Sunday, January 26, 2014

Victory in the Battle for the Wall!

This news was big and exciting.  As an industry we once again came together to do the right thing.  It was something that everyone in our part of the world could easily agree on.  Less glass in a building is a BAD thing.  A few weeks ago I wrote about the “Battle” to protect our industry, along with Glass Magazine taking the lead media wise to push it, and great work from trade groups like GANA and AEC (among many others) the attention needed for this issue was provided.  Add in the amazing Dr. Tom Culp to present and fight for our way of life and the winning formula was set.  This week, the results came down positive for our industry and with it a validation that glass can be a great part of high performance building options.  So we can take a victory lap and savor it for the moment, but I can tell you they’ll be more challenges to come.  We still have to push our innovation and technology and we still have naysayers working against our efforts, hoping they can find cracks in our approach.  So if you just got involved, please stay involved and let’s keep moving our industry forward!!


--  Last week’s post on the DOJ sparked a ton of conversation for me.  The common theme was that this result surely gets the attention of the other folks involved currently in battles with foreign concerns.  And that opening a plant somewhere else in North America as a “depot” of sorts as a way to get around duties may not fly.  This will surely be one to watch, and with issues underway (especially regarding curtain wall) it will be fascinating to see what happens next.

--  Cleantech took an absolute beating from 60 Minutes a few weeks ago.  The piece was extremely negative, and even poorly done in parts.  Believe me, I could do hours of documentaries on the past ineptitude of the DOE and even I felt that this feature was too off the wall.  Note, I do think the current group at DOE is solid and has potential, but the past group deserve a ton of heat.  In any case our concern as an industry is we do have significant technology connected to cleantech and bad and outdated attitudes on innovation in that category will hamper us.  It’s frustrating that the answer is always immediately “No” and the questions are “Why” instead of “Why not” And while I get the taxpayer and government support angle and don’t like all of it myself (and there’s some amazing arguments on all sides out there), I believe if done right cleantech is a must for our world as whole.  To view this piece, here’s the link. 

--  Two major players from Pilkington are hanging them up.  Rex Tracht and Paul Baskwell are retiring after more than 40 years at Pilkington.  I know both men and respect and like them a ton.  While I am sure the folks replacing them will be solid, it surely will not be the same not seeing Paul and Rex at industry events or at various fabricators I get to visit.  Enjoy your retirement men!  You will be missed!

--  Make sure to check out the Video of the week again… a fun one for those of us who have to do conference calls.  Really comical stuff.

--  Last this week; in the commercial glass industry John Swanson was not real well known.  However on the residential side, as Editor and Associate Publisher of Window and Door Magazine he was a titan and a force.  Sadly John passed away last week, leaving this world way too young at 52.  John was incredibly respected and for many was the conscience of that industry.  No question his passing leaves a massive void.  Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.


Sick, stupid people. Wow.

If you have a Mac, you may want to read this and pay attention

Travel warriors… agree with this?  I surely think we need a better way


Conference Calls can be a “special” experience.  In this video you see what it looks like if everyone was “present” for the call.  Really well done and funny.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The DOJ comes down hard

A big story that probably did not get as much traction as I would expect dropped last week when the Department of Justice announced that Basco Manufacturing will pay a 1.1 million dollar fine to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act in conjunction with the duties that were levied on Chinese aluminum being imported into the US.  The fact that the Aluminum Extruders Council was able to get the DOJ involved and active in this case is pretty impressive.  I think many folks did not expect any blowback or penalties because in the past our government either would not focus on it or they would take a light approach. There was little fear of the consequences of circumvention.  Obviously this is not the case here.  The main issue in this case was something called “transshipping” where you ship the material from China to somewhere else and then off to the US.  Ironically I remember when these duties came out I asked that exact question, on if this was a practice that people could try and was told point blank that it would be “impossible to pull off” and it turns out in the end it was… 


--  You know I hate to keep bringing it up but I have to… the NFRC was back in the news again pushing their services and abilities when it comes to commercial windows and energy codes and ratings. This time it was during a webinar to promote their rating systems.  In simple terms, they are desperately trying to get commercial acceptance and its just not happening.  But gotta give them credit for trying. (My guess its because of class guys like Tom Herron, who do care and try to make it work) However if I am a commercial guy I would be very afraid of this group even more now after seeing the latest composition of their Board.  Not a group of commercial glass supporters that’s for sure.  In fact this board is made of a few of the people who really pushed hard to ram illogical processes down everyone throats a few years ago and could care less for fair dialogue or debate.  Oh well… the more things change… the more they stay the same….

