Volume 33, Number 4, April 1998

Industry News - 4/98

Northwestern Window Company Fined $70K

A Connecticut company will pay almost $70,000 in refunds and fines for using high-pressure sales and other deceptive tactics to sell insulating replacement windows, doors and siding to elderly consumers in Washington and Idaho, according to the office of Washington's Attorney General.

The State alleged Homecraft Industries, which also operates as Insul-Sash of America, contacted consumers by mail or telephone offering to send a representative to their home for a free inspection of their windows, doors and siding. The inspection would turn into a hard-sell presentation that could last from two to six hours, the office reported.

As part of the consent decree, Insul-Sash will pay $50,000 in consumer refunds and $18,176 in legal costs. The court order requires the company to cease its high-pressure sales practices; to quit misrepresenting to consumers that they qualify for lower finance rates as a tactic to get them to sign a contract; and to stop erecting obstacles to contract cancellations when lower financing rates are denied.

Apogee Issues Update on European Curtainwall Exit

Minneapolis, MN-based Apogee Enterprises, Inc. says the five operating companies comprising its curtainwall operations have filed for bankruptcy or commenced liquidation. As a result, all of its European subsidiaries have filed for bankruptcy or commenced liquidation proceedings except for Apogee's holding company subsidiary, Harmon Europe S.A., and Harmon L.T.S. S.A. The company expects its involvement with Harmon Europe and Harmon L.T.S. to conclude in the near future.

As previously reported, Apogee will take an after-tax charge primarily for exiting its European curtainwall operations ranging from $35 million to $39 million (see USGlass, March 1998, page 14).

ASSOCIATIONS

GANA Adds Building Contractors Division

The Glass Association of North America has established a new Building Envelope Contractors Division. The new division has been assigned duties including developing training programs for project managers, estimators and glaziers, working with the National Fenestration Rating Council to develop a rating system for field assembled wall systems, working with suppliers to insure that building envelope contractors are involved in the installation of new industry products and providing regular opportunities for information exchange among subcontractors.

CODES and REGULATIONS

FPA, ICC End Work Toward Single Fire Code

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Code Council (ICC) have ended their quest to develop a single fire code, according to the NFPA. The two groups began working to develop and implement a process that would produce a consensus fire code in 1996.

"After more than two years of hard work, NFPA has concluded that the process we were attempting with the ICC would not allow sufficient participation by interested parties, including the fire service, and so would not result in the kind of fire code the public deserves," said NFPA president George D. Miller.

ICC Code Development Hearings Set For April

The 1998 International Code Council (ICC) Code Development Hearings were held April 14-24 in Alexandria, VA. Code officials and others met to consider proposed code changes to the International Building Code (IBC) and International Fire Code (IFC), as well as other International Codes. Results of the hearings will form the basis of the 2000 IBC, while this was the only hearing on the draft of the IFC.

GICC Reviews International Building Code

The Glazing Industry Codes Committee (GICC) was scheduled to discuss changes to the International Building Code First Draft this month. During the meeting, the group planned to discuss such issues as glass strength charts, a proposal to delete the term "permanent" as it relates to labels on glass and a revision by the National Association of Homebuilders on safety glazing adjacent to doors.

In other activities, the GICC has developed a section on glass for the International Residential Code (IRC) and revised the glass strength charts to show excessive deflection, at the request of the IRC Committee. The IRC Committee has approved both the GICC draft and new charts.

Laminators Support Test for Detention Glazing

Member companies of the laminating division of the Glass Association of North America (GANA) recently participated in a test program to evaluate the impact-resistance of glazing materials commonly specified for use in detention facilities. Products were tested according to an ASTM test method now known as Z4492Z, developed by the F-33 Subcommittee on Detention Systems. The purpose of the test, the results of which were provided to members of the Subcommittee, was to confirm levels set in the test method prior to approval of the standard. Nine manufacturers and seven suppliers participated, and 13 configurations of glass-clad polycarbonate, laminated polycarbonate and monolithic polycarbonate were evaluated. Once the standard has been adopted by ASTM, the industry is expected to shift its support from the physical attack tests that have been used toward the new mechanical test, which allows for greater reliability in testing, according to GANA.

