Volume 33, Number 5, May 1998

INDUSTRY NEWS - 5/98

Asahi's Glaverbel to Acquire PPG's European Flat Glass Business

Glaverbel S.A. of Brussels, Belgium, has confirmed its intention to purchase the European flat and automotive glass business of Pittsburgh, PA-based PPG Industries. Although terms were not disclosed, Glaverbel said the price was "reasonable" but would not "jeopardize our balance sheet," according to Reuters. Final agreement is contingent upon due diligence, the approvals of the governing bodies of both companies and regulatory authorities and notification of works councils.

The PPG European glass business, based mainly in France and Italy, is primarily involved in the flat glass and automotive glass sectors. According to PPG, it has four float glass production lines with total capacity of 2,000 tons per day, facilities to produce windshields and tempered glass for more than two million autos per year, some processing activities and an architectural glass distribution network in France. Consolidated annual sales of the PPG business units are about $450 million, or about one-fifth of the company's global 1997 glass sales of $2.1 billion. The units employ about 2,750 people.

The companies expect completion of the transaction by June 30. Glaverbel's acquisition plans follow PPG's March announcement that it intends to sell its profitable glass business in Europe, citing its lack of scale.

Asahi Glass Co. Ltd. of Japan, which owns Glaverbel S.A., said that its share of Europe's auto glass market would double to approximately 25 percent following the acquisition, according to Reuters. Glaverbel said the purchase would allow it to develop its core business in Europe, while enabling it to increase capacity and its global market position in raw glass, mirrors and auto glass.

CRH Purchases Leading Materials Business in Seattle

International building materials group CRH of Dublin, Ireland, has announced Oldcastle Materials Group's acquisition of the assets of M.A. Segale, Inc. for a total cash consideration of $60 million, including deferred consideration payable over a ten-year period. The discounted net present cost of the acquisition, after disposal of certain surplus assets, is $36 million, according to CRH.

Segale, a family business based in Tukwila, near Seattle, WA, is a leading integrated aggregates, asphalt, paving and construction business serving southern Seattle, with long-term access to more than 50 million tons of permitted aggregate reserves. In 1997, adjusted trading profits amounted to $4.4 million on sales of $50 million.

Oldcastle's precast, architectural products, glass and distribution groups already have operations in the Seattle area. As a leading player in this market, Segale is well placed to benefit from the continued strong growth forecast for this region, according to CRH.

The Segale family, led by Mario Segale, founder and majority shareholder, plans to pursue other business interests but will continue in their management positions with the company for the remainder of 1998. The company will form part of the Oldcastle Materials Group's Western Division.

Vistar a Loser? Who Knew?

A recent press release announcing the appointment of former Vistar CFO Scott Pettit to a similar position for a medical monitoring company paints a different picture of the Safelite-Vistar merger than had previously been known.

"Pettit," the release says, "was vice president and chief financial officer for Vistar, Inc., a national leader in the auto glass replacement industry based in Chicago. He was the principal member of a team responsible for taking the company from a $100 million money-losing operation to a thriving industry leader with $850 million of sales." The release goes on to say that during that time, Pettit "spearheaded two mergers and significant acquisition activity which more than doubled the number of the company's retail stores and employees."

ASSOCIATIONS

Building Envelope Contractors Group Formed

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, establishing parameters for identifying firms and individuals as qualified building envelope contractors, 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.

Window Safety Brochure From Industry Associations

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), National Wood Window and Door Association and Screen Manufacturers Association have joined with the National Safety Council (NSC) to develop a window safety brochure, Keeping the Promise of Safety. The brochure, which features window safety tips, will be widely distributed by NSC chapters at schools, fairs and public services displays. Quantities of the brochure are available from AAMA.

ASA Supports Effort to Modernize Miller Act

Subcontractors working on federal construction projects would benefit from the enactment of H.R. 3032, introduced in November by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, according to the American Subcontractors Association Inc. (ASA). H.R. 3032, the Construction Subcontractors Payment Protections Enhancement Act of 1998, would modernize the Miller Act, which requires the federal government to have prime contractors provide a payment bond to protect all persons supplying labor and material, and a performance bond to guarantee completion of the project. "Modernizing the Miller Act is the only way that contractors and suppliers will be protected in the manner which Congress intended," according to Congresswoman Maloney.

