Sunday, July 15, 2018

Positive Index

So last week I wrote about the expectations for a strong 2nd half of the year.  That post brought some reaction my way from a cross section of people.  Some have had solid years to date, and others who are hoping that my prediction here isn’t as bad as my sports ones.  So the positive news for all was that this week another metric came through to continue the push.  The Dodge Momentum Index was up yet again and it’s now nearing a 10-year high.   This is now 5 straight months on the plus side and while the increases on each report are not huge, they are still going in the right direction.  Now lets have that translate to the day to day for those that need it!

Elsewhere....

--  Attention glazing contractor friends… there is an excellent“Thirsty Thursday” webinar coming up on the 19th on the top 10 things to look for when negotiating glazing contracts.  This is presented by the NGA/GANA and it is members only- so if you are member sign up, if you’re not, you should be joining so you don’t miss incredible education like this.  The great Courtney Little of ACE Glass will be the presenter so you know this will be good!

--  Something I never thought of but found very cool?  The tallest buildings that were ever conventionally demolished.  Who knew someone kept such stats on this approach.  And I was surprised not seeing the one hotel in Las Vegas that was taken down a few years ago (the City Center one that never opened) on the list.  Interesting stuff! 

Big 3 interview Nathalie Thibault, Architectural Sales Director at Prelco.

One of the reasons I decided to do this series was to learn more from people smarter than me.  This week, that theme absolutely applies with Nathalie.  Her approach and intelligence are off the charts and as you’ll find out below, she’s always pushing for more. 

You are very active within the industry and the trade associations including major board positions now and in the past.  So you are very knowledgeable with our world, what do you think are some of the key challenges we face as an industry and how do we address them?

I believe the number one challenge that we are facing is the globalization of our industry.  We must adapt to various standards, higher expectations, worldwide competition and complex logistics.

The wide variety and complexity of products and their different combinations is also increasingly difficult to manage.  We see more and more combinations of various high-performance low-e, several layers of glass and patterns and colors on a single unit!  That complexity makes it very difficult to ensure consistency.  And, to add to this, the expectations on the required timeline for production are almost the same as if it were simple products.  That is why education to all stakeholders in the construction and glass industry should be our number one priority.

Another major challenge that we are facing is finding labor.  Knowledgeable resources are getting very scarce and manpower is also extremely difficult to find.  Our industry will need to work on attracting young and passionate professionals.

As I have told you in person, I have always been a fan of your company.  Prelco is very diverse with products and segments, so I am curious how do you stay focused when you are dealing with so many different worlds?

A company really needs a strong vision to be able to achieve that kind of diversification.  We had to look at our business model on a few occasions to realign our efforts and prioritize certain segments in which we operate.  Some segments are changing extremely fast as well, which requires us to adapt rapidly.  There were times where we had to abandon certain efforts in order to focus on the segments where we really wish to become real leaders.  However, I must say that, in the end, it is that same diversification that has benefited the company throughout the years and allowed it to get through slower economic cycles.

Did I read correctly that you are now studying for your MBA.  I am curious with all you already know in the business arena, what is driving you to get more education?

I have indeed begun my Master’s degree in Strategy and Innovation over a year ago.  I decided to pursue these studies because I felt that I needed to push my managing skills a notch further.  I believe that having a good theoretical understanding of today’s business environment is likely to provide me with the necessary tools to strategize and innovate appropriately in our rapidly changing world.  It has been a very interesting journey so far and it made me expand my horizons beyond the glass manufacturing sector.

LINKS of the WEEK

Incredible story- Hallmark Movie like

Somewhat hard to follow story that went viral but interesting none the less!

There is just one Blockbuster video left in the US… amazingfall from when they were everywhere… 

VIDEO of the WEEK

I posted this one on twitter and I can’t stop watching it…. It unreal to me that mistakes this gigantic could be made!


