Monday, December 22, 2008

Look Back Look Ahead

Not the normal post with the holiday just ahead…

Hopefully 2009 will bring us better results than I think most are expecting. The reports are not favorable but you never know. 2009 will be a crucial year in the history of our industry as more consolidation will take place, new ownerships will step up and some will be leaving us all together. It really will be interesting to see whose models work the best and who is still battling one year from now. We’ll also get to see the beginnings of the end of the Titanic and maybe see some movement on the Buy American Act in hopes of keeping the communist Chinese at home. In the real world it will be interesting to see how many American car manufacturers are left and if they go what effect that will actually have. Not to mention having a new President as well! 2009 really will be a wild ride…


I want to be able to thank everyone who reads this blog and comments either in person, via e-mail, by phone or even on the message board. 2008 was an amazing year of growth and the format that we have here really works. I appreciate all the insight and discussion points that have come through and all of the support when I do things that can be detrimental to my health! Special thanks to the folks at USGlass who just link to this blog, but have no editorial push, but they do it because they feel its news and interesting to their readers. A weaker group would’ve cut me out a long long ago. Also thanks to everyone who sends in links- especially the now legendary “link chick” aka BGO- you are awesome. And top those people like Janet and Jennifer at Ryan Public Relations (the best PR firm around) for always mentioning that they’ve checked the latest post out- I really do appreciate and am honored that such high powered folks read this. Anyway to all of the above and to all of you out there.. here is to a happy holiday season and most importantly a HEALTHY and SUCCESSFUL 2009!

To the Links...

-- Only 1 link this week… as some of you know one of my all time favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life”- See I loved.. I mean seriously loved Donna Reed in that movie. Simply the perfect babe in my opinion. Anyway the New York Times had a pretty interesting take on my favorite movie and it basically makes you REALLY think about it. So if you are a fan of the movie, you should check out this link.

Video of the week…

-- And speaking of favorites I am big fan of Family Guy and this Christmas video is a classic… So sit back and enjoy…

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Will the new guy be better?

So we finally have a name for the new Secretary of Energy. President Elect Obama has nominated Steven Chu for the position. Now the next step will be if Mr. Chu chooses to make up his own mind and truly look at what is front of him or if he will take the word of the bureaucrats that are frozen in their tracks at DOE. If he decides to get some fresh and unbiased insight he will find some amazing products and developments. If he chooses to go down the path of previous then we’ll be all wasting our time since the current crop of DOE folks who deal with the commercial industry sadly have no clue on what is truly happening. So let’s hope that the whole “change” theme trickles down to the DOE too and the incoming Secretary can give a fresh perspective to an office and group that sorely needs it.


-- Last week’s post really brought out the people. One of the most popular posts I have ever had and easily the best commented on one. Man if all I had to do was prop Ron McCann I woulda done that 2 years ago! But seriously the post brought up several angles. Commercial vs Residential. Policing. Education. Who does what and where… I mean it opened up some serious angles and I would assume the fine folks at USGlass are probably already on it as the 15 comments alone probably would give them several very good and pertinent article ideas.
On education a late comment came in on Weds of this week saying we really don’t need it and gave some reasoning why. (and a rebuutal to that one late Weds night) The best point of the comment was that we are always trying to educate the architects but because of other factors messages just don’t get through. So that’s why in my opinion a strong and focused DOE could’ve been the difference. Instead of wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on a group like NFRC, the DOE could’ve been working to push the right products into place. As for a “policing” angle it would be better if not so many strings (read- extra dollars for interested parties) were attached. I look at it this way, if a cop had to go through the amount of hoops that a glazier would have to go through to use NFRC, no one would ever get arrested. Regardless great comments and they are always welcomed either there or on my e-mail.

-- The Republic saga continued with the filing of bankruptcy. At the same time it was reported that Echo Window started a 2nd shift. It’s amazing that Bank of America took a ton of heat here and more amazing that they did not fight back at all. Meanwhile the folks that used to work in Chicago are trying to organize where they can re-open the plant, and sadly there’s no way that will happen. Last on this I can’t wait to see the bankruptcy totals come out. Would love to see how much money they floated among certain people but most curious for me- the charge to the Bellagio.

-- Megan Headley had a great blog post previewing her Industry Forecast issue. One item she brought up was the cost of being “green” and if that could continue. It’s a great question and one that I think would be answered with a good solid “maybe”… Some areas of building will undoubtedly head that way- there’s too much push and focus to stop it. However I think the private commercial building that at one time wanted to “go all the way” will now ask its designers to hit more of the spirit of the rule instead of the whole magilah.

