Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Taking it to a new level

When times get tougher it sometimes forces people to ratchet up the rhetoric. In our industry that rhetoric usually comes in advertisements. And usually the ads intimate differences between brand “a” and brand “b” but rarely do they go into full scale mudslinging specifics. But in the past few weeks that bridge was crossed when TRACO took on Peerless Window with an attack in a newsletter. It was amazing stuff seeing one company just blatantly calling another one out. Peerless answered the bell and returned fire, with class, in my opinion. Still when it gets down to taking a massive potshot like TRACO took, you wonder why they did it and what they expected to gain. Hey we all do it from time to time, but this was a blatant blast that really came off as sour grapes. And yes I admit I am biased. I like the folks from Peerless. And I don’t really care for the TRACO group, pretty much based on their blind love and affection for the disaster of the NFRC CMA program that they pretty much endorsed cluelessly (and pushed) from day 1. Still end of the day, this was a wild event and even crazier is I heard rumblings that something very similar to this is also going down on the primary glass manufacturer level. However I have not gotten anything on paper yet… when I do, I’ll pass along.

And yep I know people will say “wow that’s the pot calling the kettle” when it comes to me and what I do, but this attack was different because of the tone and tact it took. And I give Peerless credit for being classy in the face of this insanity.

EDIT/ADD: Because I am already being asked... Basically TRACO is saying that Peerless is making false claims about some of their products performances. This is actually right from the NFRC playbook... comical.


-- By the way… as a special re run…. Because some people “in the know” missed it. The fantastic article from Dr. Helen Sanders of Sage for the GANA Energy committee is HERE. Good stuff.

-- The good ole DOE was back in the news this week. Guess which department wasted tons of energy last year? Yep the Department of ENERGY! Classic “do as we SAY, not as we DO” angle. An audit released last week showed that the DOE lost 11.5 MILLION dollars in wasted energy costs last year. The New York Times wrote about it in more detail here. These guys kill me, maybe they should stop giving money to NFRC and anyone who asks (without justification or legit need) and start to clean up their own house some. Hypocrites of the highest regard.

-- By the way the White House announced that many cabinet secretaries made cost cutting measures to save 104 million next year. Missing from the list…. The DOE.

-- Big weekend coming up… 7-11 is coming out with WWE wresting related souvenir cups…. And my son being the insane fan, will probably be stalking the local 7-11 until he collects em all…

-- For those of you “24” fans out there, the plot for next year has been released. Evidently its Jack trying to stop an assassination. That’s an “old school” plot since that was season 1. I swear they could have Jack Bauer stock shelves at a supermarket and I’d watch.

-- Did you catch the story on USGNN on the ABC’s construction backlog report? I am pretty dense, most of you know that… but I could not for the life of me follow what that index is all about…. Anyway I am an ABI guy… Architectural Billings Index… and that’s been depressing too… maybe I shouldn’t read anything.

-- Last this week… what is a “Green” job? Evidently some controversy is popping up after Newsweek ran a piece (click here) that questioned if any “green” jobs have been created yet… Can you have such a thing as “green job-washing?”

Off to the LINKS…

Link Chick back at it with a vengeance this week…

-- People with the same First and Last names getting married…. Yes its true… what a wild cool rare thing.

-- An Earthquake moves New Zealand… seriously….

-- Very cool list... the top 100 things your kids may never know about. And I can tell you #83 happened to me once. I said to my son, “you wanna go to Kentucky Fried Chicken” and he said “ no way”… I was stunned because I knew he loved it. Well when we passed it, he said “Dad, why not KFC?” And I said “that’s what I offered” to which he replied “No you didn’t, you offered Kentucky Fried Chicken!”

Video of the Week:

A few weeks ago I posted one of those “literal” videos and just could not resist doing it again. This one is a classic Journey tune… and now made even better with this video!!! Just funny stuff….

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Something went right this week

This past week I experienced something that stunned me. In one city, a supplier skipped over the glaziers and quoted direct to a developer/GC. Initially no one wanted to make a fuss and so the supplier was going to be able to pull this off. But then something happened. Maybe because it’s slower than normal out there or maybe people just came to their senses. But the glazing community actually stepped up and pressured the supplier to walk from the job… and they did. Reason I am stunned is pretty much everyday people buy from their competition in one way or another. Yet no one seemed to care. Maybe that worm is turning.


