Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ready to Roll!

Well I have been teasing this for a few weeks and the time has come to finally introduce everyone to my new venture. Or actually more apt, my new AD-venture! I have founded a new consulting firm for the building products industry called Sole Source Consultants. The mission of this new organization is to be a source to help businesses prosper by offering expertise in virtually every aspect of their operation. My portion of this undertaking is the marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management side, as well as website and social media and of course code and specification assistance. But to do it right I have been working with some of the best independent consultants our industry has to offer so that any need that is out there will be handled by the best available. And it doesn’t matter your size, scope, or budget, we’re there with a plan for you.

For companies in our industry, I believe now is the time to attack business wise. Step up and get ahead of the trends, get ahead of the pack and be in the lead as the economy continues to evolve. And I wholeheartedly believe Sole Source has the ability to assist and influence that charge.

So that’s the basic pitch, for more information, e-mail me at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com and I’ll gladly provide the specific details you desire. And also I will note, that after this post, you will not see me promoting my business in this space. This blog will continue, and it will remain as an industry observation point and the place that so many have flocked to since 2005 and made it the most popular industry blog around. I am humbled by that and thank you for reading. I will have a specific blog for the new company on the Sole Source site that will cover issues pertaining to that business but I have no desire to ever intersect the two.

Finally, as I have worked to put this together, I have been asked again and again, why I am going in this direction. What was my thought process and so on? Like I noted above, I think business wise it’s a slam-dunk. Smart companies are making the moves to be at the front of the bus, and they’ll be in the market for the services that a group like mine can provide. But this is also about my family. From my great grandfather, grandfather, Dad, and brother Steve- they all started businesses and did extremely well. I want to see if I can measure up to their awesome legacy. And further more I wanted to create a vehicle that my kids (along with my wife, brother, sister, and Mom) can look at and be proud of… a venture that sets the tone for the future, provides positive services, and helps people achieve and reach their goals.
Plus rumor has it if I do well I may end up moving up the rankings of the favorite people in my Mom’s life. Right now I am perking around #17… so there’s that.

Anyway thank you for reading and supporting the blog and my career as it’s gone through the years and know I truly appreciate any and all consideration you send my way.

Elsewhere…

Since this post was so long- we’ll save the posts for next week. But I do want to say I will have a piece on a very scary and discouraging item about glaziers getting cut of the food chain by generals. And when that happens the mistakes that come with. So come back for that next week!

LINKS of the WEEK

-- Florida has to be an interesting place to live… and now one town will charge you extra for “Sink Hole” coverage. Amazing what you have to pay for now.

-- This store is actually near where I used to live in suburban Pittsburgh. Comically stupid workers at an adult store stage a robbery. And they get caught of course.

-- Fellow travelers, you could be getting some money back from the airlines. Check out this story to see why. I hope I am…

VIDEO of the WEEK

So yes Pro Football is back… and still not that excited yet, but this video of Indy Colts punter Pat McAfee making a 75 yard Field Goal was pretty dang cool.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Panic or Not?

Last week we saw yet another rough batch of results from the AIA’s Architectural Billings Index featuring the third straight underwhelming month. The fear now is the experts felt that when you start to string 3 months together that can constitute a trend. However, looking at the positive side, at this time last year, the ABI was just as bad, yet current business levels (which would be right in the time frame where the ABI has its effect on our industry) have been solid to very good. A majority of the industry is busy right now, so possibly the attention paid to the ABI is not what it’s cracked up to be and maybe it’s not that accurate of a metric. No matter how you slice it, we all know there’s holes in our economic world right now and that even with increased business levels taking place right now, I don’t think anyone is confident of long term sustainment of such. The fundamentals have to come back and hopefully that happens sooner than later. Until then we’ll track everything and anything we can to get a vision of what is still to come.

Elsewhere…

-- Congrats to my friend Dr. Helen Sanders of Sage. All in one week she appears in front of congress and is featured in a story in the Wall Street Journal. Excellent. Just remember us little people Helen… and remember the sad little blogger that did one of the first Q&A’s with you…. I guess though that is the rightful path… Glass Magazine to Congress to WSJ. I love it!

