Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A theory that works...

Ok time for some free advice…. And this would be thanks to a recent episode of The Office where the newly formed Michael Scott Paper Company learned a good lesson. Anyway, in some segments of our industry times are tough. There’s no disputing that. But it is the reaction to those times that is probably making it worse. Basically the key here is simple. You cannot sell yourself out of this malaise. You can lower prices all you want but that won’t help you survive or be in any position to thrive once the worm turns. Smart companies are making the hard decisions based on the fact the sales pie is smaller- instead of dropping numbers for volume they are taking other approaches like cost controls to stave off the effects. If you watched The Office (and that clip is NOT on line dang it) you will see Michael’s accountant explain to him that you can’t have sales without profits…. (he started a new company and undercut his old company everywhere to get business. Then his accountant had to point out to him he was not doing business smartly… ) Seriously it should be required viewing for everyone…


-- And remember this blog is ME talking…. Representing my views…

-- Once again the guys from DOE are in the news and once again they are making absolute fools of themselves. I swear that department needs fresh blood so badly it’s not even funny. Here’s the latest.
Quote from Richard Karney DOE:
He also added, "Marc [LaFrance from DOE] and I joke that on the commercial side we should just mandate low-E. The industry tap dances around that."

OK, let’s go to work here…. First off guys its 2009 and not 1990. In 1990, Low E was new and confusing and people had many issues with it. (that’s where he is probably getting his intel) In 2009 Low E is established and good. People understand how to run it. You have certified and preferred fabricator programs. It is legit. So that said, the industry would LOVE Low E being pushed- however the industry does not TRUST YOU. Why? Because neither of you listen to the industry! You listen to people like Garrett Stone (a lawyer) and the NFRC. If you would talk to some of the truly brilliant people in our industry who know Low E (Start with Don McCann at Viracon, Chris Dolan at Guardian, Ted Krantz at PPG, Joel Smith at Arch, Jay Phillips or Doug Zacharias at Oldcastle and I could go on and on and on…) you would understand it better. The fear actually is if you two knuckleheads would get your way, you’d probably hamhand the implementation of this by mandating that everyone must use a certain type of Cardinal Low E (wait did I just say that out loud) and leave all others behind. Or you would muck it up by adding some additional cost (and truly un-needed) program run by your pals at the NFRC.
I guarantee if you actually reached out to the right people and groups you COULD get this done. Instead you’ll keep making flippant remarks and doing nothing to really improve this issue. Put your money where your mouth is guys and I think you’ll be stunned. Come on and join us here in 2009….

-- Is everybody ready for LEED 2009? Does that mean that people will stop using LEED 1.0 now? On LEED, I read a blurb from an architect mad that a company he wanted to use because they were only 30 miles away had to send an expert from 900 miles away to deal with one of his problems… he felt that was a violation of LEED…. So much so that he wanted to throw the company out of the specs. My gosh some people are really bizarre eh?

-- Movie alert… the sequel to Wall Street is coming… complete with Michael Douglass back in the role of Gordon Gekko…. Wall Street was one of the best movies of the 80’s (for me at least) and I’ll be curious to see how they bring it back…. And if Charlie Sheen is in there somewhere too… and don’t forget one of the great lines in that flick… “Greed… for the lack of a better word is good…” ah man the whole movie- fantastic.. hope they don’t screw up its legacy with a bad sequel…

-- In San Fran at AIA… I just got back from the show “floor” though it’s not a floor- its 3 separate buildings! Ugh… I’ll have a post mortem on this debacle when it’s done. I never thought a show floor could be as bad as the San Antonio “kids table” debacle of 2 years ago… but it looks like it has been topped!

-- Last, I know some of you only check this blog out on Thursday and Friday- so a heads up that I had a post on Monday of this week… it concerns a Senator, a drama queen, and decisions that were made at 3AM… check it out below this post.

No links this week… sorry…

Video of the Week

Last week the NFL schedule for 2009 came out and there was a lot of controversy. Jimmy Kimmel has the details here…

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Inside the 30/30

Well folks through the last few years of doing this blog, there’s been some amazing issues covered and quite frankly this whole 30/30 debacle is at or near the top. Last week, interest was reignited in this sham when USGNN ran a piece about the sponsor of the legislation and with that more fury and anger raged. If you did not read the piece from Friday you need to… then come back to this spot because I am going to tear it up… here goes…

After reading the article the first reaction is “my gosh I hope that not every decision in DC is made with haste and no intelligence…”

And that all surrounds how this came to be… at the great working time of… 3AM….

