Sunday, March 30, 2014

BIPV Boom or Bust?

Who still out there believes in building integrated photovoltaics? (BIPV) I follow a few people on twitter who are still loyal to the cause and I know several companies who are confident that their product will be the one that hits it big.  The reason I bring this up is that this past week I saw a news report that Heliatek reached a new world record in efficiency with its transparent solar cells.  I chuckled because back in my past life I was involved with a product, not too different than the Heliatek one that I believed and still believe could have been the game changer.  So the effort is still ongoing yet here we are 5 or 6 years later and BIPV is not near the mainstream yet.  Will it get there?  I still believe that here’s too many parts of the building not active and that with the push for net zero and net positive, BIPV is a must.  The question is when will the right product, with the right efficiency and at the right price of course, come to fruition?


--  Meanwhile the numbers for traditional solar installations have hit some interesting strides.  In 2013 solar generating capacity beat wind-generating capacity for the first time.  By 2023 solar is expected to dwarf wind- almost doubling its output.  What’s the reason?  Major utilities are jumping on board and pushing it.  Clean energy is undoubtedly something that has not seen anywhere near its potential yet.

--  Congrats to my good friend Mike Dishmon of Virginia Glass Products on his recent appointment of VP of Sales and Marketing.  Mike’s a great and talented person who will do tremendous things there.

--  Last week I wrote on VUCA and all week I heard from various people their thoughts and opinions on it.  The main theme was no one had heard of VUCA before and now that they’ve heard of it, they are fascinated by it.  I have to admit I am too… really interesting mindset to have.

--  Speaking of mindsets, I have to laugh every time the NFRC has meeting now.  Their meetings have blogs, reports and now even video reviews.  My laughter comes from a great memory of being at an NFRC meeting and hearing a board member say in front of the entire audience to “be careful what you say as it may end up on a blog somewhere” and trust me she didn’t say it in a nice way… anyway, years later, its pretty wild to see them trying to communicate in all of these ways they once demonized.  Then again they are smart enough now to realize that doing their own blogs and videos means they control the message…. Man that Tom Herron is a smart one. 

--  The Architectural Billings Index was a little flat last month, but given how insanely bad the weather has been and pretty much across the board complaints on the effect the weather has had on building, its not a surprise.  I believe good things are still to come.

--  Spring however will not be coming.  I’m convinced of that. I just think we’ll go right from winter into next winter.


--  What happens when you are reported dead but not really dead?

--  Not sure why parents want to party with their teen children. 

--  This is the dumbest thing ever.


If you have dogs you have been there when they get spooked by the oddest things.  Here’s one that is thrown by a leaf… and oh this video… more than a million views!  People love dogs… and dog videos!!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Good Feelings

When do you think talk is cheap versus real? And how can you really tell?  When it comes to talking about the economy or the success and quality of business, there’s usually telling signs on whether or not the talk is legitimate.  Those signs are when people use words like “hopeful” or “looking like it’s going be…” when you ask them how business is.  When times are truly good, the answers are emphatic and energy is real.  This past week in Las Vegas at the BEC Conference, the positive nature both in body language and comments were clearly real.  So while not everyone is rolling along yet in our industry and we know we have some sore spots, to me I think we are finally, headed in the right direction.

More from the show in this BEC only blog…

--  As for the event itself, it was a major success.  I have said all along that events like BEC and GlassBuild America have to be supported and successful for the good of the industry.   So if you came to BEC, we’ll see you in the fall at GlassBuild and if you missed BEC, you simply can’t afford to miss GlassBuild now. 

--  The speakers at BEC were very strong.  And I sincerely learned a lot.  Before the conference I had never heard of VUCA.  In the presentation from Dick Beuke of PPG, the process of VUCA was explained.  VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.  And all of those items have a serious effect on the business climate. Understanding them, working through them, and overcoming them are crucial for success.  The other main highlight for me was Mic Patterson of Enclos once again blowing a room of people away.  Very insightful and meaningful information that had every attendee talking afterwards.  I got to meet Mic in person for the first time after and that was very cool.  While we sometimes end up on opposite sides of issues, the respect I have for him is immense. 