-- And your friendly reminder on Glassweek/BEC. It is the event of the year and I know budgets are tight but I believe this to be a "budget buster" as for the good of your business you will want to be there. Just way too much education, information and crucial networking to miss. Plus sign up now and I'll send you an 8 x 10 glossy of GANA Tech Legend Greg Carney... autographed. (Currently woth big $$ on EBay) Operators are standing by.

Off to the Links…

The Link Chick was on a roll this week.. as all of these are hers… thanks BGO!

-- China bans some food additives… you know like yummy stuff like Boric Acid.. yeesh.

-- And the China bashing continues (wow the Link Chick getting on the Anti China Train!) with this story on Chinese computers exploiting holes in Internet Explorer.

-- In case you heard the rumor… yes it is true, my brother Steve was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates. After all he has the same experience as these two guys they just signed off of a reality show. Wow it’s tough being a fan of the Battlin Buccos.
By the way my bro has a nasty curve and can throw the knuckler.

Video of the Week

Keeping on the sports theme-thanks to Larry Carlson for this one… the Gatorade HS football player of the year Garrett Gilbert. He actually comes from Larry’s high school and where its neat is he is the first ever player from Texas to win this award. That amazes me since Texas (along with Florida & California) are the kings of great HS players. Anyway check him out… next year he’ll be wearing the burnt orange of the Texas Longhorns.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Inc hits it on the head

Well a blogger (not me)from Inc. Magazine brought the heat to the real story on Republic. You can click HERE. The real heavy stuff is half way down after the banking babble.

And this amazing line from another news story:

During negotiations, Republic majority owner Richard Gillman initially demanded that he and other company executives receive money, participants said. Gillman wanted 8 weeks of his $225,000-per-year salary, plus additional money for payments on a Mercedes and Land Rover, Gutierrez said.


By the way the full weekly post is below with a ton of comments including an awesome one at the bottom. Great stuff all around.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Incredible Story

No doubt the Republic Window “Sit in” after its closing has become the “Story of the year” in our industry. The coverage of this story has been amazing and as of this morning a quick Google search of the story brought up a staggering 3,380 stories.
But to me there’s one part of the story not getting the coverage it deserves and that is the whole Echo Window angle. Echo is the company that members of the family that own Republic have and they just bought TRACO’s plant in Iowa. USGNN broke the story and several news organizations have mentioned it but no one has dared to step into the deeper meaning. Workers have been quoted saying they would come in and equipment would be gone from the floor. Where did that equipment go? Workers have been quoted saying they heard that they would be “moving”- what does that mean? Hmmmm. So much attention is being paid to Bank of America and their possible responsibility on this issue that the underlying issue here- the possibility of the plant being closed and the work moved somewhere else (Echo) is not being raised or at least covered.. enough.

As for the Bank of America angle, I’d love to debate how this is their fault? Yes they got a bailout and many angles of said bail out infuriate me (more on that below). But there really seems to be a lot more to this story than what is being said. It’s a “Sexy” news story right now… an old fashioned “sit in” complete with politicians (including ones now in deep trouble like the Gov of Illinois) and the holiday angle with the mean old big bank as the bad guy. (Heck you expect Mr Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life to make an appearance) Eventually this will hash out and I believe more info will come out and that will be very interesting.


-- Speaking of the bailout… where I get mad… CitiBank gets a bailout and is in deep trouble yet somehow can still pay the New York Mets 20 million a year for the naming rights to their new stadium. To me that is freakin disgusting. Or how about our friends at AIG getting millions in bonus money? WHY? My gosh some things make no sense.

-- I got this from Jim K in Texas- a LINK to the actual bailout form. This is probably it given the looseness that this program is showing. Pretty comical.

-- Slow. That is the word I am hearing a ton right now. Whether it’s the folks in our industry or outside of it- so many people are slower than they’d like. But the real interesting comment was how it happened. I’ve heard many different versions but basically the comment has been:
“Everything was going fine and the BAM it just stopped. I have never gone from busy to slow so fast”
Just got to ride the storm out but as been noted here before the herd will be getting thinner for sure.

-- Saw a blurb from Ron McCann of Viracon online that was spot on. He basically said that he’d love to see the industry work on trying to cut out the supply of non coated glass and push people to the solar control stuff. AMEN! Ron is one of the more talented folks that work our industry and his comments hopefully will get people talking again. That issue has been one that several people including myself and Paul Bieber have been yapping about. See while the DOE and Marc LaFrance sleep soundly at the wheel, the push should’ve been on promoting solar control instead of trying to empower a money hungry group like the NFRC to create a “Titanic” of an un-needed police action. Maybe if the DOE would include people like Ron in discussions instead of listening to the know-nothings that they currently listen to we’d have a good start.

