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March/April 2002

AGRReports    breaking news

Final ITC Decision Due March 5

Almost a year to the date the case was filed, the International Trade Commission was set to make its final decision in the Chinese windshield anti-dumping case on March 5. The commissioners held their final hearing on February 5 and were given one month to make their decision in the case filed by Owatonna, Minn.-based Viracon, Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries and Columbus, Ohio-based Safelite Glass Corp.

The original petition was filed February 26, 2001 (see May/June 2001 AGRR page 32, see July/August 2001 AGRR page 4, September/October 2001 AGRR page 11 and November/December 2001 AGRR page 10 for related stories), and so far, in both preliminary investigations the International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce have ruled in the favor of the petitioners. The International Trade Commission will make its final decision on March 5 on whether the dumping of windshields manufactured in China is actually occurring in the United States. If the ITC decides dumping is occurring, the case will return to the Department of Commerce, which will be compelled to decide to what extent the dumping is occurring and to what extent it is injuring the U.S. market for replacement windshields. If it again rules in favor of the petitioners and deems the injury to be occurring at a large extent, anti-dumping duties will be placed on Chinese replacement windshield manufacturers importing their products into the United States. Currently, temporary duties have been instated and those will remain in effect until the Department of Commerce reaches its final decision-which should come by summer-barring any postponements, which so far, have been the norm for this case.

Safelite Closes Bankruptcy Case
Columbus, Ohio-based Safelite Glass Corp. returned to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., on January 31 to file its "Motion for Final Decree and Order Closing Chapter 11 Case Pursuant to Section 350(a) of the Bankruptcy Code and Bankruptcy Rule 3022." This comes nearly two years after the company originally filed for bankruptcy on June 9, 2000. The company was represented in court by its co-counsel, Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Richards, Layton & Finger.

In September 2000, the company filed for restructuring and emerged from the bankruptcy with a new plan of action and now has finally put the case behind it and has been allowed to disband its "Creditors' Committee," which was formed to see it through the restructuring.
According to Bankruptcy Rule 3022, "after an estate is fully administered in a chapter 11 reorganization case, the court, on its own motion or on motion of a party of interest, shall enter a final decree closing the case." On these grounds, the court ruled in favor of the closing of the case, deeming that the company's restructuring plan has been implemented; no significant property transfers remain unexecuted under the plan; Safelite has assumed the business and management of the property dealt with by the plan; all plan payments required to date had been made; and no motions or contested matters remained unsolved in the case.

EXPANSIONS
Discount Auto Glass Opens Illinois Distribution Center
Discount Auto Glass of Brighton, Mich., a distributor of Northstar Automotive Glass, has opened an auto glass distribution center in Rock Island, Ill. The 17,000-square-foot facility will be headed by Ron Johnson, branch manager.

Mygrant Expands to Tuscon, Arizona
Mygrant Glass Co. of Phoenix has opened its 33rd automotive replacement glass distribution center in Tuscon, Ariz. Steve Williams will serve as branch manager of the 36,000-square-foot facility.

Guardian Opens Second Latin American Plant
Guardian Industries of Auburn Hills, Mich., is expanding to Latin America with a second float glass plant in Brazil. The $120 million facility will be located in Balsa Nova, Parana, according to Guardian International president and chief executive officer Ralph Gerson. The plant is scheduled to open in June 2003 and will employ approximately 200 people.

“This second major investment in Brazil, along with our current facilities, including our plants in the state of Rio de Janeiro and in Venezuela, and our distribution units in Argentina, Mexico and Colombia, demonstrate our strong commitment to the growing and increasingly attractive markets for flat glass products in Latin America,” Gerson said.

LEGAL
Milacron Claims Patent Has Been Violated
The International Trade Commission (ITC) has instituted an investigation of certain imported plastics moulding machines having operator interfaces incorporating general computers at the request of Cincinnati-based Milacron Inc. Milacron’s complaint alleges that the machines in question infringe upon Milacron’s U.S. patent and thus violate section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930. Milacron makes machines that manufacture mouldings for windshields, backlites and sidelites.

