Volume 2   Issue 2               Summer 2001

What's News

Rohm and Haas Announces Closing of Insulating Glass business

Rohm and Haas Co., which is headquartered in Philadelphia, has an-nounced that it will leave the liquid polysulfide (LP) and insulating glass (IG) businesses and will cease production of those products at its chemicals facility in Moss Point, Miss.

“This decision was a difficult one,” said Nick Gutwein, vice president and business director of the company’s adhesives and sealants business. “We have enjoyed a wonderful reputation in the LP and IG markets. However, given the present market dynamics and the substantial investment required at our Moss Point facility, we could no longer justify staying in the business.”

Annual sales for the LP/IG business are approximately $60 million.

Gutwein attributed the closing to the negative sales and volume growth for the business. 

“The company is expected to pay 
the Environmental Protection Agency 
(EPA) $22 million in fines and to perform 
an additional $16 million worth of work in
 supplemental environmental projects.”

Brian McPeak, a spokesperson for the company, said the main reason for the demise of the business is the increase in new technologies now being used in insulating glass applications—specifically, the increase in polyurethane technology for IG units.

Although McPeak says it had no direct effect on the company’s decision to close the LP/IG businesses housed at Moss Point, Rohm and Haas currently owes the government a total of $38 million in fines for “various violations of [environmental] reporting requirements at the plant.” The company is expected to pay the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) $22 million in fines and to perform an additional $16 million worth of work in supplemental environmental projects. 

“In 1995, I believe, prior to [Rohm and Haas] acquiring the facility, an [EPA] inspection found that the environmental reports submitted to the agency had been falsified in the area of water discharges on the site,” McPeak said. “The company and the agency then conducted a more thorough investigation and they found that there were further violations in both permits and environmental regulations.”

Rohm and Haas entered a settlement in October 2001 with both the EPA and the state of Mississippi to pay the $38 million in fines and to bring the facility up to environmental standards.

“That [the EPA fines] didn’t have any direct effect on the decision that we had to make, though,” McPeak said. “We’re still responsible for the fines.”

The company plans to continue to operate its LP operations at Moss Point through mid-December 2001. All current customer commitments will be met, but new orders and contracts will be accepted only on a case by case basis, according to the company. Rohm and Haas is currently working to notify customers of the decision and providing account managers who will work with them on transitioning to other suppliers or alternate technologies. Along with helping customers to find new sources of insulating glass sealants, Rohm and Haas plans to help them make a smooth transition into using the latest technology available. Likewise, he said many have already made the necessary transition and those who haven’t expect to in the future.

“We’re working with the customers now. Our plan is to bring the production down at the end of this year. During that time we’ll meet any contractual obligations with our current customers and some of that will go into 2002,” McPeak said. “Over time customers already were beginning to transfer to other technologies such as polyurethane technology.”

Rohm and Haas acquired its LP/IG business from Morton Chemicals in June 1999. Morton had manufactured IG sealants for nearly 50 years before that, since 1952. Although McPeak could not give an exact percentage of how much of the IG market obtains its sealants from Rohm and Haas, he said he was certain that a majority does so.

“Of the major suppliers [of LP and IG sealants], we are the single largest in the world,” McPeak said.

Approximately 165 positions will be eliminated with the LP/IG business’s close. The company says it will offer severance benefits packages and outplacement services to those employees affected.

“I know this decision comes as a great shock and disappointment to everyone at Moss Point,” said Jane Bowen, plant manager of the Moss Point chemicals facility. “Unfortun-ately, no amount of effort to improve productivity at the plant or reduce operating costs could overcome the realities of the eroding business and substantial capital investment required to continue to manufacture these products at Moss Point.”

Two-thirds of the production at the Moss Point facility was for the company’s LP/IG businesses. McPeak said the other product lines at the facility must now decide whether to remain there in the same plant, despite the extra burden that would place on those businesses, or to look for another location.

“When that much production in a facility is focused on one area, the other parts of the facility are left with a great burden to take care of when the company exits that business,” McPeak said. “Those in the other product lines there are looking into their future and they’ve promised to make that decision by June.”

