Saturday, February 28, 2015

Winter Woes

We’re entering the final month of Q1 2015 and there’s now an extra storyline to deal with.  The renewed grip of winter hitting in more areas than normal could wreak havoc on bottom line performance in this quarter, which would be similar to what happened same time in 2014.  Obviously a majority of the industry bounced back nicely but no one ever wants to start from behind.  Plus winter delays will also make the glass capacity issues even more perilous.  Basically jobs that should be installed right now are behind and on hold and eventually they will go as well as the jobs that were scheduled to go during that time.  And what will come with that will be an extra dose of mayhem, if glass supply stays tight.  So once again, the need for planning and proactivity is key.  Bottom line for me… I hope March quickly gets from its “entering as a lion phase” and moves right to the “lamb” portion.  The sooner the better…


--  Just a programming note… next week I’ll post this blog from Las Vegas, site of the GANA Annual Conference and BEC.  I’ll have some recaps of the events including some insights from the annual Energy Day program that incredible people like Mark Silverberg of Technoform put on as well as code updates from Dr. Tom Culp and more.  Plus the networking notes and who knows what rumor or scuttlebutt can come out…

--  If you did not catch the blog from Jeff Razwick of TGP, please check it out.  As always it’s well done and though provoking.  And it’s also a very effective argument about some of the great things our industry does. 

--  A congrats to Linda Vos-Graham on her recent honor of being named a finalist for the “Top Women Owned Business Awards”- she is seriously deserving of this recognition.  Linda is a tremendous asset to our industry and the few times I have seen her in a public dialogue (NGA’s GEF a few years ago especially) she was simply amazing. 

--  So a big question… a design of a new Google headquarters is out and it looks absolutely wild.  With that, what are the chances that a North American manufacturer and fabricator get this work or will it come from overseas? 

--  Good part of it finally being March?  March Madness and the College Basketball brackets. Not sure anyone can beat Kentucky….

--  Last this week… the magazine Fast Company did a piece on the most innovative companies in 2015.  (actually makes me think we should do a list like that in our world- I think I will do some day soon) The top 5 were…

5- Instgram
4- Google
3- Alibaba
2- Apple

and #1…. was… Warby Parker!  Only one problem… I have never heard of them… no clue who they are or what they innovate (eye glasses from what I found)  So I’m blown away that the most innovative company according to these guys is someone that surely is not near the mainstream.  And if they were a computer or software related company I could believe it, but glasses?  Wow.


The downside of the very popular website Etsy.

Classic justice served to the “office lunch thief” – Love it!

The hero teen in a snowstorm…


The keynote speaker at GANA BEC is Jim Abbott… retired and amazing baseball player.  Should be a great speech… here’s a look back at one of the great moments in Jim’s career.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Miracle on Ice

Right now we are in the middle of the 35th anniversary of one of the most amazing moments in American sports history.  The Miracle on Ice happened this week in 1980 and it’s something that I still get the chills thinking about.  The late, great Herb Brooks assembled a true “team” of players, guys that were there as he noted to play for the name on the front of the jersey and not the back.  They faced adversity throughout their training and then in the Olympics falling behind game after game, but yet working through it and coming through in the end.  Even though I knew the result before seeing the US-USSR game (it was on tape delay and CBS Evening News told me who won before it was aired) it will probably be my most revered sports memory.  And it doesn’t only pertain to sports; the business angle is in there too.  Several years ago we as an industry had the honor of team USA Captain Mike Eruzione speaking at the BEC Conference and he was amazing- he had one line that I always refer back to:

“You can’t measure heart, pride or commitment…. Intangibles separate good business from great business. If you believe in something, and you’re willing to work hard for it, you can accomplish it.”

Right on...


--  By the way I know I have a very prominent Canadian audience (who I love as anyone who reads this knows) and the 1980 Olympics probably annoys them some, as their boys were beating the Russians 3-1 halfway through their game just a few days before the US played them.  Then the Russians scored 3 goals in 3 minutes and that dream was dead.  But if Canada somehow would’ve held on…. History would’ve been sooooo different. 

--  The “Ad of the Month” in Glass Magazine goes to Salem Distributing.  What a smart, clean and effective ad.  Gets your attention and keeps it.  Congrats to the team at Salem on a job well done.  And by the way this issue “Growing Pains” is absolutely fantastic.  A ton of interesting stories and good research material as well. 

--  The Architectural Billings Index (ABI) came out for January and it was down, barely below the success line, (49.9) but I don’t believe its time for any concern.  The overall numbers still had some very positive parts to them.

--  Ran across an interesting piece this week on the challenges that a construction company will face in 2015.  The top 2 were finding enough qualified skilled workers and landing enough work to be profitable.  Quite frankly these are challenges that I am sure our world has… the rest of the list and poll can be found HERE.  I am surprised that things like managing cash flow was not higher….