-- Speaking of worms turning… months ago I predicted $4 a gallon gas. I am so thankful that I was/am wrong. Hate that the economy sucks and that’s part of the reason gas is low, but glad it is as there’s so much pressure on families these days as it is- $4 gas would be awful.

-- A tremendous and bold post by David Walker over at Glassblog (click here) on the Health care bill and its possible effects. No matter your party or your preference you need to check the post and really get familiar with this possible legislation, because it will be game changing.

-- I hate to always be so alarmist here, but there’s so much happening out there with repercussions to your business life, I have to. Another one is a transportation bill that is poking around Washington right now. This bill is basically a roadmap to figure out how to pay for the updates to our roads. And of course the way that will happen is probably taxes as well as new rules for over the road drivers and of course the “environmental” angle. And while we need to keep up on the repairs needed for the roads, something tells me this bill will be so much more and it will cost everyone a lot more in the future.

-- On my last blog Paul DeGray left me a comment that said I have been sounding down in the dumps lately. I am trying not to, but man there’s so many goofy things going on, it’s overwhelming me. But he’s right. Gotta work harder to get back to a lighter time. Thanks for the note Paul!

-- The story that USGNN linked to from Boston was a good read- but check out the comments. That’s where it gets interesting with all of the spontaneous breakage going on and how people dealt with it. I would love to know how much of that came from China… I am betting 85% of those comments.

-- A must read right here from one of my all time favorites, Dr. Helen Sanders of Sage. She does a nice job explaining some of the adventures our industry is facing. Especially note page 2, that page was brilliant.

-- Was asked why I don’t attend NFRC events but yet I still pick on them. And basically it was not worth the money and expense. We sent people for years but they were ignored and downplayed. Hell when you have lopsided votes (and some were very lopsided) but then the board just overturns it any way, what’s the point? Furthermore, aside from the juicy CMA stuff, those meetings were painfully boring. And those who go know that (and even have slept through it!)

-- Football training camps start like next week… and its already fall weather too! (well the fall weather part sucks.. but football season is awesome!)

To the LINKS…

-- Vanity Fair had this great read on the AIG situation… long piece but very interesting. The issues at AIG were not as simple as they appeared.

-- And keeping the “Wall Street” theme, the “link chick” checks in with a story on Goldman Sachs biting the hand that fed it.

-- Another thing from our past going bye bye… the big blue Mail Box….

Pictures of the week

You may have seen these already but this is a building in China… that fell over…. Yep keep ordering stuff from over there… it won’t fail ya… (like the tires or drywall too!) Seriously it looks fake but the entire building just fell over!!

Video of the Week

You may have heard that world class soccer player David Beckham is not too happy playing here in the States… well evidently the fans of his team aren’t happy either. This is amazing as just 2 years ago the guy was the “savior” of American soccer… and now…not so much.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

NFRC Day 2

Another quick post...

Rare good news from an NFRC meeting... a grant was given for a study by IGMA... amazing actually... I thought the only money went to board members and friends of board members.

It makes me think back.... I wonder how that 30 grand was used by Gary Curtis to educate the architects on CMA a few years ago.... Yep that was probably money well spent (SERIOUS SARCASM)...especially since no one still knows or understands the Titanic outside of us few people who pay attention to this stuff.

Gary is listed to be at this meeting, if you are there you should ask him how those meetings went!

Regardless, nice that a good organization like IGMA at least gets some love.

But all in all you add the money this group spends on people like Potomac (who seemingly add nothing) and now a high powered marketer (because they have to beg people to use their program) and its pretty amazing that they get away with it. That money could be used to work better with their "Consensus" to defray costs (and don't give me the BS grandfather clauses and 33% discounts- thats petty) and help launch programs. But instead they'd rather spend money to stick it down people's throats....

It's sad.. but sadder yet is if this program hits, it will catch people so off guard and the problems it will bring will be unreal. No doubt good people will get burned. But don't worry the test labs and the consultants (like Gary) will be just fine.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pure Bunk

Quick post... from the NFRC meeting and some of their new "Core Values" released today:

"Consensus driven process- Varied interests working together crafting a balanced approach to our work."

What crap. Votes that go 42-6 and the get overturned by the board is NOT CONSENSUS. This group is unreal.

