Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bits and Pieces...and a big rock

This week, a quick hitter version of the blog, lots of quick short takes about the industry and beyond…

-- It seems like every few weeks I am writing about a weather related event. This week the attention is on the fine folks of Joplin after a tornado ripped through the town and basically destroyed 75% of it. Our thoughts to everyone affected yet again by the wrath of Mother Nature.

-- PPG’s new print ad campaign is absolutely spectacular. Very creative and smart and quite frankly I am jealous I didn’t think of it first. Kudos to Mr. Struble and company for a top notch job.

-- Does anyone else have an issue with the fact our government is wasting millions of dollars trying to prosecute athletic steroid cheats? Will it really make our lives better if they prove Lance Armstrong did performance enhancing drugs in his Tour de France wins? Or if Barry Bonds was on steroids while hitting 73 homers? Let the sports handle it.

-- Lots of comments last week in many venues on the whole bank financing issue. Good friend Joe Carlos of Triview Glass left a very smart comment on the home site of this blog that some of the Glass Magazine readers may have missed which was:

Max, Thanks for bringing this up. Liquidity is THE issue. Besides the lack of funding for private projects, many, dare I say most, of my customers have lost their credit lines. Most have a sterling credit history and long-term relationships with their bank

Well said Joe and thanks for the comment.

-- Also last week I was off when I prematurely congratulated Deron Patterson as President of the TGA. He is the President –Elect of that fine group and Jerry Wright of AAA Glass is still in charge and according to Deron doing a tremendous job.

-- Big day later this week… the queen of all retail, also known as my sister Marcie celebrates a birthday. And since I’ll probably forget to call, at least I am covering my bases here on the blog. Happy Birthday Marcie!

-- Gas prices went up 11 cents last week in the Midwest because of “undisclosed refinery issues”… I swear we are all in the wrong business. What a freaking scam.

-- Beautiful and classy piece sent out by the organizers of GlassBuild America last week recognizing Memorial Day. I think we as a society do not appreciate the meaning of Memorial Day enough, and its was heartening to see some folks still do. And for my two cents, thank you to all of the brave men and women who have served and to those family who have lost loved ones while they fought for our freedoms. Without these amazingly courageous people, we wouldn’t have the ability to live even close to the way we do.

-- Want to read a story about lawyers that will make your skin crawl? Click here. When lawyers have to meet a quota that is simply not good.

-- Finals picks… NBA… the Heat will romp in 5 games over the Mavs. No one can stop LeBron and Wade in crunch time. NHL… I have many more friends that are big Canuck fans that would flog me if I picked them… so to protect myself, I’m going with the Bruins in 6.

-- Last this week, this quote was sent to me by a good friend and its pretty dang appropriate for some movements that will be taking place this week… the quote was from the awesome movie “Hoosiers” (a take from David vs Goliath) and here’s hoping for the underdog to prevail…

“And David put his hand in the bag and took out a stone and slung it. And it struck the Philistine on the head and he fell to the ground. Amen”

Amen indeed… brother… Amen.


-- Greenwashing continues to be an issue… and more and more people becoming aware of it.

-- Story here on the National Pinball Museum is closing… and which begs to ask, there’s actually a National Pinball Museum?

Great advice if you are on LinkedIn… three things you should be doing…


Very funny piece from Tosh.0 on the “Boom goes the Dynamite” sportscaster. Once upon a time I was there… this is really well done and some funny parts to the redemption.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's all about the financing

The latest report on from the AIA Architectural Billings Index was certainly depressing, however just like not getting too high after one good month, we shouldn’t get too low after one bad one. However the truly worrisome angle of this entire process is it looks to be the same fundamental reason for the news- the availability of money. Here’s this month’s commentary from AIA:

"The majority of firms are reporting at least one stalled project in-house because of the continued difficulty in obtaining financing," said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. "That issue continues to be the main roadblock to recovery, and is unlikely to be resolved in the immediate future."