Off to the LINKS!

-- Yet another surcharge… this one is a classic and one that I would never, ever have to pay… it’s a charge for leftover food!

-- I have always wanted to put ads on the inside of IG units… but never thought there was an audience. Anyway the Link Chick found this one where a teacher is putting ads on his tests!

Yep the poor White House is really struggling- they just sent out Chanukah invitations with Christmas wreaths and pictures all over it. Yikes.

Video of the Week

I am not a big fan of CNN’s Campbell Brown… but this commentary is pretty awesome. She rips the CEO of Merrill Lynch for asking for a bonus! Maybe she should take on CitiBank next.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

An idea to help California

Everyone needs a bailout these days and that seems to include the state of California. Basically according to published reports the state could be out of money by February. Well I have one area that Governor Schwarzenegger should look to cut to save money. How about the part of the California Energy Commission that does nothing except to try and promote unwieldy and costly programs that will drive business from the state? See the CEC has become a huge part of NFRC, but the question is why? Why does the State of California need to spend its now extremely valuable resources (cash) on a group that has to send a few members to 12 days of NFRC borefests per year- not including various board meetings and retreats. Shouldn’t this group be more interested in promoting alternative uses of building materials instead of trying to create ways to drown various industries with rules that make no sense? So when I look at California’s issues and then I see the amount of time and money that a group charged with “energy” spends on things like the “Titanic” I can only wonder how much more fat is looming in that budget. The good ole bailout- screw up, run wild, get fat and some one will save you.

Seriously if I was the Governor I would have my team look at every line item including this. What reason would the CEC have for being so involved in a “rating system” for fenestration? Shouldn’t they be more interested in creating systems that can help ease the energy load? Yes I am sure they have a code responsibility somewhere down the line- but I sincerely doubt the various code orgs need their help. Bottom line is this was a pet project for various members of the CEC- they got to travel the world and feel like big shots. They got to bail the NFRC out when they had run out of fake reasons on why they needed the CMA (remember the proven wrong excuse about the Congressional Mandate? That was a hoot! Or the classic- “its in the codes” Wrong again) The CEC by asking the NFRC to create this monstrosity gave a reason for this to continue and now looking back, you wonder how much money was probably frittered on an issue they had no right to involve themselves into.


-- And as always I must say I am not against full system calculations or a program that can develop them. I am against big money making efforts to cash in on such and also doing it as a monopoly like the NFRC is. Shameful.

-- From the good news side… the NGA and GANA came to an agreement to work together on the NGA’s MyGlassClass programs. This is groundbreaking as it brings together education and the critical mass of the industry. In a slowing economy one of the things that is important to remember is getting ahead via knowledge and now this angle will take that on. I am sure you will see and hear much more on this in the future, but for now I really believe it is a tremendous opportunity for NGA, GANA and the industry as a whole.

-- As some of you know, my 8 year old son is a huge professional wrestling fan. I think the dialogue though is going to his head as last night he tells me:
“Dad, you just talk business… I MEAN business!”
Yep look out 3rd graders here comes Triple Z. And wait til he grows up and takes on China and so on….

-- Speaking of China- how about this sign at a restaurant in Pittsburgh… very crude.. but people are passionate on this.. more than just me thats for sure... thanks to Scott for sending it!

-- I can not believe it’s December… simply insane how fast this year has gone. In fact I had to make my plans for the Builders Show in January- heck it will be here before you know it. This should be a VERY interesting one to experience.

-- Last week when I wrote about 3 more window companies shutting down, I got a bunch of e-mails asking me if it was this one or that one. I guess there’s a lot of people knocking on deaths door these days- which is depressing to a point. But I also believe the herd must be thinned. Then again let’s bail em out! Not.

-- And the problems with residential claimed another victim with PPG announcing they are closing up their PRC sealant division. It’s a tough one for me personally as the PRC sealants were all I have ever known and people like Chad Simkins (who is now at AGC I believe) were great people to work with.

On to the LINKS!

-- Can you believe that loopholes in New York are so big that the New York Daily News basically stole the Empire State Building? Yep they are… and they did it in 90 minutes!

-- From the link chick on how hard it is these days to buy 100% American. Folks I’ll be thrilled with 50% including all glazing…

-- Did you know there’s a genetic test to see if your kid is going to be a good athlete? The New York Times story here got a ton of play this week.

Video of the Week:

I was going to put up the Sean Avery video that got him suspended by the NHL but decided it would be too crude- even for me… (especially the sign above) if you want that, drop me a note or just go Google… anyway in its place, an amazing last minute College Basketball shot… I love these things!