Volume 33, Number 6, June 1998

 

Industry News

Glass Used in $8.4 Million Pilkington Contract Alleged to be Defective

UK-based Pilkington plc is investigating allegations that some of the glass it supplied for use in a 13.5 million pound ($8.4 million US) glazing contract described as the world’s largest may be defective, according to the Financial Mail. As much as 30 percent of the glass supplied for the roof of the terminal at Hong Kong’s new airport may need to be replaced. The problem appears to be a cosmetic one involving separation of the two glass layers from the plastic interlayer sandwiched between.

A contractor involved with the project is quoted as saying that tiny opaque bubbles had formed in many sheets. Engineers have been sent to investigate the manufacturing process at Pilkington’s German subsidiary Flachglas.

The news report indicates that the 1996 contract for 10,000 square meters of noise-damping, typhoon-resistant glass in 13,600 panels took the glassmaker three years to negotiate.

 

Key Communications Inc. Acquires BC Glass & Glazing Magazine

Key Communications, Inc., the parent of USGlass magazine, has purchased the assets of BC Glass & Glazing magazine, a magazine dedicated to the flat glass industry in British Columbia, Canada, and surrounding regions. The two-year-old magazine, formerly owned by Lyle Fenske, will continue to be published on a bimonthly basis.

Annual subscriptions are $29 in the United States and $19 in Canada. In addition to USGlass, Key Communications also publishes Windshield and Glass Repair Magazine®, Window Film and La Revista del Vidrio, Fachadas y Ventanas magazines.

“We’ve been encouraged by the growth in the glass and glazing industry in Western Canada. Our co-sponsorship of Glass Expo Pacific Northwest™ with BC Glass & Glazing led to the acquisition. We are very excited and look forward to continuing to serve the glass industry in Western Canada,” said publisher Debra Levy.

 

ACQUISITIONS AND MERGERS

Dwyer Group To Acquire Glass Doctor

The Dwyer Group, Inc. of Waco, TX, has signed an agreement to acquire Glass Doctor Corporation, a national franchiser of glass replacement centers. The acquisition is subject to due diligence and the signing of a definitive agreement. Dwyer, which supports approximately 1,400 franchises, says that the acquisition would add approximately $1.5 million to its revenues.

Truth Hardware Buys Allen-Stevens

Owatonna, MN-based Truth Hardware has acquired the Allen-Stevens Corporation. The purchase includes Allen-Steven's window hardware manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania, as well as other door and window hardware companies that form the Allen-Stevens Group of Companies.

OSHA Plan Includes Bullet-Resistant Glass

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) new recommended safety guidelines, intended to make late-night convenience stores safer for people who work in them, include a recommendation for the installation of bullet-resistant glass systems in stores. These guidelines, which are targeted at stores that stay open all night, are a response to the approximately 450 convenience store clerks killed at work since 1996.

According to Fred Gebauer of Insulgard Corporation in New Hudson, MI, convenience store owners may begin to heed the advice of OSHA. “The recommendations have gotten attention,” he says. “I think store owners will evaluate them because the job market it so tight and prospective employees may ask about security.” However, he admits that outside of safety, there is little financial incentive for store owners to follow the new recommendations. —LS

CODES AND REGULATIONS

ANSI Approves 1998 A117.1 Accessibility Standard

The Board of Standards Review (BSR) of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has approved the 1998 edition of CABO/ANSI A117.1, Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities. ANSI’s approval culminates a three-year process in which more than 1,000 proposed changes and comments were debated during 23 days of meetings. The CABO/ANSI A117.1-1998 was developed to work in harmony with federal accessibility laws, including Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines and the proposed ADA Accessibility Guidelines.

GANA Representation on ANSI Z97.1 Scaled Back

A dispute over membership in the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z.97.1 Safety Glazing Committee has been resolved, but not the liking of many in the glass industry. The dispute stems from removal of two of the three votes that the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA’s) divisions—laminating, tempering and distribution—had on the committee. ANSI rules say that any organization may have but one vote.