--  Last this week- just the quick note of reminders of a couple big industry events on the horizon.  GANA Annual Conference and BEC coming in early March and the GPAD event coming mid March.  I’ll be at the at the GANA events and I am looking forward to seeing folks that I have not seen in a while like the movie star Cameron Scripture of Viracon, the prolific runner Joe Erb of Quanex, and old friend Marty Richardson of Metropolitan Glass.  And of course many others…. Can’t wait.


--  I love pizza as much as anything… but bacon crust?  I don’t think so…

--  Match Boston attitude with massive snow and a parking space and you get this

--  I love lists and this one is awesome.. 23 crazy facts about time and function


Really fun, bawdy, but insightful piece on the famous Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue… which needs to be retired badly… though I have a feeling if they get rid of this issue the whole magazine may go under….

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Seriously, this thing is real...

So I have been banging on the “glass capacity” issue for a while now and this week I chatted with several people who are dealing with this growing problem.  First, there’s still folks unaware that glass, especially ¼” clear, is getting harder and harder to get.  That is on everyone in the chain.  Suppliers, Fabricators, Glaziers, and the media… Communicating about what is happening in the industry is a must.  And while this issue has not affected the entire industry yet, the way it is heading I am pretty sure it will… so as I have said before- be proactive.  On that note, I did hear from a few people who are struggling with the best ways to be proactive.  Some fabricators are developing programs to reserve glass but some of those programs carry risk side (penalties if you don’t take the glass when scheduled is one), and with the volatile schedules of the general contractor, the glaziers are wary about commitments.  Last the fear is by struggling to get glass, we as an industry could be setting ourselves up for losing that part of the building to other materials.  Now while I don’t see “glass-less” buildings, designers could choose to go with less glass area… which is scary and ironic since we fought so hard to deflect efforts to limit glass usage in the codes.  So again its communication through the chain, as this is a legitimate issue and one that is not going to go away quickly.  Making sure everyone knows what the obstacles are, being truthful with lead-times, pushing for guaranteed sizes etc.  In the end, all of these things, as well as other proactive measures will help and also make everyone more efficient to boot.   And if you have not been touched with this tightening of materials, congrats, but be prepared as I have good feeling you will.


--  I know I say it over and over, but sometimes when something is so good, it deserves the constant repeating. Katy Devlin’s blogs on Glass Magazine are not to be missed.  Last week’s recap of a facades conference was incredible.  So good that I think I may need to take a few months off to recharge because my stuff is not even in the same stratosphere. 
--  On my last post I noted one of the buildings that was chosen as “the coolest” in 2014 and wondered who fabricated the glass… well sure enough it did not take long for the always-excellent Bill Coady of Guardian to pipe up with the info.  The glass used was Guardian SunGuard Neutral 40 on #2 and Neutral 78/65 on #5. (Triple Pane) The glass was fabricated by Garibaldi Glass-Burnaby.  Congrats to all and thank you Mr. Coady for reading the blog and replying!

 --  Great news this week about a good friend of mine, Steve Cohen.  PPG announced that Steve has joined them as National Architectural Manager-Northeast.  Quite a coup for PPG since I believe Steve is one of the most talented guys in our industry.  And while I am biased since I like Steve personally, I can tell you from a professional side in dealing with him, the guy is fantastic.  Great move for both sides here.

Last this week… two more sets of lists since I love those things…

--  The top 25 Architectural “fails” and the top 5 commercial construction trends.  The “fail” piece is just mindless fun… but the trends piece is pretty interesting and does relate to our world some.


--  Why do I have a feeling when the Apple Watch comes out, the FitBit is done?  Stuff like this won’t help them stay alive that’s for sure.

--  Another app for parents to track their kids in school…

--  Great story on when people are looking out for their fellow man… or child.


Cool video of a ping pong trick shot…. 

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Don't Count Out the Birds

In one of my predictions for 2015, I noted that the “Bird Safe” glass revolution would grow.  One key area of growth is to get a stronger voice in the code process and that seemingly is happening.  I think I underestimated the bird safe lobby and their desire to get safe glass specified and installed- probably because this has been an issue on the radar for several years.  I remember being at meeting where the always on top of things, Julie Schimmelpenningh (then of Solutia, now of Eastman) bringing it up as an issue to be aware of and approach.  And basically companies did, but the drumbeat for it to take off never took place.  But now with easily available glass products for it and a possible push on the code side, we’re about to see the revolution grow.


--  Those of you who know me, know I have not been a fan of the USGBC green rating system LEED for a while now.  Well it looks like I am getting more company on that stance.  First, a Turner Construction survey shows that interest in alternative green rating systems is up 250% in the last 2 years.  And then we have the states of Alabama, Georgia, Maine, and Mississippi who have now essentially “banned” the use of LEED for state funded projects due to one of the credit items in the old 2009 criteria.  Now I think green and sustainable building is a must (I prefer Net Zero) and having a solid, reliable, and logical green rating system is crucial.  So I am surely not against the concept, but against at least the set up of the biggest guy on the block.  What will be interesting now is to see if any of these alternative systems can truly step up and be a significant competitor to LEED.