COMPANIES

Tredegar Purchases Plants From Reynolds Metals

Tredegar Industries of Richmond, VA, has announced that its William L. Bonnell subsidiary has purchased two Canada-based aluminum extrusions and fabrication plants from the Reynolds Metals Company. The plants, located in Quebec and Ontario, employ approximately 350 people and generated $53 million in sales in 1997. Bonnell, which had sales of $267 million in 1997, says that the acquisition of these plants will help it expand into new U.S. and Canadian markets.

Harmon Acquires Several Companies

Harmon AutoGlass of Minneapolis, MN, has acquired Auto Glass Plus, an auto glass replacement company 50 miles south of Detroit, and the auto glass portion of North Ridge Glass Co. in Rochester, NY, while Harmon, Inc., also in Minneapolis, has acquired the glazing business formerly operated by Harmon AutoGlass in Farmington, MI. Harmon AutoGlass continues to maintain a retail auto glass store at the location, while Harmon, Inc. is operating the glazing side of the business.

Unruh Fab Acquires Unruh Fabricators

Unruh Fab, Inc., of Sedgwick, KS, has acquired the assets and accounts of Unruh Fabricators, Inc. of Sedgwick, KS. The company says it plans to strengthen its position in the market, in addition to adding new products and services. The firm was acquired with the assistance of Avenir Group, Inc. in Birmingham, MI, an investment group.

In addition to this acquisition, Unruh also announced that Steve Brown was hired as president, while Harley Schmidt will continue to design products and plan special projects with the new company.

Linetec Opens Satellite

Wausau, WI-based Linetec will open a satellite operation in Atlanta in early 1998, providing a distribution hub for pick up and delivery of customers' material, and house a small paint line to process quick-turn, specialty and overflow orders. It will also serve as a center for expanding the company's field painting service.

Record '97 Sales, Net Income For Lilly Industries

Lilly Industries of Indianapolis, IN, reported record sales and net income for its fiscal year ended November 30, 1997. Sales increased 18 percent to a record $601 million, while net income rose 17 percent to a record $28.1 million or $1.20 per share. The company's 1997 fourth quarter, with sales of $154 million, was the best fourth quarter in its 133-year history.

Pilkington Stocks Tumble as Rival Plans to Build in UK

UK-based Pilkington Glass Ltd. saw its shares tumble 17 to 131 pence ($0.93 to $0.82 U.S.) in January following French rival Saint-Gobain's announcement that it plans to build a major float glass line in Britain, according to a report in the London Times.

Saint-Gobain, Europe's biggest glass producer, sells flat glass in Britain but has supplied the market from France, Belgium and Germany. The new $39.6 million plant is expected to begin production no later than the end of 1999. The plant's intended site has not been announced.

The fall in Pilkington's share price follows the unveiling of a 200 pound ($121.7) restructuring. Although Pilkington has often complained of over-capacity in the European glass market, the report said that the company's chief executive, Paolo Scaroni, argued that the addition of another plant should not be alarming given the strong market growth in the region. Saint-Gobain said that its plan to open a flat glass production line in Britain would not upset the British market, according to a Reuters report. The 600-million-franc plant is intended to lower the company's production costs in Britain rather than raising its market share, according to financial director Jean-Francois Phelizon.

Oldcastle Glass Acquires Equity of GDA

The Oldcastle Glass Group has acquired the equity of Glass Distributors of America (GDA), a leading glass distributor in the Southeast that reported sales of $21 million in 1997. In addition, Oldcastle has acquired the equity of Custom Glass, which serves British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Sales in 1997 amounted to $10 million (CD).

Safety Glove Makers Change Ownership

Two safety glove manufacturers have been purchased in recent months. Pacific Dunlop has announced that its Ansell International division of Coshocton, OH, has acquired Golden Needles Knitting Inc. (GNK), a leading producer of knitted safety gloves for industrial and commercial markets, while Wells Lamont of Niles, IL, has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase 100 percent of the shares of Procovès, a glove manufacturer headquartered in Semur-en-Anxois, France.

Harding Glass Adds Three New Locations

Harding Glass of Overland Park, KS, has acquired new locations in Boulder, CO; Fort Collins, CO; and West Jordan, UT. The Boulder location was formerly owned by Clark Aluminum and Glass, the Fort Collins location was previously owned by Sunlight Glass, and the West Jordan shop is the former location of Mike's Glass. Harding, which operates glass shops in 14 states, says these acquisitions are part of a plan to enhance market coverage across the country.

