Sunday, October 25, 2015

One Decade of Blogging

From the Fabricator has turned 10.  One decade of posts and ramblings on the first ever glass and aluminum related blog… so please join me please on a run through memory lane. 

It all started on October 25th, 2005.  This blog was launched with a simple 17-word post.  The goal was to provide insight to the industry with this new avenue of communication.  On October 27th I came back with a post with a few of my favorite subjects- the NFRC, China, and Green Building.  And from there it took off.  I used this space to inform and educate.  I tried to rally the industry, sometimes succeeding, some times not.  But I tried.  And as time went on, this blog became a stop to sometimes see what I’d say next.  And that was good and bad. 

On the negative… Back then I was pretty rough around the edges.  I thought I was bulletproof and pretty much set for life.  I had people around me that loved when I threw haymakers, so I did it to please them but I also got into it myself, and was too stupid to realize what I was doing. There were surely posts I regret, and ones that hold me back professionally to this day.  So believe me lessons learned.

On the plus side I was breaking stories.  I was getting leads on acquisitions from all over thanks to this forum.  I broke the Oldcastle purchase of Vistawall and was on top of Pella buying EFCO- which back then were gigantic deals. Companies changed the way they did due diligence and closed communications tighter.  As a former communication and journalism person, I enjoyed the fact I was disruptive.  And I also got a kick out of making life miserable for the NFRC.  Though in the end they “kinda” won when the industry slept through the process.  (I say kinda because even years later their system is not what it was ever cracked up to be)

In 2006 and 2007 as this blog was really growing we were all busy in this industry.  Things were rolling.  I joke about it a lot, but no one truly realized things were THAT good then.  We were all in a good place P&L wise but there were always issues and fire drills.  Codes and standards etc.  And if you didn’t work through the 70’s and the recession then, you didn’t know what bad times really were.  Then 2009 and 2010 arrived… and we all found out.

Things changed… and changed quickly.   I hit a crossroads and as fate would have it, I had to face some of the same people I was rough to on here.  My rabblerousing days had me in a bad spot.  Somehow I was very fortunate and beyond blessed that Arturo Carrillo looked beyond my past and gave me shot at Vitro America when my previous world went up in sun-ignited flames.  Many people inside Vitro America questioned Arturo on why he’d hire the blogger who was a massive thorn in his company’s side.   Thankfully he held to his convictions that there was more to me than my writings and that I had grown from it and realized what I had done and whom I had affected.  But enough of my personal adventures… (that will be a book someday…ha ha) this post is meant to be about the blog.

With a new lease on my professional life I refocused my energy and passion, changed my style and basically “grew up” thanks to the support and guidance of people like Arturo, Nicole Harris, Denise Sheehan, Greg Carney (RIP), Kris Vockler, and many others.   I began a different approach and liked it.  I enjoyed being positive but without losing my eye for things that concerned me.  I dropped the attack mode and tried to focus on the good people of this industry who do great things but get little to no recognition.  I still call out issues and warn of consequences but I do it without rancor.  (Usually!) And while there’s a vocal minority that implores me to be like I used to be, I’m never going back to that style…

Since I started this adventure, our industry changed so much.  Major players at every level are gone.  If you would’ve told me when I started this blog that 10 years from now I’d be on my own and that several major players had failed, I would’ve never of believed it.  Especially the being on my own fact.  That still blows me away…

It’s been 10 years and 538 posts.  And I could not of done it without all of you out there.  The encouragement, dialogue, support and so on mean the world to me.  When brilliant and class people like John Wheaton, Ted Bleecker, Jeff Kirby, Terry Newcomb, Garret Henson, Mark Silverberg, Rich Porayko , Jon Kimberlain, Tom O’Malley, Marc Deschamps, Chuck Knickerbocker, and many many others take the time to drop me notes or tweet my blog out, it blows me away.  (I know I am forgetting people to name- Sorry!)

Thank you to all who read this week in, week out and never comment or communicate as well.  The fact you give me 5 minutes a week is appreciated.  The traffic that I get never fails to boggle my mind and I will always be forever grateful.
So 10 years down and who knows how many more years to go… but we’re going to keep plugging along.  I hope you’ll continue to join me on the ride…

Thank you…


Before I get to the links…  just a note… I get submissions from all over and I am thankful for that- love sharing and being shared with, great stories of interest!

--  Karma to its fullest here.  And count me as fan of Imprimis!

--  DeAngelo Williams is a class act- the NFL needs to follow his lead instead the annual October sham they pull on the public.