GANA had asserted that its three divisions operate as separate entities and consequently have full independence in voting. The divisions are re-applying for membership as separate organizations in an attempt to regain their independent voting status. According to George Graf, Jr., secretary of the Z.97.1 committee, 47 of the committee’s 53 members participated in a ballot on the issue. Of the total 141 votes, 61 were in favor of the individual GANA division being allowed a vote on the committee, 71 were against and 9 were abstentions.

Changes in Building Code Affect Industry

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) has announced that it supports most of the 1998 proposed changes to the National Building Code. Specifically the association supports:

AAMA is opposing the following proposed changes:

 

The final code revision hearings are scheduled for September 14-17 in Pittsburgh, PA.

Ellerbe Becket Settles in ADA Suit with DOJ

Ellerbe Becket, said to be the nation’s largest architectural firm, has settled in a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) contending that stadiums it designed did not provide the required “line of sight” for persons in wheelchair seating. Ellerbe agreed that the new facilities it designs will fully comply with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In one of the first lawsuits ever filed under ADA, Ellerbe had argued that it was not liable under the law. Last October, the court rejected Ellerbe Becket’s contention and declared that architects are indeed responsible for ADA compliance.

 

COMPANIES

PPG Receives Negative S&P Rating

Standard & Poor’s has placed its single-‘A’ corporate credit and senior unsecured debt ratings of PPG Industries Inc., as well as its ‘A-1’ commercial paper rating of PPG Industries and PPG Holdings B.V., on CreditWatch with negative implications. This follows confirmation by PPG that, together with DLJ Merchant Banking Partners, it is in preliminary talks with London-based Courtaulds plc, which may lead to a cash offer for Courtaulds with PPG retaining the company’s coatings business. If discussions lead to a successful acquisition by PPG, the CreditWatch will be resolved once major aspects of the acquisition are defined.

In addition, PPG has reported a first-quarter net income of $192 million or $1.08 a share, on sales of $1.91 billion. According to the company, sales and per-share earnings were first quarter records and net income improved significantly from a year ago.

Finally, PPG Industries will significantly increase capacity to produce Low-E coated glass at its Mount Zion, IL, float glass plant. The company said it is investing in upgraded coating equipment to meet increased demand for Low-E glass. The equipment is expected to be in operation in mid-July.

Coast-to-Coast Reenters Fenestration Market

Coast-to-Coast Manufacturing of Perris, CA, has reentered the national fenestration market after a five-year departure. Owned by John Seymour, the proprietor of Torrance Aluminum Corporation, Coast-to-Coast produces steel window and door systems.

Insulgard Manufactures Glass-Clad Polycarbonate

Insulgard Corporation of New Hudson, MI, is now manufacturing its own glass-clad polycarbonate products and glass-clad polycarbonate hurricane glass at its new facility in Nazareth, PA. The company’s broadened capabilities are the result of new equipment installed at the facility.

Steelite Named Supplier for Blast-Resistance Project

Steelite Window, Door & Wall Systems of Los Angeles, CA, has been chosen by Seminole Glass & Mirror of Pompano Beach, FL, to be the supplier for a project testing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ criteria for blast-resistant windows. The Corps of Engineers developed its specifications in response to a 1995 order from President Clinton requiring development of a code that would protect all federal employees in their workplaces through increased blast resistance in buildings, among other things.

CGR/DOE Program to Increase Glass Melt Data—Commits $1.2 Million to Effort

Through a collaboration of the National Science Foundation Industry-University Center for Glass Research (CGR) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the glass industry is gaining valuable data for use in the accurate modeling of glass-making processes. The three-pronged program, launched by CGR last year, involves a DOE commitment of an average $400,000 per year for three years. The project focuses on the development of a complete high-temperature melt properties database for important glass compositional types. Eventually the data will permit companies to develop more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly production processes, CGR researchers say. In addition, the contract will permit establishment of a laboratory that will be available to the industry for the measurement of virtually all important high-temperature melt properties.

A consortium of 27 major glass manufacturers, processors and materials suppliers, CGR is a hub for the international glass industry that extends from improving techniques and processes to conducting basic research. Located at the New York State College of Ceramics in Alfred, NY, CGR is a research consortium comprised of more than 30 glass manufacturers, glass users, suppliers and universities.

