Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Decade is Done

2009 is almost in the books, ending a wild year and also a pretty crazy decade. 10 years ago at this time all of the talk was on “Y2K” and how our computers would not start on New Year’s Day and how if we didn’t have water and food stored in our basements we’d be sorry. (I actually still know 2 people who still keep the emergency rations). Now, funny as it sounds, those were more SIMPLE times. Imagine if right now those were all the worries we had? 1999 was pre 9/11, pre airport security, pre bank bailouts and just an easier go. Hopefully in 2019, when someone else is doing this blog, (it’ll probably be much better then too…) they’ll look back and say that 2009 was easy or simple… who knows. Bottom line is no matter the time or adventure, we all have to deal with it and move forward. Gonna be an interesting start to the new decade that’s for sure!


-- Unless something crazy happens (and nothing crazy happens in our industry… right…) this will be my last post of 2009. I have to once again thank everyone out there reading it. I am grateful that you take the time to check out my weekly “therapy” sessions. Obviously it’s my wish to all of you for a happy and healthy holiday season and a tremendous 2010!

-- I wonder if we as an industry should start having BEC and Glassweek starting at 1AM like the Senate just did to pass health care. Am I the only one who just finds this totally comical? (The meeting not the bill… well the bill actually has some serious warts to it too… but trying to meet an artificial deadline by meeting in the middle of the night? How is that right?)

-- Was left a comment on NFRC on the last two posts and am trying to follow up… if you have info please feel free to e mail me…

-- Props to the folks at the NGA for throwing in their 2 cents on the ASHRAE 90.1 issue. One thing our industry takes heat for is we are supposedly not in “consensus” enough for the folks on the other side. Well I think on this one we have been in serious lockstep in our desires to not see our industry downsized or affected. (And personally I think our industry has banded together well on many issues except for the fact that the other side sometimes thinks some players are legit, when in reality they are not…. I won’t say more because I’ll get in trouble but those who know these deals, know exactly who I am talking about) In any case it is good to see this industry stick together when it affects our livelihoods.

-- As those of you who read this know.. I am not a fan of the Department of Energy and especially some of the bureaucrats that refuse to get educated on our industry. Anyway I was sent this piece last week by a lotal blog reader and it’s pretty telling… guess I am not the only one:
Does anybody remember the reason given for the establishment of the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY during the Carter Administration? Anybody? Bottom line… We've spent several hundred billion dollars in support of an agency...the reason for which many who read this can’t remember!
It was very simple...and at the time, everybody thought it very appropriate. The Department of Energy was instituted on 8-04-1977, TO LESSEN OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL. Hey, pretty efficient, huh???
32 years ago 30% of our oil consumption was foreign imports. Today 70% of our oil consumption is foreign imports. Ah, yes -- good ole bureaucracy.

Great note… and it really gives you confidence in the government eh?

Off to the Links…

-- Speaking of Energy… a few months ago I linked to the battle in California on putting Solar farms in the desert… those actions were blocked and this story brings it full circle… amazing the battle between using renewable energy (and creating tons of construction jobs) but having to protect the land (it’s a desert so does that really count?)

-- I am seriously depressed…. Domino’s Pizza is changing its recipe…. My gosh is NOTHING sacred!! I guess these guys never heard of “New Coke” (By the way Domino's ranks 3rd in my all time favorite food list behind M&M's and Pop Tarts and in College I used to get Christmas cards from the local Domino's branch)

Videos of the week

Yes it’s VIDEOS as in two… as my Christmas gift to you… the first comes from the esteemed Kim Mann… its football and some creative filmwork together making some very cool commercials. Especailly the last stunt…

The second one is for all of you 24 Fans out there… what happens when Jack Bauer has to interrogate Santa? This is simply classic and gets me pumped for 24’s return here in a few weeks…

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Sexy" Products Are Good

So this week the President had a speech where he commented that some building materials like windows are “sexy” because of the money they could save. After I heard that it made me wonder because President Obama’s opinion seems to run opposite of the code folks and even the folks at the Department of Energy. When Marc LaFrance (DoE) heard the president say it, he probably piped up with some random and outdated statistic about Low E usage. See and that continues to be the problem… the President of the United States can see the potential/ability our material has and heck he didn’t even see the incredible dynamic and solar products being developed every day, yet will the DoE ever get around to respecting it and will the codes stop abusing it? I always hold out hope because as you’ve seen here the folks representing our industry are top notch but even with that the opposition is just so huge. So for now I’ll take “sexy” and run with it and hopefully it will bring people to the realization that they have some amazing products right under their noses.