Sunday, July 08, 2018

Big Second Half Ahead

With the July holidays in the US and Canada now behind us, the 2nd half of the year can begin.  There have been some frustrating feelings out there as not everyone was as “swamped” as they expected to be in the first half of the year.  Some areas of North America stayed softer into the 2nd quarter vs. others, however that all looks like old news as work is seemingly breaking free all over.  So the expectations are very high for a very strong last half of 2018.  I think that’s what we all want so bring it on!

Elsewhere…

--  Time for the monthly Glass Magazine review… I am slightly behind, it’s the June issue featuring the MGM National Harbor on the cover.  Once again jammed packed with content led by the annual Top 50 Glaziers report.  I love looking at this list each year, so many good people, doing great work.  There’s also a fabulous GlassBuild America preview (get registered and bookyour hotel if you have not yet) and Bethany Stough continues to deliver extremely helpful articles on the workforce with yet another strong piece.  Last I am big fan of Matt Johnson of the Gary Law Group and he had a very smart article on “When to Call a Lawyer.”  All of this and much more,,,  Plus if you are headed on vacation soon, you could save it for pool or beach reading... you'll look like the smartest one there! 

--  Last before my interview this week- kudos to my friends at Trex Commercial Products (I still want to type SC Railing) on some of their amazing recent work.  I am a big fan of creativity with glass and what these folks did with the glass railing portions on the new soccer stadium in California was sharp.  Congrats on a job well done!

Big 3 Interview: Scott Rowe, Principal & Glass Geek at Rowe Fenestration

This was a really fun interview.  I only recently met Scott at the past GlassBuild America, so getting a chance to do this with him was very cool for me.  With just getting to know him, the more I follow Scott and his company the more impressed I get.   Manufacturers representatives can get a bad rap (some deserve it, believe me) but guys like Scott and his group surely do a fantastic job of making the companies they represent and our industry look good!

Did I read your profile right that you were a math major in college?  How did you end up in the glass world from there?

I actually ended up in the glass business well before college.

It was the summer of 1969, as a sophomore in high school I took a summer job at a tiny upstart glass company that was soon to move to my hometown in the Midwest. I started as a loader on the line and moved up to glass cutter, before automated cutting, stoce, and optimization. I moved through the plant working many of the stations - until the day that changed my life.

It was a hot humid corn belt kinda day in the factory. A group of five or six coolly sophisticated looking guys came in the side door. They wore pink and purple madras shirts, penny loafers with no socks, and were all sunburned. “Who are those guys?” I had to know. They were a couple of our customers and the sales guys after a day of fishing and golf. I knew in that moment that I wanted to be like them - their freedom, style of communication, and that footwear. I continued to work in the plant all through high school and during every college break. “Scotty, Bring a clean shirt, run to the airport to pick up our vendor/customer/architect.” Every opportunity presented brought me closer to connecting with people, talking to them, learning about them - and ultimately to sales. I started full time as a management trainee in 1975. But back to your original question - I did use my trigonometry knowledge to figure out the algorithm for the stretch factor on a vertically tong held tempering furnace using a slide rule.

You started your manufacturers rep firm in 2005, which was when things were rolling, but then the recession hit pretty quick after that- what kept you going and then eventually growing?

By 2005 I had been in the business over 30 years at many different levels of the industry and had the opportunity to learn from some great mentors. People are the core of our business, and I am fortunate to have been surrounded by an innovative and hardworking team, a brilliant business partner, and have the support of my incredibly smart and patient wife. Like many of us, we have the urgent need to eat, sleep out of the rain and cold, and support our families. When you are a small business you are not necessarily tied to national trends. With insight and effort we can influence and affect our own reality. We have built a small team of talented people from different backgrounds, and they are leading us to continued success as the world evolves.

A lot has obviously changed in the industry from when you started, is there anything specific (products, plants, people etc.) that make you laugh at the way things were vs. the way they are now?

Life is change. The technology of the products, the design, the process, the systems, the applications, and methods of communication have all changed greatly. The need for top quality, dependable, honest, and timely transactions and communication is as relevant as it has ever been. The speed with which things happen now is nearly in real-time. The days of the traditional library and catalogue are virtually gone - you need to have a digital footprint, social media and an online presence with a positive user experience. Technology facilitates these opportunities - as they say, “there’s an app for that.” Transition into this new world is vital.

