Sunday, May 28, 2017

Trends and Links

This week I have another run of quick hits for you from forecasts, to great resources, to personnel stuff and more.  Time to get caught up on this great variety of information. 

--  First up… The monthly Architectural Billings Index was released and it stayed in the positive yet again.  Though it was a lower score than last month (50.9 down from 54.3) the new project index and new design contract totals both went up.  Quite frankly this overall index is looking rather positive right now and even the guy who tracks for the AIA is pretty excited- look at his quote:

“Probably even better news for the construction outlook is that new project work coming into architecture firms has seen exceptionally strong growth so far this year,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “In fact, new project activity has pushed up project backlogs at architecture firm to their highest level since the design market began its recovery earlier this decade.”

So the trend continues to be our friend…

--  On a similar note… do you know what also says things are going well at the architect level?  When the biggest firm in the world shows that they’ve added 1000 architects in the last 2 years.  A thousand!  This link covers that and also introduces you to the rest of the top 20 firms….

--  I was reminded during the TGA event a few weeks ago of an excellent resource that is always being updated…. The World of Glass Map.  This is a superb insight- check it out and bookmark it. 

--  It was great to see the name of an old friend and tremendous man in the news this past week with HHH naming Terry Hessom Vice President of Operations.  Terry is one of the greatest people I know and also an extremely talented person.  I can remember back when we worked together (eons ago) and he was working nights and I was in inside sales.  Now he’s a big time VP and I’m a blogger…. Ha ha … Anyway congrats to Terry and HHH!!

--  Fun link for those of us who pay attention to buildings and the adventures that sometimes happen.  The top 25 Architectural Fails…  and yes my old time pals, the John Hancock building DID make the list at #21.

--  One building that will probably never make a fail list but will be talked about forever is the new Apple Campus.  I have read and watched a ton on it over the last few years and even was quoted in a story in the Times of Israel about the construction in 2015.  But now its ready to go and this article is probably the best one I have read taking a deep look at all there. 

--  I mentioned Burhans Glass a few weeks ago for their work on Instagram… so this time I need to mention Glass Magazine… if you are on Instagram and want to see amazing projects in all of their glory, please follow them at “glassmagazinenga”

--  Last this week… we are in a stretch now with Memorial Day, Canada Day and Independence Day and I hope that everyone reading this does take the time to maybe step away from the daily grind and take a moment of reflection for all that was accomplished in our world.  We don’t get to this moment in time without the efforts and sacrifices of the men and women that made it happen.  Let’s honor them not only now but always.


I think you have to read this story to ask yourself how any of it makes sense.

This is a guy in the NFL you can root for!

I tweeted this one out… great work by the high school and the yearbook team to include a young mans service dog.  SO COOL!


This video just leaves me speechless.  Why not climb over?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Glass Magazine, TGA Review and More

Every month I review Glass Magazine and I note various stories and details that I believe stand out.  The May issue, like its predecessors is loaded but features one article that you HAVE to read if you are in the position of trying to recruit for your workforce.  Bethany Stough did a fabulous job pulling together real life examples and giving very crucial tips in trying to help you build your workforce.  It is the most serious challenge our industry faces- getting people to work with us.  This article really is a resource that every executive and HR person needs to see. 

The May issue also featured an excellent cover story on collaboration and all that goes into that as well as very good quick pieces on codes, tough customers, sales techniques and more.  I am constantly amazed at what Katy Devlin and her team does every month and they keep topping my expectations!   The work they do brings great value to the reader and the industry and deserves all the attention we can give it.


--  In the same issue, for my “Ad of the month”  It’s Viracon with their “Bigger View” piece.  The graphic they placed caught my eye- good use of wording and font size.  And it was also the minimal amount of text that allowed the reader to enjoy the ad and take in the message.  I have no clue whom specifically to give kudos to at Viracon, so hopefully if one of the folks there who read this will pass on the credit.  Nice work!

--  I’m just back from the The Texas Glass Association event I mentioned last week and it was truly a memorable one for me.  I really enjoyed the opportunity and I think for a first time event it was an absolute hit.   I was so excited to run into people I had not seen in years.  Kelly Townsend of Trulite is an old friend and seeing him looking healthy and strong was a day maker for me.  Visiting with former co-worker Jack Wickstrom now of Tristar was fun as well.  Meeting new people though also charged me up.  One example was Craig Garner of Hartung- good and interesting guy.  Another was Dustin Anderson of Anderson Glass.  This guy is unreal, a breath of fresh air to our industry and the way we do things.  I plan on doing more with Dustin as time goes on.  Plus he’s got a pretty cool video series that can only help raise our profile- see my VIDEO of the WEEK for one of them.