-- I was going to hit on some NFRC stuff, but fellow blogger Chuck Knickerbocker did a great job in his last post (if you missed it, it’s here.) Funny I have even seen it printed and at glaziers, so it’s being used to educate. (Funny… people sure are printing a lot from USGNN these days…hmmm) The difference between Chuck and me? He’s a level headed, experienced and class guy…. And I am surely not… especially on this issue.

-- Folks be very wary of the note on USGNN about the UL/ICC partnership. I will have more on this later but this will not be fun or good for our industry upon first blush.

-- Doesn’t it worry you that there’s a huge rush to get Health Care figured out by Christmas but the actual program won’t kick in until something like 2014?

-- Construction jobless rate jumped to 19.4% in November… ugh BUT commercial construction starts were 6% higher in the same month… so who knows but I think the “doing more with less” mantra is everywhere.

-- Speaking of scary… Reed Construction had this blurb:

As this ugly year ends, it is clear that 2010 will be a better year for the economy, although the recovery will be disappointingly slow. The sluggish economic growth in the 2% plus range is close enough to zero that some industries and some regional markets will continue to shrink for many more months, says Reed Construction Data chief economist Jim Haughey

Yep who needs to diet… just read this and you want to toss your last meal.

-- Switching gears… Can Indy and New Orleans go unbeaten? Can you imagine if two 18-0 teams met in the Super Bowl? Our TV’s and computers would melt from the hype. Hopefully that doesn’t happen as all the Viking and Eagle fans I am friends with would be very unhappy… shame Pittsburgh doesn’t have a team… ha ha

-- Anyone going to IBS this year? With that side of the business starting to perk up some, I wonder if the return to glory days will be this year or next year. How will we know? When exhibitors hire midget Elvis, Elvira and Dolly Parton imitators (like was done in the past) to work their booth, you know happy times are here again…

Off to the Links…

2 weeks… no “Link Chick”… maybe need to send an SOS out for her. So this week, these are all mine… and a couple of real doozies here….

-- This has to be the story and study of the year… a doctor in Germany did a study on men’s habits… specifically seeing if men who stare at women’s chests are healthier than those who don’t. Seriously. (I am sure we’ll have this in the US backed by Stimulus cash) Anyway I won’t ruin the results… the story is here… amazing…

-- Those who know me, know I love Fantasy Football… well come companies do not… and Fidelity just FIRED four guys for playing… ouch…

-- I swear this story comes up every year… a cellphone bill for $20,000 for a 13 year old! This one somehow downloaded a ton of stuff to run up the bill… ooops and yikes…

Book of the Week:

The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons. It’s over 700 pages long and a tremendously easy and enjoyable read. If you love NBA hoops, then you will love this book. Simmons by the way is in my opinion the best sportswriter in America right now.

Video of the Week:

No clue who this young man is, but he’s got great stage presence. He does the Top 10 Tiger Woods jokes… most you have heard I am sure… but pretty comical stuff…

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Playing Good Defense

The “bogus” (my opinion) lawsuit against the primary manufacturers was back in the news this week and it looks like the manufacturers are trying to turn the tables a bit. And quite frankly that’s a good thing. Anyone who followed this suit knows it was a blatant copycat suit based on things that happened in Europe. Just because certain things went down over there, it was assumed by the sharks out there that it happened here… heck it probably even wasn’t assumed… the lawyers got wind, saw a chance to cash in and off they went. I rail on this because it does nothing good for our industry in the long run. With glass under severe pressure in DC and in the codes, the last thing the primaries need is to be defending themselves against something so inane. Hopefully their moves this week payoff.