Many of the “shazam” type products and organizations that we have expected to be over night phenomena take far longer to develop than first expected. I liken it to a Bonnie Raitt interview I heard the year she won Grammys in four categories - “How does it feel to be an overnight success?” She replied “Amazing, and it only took me 25 years.”

Our business has changed in many ways. We can now build better buildings with greater energy efficiency and more innovative design options as we continue to evolve toward net zero facilities. What has not changed is the need for humanity in the process. The need to develop understanding and a collaborative spirit between the ownership/design, the corporate manufacturing entities, the GC’s and the specialty subcontractors remains a vital challenge for a successful outcome.

Madras shirts are back (for some of us never gone). I still love fancy socks and a great pair of velvet shoes, but I do stay out of the sun now on advice of my dermatologist. I was able to do it, and I still love what I do. We truly respect and enjoy the culture of this wonderful industry, and are extremely fortunate to have the support of excellent vendor partners. We continue to get up every day to assist our customers as they work to complete successful projects.

LINKS of the WEEK

--  Back to the site of Woodstock and Archeologists are searching.  Will be interesting to see what they find!

--  There are people I just don’t understand… like those who want to pet a Lion….

--  Excellent news on the aftermath of a cruel ripoff of a 112 year old man

VIDEO of the WEEK

The World Cup has had some wonderful moments so far but the public is also having fun with all of the acting that comes with every foul.  This video does it perfectly!!


Sunday, June 24, 2018

AIA Show Review

Fun and interesting few days in New York for the annual AIA show.  I gained some excellent insight and as always got to visit with the best and brightest in our industry.  Before I get into the show review and all that came with it, I have to say just the overall vibe of the Times Square area is craziness.  So many people, so much going on.  It never ceases to amaze me.  Also I did trek away from Times Square for lunch at what I was told was the best pizza in New York- John’s on Bleeker and it lived up to the billing.  Also kudos to my Uber driver who somehow crammed his car the tightest of spaces to maneuver through the thickest traffic ever to get me out of town and to the airport.  Needless to say I could never ever drive in that city. 

Ok on to our world and the show...

The overall atmosphere out our industry and the markets was exceedingly positive. Many that I talked with were very bullish for the next 2-3 years showing excellent metrics and a strong foundation of business and growth.  That was exciting to hear.  It didn’t hurt that the Architectural Billings Index (ABI) released during the show was excellent yet again.  So things are rolling and that is something to feel good about.  And yes I should add the disclaimer here that this is all good based on nothing happening at the political level- which quite frankly changes minute to minute anymore.

As for the show itself...

It was solid and better than past events but probably still not what it should and could be.  But for those exhibitors who suffered through Orlando’s mess last year, they at least had something to hang their hat on this time.  Probably the issue with the show that stuck me the most was the show floor was split with exhibits on the 3rd and 1st floors.  The 3rd floor was huge, well lit, and featured a lot of very big names.  The 1st floor was darker, featured lower ceilings, smaller booths, and despite having big time companies there just felt different.  There was no signage in either hall promoting there was another show floor and I know many architects & attendees had no idea that there were 2 floors.  I know a few folks on the 1st floor had good shows, but I believe those on the 3rd did much better.  I just hate when trade shows break up the floor like that- just not good or fair to anyone except the trade show organizer. 

Ok now on to the people and companies… 

NGA had their booth set up to answer code and technical questions with the brilliant duo of Urmilla Jokhu-Sowell and Dr. Tom Culp and they were swamped.  Loved the education approach because as we all know, the more education and technical we can teach the architects the better.  EFCO was back in the show with a very impressive booth and I loved visiting with Joseph Holmes for a few minutes there.  Very good guy!  It’s been a while since I have seen Jerry Schwabauer and Patrick Muessig of Azon.  They had an incredible product that they are working with Quaker Window on that featured extremely high performing numbers thanks to their product inside.  It’s a new release from them and you will surely be hearing more about that in the future.  I love the continuing innovation path there!

