Sunday, February 26, 2012

Post Mortem

There’s no doubt that the Trainor story was a huge event in our world. The emotion and fallout was and continues to be intense. The news of their closure was a surprise more from the fact that it was a ceasing of operations and not a Chapter 11 re-organization where they would stay operating. So it was that finality that was the knockout punch. As for the emotions and feedback from the industry, the biggest thing is the welfare of the employees. My heart goes out to those folks, all of whom had been pumping along and then BAM its over. No last paycheck, no benefits. Just over. You’d have to be a very cold person to not feel terrible there and hope that those guys and gals can find new employment elsewhere in our world. Surely there are some talented people now available. In any case talking to some of the folks caught up in this is heartbreaking and I hope for only the best for them.

Now onto the business side of this where the reaction was swift too. There were excellent, well thought-out comments left on my blog last week about that side of it. Eventually I see the Trainor case becoming a case study because there are teachable moments here from a business standpoint. You have all of the factors in place, family dynamics, multiple locations, industry prominence, misjudged expansions into markets and products (the decorative and solar were great angles, just wrong time, place and focus) and much more. All of that plays out in the big picture of things.

So yet again we start another era in our industry as we have a bunch of times in the last few years. And while I am very positive about our future and there are a lot of very good things happening in our world, there’s still the worry and malaise that hangs over us. Bottom line… I hope we are continuing to learn from these events, and gaining the knowledge that will make us stronger and smarter as people, companies and industry as a whole.


-- Pretty big story popped late Thursday and into Friday that Serious Materials was closing the famous Chicago plant that they took over a few years ago. (The plant that featured a sit in, made national news and eventually had a visit from Vice President Biden when it reopened.) That closing is now delayed but we had some interesting moments leading up to it. The story here is a remarkable read about what happened. In any case this one will bear watching because it will be fascinating to see who possibly steps up in this.

-- Congrats to the awesome Carol Land of the Glass Association of North America as she celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary this past weekend. Carol is one of my all time favorites and I am thrilled for her and her husband for hitting this awesome milestone!

-- Last week the AABC Energy Management Guideline for building owners, design professionals, commissioning authorities, and energy management professionals came out. (That was a mouthful eh?) Once again it shows a weakness in how our industry is perceived. 256 pages in all and it covers everything under the sun building product wise that can help the building save money and be efficient with the exception of glass/windows. Nothing on improving the window as a way for better efficiency but hey if you want info on low flush toilets, its in here. H/T and thanks to Chris Ketchum of RavenBrick on this one, I would’ve never have seen it otherwise.

-- Last this week, a great marketing read via link that was tweeted out by Guardian’s Earnest Thompson. It’s how cars get their names and as anyone who has had to name products knows, it’s not easy or fun. This story reminds me about a lunch I had once with the legend of Ford Glass and Visteon Mr. Lowell Rager, when the “Versalux” line of products were announced. At that lunch I heard about the demise of the greatest glass name ever “Jade Ice” and the launch of the line of names that sounded like vacuum cleaners or dishwashers. No matter how it may sound, some things just fit better than others and from this article Earnest sent shows it’s an issue all over.


-- NFL legend Troy Aikman sees some cracks in the massive wall that is the popularity of the NFL. He may be on to something…

-- Scamming the scammers… no one is clean in this story.

Not sure what is worse on this link- the overall story, the writing, or the inane comments. It’s a journalism train wreck!


Once again my brother dug back into his video vault for this one. Flight of the Conchords are a very creative group and this song fits that. It’s funny and raunchy and has 24 million views on Youtube, so my bro is not the only one who thinks its worthy.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Smart News

We had an interesting/exciting/hopeful move in Washington DC this past week with the introduction of the “Smart Energy Act” by a bi-partisan group of representatives. This movement contains many provisions that can bring positive results to our industry with the push on retrofit being the most promising. The support on that business segment and the fact our world is littered with bad buildings that waste energy faster than I can finish a bowl of M&M’s is a point of emphasis that somehow always gets lost in the wash. While so much focus is on making sure new buildings are up to code, we as a society give old buildings a pass. This effort will hopefully help change that. The only frightening part is that the DOE is involved and as many of you know I am not a fan. So as long as the DOE and the typical Washington gridlock doesn’t damage the process, this bill has hope.


-- And yes I know I am nicer on the blog these days. So it is shocking I just made a negative comment! Ironically I actually get more e-mail complaining that I am TOO nice on the blog than anything else. In any case as nice as I have been the DOE still frustrates me to no end.