Now here’s from April 2011, November 2010 and June 2010 and see if you can sense a trend…

"The catalyst for a more robust recovery is likely financing, with stronger growth occurring only when lending institutions begin approving credit for construction projects with much greater regularity.” (April 2011)

“Right now, reluctance from lending institutions to provide credit for construction projects…” (November 2010)

“The overriding issue affecting the entire real estate sector is unusual caution on the part of lending institutions to provide credit for construction projects that apparently would be successful in this economic environment.” (June 2010)

So it really simplifies it, when the banks loosen the grip on the lending things will improve, but until then I think you will see the scores continuing to be relatively the same as they’ve been.


-- And not helping in the current time frame is once again, the weather. The unusually wet spring has absolutely wreaked havoc on the construction world. What makes it all the crazier is while we have massive issues with rain and flooding, we still have droughts in some places as well. It really does boggle the mind.

-- A few months ago I ran a story via the New York Times on a guy that made his living off of negative selling. It was almost to the point of where he would bully his customers and harass them to no end. Well he finally got what was coming to him… here’s the follow up from the NYT.

-- Major congratulations to Deron Patterson of PPG on his new post as President of the Texas Glass Association. Deron is a great guy and will do fantastic work for that quality organization. And speaking of guys like Deron, it is nice to see that there’s some serious talent at the float level that doesn’t get a lot of notice. Guys like Dan Plotnick of Pilkington, Brian Best of Guardian, and Jon Hughes of AGC are top notch folks that the industry can point to and be proud of.

-- It’s been a week since US Aluminum closed and my only comments are I am saddened at how some class people publicly decided to dance on their grave and how amazingly EVERYONE picked up so much business from this closing. If you didn’t know any better you’d think US was the leader in market share based on some of the hyperbole out there.

-- The world of Twitter in our industry continues to evolve and I’ve noted some of the better industry Twitter sites here in the past. Well now you can add to the list. The folks there have joined the revolution and done a nice job of keeping the conversation going. Kudos to Earnest Thompson and his team.

-- And last I must give compliments to the folks at e-glass weekly for the new format and layout. Very smooth and easy to read and the best part is when you get it on your phone there’s an option for mobile formatting, which is excellent. Between this and the recent incredible journalistic scoops, it is surely heady times for those folks as they continue to be the industry leader.


-- This special company rewarded its best employees with prostitutes… Crazy.

-- A major league baseball player uses Twitter and for good… making a little leaguer’s night!

Thrill seeking photography. Scary as all get out but great pictures!!


This week submitted by an old friend in Michigan and it’s a must watch to get a flavor and feel for how incredible our debt issue is here in the U.S. It is some mind numbing stuff. Warning, don’t watch on a full stomach because the info in here will make you want to toss.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


To be official... the pick for the Preakness by my daughter is Dance City....

So we'll see if she can get back on the winning side again!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A very newsworthy week

It surely hasn’t been very slow news wise in our world lately and last week was more of the same. We had an update on the World Trade Center issue, a major closure, a departure, an addition, and a rumor-fest amongst the everyday goings on. So let’s go ahead and take a look…

-- The World Trade Center issue that I covered last week took another spin when the New York Times advanced the wonderful work done by the folks at Glass Magazine (they’ll have to share the Pulitzer) and revealed that the original plans for the base of the building (where all of the controversy is) was scrapped. 10 Million dollars in glass and who knows how much other capital and resources squandered. I find it funny/sad that the North American supply base all exclaimed worry on the design early in the process (at least that’s what I was told) and that’s one of the reasons the playing field was so limited. Still the shenanigans are continuing there and I’d love to know when or if someone’s head would roll after blowing this one. I guess the Chinese can’t do everything and there are actually some limits.

-- The saddening news of US Aluminum closing was another big story. The depressing part is about the people working there, as this industry continues to head down perilous paths. My heart goes out to the folks caught in the crossfire.

