Sunday, July 29, 2018

Still a No Go on Wood

A story this week gave me a flashback moment.  I remembered sitting in a NFRC meeting years ago when one of the people I probably disliked the most stood up and stated that it was just a matter of time before commercial buildings would not use aluminum or steel for framing- it would be all wood or vinyl.  I of course, being the brash, nightmarish person I was back then, scoffed loudly.  Flash forward 12 years and my scoffing was right as to date that effort has not taken off and recently a push on a major wood skyscraper was placed on hold.  Maybe some day wood or vinyl will find a place on the commercial building landscape, but for now, I’m still scoffing, though I’m surely much more mellow than I was then.

The Vanceva World of Color Awards were announced this week and I simply love the results and winners.  I am sure these projects are not for everyone but I appreciate that there were designers who went for it.  Nice work!  Congrats to the fabricator winners!

There is more and more environmental talk in the news these days and carbon footprints are back in the spotlight.  So much so that St Paul, Minnesota announced that they want all of buildings in their city to be zero carbon by 2050.  I think it’s a great goal and luckily for those who are pushing this that region does have some of the best glass and metal minds in its backyard.  Hopefully they lean on those experts, sooner than later, to start meeting the goals.

This week’s Big 3 Interview, Dan Danese, Sales Representative Thompson IG and Pleotint.

I met Danny (no one calls him that anymore- It's Dan now) 20+ years ago when I first moved to Michigan.  He was one of many people in the new area of my life that welcomed my family and me and made the transition so much better.  Workwise he was this incredible force of energy and passion for the job and from what I can tell nothing has changed since then!  Danny is a great, caring man and I am grateful our paths crossed and that he’s still out there doing great things in our markets today.

I’m honored that I have known you for many years now, but many of my readers may not be aware of you and the path you’ve taken to the point you are at today.  You just didn’t end up as the excellent sales pro you are today.  How did you get here?

I enlisted in the Marine Corp at the age of seventeen; served three years traveled the world and was out by the age of twenty. I did this to make a change and boot camp did just that!  I learned that we all can do much more than we think, mentally and physically. My first “glass” job was in 1980 at B & G Glass, an upstart fabricator of insulated glass.  A strong work ethic helped me to advance to supervisor positions in multiple in departments then to the front office as production control manager then to plant manager. During this span we had been bought out 4 times, the first by Perilstein Distributing Corp. This (I did not know at the time) would shape, enhance, refine and elevate my knowledge in the glass industry by association with the staff they brought with them. We all need a little luck in life and I was lucky to work alongside industry leaders like Steve Perilstein, Bob Cummings and Rob Taliani – They had a lot to give and I paid attention. In the year 2000 I was asked if I ever thought of moving into sales – I answered yes before they finished asking.
5 years ago, I came to work for Thompson IG (Thanks to Margaret Brune). Here I am still in sales as well as architectural presentations. A bit more luck again as the people at Thompson IG are great to work for.

You are out on the road every day seeing glass shops and glaziers.  What are they telling you is their biggest concern/worry?

The biggest concern and this has been true for a good 5-6 years is a shortage of qualified help – Glaziers, Project Managers and Estimators. A recent PM changed companies after a long stay and remarked that he hoped he didn’t make a mistake, I replied “Don’t worry you can fix that – there are six other companies that would hire you next week!”

I know you are big fan of innovation.  What are the products that really excite you to sell?  I assume it has to be easier to walk into a customer when you have something that gets your blood pumping.

By far ands away it is Suntuitive Dynamic Glass. This is the biggest reason I came to work for Thompson IG. We are owned by the people (a group of chemists and engineers) that developed this technology, a laminated glass with a chemically altered interlayer that self-tints (darkens) when it feels pressure from the sun. We take this laminated glass (colored substrates included) and pair it up with the other leading technologies of the day, warm edge spacer and high performance Low-E and get one of if not the best performing insulated windows in the world.  As an example, the new Masco World HQ completed last year with 18,000 sf of: Guardian Crystal Grey Suntuitive HS Lami / warm edge spacer / Guardian SNX-62/27 Tempered. This IG construct has a starting SHGC of .25 – that’s a good start, then during the hottest parts of the day, when there is peak demand and energy costs are the highest this glass fully tinted will have a SHGC of .12, all while maximizing daylight, preserves the view, blocking 99.5% UV transmittance, STC rating, mitigating glare and is a safety glass.  I call this the “smart phone” of glass - it will be everywhere.  Four years ago, we had installs in 2 countries; today we have over 450 installs in 25 countries. I really see this as the future.


Incredible and awesome story.  3 year olds can be clutch and this one was!

Never a dull moment in the world of Uber

Good news/bad News on this candy company?