So far, customers have responded well, he said, with most having expected the closing, and with others just worried about how they will make the transition when the year is over.

“The customers are most concerned about their supply and their ability to transfer to other technologies,” McPeak said. “Over the course of the next year or two we are going to be able to get them sufficient product to help them into that transition.”

KUDOS

Crystal Honored for Overcoming Barriers

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has honored Crystal Window & Door Systems Ltd. of Flushing, N.Y., with the Blue Chip Enterprise Award 2000. The Blue Chip Award, co-sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Mass Mutual Financial Group and Nation’s Business magazine, recognizes small businesses that overcome great challenges and is awarded to approximately 200 small businesses in the United States each year, according to the company. Among the challenges for which Crystal was honored was its rise from a small business to sales of more than $30 million in ten years and its cultural transformation. The company’s president, Thomas Chen, began the company immediately after he immigrated to America from Taiwan.

“I realized early on that ‘Americanizing’ would be key to Crystal’s ability to expand into new markets,” Chen said. “We implemented many strategies, both large and small, to overcome the barriers an immigrant company is presented with. One small example is the Crystal version of ‘dress-down Fridays,” which is ‘English-only Fridays.’”

RESEARCH

Survey Shows Architects are Concerned with Availability and Durability of Fenestration Products

Top Five Attributes in Selecting a Fenestration Manufacturer
Attribute                         Average Rating
Product availability           4.5
Product durability             4.5
Choice of styles                4.4
Choice of finishes              4.3
Manufacturer reputation    4.3
Source: National Fenestration Rating Council


A survey conducted by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), based in Silver Spring, Md., has revealed that when architects are selecting manufacturers of windows, doors and skylights for their projects, they are most concerned with availability and durability. The survey asked architects to indicate the importance of 15 attributes in selecting a fenestration manufacturer, with a score of five indicating “very important” and a score of one indicating “not important.” 

Product availability and durability tied for first with an average score of 4.5. Close behind these attributes were choice of styles (4.4) and energy efficiency when choosing fenestration products. A majority of those surveyed indicated that they consider energy performance “often” or “very often” when selecting products for all types of applications. Likewise, half of those who consider energy performance use NFRC ratings to judge the product choice of finishes (4.3) and manufacturer reputation (4.3).

Copper is In; Platinum is Out

Metallon Inc. of Parkersburg, W.Va., has conducted a study among numerous color experts who have discovered that copper and brass will be the most trendy metals for 2001, rather than the formerly-popular platinum and chrome. According to Nada Napoletan Rutka, former president of the Color Marketing Group and founder of Nada Associates of Pittsburgh, the increased desire for copper and brass is part of society’s tendency to head back toward nature. “Metals typify natural materials, and for this reason, we see more natural finishes versus highly-polished ones,” Rutka said. “For home furnishings, silver has been very important color wise for the past few years. As we move forward, we are seeing a shift toward gold, as well as bronze and copper. These metals reflect the warmer colors of the new millennium.”

“We believe the renewed interest in copper is
 because of its dependability, look, feel and longevity.”

- Ken Geremia

Ken Geremia, manager of communications for the Copper Development Association, agreed. “Architectural applications and specifications for copper are definitely on the rise,” he said. “Over the past ten years, we’ve seen a continual increase of 5 to 6 percent in copper applications by architects on an annual basis.” He continued, “We believe the renewed interest in copper is because of its dependability, look, feel and longevity.”

In line with this trend, Metallon is promoting its metal finishes as an upgrade option on millwork, trim and windows. “We have the ability to cold spray apply seven different types of metals to a wide variety of building products. This allows homeowners who are already using metals in home designs to add to their selections,” said Metallon president Shawn Draper. “For example, a home with copper gutters and flashing can be enhanced by having copper Metallon finishes on its window frames.”

Metallon coatings are available in brass, bronze, copper, nickel, aluminum, stainless steel and iron rust, and come with an option of seven different finishes, including brushed, satin, hand-rubbed, textured, green patina, antiqued and flat.