Abrasive Technology Announces 8th Acquisition

Westerville, OH-based Abrasive Technology has acquired the assets of the grinding wheel division of Precision Diamond Tool (PDT) Company in Elgin, IL. PDT will continue to manufacture and sell its mandrels and diamond/CBN tools at its factory. Abrasive Technology says this is its eighth acquisition since 1986.

Unipoly S.A. Purchases Schlegel Corporation

Rochester, NY-based Schlegel Corporation has been purchased by Unipoly S.A., a Luxembourg-based holding company and manufacturer of polymer products. Schlegel is one of four divisions of the British industrial conglomerate BTR plc acquired by Unipoly for approximately $867 million.

According to Schlegel, the division will become part of the sealing and shielding group of Unipoly. Its headquarters will remain in Rochester. Wayne Bowser, general manager of Schlegel, has been named to the Unipoly board of directors and will direct Unipoly Schlegel, Inc.

Visteon To Invest $60 Million At Tulsa Glass Plant

Visteon, a part of Ford Motor Company, has announced that it will invest $60 million to modernize flat glass operations at its Tulsa, OK, glass plant, allowing more than 100 employees who were laid off from their jobs in 1996 to return to the plant.

The company says the jobs were "temporarily discontinued" in fall 1996 when one of the plant's two flat glass furnaces was idled. About $45 million of the $60 million investment will be used to modernize that furnace, with additional modernization work planned for the plant's other furnace. Completion of the project is expected in 1999.

SunSource Proposes Public Offering of Common Shares

SunSource Inc. of Philadelphia, PA, owner of the Harding Company, has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed underwritten public offering of 2.5 million common shares. Of those shares, 500,000 will be sold for the account of the company and 2,000,000 shares will be sold for the account of Lehman Brothers Inc. An additional 375,000 shares will be sold to cover over-allotments. The proceeds will be used to repay borrowings under the company's revolving credit facility.

Seal Craft Relocates, Expands Capacity

Seal Craft has relocated its corporate offices and manufacturing facilities to a new location in Shreveport, LA. The expanded facility allows more efficient plant layout, which the company says will result in increased productivity. An insulating glass production line is also part of expansion plans.

New Test Lab For United States Aluminum

United States Aluminum-Texas in Waxahachie has begun operation of its new test lab. The lab houses an all-steel test chamber, with an unrestricted head design that allows it to handle a 16-foot-wide by ten-foot-high frame. The full-service lab will be functional year-round, with four engineers testing systems in accordance with ASTM standards.

Viratec and BOC Coating Announce Strategic Alliance

Viratec Thin Films of Faribault, MN, and BOC Coating Technology of Fairfield, CA, have agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding to offer Optimum Systems™ CRT coating technology and equipment as part of a strategic alliance for coating CRTs worldwide.

The coating technology is a highly automated process for applying anti-reflection coating directly onto the face of CRTs. It includes technology for vacuum coating equipment and peripheral workstations, providing a turnkey solution for the handling, cleaning, coating, optical inspection, bussbar application, rework and processing of CRTs.

Apogee Comments On Future Earnings

Minneapolis, MN-based Apogee Enterprises, Inc., has announced that it does not expect to meet the current range of analysts' earnings estimates for the fourth quarter of fiscal 1998. The company attributes this to weak replacement auto glass sales that reflect soft industry demand and higher than expected losses from international curtainwall operations.

The company also announced that its board of directors has authorized a stock repurchase program under which up to 1,000,000 shares of common stock may be repurchased. The purchases may be made from time to time at prevailing prices in the open market, by block purchases, accelerated share repurchase programs or private transactions and may be discontinued at any time.

CONTRACT GLAZING

ASA Withdraws Endorsement Of "Pay-if-Paid" Clause

The American Subcontractors Association, Inc. (ASA) has informed the leaders of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) that it has withdrawn its support of the "Standard Form Construction Subcontract." The AGC also announced that it has published a new subcontract that includes a "pay-if-paid" clause.

The "pay-if-paid" clause, which shifts the financial risk of a financially suspect owner from the general contractor to it subcontractors, is at the center of the dispute between the two sides. The AGC feels it is necessary, while the ASA points to court cases where it has been ruled down.

ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY

NFRC Labeling Heavily Marketed

The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) labeling system for products is the subject of heavy marketing efforts.

Replacement windows for the fall project on public television's This Old House—a 120-year-old home—carried the labels. A brief discussion of the NFRC and its rating and labeling system were planned as part of the segment. In addition, the association was to appear in a three- to five-minute segment broadcast last fall on the PBS weekly program American Environmental Review, which profiles organizations that contribute to environmental well-being.

MANUFACTURING, DISTRIBUTION AND PRODUCTION

New Apogee Facility To Be Built In Statesboro, GA

Apogee Enterprises, Inc. of Minneapolis, MN, has chosen Statesboro, GA, as the site for the new Viracon glass fabricating facility. The company plans to invest $35 million in the 325,000-square-foot facility over the next two to three years. The facility will begin full production processes by mid-1999.

PPG To Upgrade Low-E Glass Coater in PA

PPG Industries of Pittsburgh, PA, has announced plans to significantly enhance the production capability of the Low-E glass coater at its Carlisle, PA, glass plant. The company plans to begin work on the $11 million project immediately, with an anticipated start-up in late 1998.

INDUSTRY-WIDE

Virgin Image Continues To Draw Visitors

The image of a two-story, rainbow-colored stain that believers say is an emblem of the Virgin Mary continues to draw believers and the curious to the office building on which it appears in Clearwater, FL, according to an Associated Press report. The vision, reported in the January and May 1997 issues of USGlass, draws just a few dozen a day now, a mere trickle compared with the half-million that swept through during two weeks last year. No explanation for the apparition has been declared, but some say it was caused by the interaction of water and chemicals on the black glass. Others maintain that it is a miracle.

INTERNATIONAL

Yamamura and Nippon Glass to Merge

Yamamura Glass Co. Ltd. and Nippon Glass Co. Ltd. have announced plans to merge on October 1, according to a Reuters report. The companies said that four shares in Nippon Glass would be exchanged for one Yamamura Glass share. The newly merged company is expected to post parent shares of 76 billion yen and a parent current profit of 1.1 billion yen in the year to March 1999.

Tamglass Strengthens Middle East Service

Tamglass Engineering Oy of Tampere, Finland, has opened a maintenance service office, Tamglass Middle East, in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. The company says the office will provide spare parts, maintenance services and safety glass production expertise for customers in the area.

Official For Asahi Glass Suspected of Giving Payoff

Tsuyoshi Sasaki, a former chief of Japan's Asahi Glass general affairs department has been accused of violating the Commercial Code that forbids payoffs, according to a police source, as reported in a Reuters report.

Sasaki was accused of paying off Taichiro Otake and his wife, Misao, who were arrested. Investigators claim that Asahi Glass paid him 12 million yen in fees for ads in brochures for Misao's flight attendant school in Toyko.

Glaverbel Posts Increased Earnings

Belgian glassmaker Glaverbel, a unit of Japanese glassmaker Asahi Glass Co., posted a 54 percent increase in 1997 gross current earnings, according to a Reuters report. Executives with the company attributed the jump to better productivity, cost control, geographical diversification and a rise in European demand.

KUDOS

CASF Recognizes Florida Craftsmen

The work of craftsmen on projects in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties took the spotlight at the Construction Association of South Florida's (CASF's) 39th annual Craftsmanship Awards banquet. In recognition of their outstanding contributions to projects built during mid-1996 through 1997, the CASF honored individual craftsmen in 37 broad categories including architectural glass.

Major commercial projects providing a talent showcase for craftsmen included the Las Olas Centre office building in Ft. Lauderdale, the L.P. Evans Mercedes Dealership in North Miami, the St. Mark's Greek Orthodox Church in Boca Raton and the Signature Grand Conference and Catering Center in Davie.

Mark Voss of Alumiglass, Inc. was awarded for glass and glazing of St. Mark's Greek Orthodox Church. He was also recognized as a winner for his work on the Florida International University (FUI) library addition. Michelle N. O'Keefe of Dave's Tile won an award for glass tile-domes on the Las Olas Centre. Winners were selected from more than 168 nominees.