By the way they did promote everywhere they could that they had a record number of attendees... but its funny, I wonder how many are staff members since they have at least 15 of those now.. (Great that all of us get to pay for that too... NFRC may be the only business in this economy that is actually growing!) how many are board members... how many from Hunter Douglas came to see their guy speak... and how many new labs/consultants showed up for the gravy train to come...

There's more to write on, but we'll save til tomorrow... I just want to let it sink in that these people love to push things that aren't there... and I can tell you any sort of "Consensus" has never been there... unless you include all the people that will make a huge windfall from this upcoming epic disaster...

More later...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rising from the ASHRAE

A wild week it’s been. Two major issues are floating out there, one that is misrepresenting people’s views and another that could have a terrible effect on our industry. Let’s start with the maneuver at play that could hurt all of us and that’s the move the reduce glass (window areas) by 10% in the next round of ASHRAE codes. Now some people don’t pay any mind on what goes on in these various code groups, and unfortunately because of that, folks that are very unfriendly to our industry are taking our lunches and running away with them. 10% may not seem like a lot to you, but in reality losing that available area is very bad. And I must admit I was one of the people who was missing this ongoing effort until a wise man pointed it out to me. So once again our industry is under attack, will we do anything about it? Or will we just complain about things like the surcharge and just take it because it has no monetary effect right at this second?
And I must note again for the millionth time… our industry is never ever against energy efficiency. What we rail against (for those of people at the DOE who just can’t get it through your thick skulls) is the crap that always gets attached to it. The unnecessary policing, the money grabs, the lack of intelligence or education on how things get done. That’s where we have the issues, but of course it’s always spun as “the glass industry doesn’t want energy efficiency.” Anyway this ASHRAE thing deserves your attention and will be getting mine as we dig into it more.


-- Last week a website featuring many glass industry related companies came to light… the site sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund was showing companies that support “green jobs” but when you dug into it and got more detail you found that the site was being used to show support for the Cap and Trade bill and the whole Carbon adventure. People were being mislead at every level because if your name was on the site you were “supporting” the current Cap & Trade effort. (One example- Congresspeople were being told these companies supported Cap & Trade because they were on the list) AAMA immediately addressed it to its membership and the folks at GANA I know were aware and addressing it via their energy division. Anyway, here’s the site. The key is the site tries to come off as innocent but in reality it’s far from it.

-- The NFRC had a webinar on Wednesday that was pretty interesting. Some basic notes because I know most of the audience has moved on from the NFRC adventure… but I still have to pound away…

-- The DOE will be throwing more money at NFRC… like they actually need it… so this program can go. Funny if the DOE would push the money towards the manufacturers and the people truly affected by the implementation of this boondoggle it would have more potential. But why should they do anything logical?

-- The poor folks in California… especially the glaziers are screwed. They will pay for the sins of terrible code enforcement and blatant cronyism. Gotta be tough enough to do business now in that state how it is and come January 1st its going to get a lot worse.

-- Custom curtainwalls will really suffer under this program and be prepared to spend money and time because both are keys to everything that will happen. Not to mention duplication of efforts to ensure the Keystone Certifications of the world can have an easy living.

-- NFRC has a marketing company out promoting this to code officials and energy providers hoping they’ll push this stuff. Chances are the code guys will love it, it gives them something new to do. Glad the NFRC can spend cash on the marketing company too… that’s why they need money from DOE I guess…

-- The marketing company said the key of this program is it will “show the value of high performance glass” Yep… that’s it… and really it was all a part of the message that you could never trust the performance values you got from the manufacturers. That’s been it from day 1. And that’s a travesty.

-- Last on this, NFRC listed the 675th and 676th reasons we are getting this nightmare. (Remember #1 was the Marv Stover famous “congressional mandate” that did not exist) Yes John Lewis said that this program is needed because it’s good for comparison of products and differentiation of products. Comical.
I could go on and on… but I won’t. I will say John Lewis does have a tremendous radio voice though, so if the NFRC stuff does not pan out, he could easily be a talk show host.