-- Did you see “Cash for Caulkers” may be coming soon? Oh man, I just hope it goes better than previous attempts. And by the way I get a kick out of people talking about how excited they are about Congress taking on a new Energy Star provision in place of the 30/30. (Tax credits) Yet those same people will defend 30/30 publicly when logic plainly tells you that the 30/30 was wrong, severely biased and at the end of the day caused more pain for people than good.

-- Speaking of good… I won’t mention a certain football team that used to be good…. And seemingly is not anymore… as a buddy of mine wrote the other day… Pittsburgh Steelers playoffs in 2009…RIP.

-- Saw that Glassweek and BEC registration is now open… please make room in your life for it, these events are very good at every level (educational, motivational, and networking) and should not be missed. Do to GANA’s website for more info.

-- Check out the new website from ICD, which also features a Blog… and so we get to hear from the all knowing, all famous “Glass Pundit” Kris Vockler again. The first entry is HERE and you can also see that ICD is also “Twitter” worthy so you can follow there as well. It’s good stuff and it’s great to have the Pundit’s voice being heard once again!

-- Could anyone have predicted the craziness around Tiger Woods? Wow. My take is the guy follows in a long line of bred to be great athletes that missed out on living his life. Then once they “make it” they go back after all that may have been missed. Some of those folks turn to drugs or alcohol… and Tiger went his own way… I am surely not endorsing it, but I can see it as all the guy did since he was 2 was golf… eventually you crack.

-- Last, I went to the mall this past Saturday and was stunned on how packed it was… even though the economy is down the stores were jumping and I was impressed that the stores had holiday help on hand. It just shows that this season is a priority for many… however if you usually give to charity or sponsor a family this season, please don’t give that up- charitable giving is down considerably and those are the folks that truly need and appreciate it.

Off to the Links…

Have not heard from the “Link Chick” in a few weeks… must be mad at me for some reason… maybe its because I pick on anonymous posters… who knows… anyway I have a few leftovers from her AND a few of my own…

-- This one was amazing.., this guy blew.. get this… 127 MILLION in one year in Las Vegas casinos… Interesting story about it HERE… 127 million!

-- On the flipside of that… this guy hangs around the track and picks up discarded tickets… and guess what some of those turn out to be winners… made something like 45k last year on throw-aways!

-- Very nice story on an Olympian getting her record from 1936 recognized… in fact I have seen a documentary on this woman, truly tremendous person and I am thrilled that a wrong was righted here.

-- PETA wants college mascots to be robots… starting with the University of Georgia Bulldog…. Yeah sorry I am not feeling it…

VIDEO of the Week

To me I love when a little man (in hoops terms) goes up and slams… this week Ty Lawson of the Denver Nuggets did just that taking it strong to the hole and slamming it home.. check it out!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A "Chapter" to read about

So it’s been a slow week in the industry eh? Man I wish there was a big story for me to comment on… I wish Tiger Woods owned a glass company… Seriously though… on to the subject on many minds… Chapter 11... Without any question I have never experienced anything like this week or this process. I have had a range of emotions that have run the absolute gamut. I have been brightened (actually blown away) by so many class people in this industry who reached out to me to express their support. I have also been amazed/impressed by the efforts of the people I work with. They walked into a firestorm Monday and performed tremendously all the while dealing with the industry’s biggest story of the year. I have been mad at myself for being drawn into on-line petty arguments by anonymous posters. I know better but I’m a sucker. I am sad because I know so many vendors are disappointed, upset, angry, and mad at how this is going down… even though at this point so much is unknown. I am thankful that even though some out there look at this bankruptcy so negatively, 1800 people had their jobs saved because of it. That has to count for something right?

