Volume 34, Number 9,  September 1999

 

INDUSTRY NEWS

Price Fixing Lawsuit 
Against Three Flat Glass Manufacturers is Settled

A lawsuit accusing five flat glass manufacturers of price fixing (see December 1999 USGlass, page 16), has come to a settlement of sorts, according to Bob Kaplan, co-lead counsel on the case and partner in Kaplan, Kilsheimer and Fox law firm. According to Kaplan, a settlement has been reached with three of the five defendants in the case: AFG Industries of Kingsport, TN, will pay $19.8 million; Guardian Industries of Auburn Hills, MI, will pay $16.9 million; and Pilkington LOF of Toledo, OH, will pay $17 million. (According to a representative of Guardian, the settlements with Guardian and AFG are subject to final approval from the judges in the case).
But, the case against the remaining two defendants continues. “The case against PPG Industries and Ford Motor Company is being vigorously prosecuted,” said Kaplan.
According to the lawsuit, the manufacturers of automotive and architectural flat glass conspired to fix prices and allocate markets between 1986 and 1995. Kaplan said members of the class action lawsuit will submit claims and the settlement fees will be divided among them.
Although Pilkington and AFG agreed to a settlement, representatives from both companies deny any wrongdoing. “Both Pilkington and LOF deny that they violated antitrust laws and believe they have good defenses against these allegations. They have agreed to the settlement in order to avoid the expense, inconvenience and burden of continued and protracted litigation,” said Pilkington spokesperson Philip Webb.
In a statement from AFG Industries the company said, “AFG has consistently and vigorously rejected and denied any and all claims that it engaged in any unlawful conduct. Despite its belief that it is not liable for the claims asserted and that it possesses strong defenses to any such claims, AFG has entered into a settlement agreement to avoid the further expense, inconvenience and burden of this protracted litigation, and the distraction and diversion of its personnel and resources. AFG further seeks to put to rest this controversy with valued business customers and to avoid the inherent risks of such complex class
litigation.”

Aluminum Giants Agree to Merge

After spending much of the last half century as rivals, Reynolds Metals Co. of Richmond, VA, and Alcoa Inc. of Pittsburgh, PA, have merged. Under the merger agreement, which links two of the biggest aluminum producers in the world, Reynolds shareholders will receive 1.06 shares of Alcoa common stock for each share of Reynolds common stock.
The final merger comes after a tumultuous series of negotiations between the two companies, which included a hostile takeover bid and a letter from Alcoa president and CEO Alain J.P. Belda to Reynolds chairman and CEO Jeremiah J. Sheehan that was released to the press. Alcoa initially proposed the merger in March, however Reynolds management declined the offer. In August the company again rebuffed an Alcoa offer, this one for $4.1 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. Finally, after Alcoa began a hostile takeover bid, Reynolds agreed to the deal, which will have an equity value of roughly $4.4 billion.
“We are pleased to have reached a negotiated agreement with Reynolds that is consistent with the goals we established when we announced this strategic initiative just over a week ago,” said Belda. “There is an obvious complementary fit between our companies ...”
The merger is still subject to antitrust review.

Ebeid To Speak at Glass Expo Midwest™

Russ Ebeid, president of Guardian Industries Glass Group will give the keynote speech at Glass Expo Midwest ’99 to be held October 22 and 23 in Cleveland.
Ebeid will discuss the future of the glass industry. But, he will also challenge attendees to consider their position in the glass industry and the future of their respective companies.
Glass Expo Midwest is sponsored by USGlass magazine.


ASSOCIATIONS

AAMA and WDMA Investigate Creation of a New Association

The board of directors of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) are investigating the possibility of creating a new entity from within the two groups. The associations say the discussion was prompted by a desire for increased cooperation and definition of common goals between the two groups, as well the idea that the window and door industry may be best served by one large organization representing the industry’s diverse segments.
“Increased cooperation in the last several years has already shown us a few of the benefits that a single industry voice may give us,” said Chuck Gilderman, chairman of the board of AAMA. “A new, even broader organization could combine the best attributes and strengths of each association to better serve the industry.”


CODES AND REGULATIONS

Non-Compliance with 10-inch Bottom Rail Requirement Reported

Although Michigan passed legislation in November adopting the 1996 BOCA Code requiring that doors used by the public must have the new 10-inch bottom rail, the Detroit Glass Dealers Association reports that many are not complying with the new code. The 10-inch height is measured from the top of the stop to the bottom of the shoe (bottom rail). Offset from the face of the rail to the stop or the stype may not exceed 1/32-inch offset (see diagram).
According to Virgil Taylor, president of RAMCO and member of the DGDA, some manufacturers are turning a blind side to the code. “I have sold several 6-1/2-inch bottom rails to people who have this on the job site and re-glaze with shorter glass,” said Taylor. While Taylor said he has seen many cases of non-compliance, he cited one particular situation at a Michigan golf course where he believes the glaziers did not comply with the code. The building inspector gave the facility 30 days to meet the 10-inch bottom rail code or he would close the facility down.
“Not only is it the legal thing to do,” said Taylor. “It is much more economical to do it correctly the first time. You may be leaving yourself open to a lawsuit if a handicap person or a group notices new doors without the 10-inch bottom rail, much less if someone was injured.”