--  I am really stunned that the great blog post from Jenni Chase on last week’s Glassblog only garnered the one comment.  There’s no question that Obamacare is a massive political football and opinions can be strong.  I guess possibly so strong that people do not want to even step into that debate…

--  View picked up another huge investment last week with 100 million dollars coming their way.  More and more people are seeing that there’s going to be a major appetite for all sorts of smarter or dynamic glass (electrochomic and thermochromic among others) and they are speaking with their checkbooks.

--  Make sure you check out my VIDEO of the WEEK as it features one of our own on the Jimmy Kimmel Show.  Kawneer Regional Sales Representative Brian Burch was on vacation in Los Angeles when he ran into the cameras from Jimmy Kimmel and had to show off his moves… Go Brian Go!  And thank you  to Rod Van Buskirk, who brought this to our attention and now probably has Brian pretty fired up at him!

--  I saw that the Sacramento Kings basketball teams will now accept Bitcoin as currency.  I still can’t get my head around how the whole Bitcoin will work.  Can’t wait til some General Contractor tries to pay in Bitcoin in our industry….

--  On the entertainment side, Emma Thompson was robbed by not getting even a nomination for an Oscar for Best Actress in Saving Mr. Banks.  So wrong.  Also the movie Lone Survivor is getting a lot of buzz and I have an Army buddy who has seen it and said if you want to a true and realistic view of what goes down in our current conflicts, this movie was right on.  I have not seen yet, but going to have to…


--  I don’t fly Southwest for many reasons, but now I can add lack of direction to the list.

--  The WRONG way to get icicles off t he roof…

--  This is seriously the most amazing story ever.  Wow.


The aforementioned video from the Jimmy Kimmel show featuring Brian Burch at 2:00 mark… check it out!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Here we go again

Well guess what’s back…. Many people thought this story was over, but sadly it wasn’t.  The battle to protect our industry from reduced usage of glass is on the front burner again after the task group from ASHRAE 189.1 replied with some exceptions that they feel could resolve our “issues.”  It is mind blowing this dance continues but it does, and the simple answer to their reply here is… NO.  The exceptions they laid out won’t solve our areas of very legitimate concern.   And once again, despite the best showing we have had as industry consensus, we are still battling.  If you are a member of GANA, GICC, or AEC, you were alerted about this.  If you are not, you still need to get involved.  We don’t need a ton of you’re your time; we just need your support.  Obviously having a large segment of the industry involved the last time was not enough.  We need to show more.  And we need to CONTINUE to stand up for ourselves and say that reducing the window area by 25% is wrong and actually works against high performance building design.
Thankfully we have Dr. Tom Culp leading us and he’s been brilliant, but we have to be behind him or otherwise we’ll all be looking at structures with tiny little windows in the future.  There’s no way anyone reading this blog could want that right?


--  More news was Guardian making a change at the top of their flat glass division.  Obviously my first thought is best wishes and health recovery to Scott Thomsen who stepped down due to undisclosed health reasons.  Scott made a major impact in his time at Guardian in many areas (products, innovations, people etc.) and was a passionate supporter of the industry.  He will be sorely missed from that standpoint but with what he created his legacy will love on.  As for Guardian’s strong support of the industry I am confident that it will continue no matter who may be in charge.

--  Interestingly, one of Scott’s main pushes over the last few years was the “The Battle for the Wall” and efforts like the one listed above to hurt our industry.  On the day he steps down, that comes back. 

--  The weather this past week did not help my prediction of a great year, thankfully the worst of it is gone, but there’s no question last week was not exactly the busiest business week we will all have!  As for the actual weather itself, that was a memorable event and I hope I never see or hear the word “Arctic Vortex” again!

--  Also making news over the past few days… Glass Apps acquired the smart film manufacturing assets of Citala.  Glass Apps makes some excellent advanced interior switchable glass and I was very impressed with their product and team when I met them at AIA last year. Looks like now they are continuing to grow and move.