-- Last quick note on Cap and Trade… Window and Door magazine did a poll last week on people’s attitude towards it and 81% said it was bad for the country. Nice to see 81% of the industry has a clue. Just wonder what some of the other folks are thinking…

To the Links…

-- And while we are feeling sorry for California, here’s one… the people who invested in Solar may be about to lose their subsidies…

-- An inmate throws a Bar Mitzvah for his son… behind bars… oh his mother must be so proud.

-- Good story about a good man… after 9 heart surgeries a man spreads his love of music to kids. NINE heart surgeries… my goodness, the line after that could be anything and it would still be a good story.

Video of the WEEK…

The “Link Chick” turns into the “Video of the Week” chick with this submission… very cool bat swinger… I would hurt myself badly…

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Digging in to Cap and Trade

Last week I wrote in the Cap & Trade bill that was pushed through congress and for those of you who read it you’ll know I came out significantly against. Anyway over this past weekend, I decided to throw myself into this whole debate (and probably did more studying than the people in Washington who never even read it!) and get all sides of the story. Needless to say it was pretty fascinating. Its funny how one bill could illicit so many opinions and so many of them starkly different… I also consulted with people that I really respect to get their take on it. Anyway here’s a quick synopsis of what I found as I went from every far right website to every far left one…
Overall the funniest part was that the people who were against this bill hated virtually everything about it. But the people who were FOR this bill ALSO hated a lot of it as they thought the bill did not go far enough… So in normal cases you would think if the hard right hates and the hate left hates it then it should be perfect right? But this is not the normal case…. And the reason why is that to get the votes they needed to pass, certain industries and regions were given perks- the biggest among it the farm lobby. So that had both sides up in arms. So you had a watered down bill (for the left) that was still awful (for the right). Same thing from the coal lobby as well… (Basically the not selling of carbon permits at auction is the thing that has both sides a mess since folks like the big utilities and big oil will somehow get these for free… and WE ALL will have to pay for them)
As for our industry, while it pushes more energy efficiency, which is a good thing, it calls for a creation of a national energy code that depending on how that is put together could make the NFRC folly look like a walk in the park. Especially if you have people like Marc LaFrance of the DOE involved… and to make things worse, some of these codes will basically limit the usage of glass (which if you are reading this blog, is your life) so that’s a very scary proposition.
This does not include what the bill will do to the domestic float guys as I covered last week. But there was an interesting angle where the bill called for a tariff on countries that don’t follow a climate plan (China). However the tariff will not be a deterrent because China will have a field day shipping glass and solar panels. Especially since that will be one of the few places to get the material…
All in all, the debate was wild- from the folks at Mother Nature Network to the people at the National Review it really was a battle of wills. I guess it depends on what you think is more important in life. But at the end of the day the thing I found the most interesting was that it really turned into a bill (those of us who read it) no one actually likes. Right or Left.
The Senate has their take now and of course the rancor has begun. While I believe with a 60 person majority (not to mention awful GOP Senators like Olympia Snowe) this thing will pass, but many people I discussed with think it will see dramatic changes before that may happen. So I guess we shall see…


-- In my research I came across this line in a Forbes Magazine article…
But the fundamental problem remains. California's economy--once wondrously diverse with aerospace, high-tech, agriculture and international trade--has run aground. Burdened by taxes and ever-growing regulation, (emphasis mine)the state is routinely rated by executives as having among the worst business climates in the nation. No surprise, then, that California's jobs engine has sputtered, and it may be heading toward 15% unemployment.
So there ya go… California is a mess because of regulation and who helped drive the nightmare regulation of the NFRC….hmmmmmm Get ready for Cali style regulation… what a pathetic waste of our resources for a totally unnecessary program….

-- Saw Kawneer is starting a company info blog. I must say it’s a tremendous idea-a great way to get info out and especially if the green legend Henry Taylor posts. But since it’s a blog I wonder if I can post there?????

-- Last… here’s what I don’t get…. The Alliance to Save Energy is this big powerful special interest group… they appear in front of code orgs and do their thing. Well recently the Alliance “founded” another group called the Building Energy Efficient Codes Network (BEECN)… So now they’ll come at it from another angle too. See this is where we miss it- these guys start all of these groups and we actually try and focus our energies on our various mainline groups… So I think AEC, GANA, NGA, IGMA and AAMA should start a couple of new groups too- so then this way that’s more people to send to the microphone at these hearings because they are all from different orgs…. And yes I know this is pretty common but the Aliance gets basically carte blanch so starting another group just will probably make life even more insufferable…

Off to the links…

-- Your wasted tax dollars at work… the government gives 465 MILLION to a car company to “re-tool” for electric and Hybrid cars… oh that company that got 465 MILLION is an ELECTRIC car company… so they need to “re-tool” why?