COURSES

ASTM Introduces New Course Designed for Glass Professionals

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), based in West Conshohocken, Pa., is sponsoring a new one-day technical and professional training course, “Measuring of Residual Stresses in Glass Products.” The course will address such topics as principles of stress measurement in glass products, flat glass products, container and television glass products, calibration and automated on-line application of stress measurements.

The new course is designed for glass industry professionals, according to ASTM, especially those in research and development laboratories, including process engineers and others assigned to stress measuring tasks and concepts.

MEDIA SPOTLIGHT


Martha Stewart Honors Fenestration Industry with Special Feature

Martha Stewart covers everything from cooking to cleaning to interior decorating in her magazine, Martha Stewart Living. And recently, she entered yet another arena with a special feature titled “Replacing Windows,” which appeared in the “Home” section of the magazine. The feature, written by James S. Russell, gives the reader a brief orientation to the fenestration process. Russell followed the crew of Englander Millwork, based in New York City, as they replaced the windows in a 19th-century house in Greenwich Village. Beginning with the history of the window and an in-depth description of its vital parts for the non-fenestration-educated reader, the story then moves to its construction, even touching on the cutting of the glass for all types of windows. Russell completes his tale by offering a quick glance into installation, including weather stripping and the painting of a window’s interior trim.

RESEARCH

Window Manufacturers Are Surveyed on Attitudes Toward Smart Windows

A study contracted by Research Frontiers Inc. of Woodbury, N.Y., to survey U.S. window manufacturers on their feelings towards “smart windows”, revealed several key facts about the fenestration industry’s attitude toward these windows of the future. 

According to the study, which was conducted by Townsend Research Group, 71.7 percent of those studied had heard of this new technology, which can control the transmission of light through windows electronically. Likewise, the same manufacturers expect 3.6 percent of the population to employ this technology in their homes by 2005 (both installed new and installed as a retrofit for older windows). In the commercial market, manufacturers expect smart windows to be employed by 6.2 percent of the market by 2005 (also including both new windows and retrofits).

Looking to the future of manufacturing smart windows themselves, 53.9 percent of window manufacturers think they will not require outside assistance in the manufacturing process if a light control film is supplied directly to them. If they do require assistance, though, 19.1 percent said they would need help in electrical wiring. In applying the film to the glass, 19.4 percent said they would prefer for their glass supplier to apply the film, while 4.6 would work with a laminator to apply the film.

In regard to the capabilities of smart windows, 63.4 percent of the window manufacturers surveyed said the ability to change a window’s tint instantaneously will be either “very important” or “somewhat important” to residential homeowners. In addition, manufacturers expect consumers to desire the availability of a wide range of light transmission levels from dark to clear, the reduction of glare and heat which enter rooms through windows, the ability to be used in conjunction with low-E glass to increase energy efficiency and the control of the amount of daylight entering a window without clearing the view completely.

While 51.1 percent were “very interested” or “somewhat interested” in being able to offer this product someday, 9.6 percent were “very disinterested” and 7.2 percent were “unsure.”

In addition to questions merely requiring a rating from “very interested” to “very disinterested,” Townsend asked each manufacturer his or her reason for wishing to offer smart window products.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Three Window Companies Unite Under One Corporate Identity

Peachtree® Doors and Windows Inc., Crestline® Windows and Vetter® Windows & Doors, now all of Norcross, Ga., will operate under a single corporate identity, the Peachtree Companies Inc. The three companies recently merged their senior management teams. The Crestline and Vetter brands have been manufactured by SNE Enterprises Inc. of Mosinee, Wis., while the Peachtree brand has been manufactured by Peachtree Doors and Windows in Norcross. Now, the three will work as a single organization, according to Robert C. MacDonald, president and chief executive officer for the newly-united company.

“SNE and Peachtree have been working since May 2000 to combine the strengths and rich heritage of both companies and create a single organization. Announcing a new corporate identity is the final step in the process,” MacDonald said. “Under The Peachtree Companies Inc., our three brands—Crestline, Peachtree and Vetter—will remain our focus and we will continue our commitment to invest in these brands to improve the business of our customers.”

MacDonald added that SNE and Peachtree will continue to operate as subsidiaries of the Peachtree Companies Inc.