I was trying to think what my favorite video posting of all time was.  Tough one.. and I decided on “The Conference Call”-  (I first posted in January of 2014- now had 10 million views!) if you have never seen it, take the 4 minutes to watch.  Especially if you have to do conference calls… so well done. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Watching For What's Next

With so many industry gatherings in recent weeks, it lends itself to the massive incubation of rumors.  Being connected to the industry in the odd ways I am, I get to hear many of these.  Most are of the outlandish variety, but some eventually happen.  In any case the scuttlebutt of newer foreign players coming to the US and setting up fabrication plants continues to grow.  These rumors started a year ago during glasstec and have gained more ground in throughout the year and even more in recent weeks.  So it bears watching if the current busy market attracts new players into.  Plus will these people greenfield or acquire?  It’s a sellers market right now, so I would not be shocked if we see the former happen.  My fearless prediction is you will see someone new hitting a major market in the next 6-9 months.


--  Thank you to everyone in the industry who signed the Section 179 petition.  It was a bunch of you and good to see. The petition passed the 10K mark this week and the effort continues to get congress to look at this piece and roll it back to where it should be.

--  I have been following the new Apple HQ closely, and now this week renderings were released for another major Apple campus building in Silicon Valley.  This one is a clover leaf shaped complex that will cover 18 acres.  HOK is the designer and it will feature a lot of glass, a lot of it large and bent again.  Plus there’s some thought that Apple may try to push for Net Zero on this complex which would be an amazing accomplishment- so expectation of a heavy dose of solar is surely a possibility. 

--  Before we leave the state of California, a comical piece this week in the New York Times on electric cars and the battles that now come with them…mainly areas and spaces to charge up.  People are getting fired up as the cars and technology are outpacing areas to service and charge.  It’s a great read and shows that sometimes disruptive technology still has a long way to go with support and consideration.  Personally I see frustration and arguments over electrical outlets all the time… at the busy airports I frequent.

--  Poll time... so what are the most energy efficient states and which are least efficient?  According to a new survey by WalletHub here they are. (US only and study did not include Hawaii or Alaska) The piece analyzed efficiency of car and home energy consumption as a part of their process.

Most Efficient:

1.  New York – Color me stunned on this one.
2.  Vermont
3.  Minnesota- I actually figured this would be #1 thanks to brilliant people like Kerry Haglund being so alive there.
4.   Wisconsin
      5.   Utah

Least Efficient:

44- Arkansas
45- Kentucky
46- Texas
47- Louisiana
48- South Carolina

So South Carolina is the least energy efficient state according to this particular piece.  I guess aside from being a tough state to get Hurricane protection codes enforced, SC is also tough on energy.

--  I am in shock after the end of the Michigan-Michigan State game.  What a wild finish to a pretty intriguing football game.  Love College Football.  Congrats to my many State fans out there and I feel for my UofM folks.

--  Last this week… for those of you with a retail arm, do yourself a favor and check out this article on Angie’s List.  If you provide a service to the public you likely have been inundated and guilted by the heavy sales pitch from these folks and this story gives some insight on why.  I have to give credit to the people behind this service; they have found a way to make some good money without the effort of producing the product.


I don’t know what to make of this story and can’t understand why a lawsuit between Aunt and Nephew even took place.

I do think of the “Great Depression” quite a bit and this site is a tremendous resource for images.

The end of an era- no more nude shots coming to Playboy.  We will see if the remaining people who do get the magazine actually do read it “just for the articles”


This past week SNL did a piece on Delta flight attendents.  It was just good enough to be featured here…. Only because I fly so much I think about these things all the time.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Looking for Most Valuable

As we approach the end of the year I have begun my process of figuring out who the industry MVP will be.  Previous winners were Tracy Rogers of Quanex and the entire CR Laurence organization. 2015 looks to be much harder as again there is no shortage of great candidates.  What I look for is a person or company that has made an impact on our industry.  Be it technical, marketing, codes, leadership and so on.  So I am gathering my list and if you believe there’s someone deserving in your opinion please shoot me an e-mail.  I get around quite a bit but not everywhere so I may miss a potential candidate.  I will note some of the finalists in November and then unveil and honor the winner in December.  Thank you.


--  Once again enjoyed the Twitter coverage supplied by Glass Magazine, this time from the Vitrum show in Italy.  Great pictures and details including a neat shot of what it looks like inside a working tempering oven.  Overall it looked like an interesting show in regards to some cutting edge equipment.  And speaking of machinery, can that sector be any hotter right now?  It is surely a good time to be in that world.  Congrats to those folks who had to really hold their breath through the tight times a few years ago.