-- GlassBuild America is coming up and when I went to make my travel arrangements I was VERY pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive the flights to Atlanta are. Trust me I know how tight everyone’s budgets are (mine basically doesn’t exist!) so seeing the deals for Atlanta was pretty awesome. So if you are on the fence, go check the rates and book- for those prices you can’t afford NOT to be there!

-- Speaking of GBA, one of the seminars I am looking forward to is the BIPV one. Solar is something so many people are curious about in our world, and the line up for this piece is very good, moderated by the esteemed Richard Voreis. If you have any curiosity at all about this emerging technology- this seminar will be a huge help.

-- Flying as much as I have in my past I thought I had seen it all, but this week I saw something new… I watched as a flight attendant had a serious verbal altercation with what had be an 80+year old lady. They went at it for at least 10 minutes and the flight attendant almost walked off the plane! The argument was as we were loading and no clue what started it but talk about watching a wreck happen. Luckily cooler heads prevailed. You had to be there…

-- Looks like we’ll have football on time this year… so why am I so unenthusiastic about it?

-- Last this week, how about a hand for all of the folks who are working in the field or in the plants right now during this massive heat wave. Those folks are the real heroes of our business anyway, but especially during conditions like this. Stay cool and safe folks!

LINKS of the WEEK

-- I have gone easy on China recently (heck I go easy on EVERYONE now! LOL) but this story about their athletic set up and the wrath on the folks put away by it is worth reading and sad indeed.


-- I already noted above that football coming back isn’t thrilling me. And neither is this new rule for the NFL adding a possibility of more replay and longer games. Ugh.


-- Uh oh… there’s now an “App” for compressing words for your text messages. As a good friend noted to me on this “it makes my head hurt”- yep it sure does. Are we becoming so much of a rush rush short attention span culture that even the text messages have to be compressed?


VIDEO of the WEEK

We are year away but the trailer for the next in the series of Batman movies is out. “The Dark Knight Rises” is the name and it looks pretty strong…. Here it is…

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Green or Not

This past week I found myself in a discussion on the value of the “green” movement. A few years ago, slapping the word “green” into your materials gave off the impression to the then unknowing masses that your company had the golden key to success. But as time progressed and more people became aware, the whole notion of “greenwashing” (yes it has a name) became out of style, distasteful, and those who did it were somewhat ostracized. So now there’s not as much outward pushing of green because people are more aware and intelligent about it, but has the lack of promotion hurt the cause? I say yes and no. Yes from the standpoint that the more light you can shine on a subject the better coverage it can get and more knowledge added to it. No because more and more people are grasping the idea that energy efficiency, truly created by better buildings with better materials, is doing your part… your green duty as it is, and at the end of the day doing the deed is better than just talking about it. Bottom line to this whole discussion is we as an industry still have to keep pushing the pedal to the floor in creating and advancing our technology as it relates to green or energy, or sustainability or any other heading you want to throw it under.

Elsewhere

-- Want to know something that is not probably green these days? The color of the grass in parts of the drought riddled states in the south and southwest. I swear looking at the national map on day last week and it looked like there was a dome covering the state of Texas not allowing a rain system in. Mother Nature continues to be cruel and this historic drought continues.

-- With all of the talk in DC about the debt limits and budgets, how come no one gets upset that the bogus chase and trial of Lance Armstrong, professional bike rider, will cost our government more than 100 million dollars. How is that sane?

-- An interesting top 10 this week from CNBC… The Top 10 Cities LEAST effected by the housing crisis. The survey notes that declining home values has touched every city but these 10 have weathered the storm best. If your city is on here, congratulations as I bet when the list of “most” affected cities comes out mine will be on that list. Here goes:

10. Greenville, SC (Awesome place by the way)
9. Knoxville, TN
8. Durham, NC
7. Rochester, NY (shocking to me actually)
6. Pittsburgh, PA
5. Yakima, WA
4. Little Rock, AR
3. Tulsa, OK
2. Oklahoma City, OK
1. Fayetteville, NC

-- I mentioned books last week while propping Bill Evans wonderful recent post, and here’s one if you are looking for a quick, breezy read on the greatness of a company and marketing plan. First in Thirst: How Gatorade Turned the Science of Sweat Into a Cultural Phenomenon is the story of Gatorade and how it was developed but more interestingly how its marketing evolved. At only 280 pages you can finish it quick, or in Scott Surma time, one treadmill session.

