Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 Year in Review

Amazing how many e mails I got asking me where the “Year in Review” is… well folks strap in, because it’s here… pretty much all below appeared in a regular blog post along the way…

January:

The news about Zeledyne exiting the commercial glass industry came out. Very sad then and very sad now… plus to make matters worse some of their best people have yet to hook on with anyone yet. The end of an era for sure… Meanwhile, PPG won Product of the Year for their Blue Glass…. California announced a new building code which goes into effect 1/1/11…. “24” returned for its last season (still bummed it’s gone)… Winter was battering Minnesota and Washington DC… and somewhere a moronic analyst was being employed to make incoherent and irrelevant comments in a classic piece of ambush journalism… (not me, I am a moronic blogger, not analyst!)

February:

A great blog started called the “Division8report.com” but it sadly it soon disappeared. Shame because it had serious potential…. We had a hero in our world when Robin DeHaven of Binswanger Glass in Austin, TX rushed into a building that was hit by a plane to save several people... and oh a certain company emerged from Bankruptcy with a ton less fanfare from when they entered it…. And that emergence made every so called “expert” look really stupid as their predictions were blatantly wrong.

March:

“Cash for Caulkers” gets announced…Greg Carney’s new career as a consultant started to take off… and seriously there are not many people in this world in the awesome class that Greg is in… The ABI went up and everyone figured here comes the positive trend… nope…. Vitro made the first of many incredible hires in Cathy Finney (yes look back to the blog post, I made that comment before I was biased!) and Guardian did the same with Jay Phillips…. Friend of the Blog, Deron Patterson of PPG made news getting his LEED AP… good guy Deron is… The Mighty Ohio Bobcats beat Georgetown!...and BEC/Glassweek was held and despite the economy people there were staying positive…

April:

General Glass announced the start of a architecture and design department… brilliant move that was copied by a few… China Southern Glass sponsored a NFRC meeting, matching two of the most annoying items in my life…. The first news of the push for ASHRAE to have a negative approach on our industry popped up… Brad Austin takes the reins as President of Harmon… the NFRC continued to astound and annoy (no surprise there) and a certain blogger found a new home…

May:

Went into the woods at 4th grade camp… and survived… my daughter picked the Triple Crown starting with the Derby… awesome… brilliant move by Solutia with their World of Color award program launch… Les George retires after many great years in the industry… and the biggest story, Leon Silverstein left Arch ushering in the start of a very tumultuous summer and fall…

June:

Alcoa “buys” TRACO…. (still odd to see the new TRACO look within the Kawneer world.) Bill Cully, founder of United Plate Glass passed… a price increase hit the streets and while some people tried very hard to keep it, I would say 6 months later it was not a success…. Hartung Glass and the very shrewd Nick Sciola acquired Holcam Sales… Hartung and Nick had a very active year actually- good publicity all around with smart decisions and promotions…. AIA was a dud in Miami (with the exception of Earnest Thompson and Guardian’s awesome “ePod” educational setup) and now is under new management for this year’s show in New Orleans… GANA had a very successful Solar Symposium… and the ABI went down badly… ugh…

July:

NFRC announced it was waiving fees to get people involved in their programs.. they offered lots of incentives like that all year long… wonder why… LOL! Guardian, PPG and Pilkington all had very big solar related news, showing that segment is alive and well… Cap and Trade died for the first time… and my life changed… on July 9th I got the boot… and soon after scores of people at Arch either left or got terminated as the winds of change blew in. For me 5 months later it’s a major blessing and I should’ve known that… as July 9th was also the date I asked my wife to marry me, so the karma was actually good. As the talent drained at Arch, other companies like Oldcastle, Vitro, UGC, RIG, and GGI swooped in and added great people.

August:

The ABI still was scuffling along… the GANA Fall Conference took place and was headlined by the continued amazing work of Dr. Tom Culp. Our industry is really, really lucky to have him. Arch got a new CEO, a marketing guy of all things… all the while firing people using lines from the movie “Up in the Air” and offering bogus 2 week severance packages… yep class acts there… Dems and the GOP were on pace to spend a BILLION dollars on the November election… sick. Guardian hit a PR home run with their announcement on their BIM program… Vitro makes a slick move in acquiring Desert Glass in Vegas.