--  Not sure where these stack up energy or “green” wise but a very neat piece on the “5 coolest buildings” completed in 2014.  None in the US, but one is in British Columbia and I am curious which of the awesome glass fabricators in the Pacific Northwest supplied the glass on it…

--  I’m still in shock over the Super Bowl… that ending.  Wow.  Anyway… the best part for me is the commercials, so a quick rundown… obviously the one that made the most news was the bizarre Nationwide “kid” commercial.  If there was ever a PR and marketing combined fail it was that one.  Killing off a kid in front of 114 million viewers in efforts to sell insurance is simply wrong.  To defend it by saying you were trying “educate” is a joke as well.  Best commercials for me were the Budweiser dog returning home one… (we have 4 dogs… I’d be a mess if one left) along with the comical Bryant Gumbel/Katie Couric BMW flashback to 1994.  I laughed even more as that was the year I got my AOL e-mail address that I still have and use today.  Last, the Doritos middle seat commercial was great; all of us have been in that position in one form or another.  Great twist. 

--  Last this week… I have noted here many times that following the Glass Magazine twitter feed can be just as good as being there.  And this past week that was true again during a Facades Conference in Los Angeles.  The stream of tweets were quick and insightful.  And once again while I wish I could’ve attended, I was able to get some of the flavor needed thanks to the feed.  That is where social media really pays off, the ability to real time an interesting event.  Or being able to review the feed at the end of the day and see it all at once.  Nice work!


--  “Clean” eating is going be a big issue some day… the body needs some negative items to fight off…

--  This is a classic… very very bad ad placement!

--  This is surely the “Shake My Head” article of the week.  Wow.


Back in the day I was a fan and viewer of “Saved by the Bell” – it was a classic for sure.  This past week Jimmy Fallon shocked many when he had a very cool flashback and reunion.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Much Needed Education Everywhere

As an industry we know there’s quite a few areas that are troublesome.  If asked most people will mention the need for qualified employees such as manufacturing help, maintenance and on the glazing side, project managers.  But the next need mentioned is usually education and it’s nice to see the efforts one company is putting towards that effort.  The PPG Glass Education Center is an incredible resource.  I visited it again this week after the release of their newest video on Weather Resistant Design and I was once again blown away.  There is simply a ton of info on there from the basic to the very advanced.  It can be a training center for new employees and a great resource for seasoned veterans.  In the end, it’s a very impressive vehicle for our industry to use.  Major kudos to Paul DiCesare and the tech team at PPG on the content, as well as Paul Bush on that regard and of course, I must give props to the marketing guru Rob Struble for his efforts on making this fly.  Well done folks!


More props for companies doing good things…

--  How about Viracon?  The folks there raised more than $111,000 for the United Way of Steele County.  That is simply an amazing and awesome total.  Congrats to Carla Kern who chaired this effort for Viracon and every employee there for giving of themselves.

--  And another one while I am at it… Garibaldi Glass announced their intent to have their annual “Glass Day” program on May 1st.  This is going to be the 5th edition of an event that provides tremendous education and insight into our industry.  I have heard so much about this event over the years and my goal this year is to finally be there in person.  And yes while an event like this has a great benefit to Garibaldi, it also does wonders in educating the region (glaziers, architects, owners etc.) on the world of glass and glazing. 

--  Education will also be at the forefront at Glass Processing Automation Days in San Antonio in March.  Info on this event was just released and it has the potential to offer some great insight for the fabricator.  I’ll surely have more on this as it gets closer.  

--  OK time to move from compliments and congratulations to snarky with and oldie but a goodie.  My old favorite group, the NFRC is possibly getting some competition.  Unfortunately its not in our actual industry or the areas where I have always pushed for, but this could lead to openings elsewhere.  The Window Covering Manufacturers Association with support from the DOE is starting the Attachments Energy Ratings Council (AERC).  So now the NFRC which has always been the one and only group with the ability to rate window film and attachments could be getting some competition if this takes off.  And its competition with the backing of the DOE.  That is huge.  So this will be one to watch.  If this effort actually works, it will open the door to much needed competition to NFRC on the glass and glazing side.  That would be fantastic.  But in the end, I go with the word “if” because the NFRC has staved off every challenge known to man, so I would not be surprised if this latest move does not take hold.

--  Next week I will have my Super Bowl commercial likes/dislikes since that is now my favorite part of the game.  I'm also still trying to figure out why the Seahawks passed instead of ran at the end. Amazing failure there. Wow. 


--  Glass floors continuing to show up everywhere.

--  Man bulldozes his home… while his wife is away… why?  Who knows?

--  Comical weather forecast with technical issues, great job by forecaster to roll with it.


The news that Eddie Murphy will return to Saturday Night Live in a few weeks will actually get me to watch the show.  I loved Eddie back in the day… can’t wait to see what he does.  In the meantime here’s a quick look at some of his best stuff…