“We are very pleased that the investigation will be moving forward quickly as a result of the ITC commissioners’ review of the documentation we submitted,” said Harold Faig, Milacron’s group vice president of plastics technologies, “and we are confident that our complaint will be substantiated. Our patent in this area has withstood numerous challenges by infringers as well as re-examination in the U.S. Patent Office, where its validity has been confirmed.”
 
STANDARDS
AGRSS Works Toward Registration and Certification Programs
The credentialing committee of Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards (AGRSS) Committee discussed creating an AGRSS registration and accreditation program at its meeting on December 11 in Oak Brook, Ill., with 12 of its members in attendance. The credentialing committee’s chairperson, Carl Tompkins of the Sika Corp. of Madison Heights, Mich., led the discussion and a number of suggestions were brought forth for the certification program. Suggestions included the following: 

    • AGRSS should accredit individuals to serve as auditors of the certification program; 
    • A method to certify multiple business units should be developed; 
    • Certification should be revoked for specific actions, such as misrepresentation of the certification or any demonstration of non-compliance with the standard; and
    • Insurance companies should be involved in the certification process.

After noting several links running through committee members’ suggestions, the committee decided to make two lists of goals: “accredit” and “validate.” the accreditation items are short-term goals for the AGRSS registration program, and the validation items will be accomplished in the long term as part of an overall certification program.

The credentialing committee plans to meet again in February and present its recommendations to the full AGRSS committee in April.

CONFERENCES
GTS Holds Conference in Florida
GTS Services, which is based in Portland, Ore., held a meeting called “The Art of Success,” in Fort Myers, Fla., January 21-23 at the Sanibel Harbour Resort and Spa. The company invited several industry executives to this conference, which included a tour of the LYNX Services call center and a variety of seminars. Topics of discussion included “eCommerce for the Glass Industry,” “Hire, Train and Retain Employees,” advertising and marketing and “Getting the Most Out of GlasPacDos.” Several sessions also focused on the latest enhancements to the company’s program, GlasPacLX. (See September/October 2001 AGRR, page 55, for related story.)

TECHNOLOGY
IGA Seeks New Company to Administer e-direct bill™
The Independent Glass Association (IGA), which is based in Idyllwild, Calif., has suspended its contract with AMJ Logistics, the company that was to set up its electronic billing system, e-direct bill. According to IGA chief executive officer Tim Smale, AMJ was not delivering the program as quickly or completely as it had promised, causing the association to look elsewhere for a new program administrator. At press time, the IGA was exploring its options for other companies to administer the program and Smale had plans to meet with the IGA board of directors to reach a decision. The identity of those under consideration for the new contract were not disclosed.

MANUFACTURING
Sika-Marion Achieves QS-9000 Certification
Madison Heights, Mich.-based Sika Industry’s plant in Marion, Ohio, has obtained QS-9000 certification a requirement of parts suppliers to U.S. auto and truck manufacturers. To become QS-9000-certified, a plant must demonstrate continuous improvement, emphasizing defect prevention and the reduction of variation and waste.

The Marion plant has been in operation since 1991 and has 61 employees. It achieved ISO 9002 certification in 1993.

RESEARCH
Not All Bugs Are Bad Bugs
In a recent edition of Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosys-tems, researchers found that microbes in the upper 300 meters of the earth’s oceanic crust ate their way through rock, including particles of glass.

According to the researchers, “traces of this process are preserved in the glassy margins of underwater lava flows.” 

The research explained that super-cooled lava, which is spewed by underwater volcanoes, is glass. Hubert Staudigel, one of the paper’s co-authors of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, said the microbes “may possibly drill their way into the rock to derive nutrients from the glass.”

No word yet on whether the microbes will eat auto glass as well.

KUDOS
Mitchell Receives Own STAR for Sustained Performance
The Service & Support Professionals Association (SSPA) recently awarded San Diego-based Mitchell International its Software Technical Assistance Recognition (STAR) award in the sustained performance category. This is Mitchell's second STAR award, having received the same honor two years ago as the most improved technical support organization.
 