OK, so let’s talk…I sit on this blog and make snarky and sarcastic comments each week with a sprinkle of a compliment here and there. A story like this one would be tailor made for me to comment on, so I will and here goes…

Obviously when a company the size of Arch has to head in this direction it’s a sign of some tough times. I have railed on the banks and like my friend Jim Fairley noted on one of message boards- have you had to deal with these guys recently? No one wants to be in this position that’s for sure and there’s no joy in it. And yes while the banks are frustrating we put ourselves in the position to be at the mercy of them, so end of the day it is our “fault” (if assigning blame) that we headed this way.

Now when people anonymously comment that the ownership of Arch is out gallivanting in expensive cars or homes, they couldn’t be further from the truth. Fact is the ownership of Arch- the Silverstein family along with my brother Steve- gave up their equity in the company in this deal. Umm that is a HUGE thing. I don’t see them as being joyous. I see them as being thankful to be given another chance, to be there for a loyal customer base and to eventually, somehow, make their vendors happy again. But most of all, like noted above I think they are most thankful that the company and the people left have jobs, because the alternative would not be very good. 1800 families appreciate it.

And a note, I give major kudos to Bob Price of JE Berkowitz & Bill Stone of Louisville Plate for going “on the record” with their comments on this situation. (While I can disagree with them though) Do you know how easy it is to say things when you don’t have to stand behind them? In the age of the internet it’s simple and quite frankly sad that people can take any pot shot they want and not have to show any responsibility. (I take pot shots all the time, but my name is on here, I stand behind it. Do I make enemies because of it? Sure, but I hope at least people respect me because I say what’s on my mind and don’t hide behind a fake or anonymous name)

Another thought to chew on…as I have noted many times, our industry is in a rough patch and there’s a good chance this is not the end of bankruptcy filings. It will probably be the biggest one, but I’ll be stunned if it’s the last. I hope I am wrong because if it’s the last for a while that means things will be getting better. (And if you file be prepared for USGlass to dig up everything on it, they are relentless journalists)

I know there are folks out there who have serious beefs with Arch or the ownership. Hey when you are in the industry as long as we have been and have grown the way we have and have dealt with so many things, you will have enemies… several of them. (Competitors, suppliers, ex employees etc…) That said I don’t expect this week’s posts to pacify any of those folks… as readers of my blog know, I do this for therapy… and believe me writing this helps.
In fact I have actually started a journal on this process, what I did, who I talked to, what I think and so on. Who knows someday it may make an interesting book. In any case it’s therapeutic for sure.

The lesson learned is that things that you expect to never happen can happen. Never in my wildest dreams did I think the day would come where Arch would be in this spot. But it did and I have to deal with it and make the best of it. I am confident that we will emerge from it better and smarter. So I guess my point is whatever comes my way I can deal with. I am thankful for the support and saddened by the venom. But I’ll handle bad while being so very grateful for the good.

As those of you who read this also know is I fashion myself as an industry watch dog… that said I am sure the folks at the NFRC and Marc LaFrance at DoE (if he’s awake- sorry can’t escape all the snark) are probably loving this turn of events… and guess what they should. I pounded away at them for what I perceived as ineptitude so obviously they can surely take glee in our current place. But that said I comment on the industry as an observer- not an employee of Arch. I rarely if EVER mention Arch on here. Look it up if you don’t believe me. I take pride in trying to stay independent as someone who lives and loves this industry. And my comments here on this blog are strictly my opinion- I do this as an independent person without edit or censor. That said hopefully my comments going forward will be held in the same light as they were in the past. And I take it seriously to comment on things that are not good for us as a whole and will continue to do so.

Last… I wish this on no one. Having to deal with all of the angles that are out there is seriously un-fun. It’s horrible actually. But at the end of the day I will be a better person for it, Arch will be a better company for it, and we will get through this one way or another. Wrongs will be righted and life will move on.

Thank you for reading.


I thought about the links and video and decided I need to skip it this week… the above is heavy stuff for me, and doing links on waterskiing squirrels or videos of Tiger Woods crashing into a fire hydrant just won’t cut it… it will return next week.