Yes this decision was made and added at 3AM and with no background, no information and no clue. Senator Snowe and her staff should be ashamed of themselves but I am sure they have no time for shame because they are working too hard to pat themselves on the back…. So at 3AM it happened… if I am the person running against Snowe in 2010 one of my ads is about this issue..

Narrator: Voters of Maine… do you really want rash and incoherent decisions made about your state and country at 3AM?.... Well that’s how Olympia Snowe thinks…. She’d rather rush a line into legislation with no idea how it works or what it means, then get the facts…. In fact weeks after her legislation was rushed, there were still many questions that needed answered… Maine and the United States deserve a Senator that will take the time to make sure it all makes sense….

Seriously 3AM? And to make matters worse the Senator’s staff member threw the DOE under the bus stating that criteria needed from them was not published yet. Most of you know I have little to no respect for the DOE… It drives me nuts that a guy like Marc LaFrance allows himself to be mocked by the NFRC (they ignore his every last rant and laugh at him behind his back)and controlled blindly by people like Garrett Stone, but in this case I have to defend the agency. The DOE has worked for YEARS on Energy Star… they have worked with hundreds of people and gotten a program that people can understand… and in one ignorant and clueless swoop the work was shot. You cannot tell me that the moronic staff of the Senator could not of gotten with someone at DOE to make sure that a program like this has logic.

Again you wonder what other issue was at play here… who is in Snowe’s ear? And how dangerous can a person like Snowe be when an irresponsible line like this can just get added willy-nily? What’s to stop her from adding a line in a future legislation that says you can only buy material from companies whose names start with the letter C?

So we have a hasty decision made quickly with no logic. Brilliant.

Bottom line is I think the DOE had the info and the Senator chose to ignore based on advice from “someone” and then played up the excuse that the info did not exist.

Plus if you did not have info from DOE how do you come up with the numbers you did- 30/30… hmmmmmmm THERE IS NO DOUBT SOMEONE INFLUENCED THIS! Yet the people there were too busy sucking up instead of asking questions… We deserve full disclosure!

And yes that brings us to the other frustrating part of the article…. where the slobbering affection shown by the starstruck school boys from the NWDA… my gosh guys there’s 12 year old girls at a Jonas Brothers concert that show more restraint. Let’s review some of the quotes:

As soon as you came out with these numbers, the industry went to work,” said Darryl Huber of BF Rich, who also serves as the NWDA president.

NO WAY really? What a stunner… I thought the industry would stay asleep…. OF COURSE everyone had to go to work… the legislation was ignorant and uninformed. Most window guys had to rearrange how they do things and represent themselves. The others had to go get their materials tested. Dude, the industry did not have a choice. This is not something to be proud of.

Tom Channell of Chelsea Building Products, NWDA second vice president, added that his company has spent a quarter of a million dollars helping companies recertify their products to meet the 30/30 standards.

I am impressed 250K! Yep that is the stimulus at work… make sure you send Senator Snowe a commission. But seriously would love to know how that was spent… sounds like an off the top of my head BS number.

Another Channell quote: “We as a group are pleased this bill passed,” says Channell. “This revitalized a dying industry.”

DYING INDUSTRY… Drama queen alert…. Times are tough but not THAT tough… gee you went from dying to being able to supposedly drop 250k without a blink…. Amazing… thousands of window companies out there and this guy calls it a “dying industry”… a dying industry would be people who make VHS VCR’s… sell Chinese Drywall...

And with the NFRC adding people left and right, I somehow don’t think the industry is “dying”

“And it stimulated jobs,” Huber added.

Seriously… it stimulated jobs? Outside of the NFRC and the labs, can you tell me how many jobs this idiotic provision added? Funny I haven’t seen much on all of those laid off shifts returning…

OK enough of making fun of our little school boys on their fun field trip to DC… wonder if they went to the Monument while they were there!

Let’s now look at the comments from Snowe’s legislative assistant Patrick Woodcock… but be aware this may be some of the most clueless, yet arrogant stuff you have ever read…

The group then asked a variety of questions all relating to how the criteria will be enforced. Other questions include what happens to those consumers who purchased windows from January 1-February 17.
“No one should be able to answer that question,” said Woodcock. “Only the IRS can answer that.”