-- Loved the announcement from Glass Magazine on their new awards. I am absolutely thrilled that they’ll be some personal recognition happening. We have so much talent in this industry that doesn’t get the pub it deserves, and doing it in the format laid out, is really spectacular. Heck my mind is racing nomination wise right now! Just a brilliant idea by Jenni Chase and team. The Crystal Achievement Awards were always the gold standard in the industry and now they have taken the entire process another great step forward.

-- Last week I noted the launch of the excellent new website at CommercialWindows.Org and Kerry Haglund added a comment on the main site of my blog that I felt was needed to be shown here and shared with the e glass weekly audience:

Max, Thanks for the kind words. We feel the work we do is important and makes a difference to the industry. We have some more exciting stuff coming in the future with an upgraded residential site/tool and other projects to be announced in the near future. ~Kerry

The fact that there’s MORE to come here is awesome. Simply wow. I seriously think if Kerry and the folks she works with at the Center for Sustainable Building Research ran the DOE, we’d be soooo much further along.

-- A couple of items from pop culture world this week…

-- Michael Jordan celebrated his 49th Birthday… and without question is the best basketball player to walk the earth. Unreal. I know Magic, Bird, the Doctor and others were great, but no one holds a candle to Air Jordan.

-- The Grammy Awards were a fun watch and GLASS made an appearance as Katy Perry broke a piece of tempered as a part of her set. I love when glass gets involved in anything mainstream. As for the rest of the show- loved Bruce off the top and I just wish I could dance and move like Bruno Mars. Oh and that Adele is a star!

-- Something else I am always tracking and complaining about here are gas prices and they are on the rise again- over $4 per gallon in California now and probably will keep going. That is flat out depressing.

-- Last this week… a great friend of mine sent me a story on the government reading people’s tweets and Facebook pages and the “outrage” of that effort. Well I for one could care less- those are public forums, and if you’ve got something to hide, Twitter and Facebook are not the place for you. Face it, in the electronic world, everything is somehow fair game. And it while it may not be right in every case, it is what it is.

LINKS of the WEEK:

-- Have you been following this story with the Dad in North Carolina who did a wild You Tube rant that featured him shooting a laptop because his daughter complained about doing her chores on line? If not, just click the link. It’s fascinating. Good for the Dad by the way.

-- This reminds me about the stories that people are able to argue with Siri on their iPhone. (Tons of videos of that on line but none have good sound) Anyway, this story is about a “smart” computer at a University library taught to talk back X rated…

This guy lost 200 pounds in a year. GOOD FOR HIM!! Amazing. Hope he can keep it off… I know I sure as heck can never do that.

VIDEO of the WEEK:

Fun one. Watch the upper right hand part of screen about the :14 mark and a young lady will lose track of her steps while texting. I am surprised this doesn’t happen more often!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I want to be a Zero

At one time being a “Zero” was a bad thing. You really didn’t want to be a zero or hang with any people that were known as that. And you surely didn’t want your house or building to be classified as that. Well that is all changing and with the current trends in energy, being a zero not only will be cool, it will become the norm. This week a report came out that “zero energy buildings” (A zero energy building is one that produces as much energy as it consumes) would be growing at a compound annual rate of 43% with amazing landmarks of 691 Billion (yep that’s a “B”) by 2020 and 1.3 Trillion (and that’s a “T”) by 2035. Folks that is just exciting. And yes I know these are world numbers and the initial push and growth will come in Europe, but I am confident we here in North America will be in the mix. Glass and glazing products obviously will be a part of that effort, and while some may be pricier than the next, performance will finally be valued! Count me in as a zero folks and when I talk about these great products of our current and future, keep in mind being a “zero” is their destiny.


-- What a fun Super Bowl last week. I’m happy for Eli and the Giants and their fans. But I want to talk commercials and specifically one major company that really blew a golden opportunity. Budweiser just came out with a new beer called Bud Platinum. Great name. They had the FIRST ad of the Super Bowl. Great spot. And their ad was completely forgettable. Stunning since Bud had created so many great campaigns over the years. The lesson here is even if your brand is popular and you did great things in the past, if you stumble on the big stage that is all forgotten.

-- Loved the Clint Eastwood ad. Though Clint could read the instructions to setting up a children’s toy and make it sound inspirational and intense.

-- This past week was the International Builders Show in Orlando. It was the first one I have missed in many years. However I heard from many who attended and even got pictures of the snazzy YKK booth to keep me in tune. I also heard about the hit of the show, the PPG Polar Bear. Bummed for sure that I missed being involved in that adventure. Rob Struble & team always know how to get the floor buzz. Overall the reports were that the show was dramatically smaller than the past, but traffic was solid and attitudes leaning positive. So that’s good. I do think people need to attend events like this because if you don’t you miss the products that will make your business survive and thrive.