--  The day 2 Keynote speaker, sponsored by Guardian Industries was Ron Jaworski and he did not disappoint.  The energy and enthusiasm he shows on ESPN is not an act.  The guy just brings it.  And his piece, mixing football stories and business lessons was excellent.  It was a speech that those of us who are not Ivy League grads could really grasp and understand, and lessons taught that could be utilized in every day business.  

--  At the end of the day all of the speakers brought value and that was huge.  Congrats to the brilliant Jon Kimberlain of Dow Corning, who as head of the BEC division did a great job in pulling it all together and making it go.  I wish Henry Taylor of Kawneer (past BEC chair) could’ve been there to see, as Henry skillfully stewarded the ship through the roughest waters possible, and he would’ve been excited to see how the show went.

--  As for others I got to see and talk to…. I got to fly in to town on same plane as the Guardian team- all good folks and a company that continues to step up in its support of our industry.   One of my new favorites for most intelligent and credit to our world is John Wheaton of Wheaton Sprague.  That guy is tremendous and a true plus for our industry.  He was on a consultant panel that overall was really insightful including Stephane Hoffman and Tony Childress.  That panel could’ve gone on for hours.  Also always nice to see the classy Tracy Robbins of Walters and Wolf as well as seeing old friend and sports savant Joe Carlos of TriView.  Seeing Dave Helterbran out and about was especially awesome since he’s battled some health issues.  He looked great and had that classic smile going as always.  Mark Spencer of SAPA was in the mix and I know at least one person did confuse him for football star Howie Long.  Running into Garret Henson for the first time in a long time was a pleasure, as well as getting to see his Viracon cohort Seth Madole.  The Pacific Northwest is always well represented, especially with the new Washington Glass Association leader Bill Coady of Guardian working the room with style.  Seeing and working on the fab panel with my old co-worker Kirk Johnson was a joy as was seeing and talking briefly with his Hartung Glass company-mate Nick David Sciola.

--  The day and half of the event went too fast that there were people I saw that I wanted to talk to and I never could get around to see.  Hopefully I will catch up with them at GlassBuild in September if not sooner.  Once again though the bottom line is these events matter.  Being able to learn and network matter, and if you want to grow your business and yourself- you simply can’t miss these.


--  Sitting too long at McDonalds has become a big story of late… here’s the latest edition.

--  Ok friends of mine in Seattle… anyone know the story behind this?  Next time I visit, I want to see it!

--  Wow, asking or being asked to the Prom has really changed…


From Wheel of Fortune… guy guesses the word with so little to go off of.  Was the fix in???

Sunday, March 16, 2014

BEC Recap Part 1

I think it’s pretty obvious that I am a very big “support the industry” sort of guy.  I believe that the stronger our industry is a whole, the better it is for all.  I believe the industry support, especially in the past year or so have been great but it needs to be better.  We need more impact from all levels, big and small.  So if you are not coming to events like BEC or GlassBuild America, you are not only hurting yourself, but hurting the industry too.  So thank you to all who are involved and to those who are not, I’d love to engage in a conversation with you on why not- and get you on board.


--  This week, it’s the first of two parts from Las Vegas at the GANA BEC show.  The kick off to the event is the technical meeting and in a change from the past, the meeting brought in a few speakers to mix up the normal “committee” style agenda.  I think that change worked because attendance at the session was one of the best I’ve ever experienced.  All three speakers were excellent and the presentation from Jim Benney of NFRC had potential to explode into a major debate, which I found refreshing since I honestly thought most people had given up questioning why things are the way they are there.  Needless to say, in my opinion there are still some serious issues on the way NFRC does things in regards to our world…. Kudos to Chuck Knickerbocker of TGP for making the session really special.

