Volume 33, Number 12, December 1998

 

Industry News

Lawyers Reportedly Seek to Recruit Clients; Expand Price Fixing Lawsuit

More than 30 plaintiffs who are purchasers of flat glass have filed a lawsuit accusing AFG Industries Inc., Ford Motor Company, Guardian Industries, Pilkington LOF and PPG Industries of fixing the price of glass. Individuals in the glass industry say lawyers for the plaintiffs have contacted other glass companies inquiring if these companies would like to join the suit.

The lawsuit contends that these manufacturers of automotive and architectural flat glass conspired to fix prices and allocate markets between 1986 and 1995. The civil case flat glass antitrust litigation is being heard in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

According to Bob Kaplan, co-lead counsel on the case, and partner in Kaplan, Kilsheimer and Fox law firm, companies that purchased large amounts of flat glass in the specified time period are eligible for participation in the lawsuit. Kaplan said a class motion was filed recently to change the price fixing time period to August 1991 through December 31, 1995. At press time, the motion is pending.

When asked if glass companies eligible for participation in the suit have been contacted yet Kaplan said the notice would be sent out to purchasers of glass from the specified companies. "We have not sent out notices because the court has not ruled yet," said Kaplan. "The motion is still pending."

However, one flat glass purchaser we spoke to (who requested anonymity) confirmed reports from others in the glass industry that lawyers in the case have contacted him saying they were looking for large purchasers of flat glass in the specified time period to join in the lawsuit. "They asked if I directly or indirectly purchased glass from any of the defendants, and if I would be interested in joining the suit" said the source. This individual has not yet decided whether he will join or not, due to fear of retaliation. "There is a bit of fear on our part that certain manufacturers [a couple in particular] would retaliate," he said. According to the source, the lawyers argument for joining the case was that the manufacturers have already admitted guilt.

According to Kaplan, information from former officials of Pilkington LOF who were indicted for fraud, money laundering and filing false tax claims, may be key to the plaintiffs’ case. When allegations of price fixing in the glass industry surfaced, the former LOF employees went to the Justice Department seeking leniency in exchange for cooperation. The Justice Department wants to keep the information out of the proceedings but lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that the documents in question could help them prove their case. Kaplan says the district court approved the motion to release the evidence from LOF. That decision is on appeal to the third circuit.


Correction

Alumax Bath Enclosures of Magnolia, AR, says it does not have a contract with Home Depot to supply shower doors (see November 1998 USGlass, page 15). The company says it is supplying products to Home Depot on a limited basis and that no contract exists. According to James Whitefield of Alumax Bath Enclosures, the products sold to Home Depot are a new line of sliding and hinge doors produced by their Fairburn, GA manufacturing facility.


Apogee Enterprises, Inc. Sells Norment

Apogee Enterprises, Inc. of Minneapolis, MN, announced that it has entered into a stock purchase agreement to sell the stock of Norment Industries, Inc. and Norshield Corporation to CompuDyne Corporation for $22.5 million. The two subsidiaries comprise Apogee’s Detention and Security business unit which includes five operating businesses and is part of Apogee’s Building Products and Services business segment.

For the fiscal year ended February 28, 1998, the Detention and Security business unit generated net sales of approximately $75 million, or less than ten percent of Apogee’s consolidated net sales totaling $913 million.

Despite these sales figures, the company says it wishes to change direction. "The Detention & Security business unit is a strong competitor in a growing market with outstanding management," said Russell Huffer, president and chief executive officer of Apogee Enterprises, Inc. "From a strategic standpoint, however, the sale of this business unit fits in with our forward direction of focusing on our core business, especially Glass Technologies."


ACQUISITIONS AND MERGERS

C.R. Laurence Co. Announces Two Acquisitions

C.R. Laurence Co., (CRL) Inc. of Los Angeles, CA, announced its acquisition of Amazing Glazing, Inc., manufacturer of diamond drills, abrasives and accessories. CRL also announced the establishment of a Research and Development Center in Howell, MI. Paul Lalewicz, founder of Amazing Glazing, will direct the facility. The company also acquired Lalique Hinge Co., of Toronto, Canada, manufacturer of frameless shower door hardware.