-- Last up this week… a great site to get around the whole automated operator systems that many mega-sized companies have in place. Click HERE and the site will show you the tips to follow to be able to talk to a real live human being! Imagine that. And no worries, I have no plans of adding an automated phone system here at From the Fabricator Blogging Inc. or at my next venture... coming soon....


LINKS of the WEEK

-- Could be some of the dumbest humans ever? Breaking in while leaving the baby in the car. Yeesh.

-- A very interesting read on former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin, his life and his attitude changes. Excellent stuff.


This story is from 2009 but is too amazing to not link here. Burglar breaks in and gets used as a sex slave after his plans go awry. Head scratcher….


VIDEO of the WEEK

Crummy week for video submissions… best of the best… video of an 18 foot, 2,000 pound gigantic crocodile in Australia… what a beast!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

CRL brings USAC back...

Well that slow cycle of news in our industry didn’t last very long did it? Last week two big stories hit, with one an obviously much bigger mainstream story than the other. That news was that C.R. Laurence (CRL) acquired U.S. Aluminum. CRL has been a force in the industry for many years and this maneuver continues to solidify that fact. The interesting parts start now for the gang at CRL in rebuilding USAC and putting the pieces back in place. They made a great first move at that with getting Tom Harris back in the fold to run it. Also worth watching is how CRL puts USAC back in the game- will it be nationally or more on a regional basis out of the gate and how will the return of this capacity effect that side of the industry. Seemingly never a dull moment around here. Also to note, a lot of the props in this case will be automatically be directed to Don Friese and family and they deserve them no doubt, but without question CRL doesn’t keep growing without the steady hand and influence of President Lloyd Talbert. That guy is the straw that stirs the drink there and a brilliant businessman.

Elsewhere…

-- The other major deal reported last week was the sale of gigantic glazier Permasteelisa to JS Group out of Japan. While Permasteelisa is a massive player in the world of glazing, this story is nowhere near as big as the one above as I’d say 95% of the North American glass market has either no idea or would have no interaction or effect from anything here. Still fascinating to follow none the less.

-- I really enjoyed Bill Evans blog post from last week. I’m afraid with how crazy last week was with the holiday, people may have missed it. If you missed, you can click HERE to view. Best part was his item at the end with the value of a book vs. lunch. Now that is truly food for thought!

-- The glass industry and specifically Guardian got great coverage over this past weekend with an article in the Indy Star out of Indianapolis, IN. The home d├ęcor writer of the paper did up a piece on how glass really is great and gave some serious love to the folks from Guardian and their products. Any time our world can get positive main stream coverage like this, it’s a major victory.

-- Fun one to think about? The start of bread coming in slices hit 83 years ago this week. So that was the beginning of “sliced bread” so that brings the question, what was the greatest thing BEFORE sliced bread? And comically the younger generations are totally lost on the whole concept on things better than sliced bread…

-- Well the big Seattle-Portland MLS game was Sunday afternoon and the atmosphere was really electric, even watching on TV-if you took the graphics down and just listened to the crowd, you woulda thought you were watching a game being played in Europe. Great 2nd half and Seattle came back twice from deficits to win. So for my Seattle friend Chuck Knickerbocker of TGP, a sweet victory for his town and I am sure a “told ya so” e mail is forthcoming to me!

-- Last this week, how can you not salute the greatness of Derek Jeter? The guy has been a clutch player his entire career, has lived in the most glaring spotlight possible, but yet has never had anything close to a mis-step, and from all accounts is just a solid citizen. And he also knows how to please a crowd, a homer to get to 3000 hits as a part of a 5 for 5 day! I think Jeter right now sits as the next unanimous Baseball Hall of Fame inductee without question.