--  Seen at the conference… part 1… the Sunday night reception is always pretty strong and this year was probably the best it’s been in a while.  Attitudes were VERY positive about the current market.  As for the folks I got to run into… great to see Joe Erb from Quanex, no one more welcoming than him. Saw for the first time in many years Greg DiVona of Prelco.  That was cool to catch up.  Chatted with Steve Cohen of Schott and hung for a few minutes with the Argentinian heart throb Hernan Gil of Global Security Glazing.  Plus I did see for one split second one of my favorites, Cameron Scripture from Viracon.  He’s so popular now I think I have to make an appointment for the next reception.  Last but certainly not least was great to see the awesome pairing of Jan Rogan and Joanne Funyak of PPG.  They as always are awesome. 

--  Next week, I’ll recap the rest of the event including the two panel sessions that I am honored to be moderating.  To be on stage with the folks on these panels is mind blowing to me.  These are really sharp, talented folks who are all huge assets to their companies and the industry. 

--  I just finished the 2nd best “inside story” business book ever.  That book would be “Hatching Twitter” by Nick Bilton.  This was a fantastic read and one that gives great insights into how a start up works, how board’s can be seriously dysfunctional and how some ideas just connect when others don’t.  The inside stories told, were amazing and how this author got to the stories on everything has to be a massive coup.  In any case, want a great business non-fiction read?  This is it.  The best of all time remains “The Disney War” by James Stewart.  That book will be almost impossible to top… this one though came close.

--  Last this week… March Madness is here.  Once upon a time I would not miss a second of the action.  But as I’ve grown older and busier, it does not hold the same effect for me.  I won’t even fill out a bracket this year, which is pretty unbelievable to those who know me.  In reality I am getting more and more like that with all sports.  Between the priorities of real life pretty taking precedence and being soured on the expense/salary/cost model of major sports, it’s just not important to me like it used to be. 


--  Scam Alert!

--  Pretty crazy read on a how Twix bar got a guy fired.

--  Would you pay $89 and wait months for a hoodie?  Not me…

No Video of the Week this week... internet here is pretty rough....  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Posting Later

Just a heads up to my Sunday readers- because of flying out to BEC and wanting to get day 1 of coverage in the blog, no Sunday post until very late Sunday night.

Thank you

Sunday, March 09, 2014

The Big 5-0-0....

It’s a milestone post for me this week and before I get to that, it’s funny that a subject I have written a ton about over the years hit the news again this past week.  Once again we talk about the adventures of LEED.
It’s been known for a while that Ohio was looking to ban the LEED green building rating system. There’s a lot of politics behind the issue, some of it in the right and some not. This past week the Ohio State Senate passed a resolution asserting that LEED should not be used on state buildings.   The big item with this is that there’s been a mobilization of groups to strike back against the way LEED is structured and how it can be biased against certain industries.  I hate the overall thought of banning, but if it can force some change somewhere down the line, I am all for it.  I for one have hated the way that LEED as looked at items like powder coat and recycled content in glass.  The logic just never connected to me.  I also hate the true lack of choice of green building rating systems; the others out there have been unable to gain any legitimacy in the marketplace because LEED is so powerful.  In the end I will be stunned if the state follows all the way through, but if they do, it could truly open some of the landscape for better systems.


--  At the IGMA meetings this week, Julie Schimmelpenningh gave an updated presentation on safety glass that continues to strike a chord.  We have the technology and innovation to do more with protective glazing, it’s time we really push that envelope to its furthest point.  There’s factions in our industry that make too many excuses for why we can’t do things, and it just hurts us more than you realize. 

--  If you missed this presentation, I believe Julie is giving it or some resemblance to it at BEC next week during the technical committee meetings.  If you were in any way, shape or form interested in advancing our world, this would be a session to be at.
Again next Sunday BEC kicks off- so my blog for next week will have some of that flavor to it.  Looking forward to a really strong event.

--  Congrats to CRL on their latest news of opening up a super center in Denver.  No question that company continues to press all of the right buttons as it pertains to some of their hires over the last year, new product development and now expansions. 

--  Once again its time for the most significant honor in our industry to be bestowed- The Glass Magazine Awards are now accepting nominations. This is the time where you can throw some recognition towards the people, the projects, and the products that truly make our industry great.  The fact that I got to work with a few past winners, notably the great John McGee of Binswanger Glass is something I am really proud of. 