Wait you create this inane crap and you have no idea on how it will be enforced? What an unreal answer. I’ll you how, the people who bought windows between those dates are screwed… the same as the folks in Miami will be when the only way THEY can get a credit is putting in windows that make NO SENSE for their region.

And this:

“We were concerned with this proposal and we tried to improve it as best we can,” added Woodcock. ” … Tax credits do move companies to make more efficient products.”

Yes tax credits are great.. I thought we all made better products because the NFRC said we had too. Seriously I love how he takes credit for this stuff. You know what would make people make even more efficient products? A program that makes sense not only in your home state of Maine but in the rest of the US too… this country and its window needs are not one size fits all…

Thanks for your time Mr Woodcock, you slayed the tourists that sat at your feet, but the public is not impressed.

Also a quote from my favorites at Keystone Certifications:

“What concerns me the most is that there is no reference to a standard in the legislation,” added Jon Hill of Keystone Certifications.

Yep of course this would concern you…. You should’ve just said: “We already have a great gig with the NFRC, and this should make us a ton of cash too… c’mon by not making this crystal clear, this will cut into our profits!”

Yes that is a rich that the guy from the certification agency is bitching…. Shut up man, you’re making your money.

Last but not least the end of the article featured the DOE trying their best to tread water…

Earlier in the day, Richard Karney, program manager for the Department of Energy’s Energy Star program, spoke before NWDA members regarding Energy Star but also addressed the tax credits.
“It hit me as quickly as it hit you,” said Karney. “We received many inquiries asking, ‘Why can’t you fix it?’” He then joked, “Even I can’t fix it.’”
He said even DOE found out about it at the eleventh hour.
“We had no idea it was coming until 24 hours before it was passed.” He added that DOE was never consulted on the criteria.

Hmmmm.. what was it…. You found out 24 hours before it was passed eh? Interesting…. So in 24 hours you couldn’t or wouldn’t try and talk sense into this? Maybe these guys are just as bad as I think.

And the kicker:

He also brought up a point that many NWDA members asked as well.
“The tax credit doesn’t specify a particular rating. Is it center of glass, etc.”
He says the DOE is asking the IRS for clarification on this matter.

CLUELESS ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And yet another area where it shows this sham in all of its glory… hey lets come up with this legislation but let’s not have any clue what it means, how it works, how it will be measured, how it will be implemented or what effect it will have….

So there ya go… a Senator who obviously has someone whispering in her ear creates a stupid last minute legislation and at the end of the day the IRS will make the call on how it will all work….

Simply brilliant….

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What will the AIA show bring?

The annual AIA show is next week and it should be interesting on several levels. The first angle is… Will anyone show up? Basically I am hearing that people are not going and with travel being cut all over, I can see that being the case. It’s not just the architects who are staying home but many industry folks who would walk the show are staying back and booth staffing has been cut as well. Also interesting will be the attitude of the folks who DO attend. When do they see the malaise ending? Will it be 2010 like some think or will it be 2011 like many others are predicting? Last the other interesting angle will be what new products and wrinkles will be out. Healthy companies still do R&D during bad times, and so this should be interesting to see who is working for the future and who is just hanging on.


-- Last week’s post had a great comment attached- to save you from scrolling down here it is:

John Lewis was laid off from AAMA. The majority of AAMA's income comes from residential label sales, and we all know how that market is right now. Membership dues are also way down- people are choosing to forgo the meeting expenses and dues in order to keep people employed in their departments. All this translates into reduced income, and like any company they have to balance their books, so layoffs happen.
John is a good guy, but it really burns me up that his title is "New Business Development". NFRC is not in business, it is a pseudo-government agency. It shouldn't be looking for new areas to extract money out of. I swear, it seems just like an extortion racket ran by the mob. Unless you pay the NFRC their "protection" money, they break your legs and prevent you from doing business.

Great comment and thank you to the Anon who left it… his last paragraph was classic and again the whole “Restraint of Trade” angle comes up again. Obviously NFRC is all lawyered up so they have that angle covered, but it sure seems shaky. And its funny about the title, I wonder if the IRS has a “New Business” person.