U.S. DOJ Approves Alcoa’s Purchase of Alumax/Kawneer

Following approval by the U.S. Department of Justice and Alumax shareholders, Alcoa of Pittsburgh, PA, has acquired Alumax Inc. of Atlanta, GA, the former parent of Kawneer Company, Norcross, GA. Alcoa, Alumax and Kawneer combine to create a $17 billion company with more than 100,000 employees in 250 operating locations in 30 countries, according to Kawneer.

BMT Group Acquires EFCO Furnaces

The BMT Group of Belgium, a European engineering group specializing in producing equipment for the glass industry, has expanded its worldwide operations following the acquisition of the entire share capital of the EFCO Group Limited. EFCO Furnaces, not to be confused with EFCO Corp. of Monett, MO, is a manufacturer of float bath roofs for the flat glass industry as well as a supplier of glass tempering furnaces. EFCO is located in new premises at Weybridge, Surrey where it has its glass processing business and at Shilton, Coventry where it manufactures its furnaces.

Hygrade Metal Acquires Stalnaker-Elliott

Hygrade Metal Moulding Manufacturing Corp., headquartered in Bethlehem, PA, has acquired Stalnaker-Elliott, Inc., Magnolia, AR. The newly merged company will have manufacturing facilities in Bethlehem, PA, Mt. Pleasant, TN and Magnolia, AR. According to the company, the consolidation will result in one of the strongest and most versatile suppliers of roll formed components in the fenestration industry.


CODES AND REGULATIONS

AAMA Publishes New, Revised Standards

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) has published several new and revised specifications and references for contractors, specifiers and architects. These publications include the following:

• Voluntary Standards for Anodized Architectural Aluminum (AAMA 611-98)—Revised;

• Voluntary Specification for Friction Based Sash Balances (AAMA 908-98)—New;

• Voluntary Specification, Performance Requirements and Test Procedures for Pigmented Organic Coatings on Aluminum Extrusions and Panels (AAMA 2603-98)—New;

• Voluntary Specification, Performance Requirements and Test Procedures for High Performance Organic Coatings on Aluminum Extrusions and Panels (AAMA 2604-98)—New;

• Voluntary Specification, Performance Requirements and Test Procedures for Superior Performance Organic Coatings on Aluminum Extrusions and Panels (AAMA 2604-98)—New.

SBCCI Clears Board for International Codes

The Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) has recommended a moratorium on all code development activities during 1999 to fully concentrate on development of the International Building Code (IBC) and related codes through the International Code Commission (ICC). A 1999 edition of the Standard Building Code will be published, however, to cover building activities until the IBC is officially adopted after 2000.

ICC Releases New Edition of ICC/ANSI A117.1

The International Code Council has released the 1998 edition of ICC/ANSI A117.1, Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved the publication as an American National Standard in February 1998, following a three year review process. The standard includes expanded sections on elevators, signs, alarms and Automatic Teller Machines, a revised unobstructed high side reach requirement and new criteria for detectable warnings for platform edges. Additionally, the standard has been reformatted to simplify use and illustrative figures were added.


COMPANIES

Lilly Industries Reports Record Sales

Lilly Industries Inc. of Indianapolis, IN, reported record quarterly sales and record third-quarter net income and net income per share in September. Sales of $159.3 million for the quarter ending August 31 rose six percent compared with 1997 third-quarter sales. Record 1998 third quarter net income was up 13 percent at $8.7 million, or 37 cents per share on a diluted basis. The company attributed its improved performance to higher sales, lower interest expense and a lower effective tax rate.

SunSource Net Income Up in Third Quarter

SunSource reported that its net income increased 15.3 percent in the third quarter of 1998 to $4.6 million. Net income for the nine month period ended September 30, 1998 was $10.8 million, an increase of 12 percent from the same period in 1997. SunSource is owner of Harding Company, a U.S. chain of nearly 100 full service glass shops.