Court Tosses OSHA Program

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, recently invalidated the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Cooperative Compliance Program in a lawsuit brought by an industry coalition. The Program targeted 12,500 firms in 18 industries that had the greatest hazards to worker safety and health, according to OSHA. It was going to force these firms to face OSHA inspections before the end of the year or establish a comprehensive safety program with an ergonomics standard, which was designed to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders, usually caused by repetitive motions or stance. The standards are an outgrowth of incidences of disorders such as carpal-tunnel syndrome.
The court ended the program by ruling that it constituted an industry standard and should have been implemented by public notice-and-comment rulemaking proceedings. Instead, the program was announced and implemented, according to the appeals court. In reaction to the ruling, OSHA notified the 12,500 businesses to expect unannounced visits and indicated it is considering an appeal through the U.S. Supreme Court.

NFPA May Develop Code to Challenge the ICC

The Glass Association of North America (GANA) has reported that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is preparing to develop a new model building code as an alternative to the International Building Code (IBC) developed by the International Code Commission (ICC).
The main impetus behind the ICC’s development of the IBC was to develop a uniform building standard. However, a code from the NFPA could muddle this situation by again giving local officials a number of codes from which to choose, according to GANA.
The NFPA has announced that the state of Louisiana has adopted the most recent edition of NFPA 1, Fire Prevention Code. Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Kentucky and West Virginia have previously adopted NFPA 1.
“NFPA 1 is a user-friendly document and the most effective fire prevention code available to ensure that all who live, work or visit our state are adequately protected from fire,” said V.J. Bella , Louisiana state fire marshal.
The NFPA 1 provides minimum requirements necessary to establish a reasonable level of fire safety and property protection from hazards created by fire and explosions. Its primary purposes are to address basic fire prevention requirements and to reference or extract the fire prevention and protection aspects of 97 other NFPA codes and standards, according to the NFPA.

ANSI Approves Secretariat

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has approved the Glazing Industry Codes Committee’s (GICC) affiliate, the Glazing Industry Secretariat Committee (GISC), to serve as Secretariat of ANSI Z97.1 Safety Glazing Certification Accredited Standards Committee (see USGlass July 1999). The GISC will complete the review, and possibly the approval of ANSI Z97.1. This move comes after 34 of the 37 ANSI members decided to participate in concluding the Standards Committee review activities. Twenty-nine of those 34 members then decided to support the GICC as the new Secretariat.
Following ANSI’s approval, GICC has incorporated the GISC as its affiliated corporation, designated John Kent as the new chairman of the ANSI Z97.1 Standards Committee and selected Julie Schimmelpenningh of Solutia to serve as secretary of the Standards Committee.

ASTM to Develop New Specification

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Subcommittee C14.08 on Flat Glass has formed a task group to develop a new standard for silvered annealed flat glass, which would benefit both manufacturers and end-users. The new specification will tackle two issues, according to ASTM, coating characteristics and performance and glass substrate characteristics and performance.
In related news, the ASTM Task Group (E06.51.11) prepared the final version of the Standard Practice for Installation of Exterior Windows, Doors and Skylights for balloting. The document has been expanded, since its inception, from a ten-page draft to a 150 plus-page final draft. The full committee will vote for its approval at the semi-annual E-6 Committee meeting to be held in October.


COMPANIES

Market Associates Buys PPG Place

Market Associates, an affiliate of the Hillman Co., has purchased the corporate headquarters of PPG Industries Inc. of Pittsburgh. PPG Place is a six-building, 1.6-million-square-foot office. Grubb & Ellis, manager and leasing agent for the property since 1983, represented PPG Industries. PPG will remain headquartered at the building under a long-term lease, and the complex will continue to be identified as PPG Place, according to Raymond LeBoeuf, chairman and chief executive.


INDUSTRY-WIDE

Lilly Industries Implements Five Percent Price Increase

A five percent increase in prices of industrial coatings and specialty chemicals manufactured by Lilly Industries Inc. of Indianapolis, has been announced. The increase will affect non-contractual list pricing in North America, Asia and European markets. The company says the price increase is due to rising costs of raw materials stemming from upward pressure in crude oil, propylene and ethylene derivatives. Titanium Dioxide has also increased in price more than 15 percent during the last two years, according to the company.