More innovation was on display at VIG Technologies, they had a very interactive display showing their Vacuum Insulating Glass in a heat box as well as a cool acoustical box that really showed the performance of the product.   Vistamatic also had really amazing pieces on display that impressed me on several levels.  Their booth was striking and I give them credit for making it work since much of it got damaged on the way from the holding area to their booth spot. 

It was fun meeting up with Ted Bleecker at the busy SuperSky Products booth.  Also seeing Brian Thomas there was a bonus.  Good company and great bunch of folks.  Obviously when it comes to people I consider great, that is usually everyone associated with Viracon.  Nicer to me than I deserve.  Their show performance (busy & interesting exhibit) was impressive. 

It’s absolutely awesome to have Dan Plotnick back in our industry.  Dan has been a favorite of mine for many years and after spending a decade+ overseas, and time on the residential side, he’s back at Solar Seal and the CGH companies.  Great add there for them and I will be doing a “Big 3” interview with Dan later this summer because his story is fascinating. 

I always love seeing the float people and seeing how they’ll be moving the needle product wise in the next few years.  The Guardian Glass booth was fabulous and they had at least 3 pieces of very big news (Bird Deterrent Glass, VIG, Jumbo) that will be positive disruptions in the industry.  Thanks as always to the great Chris Dolan and team for being so welcoming.  Vitro also was making news with their Acuity product (love the name, logo and look- don’t doubt the talented Rob Struble as he nailed it again) as well as their push into bigger sizes.  Plus seeing my old pal Steve Cohen there was very cool.  Over at AGC there was a bunch of activity happening but all I cared about was saying hi to my old pal Matt Ferguson.  Just hearing that voice again- that very distinctive sound and drawl, made the show for me.  Good to see him and everyone else there.

Wrapping up, I saw James Wright and his energy and positive approach is infectious.   Same with my old pal Danik Dancause of Walker.  They debuted a new booth that was so beautiful and impressive that no one noticed that incredible suit Danik rocked on day 1.  Folks that’s a good booth when that happens.   I am sure I am missing a few that I should be noting, but I think my head is still trying to acclimate to being back in my sleepy Michigan town vs. the bright lights of New York City. 

Overall very good stuff… Now all eyes turn to GlassBuild America.  That’s next and it’s going to be incredible. I am irrationally confident about it and you’ll be hearing more from me in the coming weeks for sure. 

Elsewhere....

Because this review is so long, they’ll be no Big 3 interview this week.  But stay tuned the ones I have coming up I believe are outstanding and I am so thankful for all of the positive reaction so far.   I really appreciate those who read and especially those who being interviewed for sharing their insights etc.

Quick major congrats to Dan McCrickard.  Dan is a class man and friend and he just landed and excellent gig at ASSA ABLOY.  Strong company adds talent- love it!  Happy for you Dan!

Last this week- just a programming note… no blog next week as Canada Day and the 4th of July holiday will be upon us.  I will be back in this space the week of July 8th with the latest Glass Magazine review, Big 3 interview, and more.  I sincerely hope you and yours enjoy whichever holiday you are celebrating and please stay safe!! (I hate fireworks- please be careful if you are messing with them!)

LINKS of the WEEK


--  Free train rides- but really should be for life after this right?

--  Deep and fascinating read on tracking the possible Zodiac killer.

VIDEO of the WEEK

You know me- you know I love Rocky and the now the Creed series… the latest trailer for Creed II is out… looks promising!


Sunday, June 17, 2018

AIA Week

New York City is the destination this week for many in our industry with the annual AIA show happening there.  As I have mentioned many times before it is always intriguing to see how this show is because as an industry we long to get in front of architects but more often than not this show leaves the exhibitors wanting.  And this year with education happening outside of the show building and 200 walking tours going on at the same time as the expo, it will be interesting to see and experience the floor action.  I had noted previously that I was not attending but moons aligned and I now will be there.  So I look forward to seeing everyone there and reporting back here next week.