--  The key of the conference was the learning.  Greg Oehlers of Tristar did not disappoint- a truly entertaining and informative session that included his prediction that 4th surface Low E’s and Argon will be growing and be more crucial products on the commercial side in the coming years.  That was surely something that caught my attention.  Also his talk on inconsistent code officials is something I may have to re-visit more about in the future.  Meanwhile seeing younger sharp presenters like Yuwadee Senamontree of Guardian and David Linhart of Vitro gave me some serious hope about the future of our industry.  We need that youth, intelligence and energy!    And it goes without saying the presentation that Nicole Harris provided on “Building a New Glass Industry” was strong and important.  There is so much happening from the industry level and getting more insight and communication amongst all parties is something that will have to continue to grow for us to be our best.  Bottom line is conferences like these are extremely helpful in educating and building a better world for us.  It was an honor to be involved in the process.

--  Last this week… I mentioned two weeks ago about new greenfields coming to our industry and one of the many I am following was announced.  Aldora is opening in Atlanta.  Given the major consolidation that market has seen over the years, the move looks to be a good one and moving into a building that once housed a very respected fabricator is surely not a bad play.


Suing a bad date.  I don’t know this one is interesting to me. 

Many who know me knew at one time I was all about M&M’s… ah the good ole days… anyway can you see the comical part of this package?

Online trolling is very bad- but it also is a sign to all to watch what you make public on social media and online.


As mentioned in the blog- Anderson Glass does a series- “Will That Break Glass”- very cool and creative and raises interest in glass (and what we do!)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Catching up on shows, education and more

So after only commenting on two main items on my previous post this week I have a bunch of quick subjects to talk about.  Time continues to fly as we are already in the middle of May.  Unbelievable.

First off a lot of show and conference related news and insights…

--  I am excited about being in Waco, Texas this week to speak at the Texas Glass Association (TGA) Glass Conference.  To be on the slate with the people I am (Nicole Harris, President of NGA, the legend Greg Oehlers of Tri Star, David Linhart from Vitro, and Yuwadee Senamontree of Guardian) is quite the honor.  This really will be an excellent opportunity for attendees (and me as well) to learn about what’s going on in our world on several different levels.  Plus I love the great state of Texas and have never had a bad time there. 

--  Another conference that is coming up that I unfortunately can’t attend, but if you are nearby or interested in growing your knowledge on some important glass and glazing subjects is the annual Glass Connections Conference- this year held in Burnaby, BC.  The educational slate is very strong with dives into some of the biggest issues and growing trends our industry has going.  One such subject is Bird Friendly Glass and I’ve mentioned here a few times the great work people like Walker Glass do on that end, so getting more insight out in conferences like this is huge.  More info can be found HERE.

--  And of course coming this fall the always must attend Glazing Executive Forum at GlassBuild America.  More on that as the weeks go by but this past week the agenda for that event was released and worth the review.  The “Solution Sessions” are the huge key given the subjects they cover and what you can learn and take back to your day-to-day operation. 

--  Finally on this subject… a conference/meeting that was just completed that really impressed me.  The Insulated Glass Certification Council (IGCC) had their meeting and it was the first one I have ever attended in all my years despite always being involved with operations with all units IGCC certified.  The meeting was very impressive.  Incredible technical minds in the room with discussions that were more innovative and forward thinking than what I see from the traditional technical meeting.  It was a breath of fresh air really to experience what was happening there seeing that this group is working into the future.  And kudos to my pal Joe Erb of Quanex- he basically ran a major portion of the meeting as the chair and he was like a great orchestra maestro with keeping everything going from all angles of the room.  Good stuff!

Other items to catch up on…

--  If you are in the retail part of the glass business you know the Angie’s List and Home Advisor names pretty well.  Chances are they’ve called you a hundred times to work with them and you surely see their ads.  Now the two will be merging (so less salespeople bugging you) and it will be interesting to see how the new entity works.  I was not a big fan of Angie’s List.  I always said if there was an “Angie’s List” to review the real Angie’s List they’d get a poor one.   We’ll see if combining services will move the needle at all in the very challenging world of catching consumer eyeballs.

--  I was very happy to hear my long time friend and former co-worker Dave Gillikin landed a new gig at Advanced Glazing.  Great hire for them and I think a super spot for Dave.  Dave is among the handful of people who has known me basically from when I started in this world and actually will still talk to me on occasion.  Ha Ha.  Congrats to Dave and Advanced Glazing- good combo!