--  With this post I hit a pretty mind blowing landmark… this will be the 500th entry on the blog since it started in 2005.  I simply can’t believe it.  Looking back so much has changed since I started this adventure.  The industry is so different, some players have changed pretty dramatically since then, and my approach to this blog has evolved as well.  The one constant is that its still great therapy for me and it’s still an honor to communicate with the industry the way I do.  Thank you for continuing to read and comment both publicly and through e-mail.  I am sincerely grateful.


--  I will have to get this APP- it will allow you to read a novel in under 90 minutes!

--  This teen suing parents story is unreal.  Go parents go!!!  I am flabbergasted here.

--  Wow.  Going old school with the newspaper ad blast on infidelity. 


My first video of the week came way back in 2006 and it was a preview of an upcoming Rocky movie.  Funny that movie series which is my favorite also became my sons as well.  So for this week, at post 500, the video of the week is the preview of the new Rocky Balboa on Broadway show that’s close to coming out.  It will be my excuse to visit NYC for sure.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

A pretty major need

We have a severe labor shortage in our industry when it comes to glaziers.  I don’t think I am telling anyone anything new there.  It feels like every company, big and small are looking for folks to install.  But we also have a severe shortage in another part of our world.  Project Managers.  It is mind blowing to me how many companies are looking for PM’s right now.  In fact I would say the need for Project Managers might be surpassing that of the need for glaziers.  I believe this to be the case because companies are adapting to their field labor shortages with doing different maneuvers, whether its buying installation equipment (everything on the floor at GlassBuild America last year sold out) or pushing with more unitized systems or some other approach, people are making things work.  On the Project Management side, its not that easy and the solutions are not at the forefront at least.  Eventually this industry has to address these issues because it’s only getting worse…


--  Good news out of the Associated Builders and Contractors Construction Backlog Index this week… the backlog has hit a post recession high… and its also tracking almost 4% better than this time a year ago.  I also believe that the weather related slow start to 2014 (starts in January were dreadful) will eventually result in a mini boom thanks to delays and pent up demand.  Staying positive here…

--  Speaking of positive, a few weeks ago dynamic glass manufacturer View was featured in a Fox Business Channel report.  This was a really nice piece that put not only View, and the dynamic glass world in a great light but our industry as a whole as well.  Getting solid traditional media coverage is crucial to our messaging of innovation.  Congrats to the team at View on getting this one.

--  The celebrity keynote speaker at BEC next month is Ron Jaworski.  This week he made news when he said heralded quarterback Johnny Manziel would not get picked in the first three rounds of the NFL draft if HE, Jaworski was making the choice.  The reason this is news is most experts think Manziel may be one of the first few players picked OVERALL.  Jaworski is known for making newsmaking statements, so I am wondering if at BEC he will do the same… I could see him saying, “Low E Glass is the past… I’m going with something else…” or “No aluminum for me… only Vinyl for my curtain walls” and our world would go crazy…

--  How good of a business is a New York City cab?  This week there was an auction for 168 licenses to run a cab in NYC.  The low bid was 650K… the high was 965K… for ONE cab.  That just blows my mind.  Not being from New York or knowing the city that well I had no idea that a million dollar investment into a cab is a good one.  That is craziness….

--  Last this week… can someone tell Mother Nature we’ve had enough?  What a winter this has been.  And supposedly forecasts are calling for a cooler than normal spring and summer…  I joked on twitter that this winter is like what the folks in Minnesota experience every year, and my pal Garret Henson from Viracon noted it’s even a bad one for them too being 4th coldest on record there.  Now when its even stupid cold in Minnesota, you KNOW it’s a bad winter!!


--  Wild packs of Chihuahuas roaming in Arizona.  Yep.  Sounds as crazy as it looks.

Justin Bieber did not like the bet of whoever lost the Olympic Hockey game gets to keep him… why would he even care?

A spelling bee that ran out of words… C-R-A-Z-Y!


Thank you to my friend Shelly Farmer for this one… evidently the Jetsons floating cars do exist…in some way out there… wild stuff!!