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.


Anonymous said...

Just to put the 1,800 jobs into their rightful perspective they would have not been lost in the scheme of things but instead would have been "reassigned" to other on-going business concerns. The laws of cause and effect prevail.

Rich Porayko said...

Godspeed Max.

Anonymous said...

All the best to you, and Arch.

Anonymous said...

When you run your business the way the Federal Govt. runs this country, you are bound to fail

Anonymous said...

to Anonymous 1: Economics aren't physics. 1800 bread winners my friend. Probably a larger number of dependents (kids, moms, dads, grandparents, special needs, etc.).

The banks won't lend what they already have lent to satisfy a ratio in a spreadsheet.

I hope Arch ownership intends to make arrangements with its suppliers on future revenue, but these courts and laws are in place for a reason.

Good luck to them and their employees.

Save the people, not the whales.

Mike Tracy

Anonymous said...

Yo dude....whats wrong with whales....have you seen me recently???
Jim Fairley

Anonymous said...

NFRC is in turmoil this weekend...who knows why?