--  Last this week… I try to always point out other blogs and the value they bring to you.  If you missed Andrew Chatfield’s entry last week on Glassblog, please go back and check it out.  An excellent code compliance piece with focus on railing installations. Railings are one of those “hot” items that I see out there and the confusion on glass usage is real.  Andrew did a nice job in breaking it all down. 


As noted above- I love Texas but there better not be a squirrel in my toilet.

This is surely a new way to send drugs- by greeting card.

I love dogs.  Love good stories too.  So this has both! 


The hot item for kids these days are “Fidget Spinners” – I have no clue what they are but evidently tons of kids have them and their being banned from schools.  Anyway- this funny video shows adults reacting to this new fad….

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Deal and AIA Recaps

Only 2 subjects this week… the proposed EFCO acquisition and AIA recap…

For the last few months I have been hinting towards a “big deal” in our industry and at the start of the week, one of the deals I have been tracking- the sale of EFCO- appears to have finally came together.  Way back in 2007, this blog broke the EFCO-Pella deal and I’ve always paid close attention to what was happening at that company.  When I heard more than a year ago that Pella was selling EFCO I was not surprised, the fit never seemed to take the way people envisioned.  As this latest deal started to come together the info and mis-information was flying at record speed.  I knew several months ago who the players were and all had good reason to try and acquire EFCO and add them to their operations.  In the end Apogee, which has been aggressive on the buying front won out and adds another interesting piece to a very well put together puzzle.  An already strong company got stronger.  Out of the gate I don’t see much changing- especially as the market is very busy right now- but I have to assume as things settle down the product lines that repeat within the overall Apogee world will get a long look to reach more efficiency.  And I think this will force other competitors to raise their games meaning the acquisitions are not over…

Another angle her is if you follow Apogee’s stock, you know it’s been a little bit of a roller coaster ride as of late.  Things carrying along very nicely for a while and then a very rough day on April 13th when the stock dropped from $58 to $50.  Evidently some investors expected a better outlook for next year.  Slowly but surely in the last month the stock has been climbing back but there’s no question that the analysts and markets are paying attention and a deal like this can only help in that process.  For many in our industry this is a process (a publicly traded company) that many have no concept of because it’s not a common setup in our world.  So every move made here is watched a lot more than the typical private company.
I have to note that unlike 2007 when I was younger, immature, and considered myself bulletproof- I simply don’t break news like a pending acquisition on here anymore.  But because of my connection to the past deal and knowing what I knew, people inside of the deal started to contact me to tell me wrong info to throw me off the trail.  I took it as an honor that a transaction worth a couple hundred million had people worried about an industry consultant with a blog.  Pretty cool right?  Obviously I was saddened that people I would respect would go out of their way to outright lie to me for the purpose of throwing me off, but hey it is what it is.  They had to do what they thought was best.

In the end a major acquisition is basically done and there are more in the pipeline that can rival this one.  Plus get ready for some new greenfields that are in the works too.  Bottom line- there is a lot of action in the market right now. 

As for AIA…

So the feedback came in waves last week and the majority of the responses were the same… the architects are simply not walking the floor or visiting the exhibits.  And that is not new.  This has been the case for years.  Yet exhibitors are always there and one reason is because AIA has a great way of always having a “carrot” of a great location for the future.  In previous years people looked past terrible shows because Washington DC, or Philly were coming up.  And this year is no different with New York being the 2018 site.  It is a shame that so much money and so many resources get wasted this way but for many that dream of hitting it big with an architect on the show floor overshadows all else.   Don’t get me wrong I love trade events- love shows.  And AIA serves a purpose for networking and growth- just not for reaching architects (that exhibit portion of that show will never show up on a list of “what an architect wants.”)   I can only imagine taking a show budget and using it on direct appeal approaches instead of 3 days of waiting around…

Overall the attitude of the vendors on the floor and the rare decision makers that visited were that the positive trends we keep reporting are real.  I love to hear that… As we know everything can change quickly, especially in a world filled with turmoil, but so far so good. 

Last- if you feel different about the AIA show- I’d love to hear about it.  I enjoy the opinions of others and always want to learn!

Next week I’m back with the normal format blog, including a show in Canada that is worth the effort to visit, a technical meeting that blew me away, and much more!


If you are in college be careful what you are searching for during class…. The teachers are watching!

Not sure why this guy was arrested but I have had the same idea of hiring people to attend events…. A wedding though is surely interesting.

Is this new utensil from McDonald’s real?


I have really gotten into these “honest movie trailers” where some insanely creative people with a TON of time to blow re-create trailers into a different reality.  This one on Beauty in the Beast is great.