CODES AND REGULATIONS

OSHA Directive Guides Hazard Communication

A new directive from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is expected to make it less difficult to comply with the agency's hazard communication standard.

CPL-2-2.38D, Inspection Procedures for the Hazard Communication Standard, updates and clarifies a number of long-standing requirements to the federally mandated hazard communication standard, known as Hazcom. Hazcom had required employers to provide employees with information about dangerous chemicals through a comprehensive program. The program includes substance labeling, material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and employee training. The new directive consolidates interpretations issued since the previous directive was published in 1990 and covers technical amendments and clarifications to the standard.

Among other changes, this update to the agency's most frequently cited standard clarifies the issue of electronic access to MSDSs, stating that employers may provide MSDSs to employees through computers, microfiche machines, the internet, CD-ROM and fax machines. Employers using electronic means must ensure that reliable devices are readily accessible in the workplace at all times; that there is an adequate backup system in the event of failure of that system; that the system is part of the overall hazard communication program of the workplace; and that employees must be able to access hard copies of the MSDSs.

Also clarified is OSHA's policy on issuing citations for consumer products. According to the standard, such citations will be issued only when the use of the product is inconsistent with the manufacturer's intentions or the frequency or duration of use greatly exceeds that expected of an ordinary customer. OSHA compliance officers issuing citations for either consumer products or manufactured items must describe the specific hazardous chemical in the product.

The directive can be accessed through the OSHA internet home page at www.osha.gov under "Other OSHA Documents," and then "Directives."

RJ

ANSI A117 Committee Meets on CABO 117.1

The ANSI Accredited Standards Committee A117 considered negative ballots and public comments on the May 1997 Revised Second Public Review Draft of the proposed 1997 edition of Council of American Building Officials (CABO)/ANSI A117.1.

During consideration at the October meeting, one substantive change involving deletion of exception 3 to 309.3 of the May draft was approved. The committee also approved a new, simplified format for the standard. The revised format is intended to mirror the proposed revisions to the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), as recommended in the September 1996 Final Report of the ADAAG Review Federal Advisory Committee. A Third Review Draft incorporating changes has been developed and is available for $20 through CABO.

Window Cleaning Standard, Methods Receive Attention

Safety and competitive ability are at issue as the industry evaluates its window cleaning safety standard and methods.

After more than two years of effort, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International has convinced the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) to disband its A39 Committee and form a new group responsible for developing a window cleaning safety standard. BOMA International plans to participate on the new committee.

"W.S." Bill Garland, president of BOMA, commented, "We are gratified that ASME has acted to advance window cleaning safety by forming a new committee capable of developing provisions that are based on objective data and experience. The provisions sought by the A39 group were arbitrary and unwarranted."

Growing acceptance of the use of inexpensive, single-seat rigs in the window-washing business is also raising safety concerns by proponents of the electric-powered platforms usually used by the larger companies that can afford the investment. With market share at stake, the use of manual rigs allows entrepreneurs to get into the business for about $500, compared with the $20,000 outlay for a scaffold. Furthermore, there is some concern that chair-only businesses are able to bid low for jobs because they aren't investing in needed equipment and training.

Whether or not the use of chairs becomes more restricted, they're likely here to stay. According to window washers, the mobile, easily maneuvered chairs allow much faster cleaning without the time-consuming setup of a scaffold.

MEC Group Disapproves Sunroom Proposal

The Model Energy Code (MEC) has disapproved proposed prescriptive requirements for small additions supported by the Glazing Industry Code Committee (GICC). According to the GICC, such requirements include U-values for windows, skylights and doors. The proposed revision was submitted in an effort to incorporate building requirements into the MEC for the construction of sunrooms, greenhouses and solariums. It was supported by GICC, National Sunroom Association and the National Association of Home Builders. Items that were approved include a requirement that replacement windows added anywhere in an existing dwelling comply with the stated U-values and the addition of a solar heat gain coefficient standard of 0.4 for glazed fenestration products in climates with significant cooling loads.