SAF Receives Pollution Prevention Award

Southern Aluminum Finishing Co. (SAF) of Atlanta, GA, has been awarded the Achievement Level Award by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Pollution Prevention Partners P2AD program for its pollution prevention performance from 1992 through 1995. In addition to significantly reducing air emissions, waste water, hazardous waste and solid waste, the company says its pollution prevention efforts also cut operating costs.

LEGAL

Copyright Dispute Over Alumet Name Settled

Alumet Building Products Inc. and Alumet Mfg., Inc. of Marysville, WA, have settled a dispute out of court regarding the copyright to the name Alumet. According to Alumet Mfg., Alumet Building Products will now be operating under the name Allmet Building Products Inc. The court costs for the two sides were estimated at approximately $500,000.

LITIGATION

Thornton Granted Retroactive License

Glass Unlimited, Inc. of High Point, NC, and Premium Glass Company, Inc. d/b/a Thornton Industries of Lancaster, OH, have reached settlement in a patent infringement matter related to U.S. Patent No. 5,571,599 held by Glass Unlimited. The consent judgment retroactively grants Premium Glass a no-cost license for the production and sale of certain pieces of glass made by Premium Glass that were covered by the patent. It prohibits future infringement by the company. The patent, issued in November 1996, covers a sheet of glass with a decorative grove pattern.

PROJECTS

Window Manufacturer Helps Fulfill Redskins Vision

Jack Kent-Cooke, the late owner of the Washington Redskins, had a vision for the design of the luxury boxes of his spectacular new football stadium. The large, operable windows that open fully to give box owners "the full game experience" were a problem for the stadium's architect, HOK of Kansas City, MO. No such window existed.

Bethesda, MD-based Clark Construction, the general contractor, consulted with TSI of Landover, MD, the project's glazing contractor. Research led to the recommendation of New York, NY-based Skyline Windows, a division of S. Kraus, Inc.

With the help of HOK, Clark and TSI, the window design, engineering and manufacturing company was able to design a window unit compatible with Cooke's vision. The result was a window that allowed for a five by five foot operable sash, top-hung and operated by two gas springs, a mechanism unique to window operation. The gas springs open the sash 78 degrees to the horizontal, allowing for a large expanse with an unobstructed view.

Skytech Completes Louisville Airport Project

Skytech Systems of Bloomsburg, PA, has completed a renovation at the Louisville (KY) Airport. The project, completed in June 1997, involved more than 40,000 square feet of bent glass in a new parking complex that included garages and walkways.

According to project manager Gary Roth, "The biggest skylight measures 350 feet long." He adds, "The light it lets in creates a nice atmosphere."

TECHNOLOGY

Pilkington Licenses Technology To AFG

AFG Industries Inc. of Kingsport, TN, has selected the 3R process, developed by Toledo, OH-based Pilkington LOF, for controlling nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions at its new Richmond, KY, float glass facility. The process, which has been licensed to Cardinal IG, Guardian Industries Corp. and Samsung Corning, converts NOx emissions from glass melting furnaces into harmless nitrogen and water vapor.

ON THE MOVE

Duschqueen Inc. has moved to a new headquarters in Wyckoff, NJ, with more than triple the square footage of the old facility. The new space includes a showroom and expanded warehouse . . . Commercial Plastics & Supply Corporation of Boca Raton, FL, moved its Ottawa, Canada, branch to a facility with 50 percent more space in January . . . Polygal® U.S.A., Inc. has moved to a Janesville, WI, facility with triple the space of its old location, to handle increased business and an expanding product line. . . Hurricane Test Laboratory, Inc. (HTL) has moved into a newly constructed, 9,000-square-foot facility in Riviera Beach, FL. The facility allows testing of large specimens indoors and has an overhead crane for easy material handling.

QUALITY

Guardian Approaches Complete Registration

In the past three years, 34 core manufacturing operations of Auburn Hills, MI-based Guardian Industries have obtained ISO 9000 registration, while the remaining four are expected to achieve registration by June 1998. ISO 9000 assures customers of a supplier's commitment to quality and continuous improvement.

"By achieving almost complete registration in such a short time, we have given ourselves a strategic advantage as we compete in the global glass industry," said Russell J. Ebeid, president of Guardian's Glass Group. "The discipline and controls required to achieve ISO 9000 registration can now be used as tools throughout the company as we continue to expand and further develop our worldwide operation."

USG

© Copyright 1998 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.