-- On the Cap and Trade… here’s an interesting and basically biased read from the right. However as a tax payer you should be furious…. No matter what your party..

-- And from the Link Chick… a woman who tries plastic surgery on her face… yikes.

Video of the Week:

My old roommate Brad comes through again… cool concept here… take a video and actually sing what is happening in the video… this is the class “Aha” video “Take on Me” from back in the 80’s… good stuff.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Famous Deaths and Cap & Trade

What a wild week it has been… a huge part of the 70’s and 80’s culture dies all within a few days, and the Cap and Trade disaster makes it past the congress. And amazingly they are both linked. Thanks to Michael Jackson passing, the media spent a ton of time on him and very little on the Cap and Trade bill that could dramatically affect our industry. This bill will hamstring the float glass industry and the trickledown effect will be severe. If you care one iota about this business you will educate yourself on this issue or you will contact GANA to get the details and then get with your Senators to fight before this thing becomes law. And because of the supermajority in the Senate, there’s no doubt that most of this bill will make it through. Like me or hate me (and I know most of you hate me- at least the loser anonymous ones) please at least take my call on this one. As bad as the NFRC is, as much as you probably “hate” the surcharge, those things will pale in comparison to this.

Basically here’s the deal… this bill will make it very expensive for the domestic operators to do their thing. Which means we get more imports… And even though many of you love the imports, keep in mind two things. One they will sell direct. They are doing it now and will do it more in the future. (But for some reason people don’t care about the whole selling direct gig. It’s baffling to me) Two… have fun going back on them when you have an issue. On top of that the energy portions of this bill could push glass and glass usage out the door. Since glass is our life, we kinda need to have it everywhere. Again that’s the basic info, if you want true education, go to GANA and they will explain it professionally.


-- Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon (the entertainer, not the cool metal guy from Texas) and Billy Mays all pass away within a week. Unreal… By the way Farrah easily one of my first loves…

-- One major thing everyone should do while times are tougher is to try and stay ahead of the competition. A good way is education. I prop and pimp stuff all the time here and I have a good one today. The Glass Management Institute (GMI) is a terrific way to learn and get ahead. Click here for the website. Seriously check it out and yes, I am involved in it, so that’s a reason to talk about it here, but the other instructors are very, very strong and worthwhile. (and much better than me, that’s for sure!)I am huge fan of guys like Rod Van Buskirk and Jeff Haber as they are truly top notch industry guys. I can also tell you the people who took the class last year really benefited from it, so it really is worth it. So this is a chance to get ahead of the game, get ahead of the competition and educate yourself, your co workers and your employees.

-- Last Friday I got to talk to the one and only Greg Carney. Simply awesome to hear his voice and thrilled that day by day he is getting stronger. The GANA Fall conference will be great for many reasons but will be even better by being able to see Greg in person!

-- Saw last Thursday that the bogus anti-trust lawsuit was progressing. If there is justice this suit will go the way of the manufacturers. Believe me if I thought they were even close to guilty I would say it. But they are not. And knowing how this thing was “manufactured” by ambulance chasing lawyers, it just makes me sick that it’s progressed even this far.

-- By the way I see Karl Malden died today too… wow what a run of famous people passing.

Off to the links…

Thank goodness for the awesome “Link Chick” as without her there’s no way I get any links to this blog lately…

-- More goofy fees from the airlines… this one is a rough one because it’s another fee for baggage which means more people carry on, and then life gets miserable on the plane… if you fly a lot you know exactly what I mean…

-- Very cool story, the toughest Laptop around.. even surviving a Tiger! See I cherish my lap top… but my phone I drop every two seconds… that’s one that I need protection for….

-- This one was mainstream a bit this week before everyone famous started to die. It’s about a girl who doesn’t age…. And it’s baffling her doctors…

Video of the week
My old college roommate Brad sent this to me (even he now reads this blog… poor guy) and its pretty awesome. Some of the best sports press conference moments set to an incredibly cool tune. I wish I could download it on Itunes… that catchy…