A new edition of the MEC, maintained by the International Code Council, will be published this year.

COMPANIES

Apogee Reports Loss of $57 Million For Fourth Qtr

Apogee Enterprises of Minneapolis, MN, announced that it had a net loss of more than $57 million, or $2.06 per share, for the fourth quarter and a loss of $51.1 million, or $1.84 per share, for the year ended February 28.

According to company president and chief executive Russell Huffer, the main items contributing to the fourth quarter loss were $17 million related to write-downs of three of the remaining projects in Asia, a fourth quarter after-tax charge of $34.9 million for exiting all international curtainwall operations and a fourth quarter loss of $5.7 million in the auto glass segment.

The company had a fiscal operating loss of $55.3 million, due to a $96.4 million operating loss in its building products and services segments and a decrease of 25 percent to $15 million for auto glass. However, the glass technologies segment showed continued growth with operating income up 37 percent to $27.3 million.

CONTRACT GLAZING

ASA Warns of New Subcontract Forms

The American Subcontractors Association, Inc. (ASA) has warned subcontractors about what it says are potential problems in the 650i and 655i forms published by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). According to ASA, both forms contain design delegation and indemnification provisions that could negatively affect subcontractors, including a pay-if-paid clause.

INTERNATIONAL

Exports of Building Materials Increase to China

In an effort to reverse declining exports of building materials resulting from the financial crisis in Southeast Asia, China plans to concentrate on exports of plate glass rather than cement in 1998. Yang Zhiyuan, deputy director of the State Bureau for Building Materials Industry, said China's exports of plate glass have jumped by 21.1 percent this year compared to the same period last year.

In addition, the National Light Industry Council predicts that China's market supply of plate glass will continue to far exceed demand. The Council predicts China's production of plate glass to be 168 million standard-weight cases. Added to the 12 million cases in stock, market supply is expected to exceed the demand of 155 million cases.

Asahi Develops New Substrate

Asahi Glass Co. of Japan has developed a new alkali-free glass substrate for thin film transistor-liquid crystal displays that it says it will begin manufacturing in July. According to the company, the new substrate's ability to minimize warp and gravitational sag is greater than its old alkali-free glass substrate, and the substrate has lower thermal expansion and shrinkage. Asahi has about a 30-percent share of the alkali-free substrate market and says it hopes to achieve a 50-percent share with the new substrate.

Mexico Raises Glass Duties Following U.S. Safeguard Decision

The Embassy of Mexico has announced that the panel established under Chapter XX of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to oversee the safeguard adopted by the United States against imports of brooms from Mexico has ruled the safeguard to be inconsistent with provisions of NAFTA.

The safeguard, which resulted from the U.S. International Trade Commission's decision that Mexican broom imports were seriously injuring U.S. domestic industry, prompted the U.S. to increase duties on the brooms. Consequently, Mexico increased duties on certain items including flat glass.

The governments of the two countries will meet to determine the conditions under which the United States will comply with the panel's decision.

ON THE MOVE

P>Materials Research Society has moved to a new location in Pittsburgh, PA. The company announced that after August 31, 1998, mail will no longer be forwarded to the new address . . . The J.G. Braun headquarters moved to Morton Grove, IL, on April 1, while its warehouse has moved to West Allis, WI . . . After 30 years in one location, the residential skylights and headquarters offices for Columbia Manufacturing Co. Ltd. have moved to Burnaby, B.C.

KUDOS

Interpane Establishes Scholarship Awards

Interpane Glass Company of Clinton, NC, has announced that it has established an annual scholarship program to award $12,000 to students attending college/university schools of architecture, engineering and architectural/construction engineering. The company will award three $4,000 scholarship grants to the alma mater of the winning design professionals who register at the company's booth or at its website.

USG

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