-- Amazing how Earth Day and Green keep getting bigger and bigger… but don’t you get the feeling its going to backfire? In fact true energy and green people- folks that really live it- have told me of their disdain and dislike for the USGBC. In fact one guy told me I should stop wasting my life on NFRC and go after USGBC. I worry that angle will grow and the good of doing the right things will get lost in the BS and bureaucracy of our universe.

-- If you are not watching 24… shame… and if you are… can you believe the whole Tony Almeida storline? Holy heck….

-- By the way, everyone on the commercial side knows the blogs to visit- but Tara Taffera of sister publication DWM Magazine has a pretty cool blog focused more residentially and its worth a visit. It’s here. One thing she wrote on was the folks from the Iowa window plant that got screwed in the whole “Republic” disaster. Those folks in Iowa got hung out terribly and its tragic. My heart goes out to all of them… and while the BS that happened originally to the folks in Chicago was terrible… to me what happened in Red Oak was a lot worse.

-- Congrats to my friend E on her UNC Tarheels winning it all… great hoops tourney by the way…

Off to the links!

Link chick has gone underground… too busy working on high end cover stories for the magazine world… so these are from me…

-- An awesome article on 12 major brands that could go “bye bye” in the recession… some shockers here folks- worth the read.

-- Want to see where the job losses are in your area… this article lets you do it interactively! Wow, depression, internet style.

-- And this one was actually from the Link Chick but I thought of Arlene Stewart when I read it… it’s the “top 10 Greenwashers” out there right now… Arlene does an awesome presentation on “greenwashing” so somehow either her stuff will make it in there or their stuff will make it in her next piece…


This was a few weeks ago… a dunk that went upside down and to the floor… wow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Captain of the Titanic

Short post this week…. Those of you who know me, know why… anyway… a week can’t pass without a NFRC comment, especially when they make news like they did last week. NFRC announced the hiring of John Lewis to a new position to help push the CMA program along. Lewis used to be at AAMA and TRACO so he’s seen the battles and who knows he may have a tiny bit of logic in his head. But regardless this hiring has issues all over it.

First only the NFRC is hiring right now and it figures since thanks to the bogus 30/30 sham and the continuation of the Titanic (CMA) they expect to be rolling in the cash. Remember a lot my argument with NFRC centers around the money and from day 1, this has been an issue of money- don’t ever let anyone from the NFRC tell you different. It’s been documented over and over so I won’t go there again. Anyway the NFRC being a charity probably can’t “make” money (show big profits) so why not hire more people!! (and probably continue to pay consultants like Bipin Shah 6 figures and same for Potomac- plus I may be crazy but they've surely expanded staff quite a bit in the last year or two).

Second this continues to prove this program is a mess and in trouble- a hire like this should’ve went down years ago- with someone intelligent enough to want to understand both sides. Instead we got John Hogan pontificating at the podium at every meeting even though chances are he would not know a high performance piece of glass if it hit him in the face… and same for Marcia Falke and so on.

It’s funny they’d make this move now when it does not matter… John Lewis can reach out all he wants but what we will he really be able to do? Walk people through how they’ll be wasting their money? Show them the time that will be wasted? Explain to them that NFRC is a monopoly? Point out Marc LaFrance sound asleep in the corner? I think they’ll understand that quite well on their own thank you. I’ll be curious if Lewis makes any sort of real effort but in reality there’s nothing he can do this die has been cast- which makes the hiring even more puzzling really.

Last many people commented on why Lewis would leave AAMA for NFRC… that one was be a head scratcher for many but I am sure Lewis had his reasons.
On that note, someone who is intimate with the NFRC debacles sent me this video that sums up the move of John Lewis… classic! Hope you weren’t too hasty John!