TECHNOLOGY
California Toll Roads on FasTrak
Orange County, Calif., has instated a program in which drivers can have solar-powered transponders attached to their windshields to pay for tolls automatically throughout the county's 51-mile public toll-road system. The FasTrak transponders automatically deduct tolls from prepaid accounts when drivers pass under overhead readers. The transponders can be obtained from the California Toll Road Agency and can be installed by consumers themselves. They attach to the windshield with a small piece of Velcro, so they can be removed easily. 

However, because the transponder attaches to the outside of the windshield via Velcro, it should not cause any problems with the windshield's various features, and the windshield's coatings, tints, etc., should have no effect on the transponder.
  
MANUFACTURING
Nissan Names Glass Suppliers 
Nissan North America Inc. of Jackson, Miss., has announced the second wave of production suppliers for its new vehicle assembly plant in Canton, Miss. Among these are AP Technoglass Co. of Florence, Ky., and Carlex Glass Co. of Vonore, Tenn. According to the company, four new production plants, a supplier logistics center and a transportation service center will be built in central Mississippi. The new facilities cost more than $110 million and will create approximately 1,000 new jobs, according to the company.

FINANCIAL
Apogee Reports Fiscal 2002 Third-Quarter Results
Apogee Enterprises Inc. of Minneapolis has announced its third-quarter fiscal 2002 financial results. The company’s auto glass replacement segment achieved revenues of $59.6 million for the third quarter, down 9 percent from $65.3 million in the same quarter of 2001. The segment reported an operating income of $2.6 million, up from last year, during which it reported a loss of $3 million. The company attributes the earlier loss to operational improvements and cost reductions implemented in its retail business.

Chairman, president and chief executive officer Russell Huffer was pleased with the company’s results overall. 

“Throughout fiscal 2002 we’ve continued to increase earnings and improve operations … ,” Huffer said. “Performance in the auto replacement glass and large-scale optical segments was in line with our modest expectations.”

Overall, the company’s third-quarter earnings were 20 cents per share, or $5.8 million, versus 11 center per share, or $3 million, in the fiscal 2001 period. 

SINCE SEPT. 11 … 
September 11 Creates Heightened Demand for Strong Glass in Cockpits
With the U.S. Congress passing a great deal of legislation to strengthen cockpit doors and provide more safety for pilots and other airline personnel, many companies are developing products to meet this new demand for cockpit safety systems.

Advanced Glassfiber Yarns of Aiken, S.C., has developed an S-2 Glass® armor system for strengthening cockpits to provide additional protection for pilots and airline personnel. Virgin Atlantic Airways has reinforced its planes' cockpit doors with an S-2 Glass armor system, which includes Gloucester, United Kingdom-based Permali Gloucester Limited's Permaglass X. Permaglass X is a lightweight, high-performance composite armor. According to Glassfiber Yarns, Permaglass X was chosen for its mechanical strength and heat resistance. 

In addition, Seattle-based Raisbeck Engineering has designed a hardened-cockpit security system for jets that comes equipped with two 1 ¼-inch thick bullet-resistant windows. The system is currently being installed on 70 of Alaska Airlines' Boeing 737s. The Raisbeck Armored Cockpit Security System has been in development for the last 12 months.


Glass Cos. Team with Fire Truck Mfr. to Help New York Fire Department
Guardian Industries Corp. of Auburn Hills, Mich., FWD Seagrave of Clintonville, Wis., and Omni Glass & Paint Co. Inc. of Oshkosh, Wis., are supporting the relief efforts in New York through the donation of 100 replacement windshields to the New York City Fire Department. The department placed an order on September 13 for the windshields from FWD Seagrave, a fire truck manufacturer. Seagrave contacted its glass supplier, Omni Glass & Paint Co., which called its glass manufacturer, Guardian.

Together, the three companies decided to donate the truck windshields and hope to deliver the windshields quickly to the fire department in New York.

AGRR

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