Volume 35, Number 12, December 2000

Auld Lange Syne

It's hard to believe that almost an entire year has gone by since the great millennium celebration of 2000. Just one short year ago the Y2K bug was expected to plunge us all into darkness, keep our ATMs from working and destroy our computer systems. Remember how all the consultants and computer "experts" made tons of money keeping our systems functioning? Yes, those were the days.

All this nostalgia is making me feel a bit melancholy--though I think the word bittersweet is a better one because it actually describes the
feeling.

So I'm going to sit back and have my once-a-year glass of wine (New Year's resolution NEW YEAR 1 1982) and put on Auld Lange Syne (not the traditional song, but the Dan Fogelberg one) and I'm going to remember the ole days with fond affection--and I'm going to drag you along with me:

* Remember when glass manufacturers made real money?

Remember when the large manufacturers were incredibly profitable? When they could invest in their industry without worrying about the lack of decent return on investment? Think back to the days when a rumor about PPG selling its glass segment would have been scoffed away, or a story about Visteon on the block would not have seemed possible.

Remember the days before large chains went bankrupt and Wall Street laughed at us?

* Remember when glass distributors didn't have to be accordions?

Glass distributorships have become the accordions of our industry, expected to squeeze-and-release themselves to make up for the lack of forgiveness or elasticity in the rest of the market. Good distributors fight a good war to stay that way.

* Remember when a job in the glass industry meant a good career?

You remember when getting a glazier's union card or becoming an installer meant you were set with a good job for life? Even 20 years ago, being a glazier had more prestige and cache to it than it does now. A lot of this is because we, as an industry, have not kept pace with the times and do not provide our workers with adequate training, benefits or career paths.

* Remember the old days before the glass industry was the subject of exposes and hidden camera reports on TV?

I know how I felt the day after that 20/20 report hit. I felt ashamed and embarrassed for our industry. Having spent nearly 20 years working to provide information and education to the glass industry, I felt like a complete and total failure in those efforts.

* Remember when sales reps really knew their products?

Remember when you could call on them for product knowledge and training and access to a whole level of information you didn't have?

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* Remember when we knew who won presidential elections the very next day, but had to wait nine months to find out the sex of a newborn?

No comment on that one.

Anyway, I sure didn't mean to spend too much time on the bitter without the sweet, but do think there are some good things of which we, as an industry, have lost sight. Luckily, they are not gone for good--if we don't want them to be.

Now on to the sweet part: our entire staff joins me in wishing you and your families--both the one at the office and the one at the house--a wonderful holiday season and a New Year full of comfort and joy. Many thanks too to all the readers, authors, columnists, advertisers, exhibitors and sponsors that have supported our work all year.

Despite my melancholia, it is still an honor to get to work for you and the industry every single day. And it may sound too sappy, but I'd like to think that at the end of my days, we helped make it a bit better and your daily work a bit easier.

Happy New Year!

Deb