A normal traditional post with links and more than just NFRC babble will return to this space next week!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tons of Stuff

Last week the World Trade Center issue dominated so I had to table several other big topics. Anyway today I hit on a bunch of things still percolating out there and as always they involve some serious frustration. The good thing is the amount of responses I am getting from people out in the industry who share my views. That gives me hope. Anyway let’s take a look at what’s happening…

On the 30/30…

The issue keeps coming up and confusion still abounds. Fact of the matter this shortsighted sham will eventually be adjusted. When a group like the WDMA that usually is against everything that “our” side is for, comes out and expresses its unhappiness, you know this thing is doomed. Here’s the bottom line… when Senator Snowe, or the radicals that helped hornswoggle her into this debacle can prove to me that the climate in Maine is the same year round that it is in Miami, I’ll be on board. That and the fact that years of consensus and work on Energy Star blown to bits is tragic. Funniest part is you go to the Energy Star website and they have to specifically call out that this sham would possibly NOT include all Energy Star windows… pretty pathetic… nice to see that our elected officials are so clueless that they’ll do anything someone tells them, without taking two seconds to properly vet. Also in typical fashion, the NFRC has done nothing to help the window companies adjust to this heinous rule, and have actually hurt these companies because they are now swamped. (Which makes me wonder why said companies cannot sue the NFRC for restraining trade)
Comically if this swamps the NFRC, I cannot wait to see how bad they perform when or if the CMA ever reaches the light of day.

The NFRC White Paper…

And speaking of my all time favorite group….The NFRC published a white paper and the main goal was trying to show that their CMA program has value! 3 pages of horsehockey littered with bullet points and numbering to try and make it look official. The only thing they were missing was graph charts. The classic and typical thing is they make it seem like their program is just there for the taking… you know FREE… when we all know it is not… they are trying to pull a fast one by ignoring the fact that this program will cost the end user significant money (and time)… Bottom line here is they are trying to promote a program that some will say “hey I’d love to use it” but without telling them the whole story… buyer beware. Also the other fact is by doing this paper, they know they are getting little to no traction or acceptance. And once people find out how much this will cost and how time it will take (no matter what they say) people will flee… ABANDON SHIP!!

Solar Farms on a desert makes sense right? Not so fast…

This one is the tops though… everybody and their mother is pushing for Solar these days and on one level a big key of solar success is being able to have the solar farms... and according to a few speeches I have heard if we use the land in the Southwestern portion of the US, we could generate TREMENDOUS amounts of renewable energy. Getting that land was going to be tough and now it was made tougher by none other than California (figures, good ole California!) Senator Dianne Feinstein. The Senator, who usually would promote this stuff, is against putting Solar and Wind in the Mojave Desert and is preparing legislation to stop progress and make that land a national monument!!! Yep leave it to California to have a barren desert as a national monument, maybe that’s where they can place the statues of Tony Rygg and Nelson Pena. So let’s see we’ll protect a land you can’t do anything on instead of using it to create energy… BRILLIANT!
Don’t believe me.. cause its hard to believe isn’t it… here’s the STORY.

So there ya go… frustrated yet? I am not done yet...

Congress… Do as we SAY not as we DO…..

Great story HERE from the LA Times on the fact that Congress has dropped its plans to go carbon neutral in all of its buildings. So let’s see… we’ll stuff all of this crap down your throat but we won’t do it ourselves. Why am I not surprised? These would be the same people who would probably ignore NFRC too (though that's a good decision)

DOE…. Scareeee….

Easily one of the most popular items that appeared in this space recently was the story of the DOE giving 170K to a group that only asked for 130. I heard from people all over… shock, dismay, comedy, frustration, and “it figures” were the type of reactions. But now the bigger thing to watch is how the DOE and the government start to give away money as it regards to “energy”… To me it’s going to be frightening actually. First off some companies get money without even trying because they have big names, then you have all of the sickening cronyism that has basically overtaken the DOE to the point where some folks at the DOE can’t have an original thought without checking with one or another group. So while the administration and the new blood at the top of the DOE push to work on our energy program, color me as one person extremely worried that the money will not go to good use. I hope I am wrong.

World Trade Center

Thank you to all of the posters and E-mailers last week.. good to see people have their passions on demand. As for communist China…. When will the industry that actually cares on this issue (most of us, except a few people that go for the money and pray everynight that it does not come back to haunt them) step up? Will it be through GANA or a gathering of like minded people, but eventually the playing field has to be leveled. Hopefully something will happen soon or do we wait until the Chinese glass story becomes like the drywall issue… because I believe it’s just a matter of time. As for the PPG portion, I stick by my comments and despite the semantic denials the fact remains that PPG licensed people in China to produce their products- you play with that fire….

Video of the week:

Chuck sent this awesome piece in after he read about my complaints of all of the “get out of bankruptcy” commercials on the radio… and man this would be the best program out there! Hillarious stuff... Thanks for the video Chuck!