September:

GlassBuild America was held in Vegas.. solid show overall and some positive feelings… PPG starts a fashion trend with the zip up vests… Leon resurfaces along with brother Rick and former Archie and the incredibly talented Manny Valladares in the purchase of SMI in Florida. Someday I think Rick will write a book on his journey from the last days of Arch that will be riveting…. The freakin idiot Bobcat mascot tried to attack the Buckeye.. sad… and most importantly I ended up at a tremendous company with fantastic people at Vitro. No doubt prayers answered and each day is awesome. Just blown away at what I have joined into here… still.

October:

The ASHRAE moves go down… major props to Dr. Culp along with people like Helen Sanders of SAGE and Stanley Yee of The Fa├žade Group (among others) who led the fight so beautifully. The UGC closes Mid Ohio Tempering… that one still smarts. Infinite Edge Technologies, a company founded by Glass Hall of Famer Eric Rapp and his sons makes a major splash at glasstec… The USGBC gets sued and that action will have repercussions for years to come…Donald Trump acted like a putz with his Chinese window debacle… and “Death Ray” glass put our industry in the mainstream media…

November:

People started to question if the economy was coming back this year, the next or 2013… SAGE gets a massive boost in the way of an 80 million dollar strategic investment by St. Gobain… a huge move that gives credence to everything the gang at SAGE has worked for… Also justifies that segment of the business and shows we do have more technology here than people give us credit for. Greenbuild had a solid show in Chicago in a tight, smallish room…. The ABI sucked again… the NFRC tried to entice people again… Viracon buys Glassec in Brazil… Kid Rock’s new CD comes out making my wife oh so very happy.

December:

Suresh Kumar, let go as COO of Arch… that was an epic 4 month run.... The theme of bad customer service took hold thanks to a great piece in the NYT. US Aluminum got hammered in a newspaper piece… the roof of the Metrodome collapsed making a great video…

Conclusions:

Well it was the classic “Best of times, worst of times” year. But the key was the worst of times were early in the year and now we move forward on a great high. Plus I am so happy for so many folks who found new places to work this year… ultra talented people like Steve Martin, John Dubose, Rob Taliani, Terry Hessom and many many more found new homes that will truly respect and appreciate their abilities. Not to mention my brother who landed with the great folks at GGI- a great match for both sides indeed. In addition I have had the honor of meeting and working with people that I have a ton of respect for and that’s been unreal. Industry wise, we continue to battle… the NGA and GANA are doing their thing in protecting us… the NFRC continues to astound… and more and more people are just getting more aware of how our world is working.
2011 should be a very interesting year… some will win and gain and we’re probably going to lose some folks along the way as well. No matter what I look forward to covering it here….

And on that note.. a sincere thank you to everyone who stops by and reads this blog. When it started in 2005, it was a chance for therapy and still is, but now, for good or bad, my therapy is pretty public! Anyway I am grateful to all of you who read and take time to communicate with me on what happens here.

To everyone out there in the industry, wishing you and your families only the best this holiday season and a happy and healthy (both physically and business wise) 2011!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Patience

For those of you who look here first on Sunday/Monday... the new post is coming sometime this week... sorry for the delay...

I am actually writing this from way up in the air thanks to the Wi Fi here on the plane and my luck of an exit row set (legroom!!)

Anyway.. 2010 in review is in the works and will be up sometime this week....

Hope everyone is well...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Yep it happens here too...

Last week’s customer service piece brought a ton of reaction my way. But really none better than the folks who informed/reminded me of the fact this “bullying” tactic happens in our industry all the time. Now it’s nowhere near the personal vile that the NYT piece presented but there’s a few manufacturers/fabricators that have used the bully tactic- basically threatening that if you use someone else, you’ll never get to use their company again and you will be ruined. Now most people would normally ignore such a threat, especially when you are in our world right now of tons of supply, low low prices and weak demand. But incredibly, there are people who actually buy into this- including one account who I persobally know of who literally believed if they gave work to other fabricators they would be doomed. So moral to the story is I guess the negative and bully approach has its merits, even our little piece of the world.

Elsewhere…

-- Has ever the line “The weather outside is frightful” been more accurate than this weekend for the folks in the Midwest? What a miserable storm… and how about the roof of the Metrodome in Minnesota ripping apart? The video from Fox showing the tear and the water streaming in was amazing. (The footage of the collapse is our Video of the Week)

-- I am patiently waiting in the next batch of leaks from Wikileaks the inside story of the NFRC. You know that has to be in there right?