-- Congrats to Kerry Haglund and her team at the Center for Sustainable Building Research on their fantastic new website- HERE. This website is an insanely good tool and the amount of information and detail is fantastic. The key of this site is the ability to provide people with the intelligence they need to build better buildings using material from our industry. Plus I’d assume if you want to be a zero (like noted above), you’d need to be friendly with the info provided there. Well done Kerry!

-- Last this week more kudos. WA Wilson added two young talents to their sales staff in Josh Perilstein and Justin Benline. And yes Josh is my nephew, so I am biased here. (He’s actually the Peyton Manning of his family; his brother Evan is really Eli-like) Bias aside, Josh joins after a great stint with the quality folks at CRL and Justin from inside the office. It’s nice to see younger folks getting out there in our world. We need to keep growing our depth (Greg Carney has been pounding this theme for years) and getting that next generation active and involved. By the way if you are a customer of either of these guys, don’t hold their connections to me against them!

LINKS of the WEEK:

-- Pretty cool home… won a national SEED award.

-- Great blog post from CNN on how much information our military shares with the media. We DON’T have to know all the details, surely not to give the enemy info..

-- Tremendous story on the top 10 stupid things people do on line. Shockingly reading this blog was not listed.

VIDEO of the WEEK:

-- My brother had time after cracking the whip on his newest employees (above) to find this hilarious jewel. The actor Will Farrell doing the starting line ups at an NBA game. Love it. He should do this more often. Classic.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Negative takes the lead

So last week I ran a piece on the positive news from the AIA but was really surprised by the industry reaction that leaned almost completely negative. I figured at least some folks would buy in and look to this report as a positive, but that really was not happening. I think the overall state of our industry (challenging years, deflating pricing, rising costs etc.) coupled with so many wrong reports/projections previous have hardened a lot of people. But with the NASDAQ finishing the week with an 11-year high and the NYSE hitting its best totals since 2008, you would hope we are headed in the right direction. Regardless it looks like it will take a lot more than all of that to get the optimism rolling.


-- There was good news last week when AGC announced the reopening of the production line at their Church Hill plant. That line had shut down in 2008, so it is very exciting to see it get back and going.

-- The sequel to the wildly popular “Day of Glass” from Corning is out. I saw it first via tweet by the great Greg Carney. Pretty interesting piece yet again and like the first one I expect it to go viral and be sent around our industry like crazy. By the way, when you watch it, if you’re not freaked out by the 3D Brain Scan part, I’ll be surprised.

-- You know how I love lists. This one, I don’t love so much. The Top Ten miserable cities in America. Full story be found here, but I still have to list the “Top” ten.

10. Warren, Michigan
9. Rockford, IL
8. Toledo, OH
7. Ft. Lauderdale, FL
6. Chicago, IL (Really? That is a stunner)
5. Sacramento, CA
4. West Palm Beach, FL
3. Flint, MI
2. Detroit, MI (OK we get it, people hate Michigan)
1. Miami, FL (Wow)

Again you have to read the article on why, but this one is a head scratcher. My good friend Manny is a huge Miami guy; I can’t wait to hear what he thinks of this list.

-- Great hire last week in South Florida by Superior Window with the addition of Frank D’Aprile as their new Sales Manager. Frank is a good man and has a ton of solid experience and matching up with the folks already in place at Superior, and it looks like a window version of the Miami Heat. Congrats.

-- Congrats to Marg Webb and the folks at IGMA for what sounded like a very successful meeting (Vacuum Insulating Glass- sounding very interesting!) and their new revamped website-which is excellent.

-- Last this week; those of you who follow me on Twitter or are connected to me on LinkedIn may have seen my notes on this item. I had a 6:40AM flight and after we took off the guy next to me started to pound beers. By mid flight he had depleted the planes stock of Heineken and moved to Corona, then threw a Bloody Mary in for good measure. It was simply amazing. I’m blown away by the whole event- obviously I am not a drinker but just can’t get my head around drinking that much, that early. So a few folks said maybe it was fear of flying. My initial thought was he had to be in our industry and would fall in that group mentioned above that is pessimistic. In any case, it surely made the flight go fast and when we landed he bounced off the plane no worse for wear. If I drank that much, they would’ve had to take me out on a stretcher!


All three links this week is about just awful judgment… here goes.

-- Amazingly stupid? Woman robs a police officer. I’m speechless.

-- And the beat goes on. This guy is upset over a photo… that he gave up the rights for… read on.

-- And the topper… guy gets Super Bowl tickets for he and his girlfriend. But then he’s diagnosed with cancer and she dumps him… yet she still wants to go to the game… seriously. He at least makes the best out of bad deal.


I actually found this video of ping pong greatness myself… but if my brother wasn’t swamped, I am sure he would’ve found it because he was once a world-class ping-pong player. This baby though will surpass everyone… incredible!