“The creation of this new corporate identity will be seamless for our customers and suppliers, while allowing us to continue to blend our strengths and move forward as a single organization,” he said.

Although all three companies will now be headquartered in Norcross, the company will also maintain facilities in Gainesville, Ga., Huntington, W.Va., Stevens Point, Wis., and Mosinee, Wis.

Amesbury Group Finalizes Plan to Purchase Sash Controls

Balance Systems Inc./Amesbury Group of Sioux Falls, S.D., has finalized an agreement to purchase Sash Controls of Ferndale, Mich. According to a statement issued by the Amesbury Group, the agreement will not affect either company’s product lines. In addition, current management will remain in place. Sash Controls will operate as a subsidiary of Balance Systems Inc. and will maintain its current phone numbers, fax numbers and addresses.

“It is our goal to ensure a smooth transition and an enhancement of our customer’s relationships with either company,” reads the release. “Adding Sash Controls to the Amesbury group will play a significant role in our world class business philosophy as we continue to strive to be one of the best in the industry.”

ENERGY

Pella® Markets Windows by Touting its Energy Efficiency

The Pella Corp. of Pella, Iowa, is marketing its windows by promoting its energy efficiency. “Energy efficiency is fast becoming top-of-mind for an increasing number of homeowners, and rightly so,” said Harold Pinkston, Pella’s marketing manager, in a news release. “Although many consumers don’t think of it, windows and doors serve a variety of purposes—they are one of the most prominent aspects of a home and can greatly impact the energy efficiency and comfort levels in that home.”

Pella is a participant in the U.S. Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR® program, and adds that “Consumers can be assured that their Pella windows will present air infiltration because only Pella factory-tests virtually every standard venting double-hung and casement window for air infiltration. This testing procedure is built directly into the manufacturing process.”

PARTNERSHIPS

Ross Window Corp. Replaces 650 Windows with Crystal Series 5000

Ross Window Corp. of New York was recently contracted to replace 650 failing “first generation” insulating glass windows in a 100-unit apartment house. The building’s original windows were replaced in 1979 with insulating glass aluminum windows, but the insulating glass sealant failed prematurely, causing fogging, condensation, sweating and loss of energy efficiency.

“The failure of early generations of insulating glass windows is a silent epidemic, widespread throughout the New York City area and the Northeast,” said Mickey Ross, president of Ross Windows.

To replace these older windows, Ross is installing Crystal Series 5000 heavy-duty aluminum windows, supplied by Crystal Window and Door Systems of Flushing, N.Y. The windows feature full thermal-break frames and sashes, warm-edge spacer technology from Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries Inc. and 7/8-inch-thick dual-glazed insulating glass units.

Weather Shield Partners with Solutia Inc.

Weather Shield Windows & Doors of Medford, Wis., has partnered with St. Louis-based Solutia Inc. to offer Saflex®, KeepSafe® and KeepSafe Maximum® as laminated glass options in its windows.

“As we’ve seen in recent years, intense storms are on the rise in a wide variety of areas across the country,” said Bob Eckert, director of marketing and communications for Weather Shield. “Hurricanes in the South, severe storms in the North and pounding rain in the West all mean that homes and buildings need to be constructed with products that can stand up to the elements. We’re offering Solutia glass products as another option in our solidly constructed window and door frames to give people the best opportunity to protect their homes and workplaces.”

Northern Building Products and ALICO Form Cross-Continental Alliance

Northern Building Products of Ridgefield, N.J., recently an-nounced a new alliance with Middle East-based Aluminum & Light Industries Co. Ltd. (ALICO). Bob Pecorella, president for Northern Building Products, made the an-nouncement at a press conference on March 14, with ALICO’s business development manager, Pradeep K. Sharma.

Although the two companies have not yet determined the specifics of the alliance and how they will function together, both expect the venture to open each company’s market vastly. “With this new alliance, we’re going to be able to provide a great deal more in the way of our geographical spans,” said Pecorella.

He added that since the companies have made the announcement, Northern Building Products has been asked for quotes on more than $75 billion of work.


DWM
© Copyright 2001 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.