--  Have you seen the wild glass bridge in China?   Thanks to friends Evan Otruba of Binswanger and Rick Shaw of Solar Seal for bringing me up to speed on this.  The 984-foot glass suspension bridge is something to see, and it made even bigger news this week when a tourist dropped a metal travel mug and cracked one of the superficial exterior lites of glass.  As those of us in the industry know, it’s not a big deal, but for the mainstream media it’s cause for a major story.

--  It is October and that means the NFL breaks out its annual Pinkwashing campaign. This is the time where every player, coach and official wears a multitude of pink to make us aware that they care about breast cancer.  The league also sells all of this pink gear with “proceeds” going to charity.  Sadly and it’s been like this for years they are just donating just a tiny bit of money to actually combat this heinous disease.  After it’s all broken out, around 8% of proceeds of the pink gear sold goes to the American Cancer Society and none of it goes towards research.  Yes that tiny sliver of cash goes towards “awareness” which is a joke given that the last thing society needs in this effort is awareness.  What IS needed is research and a cure…. I just can’t stand that every October this sham of campaign goes on, and the NFL gets richer and we remain no closer to any breakthroughs in cancer world.  We treat cancer the same way in 2015 that we did in 1980.  That’s insane.   In addition, good charities that need the funding suffer because of the overall power of something like this- that unintended consequence makes it hurt even more.

--  Last this week the GANA Fall Conference takes place in San Antonio.  I won’t be there but I do look forward to hearing about what goes on and the discussions that arise.  


--  The end of an era library wise…

--  Interesting story on baby names, tradition, family, and money.

--  In this day and age, these wedding favors are not well thought out.  Cute though… but still. 


The latest Steve Jobs movie is coming out soon… not sure if I will see that or not… but Conan O’Brien decided to create a trailer for what would be a hilarious movie… if you treated life of Michael Dell (of Dell Computers) like everyone does Steve Jobs.  The result is comical…

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Positive Notes Continue

I listened in on a construction forecast webinar this week and it was basically more of what we we’ve been hearing.  Positive for the non-residential side for 2016, with including some improvement on the institution side of things.  Hotels and recreation also are primed for a big year as well.  But the interesting part was when the analyst was reviewing material costs and when he got to flat glass he said something along the lines of “Usually flat glass costing is like their name… flat, but lately we’re seeing a rise.”  He then added basically a regurgitation of the Wall Street article saying there’s short supply and job delays because of it.  So the narrative that was floated out there a few weeks ago is growing especially when it’s hitting the indicators and analysts.


--  I’ve always been a big fan of Donald Jayson and Bendheim for how they do business.  Now recently another great item to add to the list, when they went 4th generation by adding Benjamin Jayson to the business.  Obviously I have a special place in my heart for the family business, and I love seeing the latest generations joining our industry.  Congrats to the Jayson family!

--  Just a heads up- the folks at SAPA are doing for the first time in New York City an Architectural Workshop for architects, designers, and building consultants.  Great opportunity for those groups to learn some of the intricacies of metal and help them with design.  So if you fall into that category, you should look into- date is 10/14 and more info is here.  Props to Mark Spencer and the team at SAPA- they’re always on the cutting edge.

--  Communication was a big theme during GlassBuild America and recently I ran into a decent read on tips for effective construction communication. 

--  Off topic from the industry… if you want an amazing read and book you will not want to put down, grab “13 Hours, The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi.”  This book by Mitchell Zuckoff was amazing.  It is non political, so they’ll be no discussions of what happened or did not happen in Washington or with politicians.  It is about the men who had to deal with the attack and protect the annex and compound there.  It’s told minute by minute with incredible detail.  Amazing read.  Evidently a movie is now being made from it- I am scared Hollywood will ruin it.

--  Bad news from the latest release of jobsite safety numbers.  The construction world is in the midst of its most dangerous year since 2008.  I know so many companies stress safety to the furthest extent, yet the injuries and fatalities keep happening and now at a pace that is really depressing. 

--  I really thought the Alcoa news from last week would make more waves than it did.  The announcement that the organization would split into 2 companies got a little reaction and then everyone moved on.  Industry wise the question is on where Kawneer lands.  As expected the release and comments say all will continue to be normal and that’s to be expected in the short term.  But as with every deal it sure bears watching to see what, if any changes come down the pike there.


Frivolous lawsuit alert.  I’m sure this will get settled out of court with big cash changing hands… to the lawyers at least.

Wow, this is so ridiculous.  Any HR folks out there experience this one???

Great photo.  Great story.


Well I hope if I get to go back to Dusseldorf next year that my pilot is as good as this person.  Check out this landing with a severe crosswind happening.  Wow.