--  SAPA is back with another excellent educational opportunity with the return of their Profile Academy.  Scheduled for February 6-7 in Atlanta, and with a focus on building and construction, this Academy is a great way for folks to learn more about aluminum, its design, treatment, usages, and so on.    This is something on my bucket list for sure and I have been unable to attend in the past, but I will eventually get to one!

--  Government waste is a major frustration for me.  I have railed here before and it amazes me that we as a world allow it.  At the end of last year Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma put out his annual manual on it.  While some items are political footballs, there are many legitimate and infuriating things happening with public money.  It’s shameful.  Here’s a quick look.


What your favorite drink says about your politics….

The lowest grossing movie of 2013…

I love Disney a ton… and I knew about most of these hidden facts too… scary!


The Price is Right is a classic TV show, and some of the most fun is when contestants go crazy.  Well this one slipped and fell in her excitement leading to an awkward and funny moment. 

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Fearless Forecast

I hope everyone had a great set of holidays and is ready for a super year ahead.  I for one have very positive feelings about 2014.  I liked the way the year ended with most companies busy and most regions seemingly in good shape economically.  And I liked the forecasts, even though I know they are usually wrong.  More than that it’s just a feeling I have that we have very good things coming our way in the next year.  And so to get it started, here are five industry predictions for the next 12 months.

1.     There will be one major acquisition in the glass fabrication side of the business that will have the industry buzzing.  Otherwise 2014 will be light on the merger/acquisition side but look out 2015 will be crazy with them.
2.     Both GANA BEC and GlassBuild America will be hugely successful.  And yes I have worked or do work with both of these so consider my bias, but I will say both are primed for big years.  The BEC 2014 has a very strong agenda and I have seen the plans for GlassBuild America and I promise you that you will be impressed and WANT to be there.
3.     A new green rating system will start to take hold.  Right now LEED is beyond dominant and will continue to be the major player, but look out for one of the smaller organizations breaking through. (More on that possibility below)
4.     The code battles will continue and I believe an unlikely ally (another industry) will join forces with the glass industry giving us a stronger voice in the proceedings.
5.     The use of 4th surface Low E will continue to grow and become a much bigger player in the specification process.

I could’ve gone on and on, but this gives you a flavor for what I see in my crystal (glass) bowl.


--  I noted above that LEED will be challenged more significantly in the new year and I truly believe that.  Whether its from its opponents who may be working off of misconceptions or desire to improve their own interests, or from better systems, I think its going to happen.  Want more flavor on it?  Check out this story.

--  During my break I was almost tempted to log on and blog when I saw the blurb about the NFRC seeking more commercial manufacturers to come on board to support the CMA process.  Evidently the commercial manufacturer has been slow to accept and jump on the NFRC’s program.  That does not shock me at all and I think the mountain here is very high to climb.  They are doing some of the right things to improve their communication, but there’s still that nagging issue of its actual need.  The NFRC has effectively (although this is debatable too) made the case for need on the residential side; it’s still never come close to being successful on that effort on the commercial end of things.

--  One forecast I really hope is accurate is the “Smart Glass” one… 700 million in 2013.  I am so into that space and hopeful for it.  It truly is the disruptive force we need to keep moving our industry forward.

Some random notes from my time off:

--  Those of you who fly, you have to love the Delta safety video.  They took the most ignored process on the plane, went creative with it and its brilliant.

--  I saw Saving Mr. Banks over the break.  Great movie.  And Emma Thompson is your lock for Best Actress Oscar.

--  I also saw a great documentary on the group Journey and their new lead singer from the Philippines.  They found him while searching Youtube and this movie told the entire story.  My bet is this will become a Disney movie soon, too amazing of a story not to.

--  I like the Seattle Seahawks, my favorite team as a kid, to win the Super Bowl.  I hope I’m not jinxing my friends in the Northwest with that pick, but I love Russell Wilson and really think he gets it done.

-- Stay warm folks... this winter blast is off the charts....


--  I had no idea that Mick Jagger had a brother… who plays music no less….

--  This story makes no sense to me.  No clue how in the world this can happen… a man left on a plane… seems impossible.

--  This is a tough one- airline has a policy that on the surface makes sense and somehow doesn’t make sense.  There’s an answer somewhere…


And one last look back to 2013… the best of the year in news bloopers.  Some good, some bad, some tasteless….but all were on air for the world to see.