It was Shark Week and ABC decided to get Shaquille O’Neal to take these on… so Shaq vs Sharks…. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Look at Fall Conference

Here’s something for everyone reading this to take in… with everyone coming to GlassBuild America, please seriously look at attending the Fall Conference there.  More info is HERE with the schedule (and with more details to follow) but you will see the conference now integrates with the show.  If you want to get involved and learn about all of the things going on with regards to the technical happenings, codes, advocacy etc. you need to sign up and attend.  You’ll still have plenty of show time as well.  If you have any questions, reach out to me, as I would love to see you there.

Kudos to the gang at Pleotint and Patrick Lentz on the launch of their new website.  The site is fabulous.  The layout, pictures, detail, and info are strong.  Congrats to all involved in this launch!

Big 3 with Dan Wright President at Paragon Tempered Glass

Dan Wright has worked with some of the most talented and in some cases legendary people our industry has ever had…  so my hope with this interview was to get him to open up about it- because he’s been on a pretty epic ride.  He did not let me down (never has on any level, so not surprised)  Really good stuff below, and the answers to question #2 are amazing.

I think most people who recognize your name associate you from your past stint at Guardian.  You are now President at Paragon Tempered Glass, can you tell me more about how you got there and what you are doing now? 

Well, it’s been a long road to my current role.  In 1995 I was about 6 months away from graduating college and my sister was in town with her family.  My sister and I had grown closer while I was in college because she was very ill and needed a kidney, I happened to be the right match.  Her husband, Tony Hobart (former Group VP of Guardian Industries) took a keen interest in my future and when they were at our house, Tony asked me to take a walk.  He asked about what kind of career I was looking for and honestly I had no idea.  I was getting a finance degree, and thought I might go the route of a financial planner.  He asked if I was up for an adventure, and I was intrigued.  He said, you would start in inside sales in Richburg, SC, from there it’s what you make of it.  Guardian is growing rapidly and you don’t have to stay in sales, if you are willing to take moves, there are opportunities all over the world.  So that was the first real turning point in my journey.  I was in Richburg for a year, then took every opportunity that was offered to me.  DeWitt, IA to open a float plant was next.  After a few years I was pretty close to bailing out of the glass business, but Tom Marsh (former Midwest Regional Manager at Guardian) took me under his wing and taught me forecasting and sales planning and then put me out on the road in 1998, covering Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota, all by car.  This was the second turning point in my career and I am forever grateful that he gave me the opportunity.  The market was exploding and I followed a sales representative in part of the area that was not well liked.  Sales grew quickly and we lost a regional manager, suddenly, in Detroit.  I was offered that role, and from there I found my stride in finding talented sales people who were better than I was, not only as sales people, but managers.  Each time we lost a regional sales manager, I had a replacement ready to fill my role, so I was asked to take on the vacated position.  Guys like Dave Zawisza (Carleton plant) and Ryan Sexton (Richburg plant), were both complete professionals and superstars at Guardian. I fit the Bill Davidson/Russ Ebeid culture very well, but the times were changing, and at the same time, I went through a personal crisis, so my path at Guardian ended, abruptly.
So in 2011 I received a call from a recruiter for a position in Elkhart, IN.  It turns out one of my former sales representatives, Nick McLay, was contacted about the position and thought I was a better fit.  I interviewed with StateWide Aluminum in Elkhart, IN and was offered the Sales Manager job there the next day.  So I took the family from Charlotte, NC to Indiana.  StateWide was the main supplier of windows for the truck cap industry, brands like LEER, Jason, Unicover and Lakeland.  But they were still in the throes of the Great recession and had not recovered.  Their business was down significantly.  But, slowly we started to get stronger.  We rebranded our company as StateWide Windows, and worked hard on developing our culture.  This was really the third turning point in my career.  I was working with a VP at StateWide, Jim Johnson, that was my complete opposite.  He was a taskmaster and extremely detailed.  He saw potential in me and was not going to let me waste it.  Some of our shouting matches were legendary and I slammed the door on the way out a few times.  To his credit, he never held a grudge and he pulled me through the eye of the needle.  He challenged me at every turn and held my feet to the fire.  At the time, I cursed him and looked for new career opportunities (none of which panned out, luckily).  He worked with me on writing 5 year business plans, researching and presenting M&A opportunities to our ownership, as well as forecasting and reporting.  He was the toughest coach I ever had, but I came out all the better for it, even though I couldn’t see it while it was happening.
Jim was approached by one of our suppliers about being part of their succession plan because their President was ready to slow down a little.  Jim, said, “I’m not your guy, but I’ve got your guy”.  That is when I was introduced to Paragon, and it truly was a match for both of our futures.  I came to Paragon as the VP of Sales and Marketing in January of 2017, and after a year of strong growth, I was offered the role of President at Paragon Tempered Glass.

You’ve worked for and with some unbelievable people in your past.  Legends really.  Any tidbits of advice or knowledge that one (or more of them) gave you that you would like to share? 