LINKS of the WEEK

-- This is a great story for those of you who fancy eating out… some of these items I have experienced and some are way beyond me, but it’s the Top 10 worst food trends….

-- In case my fellow travelers missed this story… here it is about the supposed new plot to implant explosive devices into the terrorist bodies to try and beat airport security… yeesh.

-- I’d say get this while you can… story noting no upfront costs in doing solar at your home. Seems too good to be true…

VIDEO of the WEEK

Yes I am a bit Soccer crazed right now. Must be the fact that I think the NFL is never coming back. In any case, amazing goal at the end of the U-17 World Championship Semi Final between Mexico and Germany. Mexico wins it with a Bicycle kick late, with a guy had the whole major head injury look going! Great goal, and great announcers…

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Proof in the pudding

Last week I had noted that despite the falling ABI score that optimism was in play and that in my own informal polling, people were reporting that they were busy. Well this week some tangible proof of that came through when the Institute for Supply Management reported that June factory activity rose nicely in June. That good news from the manufacturing sector also helped fuel a great week on Wall Street. No doubt it is nice to see positivity in more of a real format compared to a feeling! The hope now is that this momentum can be sustained. Many of the people I talked to had concerns that come fall we could be back to where we just came from and I believe there will be some softening, because there always is in our cyclical world, but hopefully not dramatic enough to make a major case.

Elsewhere…

-- Hope everyone had a good holiday weekend! Canada Day and the 4th of July all fitting nicely into a weekend. Gotta love the way the calendar fell this year… won’t be as lucky next year sadly.

-- The story surrounding the W Hotel in Austin is becoming more and more fascinating by the day. For an industry guy like me I get a kick out of seeing who is being called on to comment and provide analysis. In the article from Saturday’s edition of the Austin Statesman, you had whole run of guys mentioned, from Chicago legend Mark Meshulam to Paul Beers and Bill Lignell. Plus even a piece written for Glass Magazine by Tony Leto was noted. I have a feeling this story is nowhere near done and should be an interesting watch.

-- Outside of the W story, really was a slow week in the industry, which is probably welcomed since we’ve had more drama in the last 8 weeks+ than I can really remember. I am actually pretty happy that I have little to write about this week!

-- Congrats to Butte College for going off the grid- going all solar. Story is here and shows that there are some people really thinking out there.

-- How about the new twist on an old internet scam…. Remember the whole “I am a Prince and if you send me X dollars to release my fortune, I’ll share with you” angle? Well now the scammers are doing a wild one. They are sending out notes that they are the authorities in these countries and that they have arrested said scammers and there’s money to be paid back to anyone who was approached by the scammers. All you have to do is send them some cash to get your “settlement” released. Absolutely amazing. I swear the people that come up with this stuff, if they used their powers and creativity for good, our world could be so much better.

-- As some of you know I am a soccer guy- usually more national games than league games, but this coming weekend in the MLS is a huge game between Portland and Seattle. An incredibly fierce rivalry and passionate crowds. Will be a must watch. And I believe for a birthday gift for my friend Kris Vockler of ICD, Portland will deliver a win.

-- And speaking of Kris, she is due to facilitate a seminar on trends in the Decorative Glass world at GlassBuild America. Decorative is a prominent and healthy product segment and this seminar will be a must if you have even the slightest interest or dealings in that world. GlassBuild America as a whole is coming along nicely- I am sensing a lot of enthusiasm about it as people are realizing to keep up and to get ahead of the market, this is a show you have to attend.

LINKS of the WEEK

-- Insane story of the week. Two parents actually arrange a fist fight between their kids. Just click the link- talking anymore about it makes me ill.

-- I’m crushed! This story says the fights on Jersey Shore may be staged! No way!

-- Getting a patent for spying technology via Skype. Interesting read.

VIDEO of the WEEK

An absolutely freaking awesome video showing bridges being blown up from various motion pictures. Who needs 4th of July Fireworks? I’ll watch this any day. Just a great watch matched with an epic soundtrack.