear John McCain picked the Governor of Alaska as his running mate? Not sure if you heard that, media has been pretty quiet on that angle.

-- Exxon Mobil is running a commercial now touting its efforts in trying to create materials that will wean our need for gas/oil. How come I have hard time believing that is actually happening? It just comes off as a backroom deal of: “Guys let’s do a commercial that we’re working on clean energy advancements- that’ll make the public forget all the BS we hamper them with!”

-- Man I am in a bitter mood.

-- Thankfully Hurricane Gustav did not do the damage that it could of. But now we have 3 more hurricanes to watch and once again we have to keep our fingers crossed that these guys peter out or avoid doing the damage that they could.

-- On the Hurricane coverage side, is it me or does no one pay attention to Mississippi? I realize that New Orleans suffered incredibly with Katrina and it’s still vulnerable. But Mississippi was not spared then and is battling to get back themselves. So the next storm that heads to the Gulf, let’s keep the fine folks of Mississippi in mind.

To the Links…..

-- Is there such a thing as a “Monogamy” gene? Evidently there may be one… so people all over the world now can point to this as an excuse!

-- An elephant scored an 87 on a math exam. I wonder what he thinks of the glass shortage.

-- From my friend BGO… Sumo Wrestlers are in a drug scandal.. but not steroids…

Video of the week:

Don LaFontaine passed away this week. Who is Don LaFontaine? He was one of the most famous voice over guys ever. Known for being the voice of movie trailers and more, his recognizable voice will be missed. Here is a quick interview he gave and you can see the personality and hear the voice.