-- This week’s rant about air travel… it’s the pet peeve of not putting your smaller item under the seat in front of you. The overhead bins are tight enough as it is, but last week I watched person after person put their briefcase, laptop bag, purse etc up top. Just makes me nuts. Cmon folks common courtesy would be nice.

-- Interesting to see how the case between AGC and the City of Marshall, Michigan plays out. Mashall gave AGC tax breaks for their plant there but when AGC shuttered the location, it made the town want to get the lost tax money back- or “clawback” as the article stated. I see both sides here- a deal is a deal and AGC was within their rights to do what they did- heck they stayed their longer than most people would’ve given how bad the economy was. But the city has some angles here too with the commitments and length of the deal. Regardless this sort of thing is going to show up more in more because happy days are surely not here yet and municipalities are really hurting. They simple can’t afford the old Dire Straits theme- “Money for Nothing”

-- Meanwhile US Aluminum took some heat from this wild newspaper article HERE. What I don’t get is how does a newspaper write something so enflaming and NOT get a quote from the company its hammering?

-- Last this week a heads up… the next two weeks will be the 2010 year in review parts 1 and 2…. 2010 was probably the most bizarre year I have ever experienced, so going back through will surely be interesting. I may have to finish it from a psych ward, but it will be done. For those of you bugging out after this week… have a super holiday season and a healthy, happy and prosperous 2011!

LINKS of the WEEK

-- A warning to those of you who travel… beware the “free” Wi-Fi offers… it could be a scam…

-- Simply a stunning link and pictures… the third most awesome island in the world is in the Arctic Circle. Seriously. Not a typo. Now I am not going there anytime soon but my gosh, it sure looks incredible.

-- And speaking of incredible photos… this one from a story about birds and their predators. Crazy.

VIDEO of the WEEK

As noted above-the collapse of the Minnesota Metrodome roof… just mind blowing watching it happen. Thank goodness no one was in there at the time!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

When bad customer service is good

Customer service and doing it well is something that gets pushed into all of us every day. You learn from early on in your career that the better you treat the customer, the better chance you have to be successful. Plus there’s even a cottage industry of speakers, classes, and consultants to talk, teach and drive good customer service. But this past week I read the most amazing story on going “opposite” of customer service- by bullying and abusing your customer to build your online base upon negative comments. (truly an effect of working in the internet world with page views and ranks) It’s simply mind blowing and the article can be found HERE. It’s quite the read and simply amazing that this “opposite” approach could actually work if dialed down just a bit. Treating your customers badly and it working? Talk about putting the world you know on its ear!

Elsewhere…
-- Last week’s ABI column brought a lot of good feedback- one angle that was brought up by someone much more astute than me was the fact these are “billings” and as we all are experiencing contraction of available business (and stupidity) is driving prices down- so billings are probably less as well. I mean you have to figure architects are working off of smaller margins too right?

-- Thoughts going out to a former co worker of mine Dan Luna. Heard he is battling a significant health issue. Mr. Luna is a tremendous guy who I know can overcome anything in his path…. The guy has the ability to build nuclear reactors (probably the only guy in our industry who can) so I know he’ll get through this. Thoughts and prayers to him and his family during this time.

-- Lots of LEED news this past week. Glass Magazine linked to an interesting article that talked about the growth of the green building segment- though I swear any future prediction by McGraw Hill has to be taken with many grains of salt. Also in a very interesting article HERE on passive homes, LEED takes a shot to the chin too. In any case green no matter how you slice it continues to drive conversation.

-- Pretty bummed that the US lost its bid for the World Cup in 2022. What a cool event and it would’ve been a neat experience for the States. The US lost to the country of Qatar. Not sure how the whole Qatar thing will work out but considering their approach to human rights and their hatred of Israel (if you have a stamp from Israel on your passport, they won’t allow you in) I am not real positive.



LINKS of the WEEK
This week we dedicate the links to our friends across the pond… all three come from the British.

-- What brought the Dinosaurs to us? Yep it had to be Global Warming.

-- It’s funny I see this a ton nowadays… Teachers sending out reports with spelling and grammar errors.

-- And this may be the worst soccer team in the history of the world. I’m guessing none of these guys will see the World Cup…

VIDEO of the WEEK
Simply crazy finish to a High School football game… very rare that these plays work, but this one did… the 2nd angle about ½ way through the video is better to watch by the way.