According to the company, sales remained strong in the retail hardware and glass businesses, growing almost 17 percent collectively in the third quarter of 1998 over the same prior-year period. Donald T. Marshall, chief executive officer, said the company invested about $20 million in acquisitions to date in 1998 in the Hardware Merchandising and retail glass businesses which are expected to add over $33 million in annual sales.


INTERNATIONAL

U.S. Renews Pressure on Japan to Open Markets

U.S. officials have renewed pressure on Japan to accelerate the pace of deregulation, increase imports and allow U.S. companies to compete, particularly in Japan’s auto parts and flat glass market, according to the Asian Wall Street Journal. The activity follows up the 1995 bilateral trade agreement between the United States and Japan, which has done little to date to ease the trade disparity between the two countries (see USGlass, June 1998, January 1998, August 1997, Industry News).

In related events, Guardian vice president Peter Walters testified before a Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee hearing that Japan is allowing its flat glass manufacturers to prohibit it from competing there. As reported by the Bloomberg news organization, Walters urged U.S. antitrust officials to play a more active role when referring antitrust investigations to foreign governments in his October testimony. U.S. antitrust enforcers told the Senate panel they agree that they can do more to speed the deregulation process and promised to bring it up in future talks with European and other antitrust officials.


KUDOS

Pella Donates Windows to McCaughey House, Home of Septuplets

Pella Corporation of Pella, IA, donated all of the windows and patio doors for the new McCaughey house, home of the famous septuplets. The house features 67 casement windows and five doors, with special "kid friendly" features. According to the company, the Pella® Designer Series® SmartSash® line of windows and doors was selected because its blinds, shades and muntins are tucked between two panes of glass.


MANUFACTURING, DISTRIBUTION AND PRODUCTION

Guardian Invests in Coating Capacity

Guardian Industries, of Auburn Hills, MI, announced plans to install a vacuum-sputter glass coating machine at its Corsicana, TX, float glass manufacturing complex. According to the company, the new coater will substantially enhance the company’s ability to provide high performance coated glass products for commercial buildings and offices throughout the world, as well as for the North American residential coatings market. The new coater is one of several major coating investments announced by Guardian in the past year. The company is also installing a high speed automated insulated glass manufacturing line in Corsicana.

PPG Upgrades California Glass Plant

PPG Industries is preparing for a $40 million upgrade and melting tank repair at its Fresno, CA-based glass manufacturing plant. PPG says the project is targeted for early 2000 completion. According to the company, the project will increase production capacity and enhance environmental efficiency at the more-than-30-year-old facility. Dennis V. diDonato, director of flat glass production, says PPG is investing in the Fresno plant to support its window and door and commercial trade customers in the Western United States and Canada. "The technology will boost capacity, allowing us to meet projected marketplace growth," he said.


TECHNOLOGY

CSTB Labs Work to Calculate Tempered Glass Strength

The increased use of glass as a structural building material has raised concerns about the fractured strength of tempered glass (See USGlass, April 1998, Temper, Temper). In the absence of sufficient knowledge in this area, design codes in France have yet to be adapted to structural glazing, according to the French Technology Press Office. As a result, inspection authorities there require either full-scale testing or the use of reinforcement systems in new construction—both of which considerably increase building costs. The Scientific and Technical Building Center (CSTB) in Paris, France, has implemented a comprehensive research program in 1993 to identify safety coefficients required for the dimensioning of glass components.

The safety of using large glass components in construction was studied using a probabilistic model based on tests carried out on small test specimens and on a crack propagation model with stress corrosion. According to the CSTB, because the tiny surface cracks produced in the glass manufacturing process are impossible to measure and count accurately, the statistical approach was taken to determine the bending strength of glass components.

However, to define the strength of annealed glass correctly, the CSTB needed to take subcritical crack propagation into account. The probability of fractures could then be predicted according to the past loading of the component, according to the company.

The CSTB says it has also devised a method for evaluating the strength of tempered glass which includes digital simulation of tempering to ascertain three-dimensional stress and a series of bending tests.

The program is being continued in 1998 on structural glazing component assemblies to broaden the application of tempered glass, particularly for large spans.


USG

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