Volume 35, Number 3, March 2000 

NEWSNOW

                            latest news developments

Case Against Former Pilkington Executives Comes to a Close

Seven years after three top Pilkington LOF executives were accused of fraud, money laundering, and filing false tax claims, the case is finally coming to a close—although it may not be the resolution for which the company had hoped.

When Ronald Skeddle, former president, and Darryl Costin and Edward Bryant, former vice presidents, were acquitted in 1997 on charges that they defrauded their employer of $9 million, Pilkington filed civil proceedings against the three. Although terms of the case were not disclosed, according to a March 5 article in the Toledo Blade, indications are that Pilkington did not recoup a significant sum. The article also reported that according to the presiding judge, each side would pay its own legal bills except for unspecified expenses that would be borne by the company.

While the years of legal battles may be behind Skeddle and Bryant, the Toledo Blade reports that Costin is the only defendant with a pending criminal case. Federal prosecutors may retry him on charges of filing false income-tax returns after the judge threw out an earlier conviction over allegedly improper evidence. The government also has the option of appealing the dismissal.

While Costin’s criminal case is the only one remaining, one civil case lingers as well. According to the Toledo Blade, still outstanding is a lawsuit filed in Columbus, Ohio, by Pilkington against ancillary figures in the alleged schemes. But the newspaper reported that a source close to the lawsuit said that case would soon be dismissed after the parties reached a settlement.

Pilkington spokesperson Philip Webb’s only comment was, “We are pleased this is behind us, so we may now get on with our business, which is the making and selling of glass.”

Viracon Raises Glass Minimum;
Ten Square Feet Order is Now Required

Architectural glass fabricator Viracon has raised its minimum order quantity for glass from the previous five-square-feet to ten-square feet. The company, based in Owatonna, Minn., is believed to be the first and only to require the ten-square-foot minimum. Most companies offer a three or five square-foot minimum.

But, according to Brad Austin, Viracon’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, the company is not concerned with what the competition is doing. “We’re not trying to run someone else’s business, we’re trying to run our business,” he said.

Austin said the decision to make the change was made after Viracon made an assessment of how its products run through the factory. “We found that smaller portions cost more to produce than larger portions,” he said. “We wanted to standardize a way to get compensated for what it costs to make these units.”

Although Austin said the decision was made to “run our business—something we need and that shareholders expect,” he added that only time will tell if the market supports that decision. And if it doesn’t? “At that time, we will reevaluate our decision,” he said.

Austin fully expects that some customers may turn to the competition who can meet a smaller minimum order. According to Austin, a Viracon customer may ask himself, “Can I buy it from someone else?” “That’s a job-by-job evaluation,” said Austin. “If the whole job is under ten-square feet then yes.” But, on the other hand, Austin says Viracon customers, especially the curtainwall contractors, understand why the decision was made. “They understand because it costs them more to install smaller units and they charge more for that,” he said. “They’re very supportive because they’re marking it up anyway.”

It may take months to discover the effects of the change, but Austin says Viracon is confident in its decision. “Right now, we think this is the right move … only time will tell.”

 

NAGS Numbering System
Expands to Flat Glass

The National Auto Glass Specifications (NAGS®) numbering system, a system with which all auto glass professionals are now familiar, will now expand into the flat glass arena. San Diego-based NAGS, a division of Mitchell International™, recently announced the debut of the NAGS Flat Glass Numbering System™. According to the company, the system is designed to provide software solutions to point of sale processes, bring consistency and accuracy to invoicing, and facilitate electronic commerce among industry trading partners.

NAGS vice president and general manager, Catherine Howard, says customers involved in the replacement of architectural glass requested such a system. “The need for automation, electronic data interchange and standardization is as strong among architectural glass companies and their trading partners as it is among our auto glass partners,” she said. “The new flat glass system is a logical product for NAGS to offer.”

According to Howard, there are currently many ways to determine the components and the pricing of a residential or commercial glass replacement job including several software estimating systems. The problem with these is that there is a wide variance in descriptions and determinations for the types of materials, fabrication, hardware, labor, services and equipment being used. According to Howard, these inconsistencies make it difficult to fully understand what is involved in a particular job or to compare multiple quotes with any accuracy.

Howard also points out that the new NAGS system represents a logical hierarchical design of all the components involved in flat glass estimating and invoicing. These components are arranged by category, type, thickness, color, attribute and unit of measure. A pricing benchmark is provided for each part number and is derived from national averages based on extensive research, market studies, and consultations with industry experts.

Although Howard cites many benefits of the new numbering system, she says the real beauty of the system is its simplicity. “You can ‘build’ an invoice for just about any possible type of replacement work very easily,” she said. “The system is designed to be extremely user-friendly and to standardize the billing process for replacement work—especially work done for insurers and large accounts.”

The system will be licensed for use by companies wishing to implement a standard internally and in trading partner e-commerce transactions. It will also be available to software providers for incorporation and re-licensing within their own software products. In addition, NAGS will be introducing a flat glass point of sale module in the next release of its own software package, GlassMate®.


USG

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