-- A wish of best of luck to Gary Danowski of PPG as he has taken on a new assignment within PPG in Switzerland. Losing Gary on our side of the world is a major blow in my opinion. He was a calm and steady presence in the very bumpy seas. Just a flat out good man. The folks in Europe are lucky to get him. So now in the last 2 years the turnover at the top of the major players in our industry has been very dramatic, and we continue to look for the continuity going forward.

-- And speaking of moving and good guys and good luck… my brother Steve has taken a new step in his life. After being able to work for some of the classiest people out there at a great company with the Balik’s at General Glass, Steven has taken an equity position at W.A. Wilson in West Virginia and is their new Executive VP. This is an awesome move for him, he returns to the region he knows so well and ends up working with yet another tremendous group of people. (Bob and Bobby Hartong are first rate, as are many others there) WA Wilson has always been a respected player in the region and now the sky is the limit.

-- And last from the week that was… the rumors that started mid week that something major and dramatic was going to happen at Trainor Glass on Friday turned out to be a lot less salacious than the masses spreading expected it to be. Trainor tabbed Brian Clark as their new President on starting on June 1. So all of the wild stories didn’t materialize and the interesting thing is it has been so crazy in our world here that even the craziest of rumors are given credence because really anything could happen. Best of luck to Brian and the Trainor family going forward as well.

And that’s it… what a week it was and my guess is we have the potential to have some very fascinating weeks ahead that is for sure.


Wow. Being threatened at school over your chicken nuggets. At knifepoint no less. Over school chicken nuggets…. Yeesh.

The coolest dog escape from a Vet ever! It’s like something you would see in a movie.

A tremendous story on the Mayor in a town in Japan that was scoffed at for building a huge sea wall in the 60’s, gets major credit as that wall saved his town from the Tsunami. They should name the town after him.


One of the wildest and craziest baseball brawls you can see. Minor league affiliates of the Red Sox and Yanks go after it.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Not a Shocker

It really did not come as gigantic surprise when I read Glass Magazine’s coverage on the problems at the Freedom Tower podium. This situation was a major flashpoint in our industry back in early 2009 (or as I like to say “the good ole days”) and mostly surrounded the frustration of a major American landmark having material from China on a significant portion of the structure. Especially given what the building stood for and so on. But the design was so intense that it did limit the playing field from a cost standpoint, so at the end of the day getting it sourced from China outweighed patriotic duty. Plus it was during this time that I was told a classic line about the process. Barber Glass of Canada was going to be the fabricator and because of that, there was school of thought in the process that there was no difference between Canada and China because they were both “foreign” entities. That thought still galls me as while it may be factually correct, you just can’t lop those two together. Anyway Glass Magazine has some great coverage out of the gate on this and we will see how it progresses, just a shame so much had to suffer in the meantime for something that had the potential to be so good.


-- I just don’t think there’s been enough “soap opera” style storylines in our industry lately… yeesh. As I have been joking all we really need is a love triangle and we could have an Oscar contender on our hands.

-- Gas prices supposedly now will drop. And I was right about the $6 per gallon, that mark was eclipsed in Hawaii already. The frustrating thing here is gas prices can go up .10 to .20+ per week but going down takes a lot longer. Also with the unrest continuing in the Middle East and in Libya, I still think it’s going to be very ugly.

-- Speaking of ugly… the Kentucky Derby results… my daughters Triple Crown streak comes to an end… oh well, I guess I didn’t really want to live in Vegas anyway.

-- Last this week… as you have seen me note a few times, in our midst is a fantastically talented artist. Glass Magazine’s own Katy Devlin is on the path to stardom and she now has a pretty awesome music video out. It’s my video of the week but you can also access it by clicking HERE. The mirror she used in the video by the way I am sure was made domestically…. Check it out and keep in mind when she wins her first Grammy she will thank all of the fine people in the glass industry for supporting her!


-- Shocking (Sarcastic) news.. frequent travel is tough on your heart! No Way!

-- I agree with on of the commenters on this… if it’s a battle between cities, I’d choose the fine folks of Houston any day.