LEGAL

Jury Finds Tiffany Expert Guilty

Tiffany window expert Alastair J. Duncan was found guilty of partnering with Anthony Casamassina, a graveyard robber, to sell stained glass from cemeteries, according to the Associated Press. After a nine-day trial in the U.S. District Court in New York, a jury found Duncan guilty of all six counts of larceny. At issue was a 9-foot tall by 5-foot wide Tiffany window that Casamassina stole from a New York cemetery in 1993. The court found that Duncan purchased the window, knowing it was stolen, and sold for it for a sizable profit (see USGlass, August 1999, page 19).

Machinery Manufacturer Settles Claim Involving Unlicensed Software Use

As a cautionary tale we report that a large insulating glass machinery manufacturer recently paid the Business Software Alliance (BSA) $98,500 for having unlicensed copies of Microsoft and Symantec software on its office computers. According to the BSA, the manufacturer agreed to destroy all unlicensed software and strengthen its software management policies.
The BSA also reported that the manufacturer’s situation was brought to its attention by phone calls to its anti-piracy hotline. After being contacted by the alliance, the manufacturer conducted a self-audit of its computer software and confirmed it had more copies of software products than it had licenses to support.


MANUFACTURING, DISTRIBUTION AND PRODUCTION

Commercial Plastics Opens Super Distribution Center

Commercial Plastics and Supply Corporation of Boca Raton, FL, has announced that its Trenton, NJ, and Warminster, PA, branches have merged into a facility based in Trevose, PA. The new center will stock a variety of plastic sheet, rod, tube and film products. In addition, it will add new graphic films services such as die cutting, pressure sensitive tape and fabric slitting and converting.
“Our commitment to the Delaware Valley can be seen in our modern distribution center, which includes a large showroom area,” said Rick Rosati, district manager. “Our employees are excited to service our current business and expand our customer base.”

TRACO Acquires Two Manufacturing Facilities

Two manufacturing facilities, located in Johnson City, TN, and Merced, CA, have been acquired by TRACO of Cranberry Township, PA, according to Robert P. Randall, TRACO president and CEO. The 150,000-square-foot Johnson City plant and equipment formerly belonged to Kawneer. Plans for the facility include tooling it for the production of light commercial products, which will allow the company to increase capacity and provide customers with a shorter delivery cycle. The company’s other acquisition, a 120,000-square-foot plant formerly owned by Bilt Best, will enable TRACO to service the West Coast with commercial products.

Certified Enameling Plans New Production Lines

Certified Enameling Inc. of Los Angeles, has completed the design for a new automated factory finishing line to supplement its Union Pacific Avenue facility completed last year. The company says it will begin construction immediately to prepare for installation of new spray booths, a separate after-burner and provisions for a new batch oven to answer the demand for handling large assemblies. The company also says its two computer-controlled 1500-foot production lines will give it the largest such toll couture in the Western United States.

ODL Expands Manufacturing Operations

ODL of Zealand, MI, has added 40,000 square feet of space to the manufacturing facility near its headquarters in an effort to accommodate the expansion of its decorative glass assembly lines.
“The growth of our decorative glass, tubular skylight and door blind product lines over the past several years drove us to this expansion,” said Jeff Mulder, marketing manager for ODL. “We’re continually adding new products to our offerings in response to industry demand. At the same time, we’re gaining market share with our quality products. The new space allows us to easily handle growth.”
The company now has more than 200,000 square feet of manufacturing space in Zealand.

Ultra Hardware Moves

A new 20,000-square-foot warehouse has been opened in Charlotte, NC. The Pennsauken, NJ-based Ultra Hardware Products, LLC says the new facility will allow shipment of orders to customers in the Southeast within 24 hours. The warehouse will be used primarily to carry products for window, door and cabinet industry OEM’s, according to Daniel Carpey, president. “In addition to saving time, our customers will save money with just-in-time delivery. We will maintain a continuous inventory level to meet and service our customers’ requirements.”


REMODELING

Remodeling Industry Continues to Boom

The Joint Center for Housing Studies Remodeling Indicator (RAI) and the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) say remodeling should continue to grow steadily throughout 1999, according to the June 1999 issue of Kitchen & Bath Business.
The RAI reported spending by homeowners has increased by 3 percent this year, while attendees at the NAHB Construction Forecast Conference were optimistic about the building prospects for 1999.
In another study, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) looked at the remodeling trends of homeowners in three different stages of life. The group in the young stage of home ownership (18-34) was less likely than older renovators to use an interior designer, less likely than older renovators to be satisfied with their remodeling experience and tended to create usable space in bathrooms and bedrooms. The group in the middle stage of homeownership (35-54) tended to renovate to accommodate changing family needs, was less likely than older respondents to be satisfied with the remodeling jobs and less likely than older respondents to use an interior designer. Finally, the older homeowner response group (55 and over) tended to renovate kitchens so they would look better, tended to do fewer renovation projects per year than their younger counterparts and were more likely to be happy with the appearance of their home when they were finished.


USG

Copyright 1999 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.