Elsewhere….

--  Those of you coming to New York may see this sign. Not one that any of us should be a fan of!!  Thanks to my friend Ian Patlin of Paragon Architectural Products for the picture.  Still from the website it promotes I am seeing a lot of glass... so interesting yet confusing hook for me with being "anti glass" as it should be more focused on not being cookie cutter since that is the end message vs. glass usage.


--  Also related to New York- the first request for modular construction is out.  This is a trend to watch- I am seeing it a lot on the residential side, and just a bit with commercial, but I think it may gain momentum quicker than you think.

--  Last this week, congrats to my friend Deron Patterson of Vitro on his new position as Architectural Market Manager for Mexico.  Deron is such a fascinating and bright person and has been a major success in his career- something I foresee continuing with this new role!

This week’s interview… Maure Creager, Building Science Manager, SAGE Glass

Maure is a brilliant and talented person and the industry can surely use many more like her.  I wanted to find out how someone with her background made it into the glass world and get her perspectives on the always-evolving dynamic glass market for which I am a huge fan of.

When you were growing up, what did you want to do for a living and then once you got the mechanical engineering degree- did you ever in your wildest dreams think you’d end up with a long career in the glass business?

An Astronaut!  Didn’t everyone after watching the movie Space Camp?  Side note: I had a friend who was able to attend the camp.  Those dreams were dashed when I got glasses, so I decided to plan for the next best thing and go for mechanical engineering with a master’s in aeronautical.  But the job market was amazing when I finished my BS, so I decided to work for a while first.  I had amazing mentors and learned a lot about commercial and industrial design and construction during my work experience in college and in my first post-grad job.  A few years later led to my husband being transferred to the frozen tundra (I mean Minnesota) which meant finding a new job, which was with SAGE.  The product was so cool and the people I was going to work with were brilliant, mind-blowing smart.  At the time, I had no idea I would end up with a career in the glass business.  SAGE was still a startup when I joined, which meant I had the opportunity to learn a lot and work in many different areas of the business and with the product

You were one of the first people I met that was involved with dynamic glass- how much has that world changed since you started at Sage Glass in 2004?

Oh my goodness – well, for starters, we can make units larger than 18x35”! Back then we were excited to ship 5 units per week that we hand packed in custom built and padded crates – and we could ship them via UPS. Needless to say, our volume has increased exponentially.    In 2004, the iPhone was still 3 years away from being debuted, so I never would have imagined we would be controlling the glass from an app or Amazon Echo.  But I think the most interesting aspect has been the building science and occupant health research.  For example, we all knew we loved sunlight, but the biology of it hadn’t yet been proven.   Now we KNOW we humans absolutely need daylight to regulate our circadian rhythms.   We are still striving for changes for healthier people and planet, but we are getting there.  I hope a right to light mandate will be incorporated into our building and employee health and safety standards sooner rather than later. 

What ideas would you have to encourage college graduates- whether engineers or sales or marketing to get them to come to the industry?

There are so many different types of work you can do within the glass industry: fa├žade engineer, process engineer, design engineer, test engineer, R&D, product development, the list goes on and on.  Glass may seem simple, but it can also be incredibly complex and interesting.  But what I have learned over time, is that what you do is only part of it; who you work with is also important.  What I love about the glass industry are the people, both within SAGE and Saint-Gobain and within the industry as a whole.  Within the industry organizations I am part of, I can clearly see the sharing of knowledge across the industry and mentoring new professionals.  It truly is a small world and we are all working together to move the glass industry forward. 

LINKS of the WEEK

I love dogs- coolest animals- and this one just did his thing at the ballpark!


Domino’s.  Great work with the potholes.  Super marketing play

VIDEO of the WEEK

I am huge Barstool Sports guy- and I do love the Pizza Reviews… in fact in NY this week for AIA- I must get to one of these places to do my own review.  Anyway- this review is hilarious as you have 5 pretty big stars and the fan on the street basically misses them all at first…. But then she realizes… and its all so cool.