Oh man, I came into the glass industry in a golden age.  Many of the people I worked with had worked side by side with Russ Ebeid, and Mr. Davidson knew most of their names!   I learned a little (or a lot) from all of them.  True legends within the glass industry and within Guardian.  So let’s see if I can rattle off a few…

From Bill Davidson – It’s all about leverage, someone is always leaning on someone else, so you better know which side you are on.

Also from Mr. D. – Those individuals that are accomplishing the most usually have to say the least, those that are not achieving their goals feel the need to explain in great detail.  Instead of all the explanations just improve, the results will speak for themselves

From Russ Ebeid – If you are not developing the next leaders of your company then you are working on the wrong things.

From Jim Walsh – never take your coat off at customer or plant, it implies you are staying

From Don Tullman/Gerry Hool – you must win over the hearts and minds of the people to have a successful culture

From Ron Nadolski/Jay Waite – I learned this after I fetched Dove bars from the hotel store for these two, “Kid, have some fun while you do this job, it’s only glass and we will make more of it tomorrow!”

From Ted Hathaway – It’s okay to treat your suppliers sometimes, this isn’t a one way street

From Mike Robinson (Plant Manager at Guardian-Richburg) – if you do the right thing everytime, you will eventually be rewarded…Mike waited his turn for longer than anyone I know to be named a plant manager, and when he was, I was so thrilled.

I truly was lucky to work with people like John Thompson, Tom Ricker,  Matt Hill, Vince Westerhof, Dennis Carroll, Bruce Cooke, Steve Patience, Rosie Hunter, Dean Campbell, and Sarah Wansack.  They all taught me something along the way and I am very appreciative of that.

You were/are a seriously talented athlete that I also just found out has a gift for writing too.  Do you look back and wonder where your life would’ve been if you chased golf, baseball, or sports writing? 

You are way too kind, Max.  To tell the truth, keeping my mom out of the equation, I was the worst athlete in the family.  My dad was all state in Pennsylvania in football, basketball and track back in the 1940’s.  My oldest brother Lee, swam at LSU.  My sister, Debbie, won the Florida High School State championship in the backstroke as a sophomore in high school and went on to swim at Alabama.  My most talented sibling, Greg, may have been the best swimmer in his age group in the country at 12 years old.  He went on to swim at Alabama as well.  So I had big shoes to fill in my house growing up.  I was the baby by 12 years so my parents were done with swimming.  Baseball was my first love, and I was very good from about 7 years old to 13 years old.  I was a dominant pitcher at 12 and 13.  There was one game where I struck out 20 out of 21 batters, the one that got away bunted it back to me.  But I tore my triceps muscle at 13 and my arm was never as strong as it once was.  Everyone caught up to me physically, and though I was good enough to play some college ball, I didn’t have the talent to take it past that.  So my competitive outlet became golf, and though I loved it, it took me a long time to get to where I wanted to be.  My dad introduced me to the game when I was seven, but I never focused on it.  He and Lee had a strong bond with golf, and I knew it was something I wanted to get better at but I truly had to “dig it out of the dirt” as Ben Hogan said.  I had two magical days in 2001, both my dad and sister were still alive and my parents were visiting and staying at her house, and I lived nearby.  My dad was past his playing days but came out to watch me play a couple of practice rounds leading up to our club championship that weekend.  He said, “Dan, I’ve never seen you hit it better, go have some fun.”  My family was all at my niece’s softball game on the first day of the tournament, and I went out and shot a 69, I was just unconscious.  I rushed from the course to her game to share the news, and my dad said, “I didn’t know you were THAT good!”  The next day I was four under par for the day (seven under for the tournament) and had a nine shot lead standing on the 15th tee, where I proceeded to fall apart and give back 5 shots over those 4 holes, but held on to win a club championship.  As much as I did in baseball (we won Florida senior major league state championship in 1989, and I was named the defensive MVP for the tournament for the three games I pitched in), that club championship was probably my proudest athletic moment.  In my foursome that day were 1)A four time Michigan Amatuer champion and 5 time U.S. open qualifier, 2) a two time club champion, and senior club champion, 3) a three time club champion, and at the time course record holder (64).  I was in rare air, and met the challenge when on the inside I was a nervous wreck.  Unfortunately, I think my best golf is behind me.  I just don’t play enough anymore, and for me I have to play and practice to be competitive.
Finally, with regards to sports writing, I was a finalist for the Grantland Rice scholarship at Vanderbilt, and had I won that I would have quit baseball and followed that path.  The funny thing is, I hated deadlines, still do to this day.  I always waited to the last minute and then banged it out under the gun.  I finally learned that’s pretty much how the business is and I probably would have excelled at it because I worked best under that pressure.  One of my best friends in high school, who followed me as editor of the school newspaper after I graduated, went on to write for the sporting news, so I got to see the “inside” of sports writing, and though I may have enjoyed getting into the “broadcasting” side of things like Stephen A. Smith or Tony Kornheiser, writing day to day just wasn’t for me.

No Links or Video this week… they’ll be back next week!!

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!


--  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.


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… 


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!


--  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.


--  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


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!!