Glass Business Activity Announced by St. Gobain

French glass and building material producer Compagnie de Saint Gobain S.A. has announced several recent undertakings. The company says it will soon begin construction on a 4.5 billion rupee ($115.4 million) India glass plant, according to a Reuters report. Saint Gobain, which is using the plant as a springboard to Asian expansion, expects the plant to produce 550 metric tons per day at peak capacity.

In other news, Saint Gobain SA and Suez Lyonnaise, a municipal and environmental services supplier, have reached an agreement to end their cross-shareholding arrangement. According to Saint Gobain, Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux will buy the 4.2 million Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux shares the construction group holds for 1,010 francs per share. Saint Gobain will buy the 2.3 million Saint Gobain shares held by Suez Lyonnaise for 981 francs per share. The share buyback bill aims to reduce taxes paid by shareholders on stock buybacks.

Finally, Morgan Stanley announced that it has raised its target price for Saint Gobain and CPR announced it had hiked earnings per share estimates for the French glass producer, according to Reuters.

Gas-Filled Glass Case Protects Shroud of Turin

The recent displaying in Italy of the Turin Shroud, thought by many to have been Christ’s burial cloth, is once again drawing attention to the controversial relic. Glass is playing a role in its preservation. The temporary exhibition, attended by Pope John Paul in May, has the linen displayed in a glass case filled with inert gas. The Shroud is a yellowing linen cloth measuring 14.5 by 3.9 feet and bearing a ghostly image of a bearded, crucified man.

INSURANCE

Disaster Protection Act Referred in Congress

Homeowners who are the victims of natural disasters that lead to losses including glass damage will more likely be insured against such calamities if a pending bill is passed. The Natural Disaster Protection and Insurance Act of 1997 (HR 230) has been referred for consideration to the Congressional Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. Representative Bill McCullum of Florida is the sponsor. The Act ensures that insurance against the risk of catastrophic natural disasters is available and affordable, and that it provides for expanded hazard mitigation and relief.

INTERNATIONAL

U.S.-Japanese Glass Trade Issues Heat Up

U.S. trade officials say Japan is failing to meet a 1995 agreement to open its huge residential glass market to U.S. manufacturers (see USGlass, January 1998, August 1997, Industry News) and talks in late May resulted in little progress, according to an Associated Press report. The Japanese also rejected a proposed U.S. plan aimed at increasing the willingness of Japanese contractors to use American-made products in construction. A senior U.S. official quoted in the report refused to say whether the administration was considering filing an unfair trade complaint against Japan with the World Trade Organization.

However, progress has been made in Japan’s creation of new energy-efficiency standards that will promote the use of double- and triple-paned insulating glass, according to the report. The Japanese said those new standards should be in place by next March.

Earlier in May, deputy U.S. trade representative Richard Fisher announced an agreement reached in May by U.S. and Japanese representatives to take constructive steps toward an enhanced initiative on deregulation and competition policy expected to open barriers in industries including glass and other building materials.

Fisher said the initiative focuses on four main areas: housing, telecommunications, medical device and pharmaceuticals and financial services and distribution. In the area of housing, Japan has agreed to change its building standards law. In particular, new standards in product-testing requirements will be brought into line with U.S. practices.

“Japan will further open their market to U.S. building materials and wood product manufactured in the United States. This should result in about $1 billion of additional sales for American companies,” said Fisher. He added that U.S companies now serve seven percent of this market.

In the area of distribution, efforts are underway to eliminate the market access problems encountered by U.S. firms in various sectors, from glass to paper to film. Fisher said Japan has agreed to abolish its large-scale retail store law, which he said inhibits the establishment and expansion of large retail stores. He expressed hope that the abolishment of this law will lead to increased placement of U.S. retail establishments.

The agreement comes on the heels of U.S. trade representative Charlene Barchefsky’s complaint to Japanese officials that deregulation is not enough in Japan’s glass, retail and other markets.

 

REGULATION

Maximum Retail Pricing May Be Illegal

By unanimous consent, the Supreme Court overturned a 30-year-old ruling that barred manufacturers and wholesalers from placing a maximum selling price on retailers. In its November ruling, the Court found that contrary to the earlier opinion, there is no reason to assume that imposing maximum prices on a retailer will stifle competition. The ruling applies to all levels of vertical trade.


USG

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