-- This is a good twist on the old “Runaway” bride story. This time the jilted groom is suing!

Video of the WEEK

As I noted above, it’s the fantastically talented Kat Devlin in Ocean Song.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Derby Pick!

Ok... my daughter has weighed in on her pick for the Derby this weekend...

Her choice to win is "Pants on Fire"... we will see if Natalie's amazing run from 2010 will continue!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Pay attention to what matters

This past week really showed the mix up of our priorities as violent weather racked the south while a majority of the country was either paying attention to the bogus birth certificate issue or a royal wedding. The tornadoes that hit the south were nothing short of catastrophic for so many. So really it should be time to properly pay attention and send our thoughts and prayers to the people that need them. Our industry was touched by these storms with one of the production buildings of Coral Industries being flattened. Thankfully and amazingly no one was hurt as the folks at Coral heeded the warnings and were cleared out of the structure before the storm rolled through. I have exchanged a few e mails with Coral’s Lewis McCallister and he, his family, and the folks at Coral are back at work and throwing themselves into the needs of their customers and community. Their undamaged building is up and running and the diversion of work is probably a good thing to keep their minds off of what just happened. The ownership at Coral is amongst the “good people” in our industry, so there’s no doubt that they will emerge from this better than ever. All positive wishes and support towards those guys and the entire affected region (which spreads over several states) is really necessary and appreciated.

Coral has started a Twitter feed with updates and items that you can provide to help and that can be accessed HERE.

Also for the entire effort to help the folks in Tuscaloosa, the website is able to be found by clicking this link.


-- Wild timing as last week AAMA released a voluntary Tornado specification. I think after seeing the video and destruction, there really isn’t anything we can put in to stop that fury. It’s like an old co worker used to tell me about hurricane material- the system may be tested to deal with a category 5, but the rest of the building won’t be.

-- Funny that I have been blogging since 2005 and with her effort last week, Jenni Chase may have stirred up more of a tempest than I ever have. The interesting part of Jenni’s blog were the comments, both public and privately to me. (both on e mail and to my blog ironically)They ran all across the board, including some nasty ones (sent anonymously, of course) that really curdled and boggled the brain. But there is no doubt that this is a very volatile issue and time in our world and the next few months will undoubtedly be very interesting. Especially as truth is separated from rumor and fact from innuendo.

-- The Kentucky Derby is this coming Saturday and as some of you may remember my daughter actually picked the Triple Crown correctly last year. So we will see if she can do it again. The post positions and odds come out mid week, and after she picks I’ll post it at my blog’s home site- which can be found HERE. If she does it again, we will move to Vegas this time.

-- The excellent Glazing Executive Forum announced its keynote speaker this year is the CEO of Serious Materials Kevin Surace. Just hearing his version of the work at the Empire State Building will be worth attending. Seriously the entire event is a tremendous deal and if you are coming to GlassBuild America (which I am sure all intelligent people are) then doing this event is a no brainer. Mark the calendar for September 12th and I am sure you will be seeing a ton more on this and the show in the coming months.

-- Last this week… I have run stories in the past on passwords and how some people just use things like “123456” and “QWERTY” but I had to share in the main part of the blog this amazing story. Do you realize that a hacker can figure out a 6 character, no number/letter mix, no uppercase password in 10 minutes? That is just wild. The quick blurb, which blew my feeble mind is HERE.


-- I have told my kids over and over that if you want to be great at something you have to practice. Even the book Outliers explains it. Now one man is putting the theory to test. Should be wild to see if it works!

-- Really interesting story here on the man who volunteered as Lt Governor of New York, passed up pay but really struggled in the goofy world of government and as a parting gift still go hit with a tax bill! Man we are a mess.

-- And yet another great story for the travelers out there. The pet peeves etc. I see so many of these in my travels- at least I am not alone in utter frustration.


Well my pick of the Nuggets failed, but they did win one thing… a spot on the VIDEO of the WEEK with this awesome throw for a hoop by JR Smith. This is just epic.