Volume 36, Issue 2, February 2001

 

Glass Week Peek

Annual Event to Undergo Metamorphosis
by Debra Levy

 GLASSWEEK3 If Glass Week were to exist in human form, by this time it would be that of a comfortable old friend—one that you know and trust and look forward to visiting once a year. And maybe you make your visit with little expectation and out of loyalty or habit, but you invariably return rejuvenated in thought and mind and glad you went.

Extending our transcendental analogy a bit further, those who attended Glass Week 2001 might have been a bit worried about their friend upon first arrival. The annual event, sponsored by the Glass Association of North America (GANA) and held at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort in Palm Springs, Calif., looked much thinner than last year, attracting approximately 230 participants January 27-February 1. But within a day of seminars and discussions, you’d find your visit very worthwhile indeed, and be looking forward to next year’s visit.
Transition Week

This was a transition year for Glass Week in many ways. For most of the past decade, the meeting had included sessions and attendance by the Sealed Insulating Glass Manufacturers Association (SIGMA). SIGMA voted not to be part of Glass Week this year, as a result of its merger with its Canadian counterpart group and the formation of the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA). IGMA will hold its own major event later this month in Sanibel Island, Fla.

“We miss the insulators,” said GANA president Bill Knutson at the GANA membership meeting held Tuesday. “We hope they will be back with us next year. IGMA is in the process of choosing a management company for the association,” he said. “And Association Services Corp. (Association Services Corp. [ASC] is the company providing management services to most glass-related associations in the country) has entered a very competitive bid, so we are hopeful that will work out,” he added.

The event also marked the debut of Stanley Smith as the association’s new executive director. Smith was hired last year to manage both ASC and its associations. Glass Week 2001 was also to serve as a weeklong send-off for Bill Birch and his wife Alice. Birch has served the glass industry for more than 30 years, including having served as executive vice president of the Flat Glass Marketing Association from 1960 to 1975, which, in 1994 beget GANA. Both Birches have worked for the glass association for most of their adult lives. Unfortunately, such a farewell party was not to be, as Bill was scheduled for surgery right after Glass Week and unable to travel (see box on page 90). But his many fans and admirers participated in the creation of a number of scrap books—video, printed and otherwise. In addition, the bittersweet tone of the week was sharpened with the announcement of the retirement of Jim Collins, the popular AFG salesperson (see related story on page 102) leading one attendee to remark that the “heroes of his youth were retiring.”

A Super Start

Glass Week began during the weekend with a number of committee meetings and reports. Some of the most exciting news come from Roller Wave subcommittee of the Glass Tempering Division. News of progress toward agreement and the likelihood of actual standard language buoyed the subcommittee members and their chair, Ren Bartoe of Vesuvius McDanel. “We know we have made real and important progress,” said GANA’s technical director Greg Carney. “And we are really happy the work is almost complete.”

Sunday evening saw the meeting’s first gathering of all participants, who came together for a Super Bowl/Welcoming Cocktail party. An informal poll of the decibel levels at the party would lead one to conclude that there were many more subdued Giants fans than celebrating Ravens fanatics among Glass Week attendees. The first episode “Survivor II” was also shown during the party.

People You Can’t Stand

“Home is not where you go when you’re tired of being nice to people,” at least according to Dr. Rick Brinkman, author of the book “Dealing with People You Can’t Stand, How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst.” Brinkman’s humorous one-hour presentation about communication opened a Monday morning duet of joint sessions. In it, he spoke about the different types of negative people and effective ways for dealing with each of them. He also talked about the importance of all elements of communication, including appearance, look, sound and content, as well as text and tone. “How you say something—its tone—can’t be overestimated,” he said. “In many ways, tone is the most important of all forms of communication.”

Brinkman was followed by Jack Shaw, author of “Surviving the Digital Jungle.” Since the theme of Glass Week 2001 was “the transition from the industrial economy of the 20th century to the digital economy of the 21st century, it was anticipated that this would be one of the most popular sessions.
Only about one-quarter of those in the room remained to hear Shaw’s very detailed account of e-business and e-commerce technologies, leaving those in attendance to wonder whether the topic was ahead of its time or behind it.
Shaw painted a mind-boggling portrait of an electronic future that includes computers the size of rings and a truly paperless society. He mentioned three basic precepts important to remember when setting up an e-business strategy:
1. The quality of services offered must be superior, as excellent quality is expected on the web. Being good electronically, it seems, will just keep you at zero;
2. E-business must do the functions you are doing now, but do them faster;
3. E-business must provide quality and speed at a lower cost than conventional technology.

The program broke at noon and participants were able to take advantage of a variety of afternoon social activities, including hot air balloon rides over the desert.
“It was beautiful,” said Jacqui Bolden, wife of Curt Bolden of Visteon. “The sky was clear and we really could see for miles.” For the Bolden’s Glass Week also functioned as a surrogate honeymoon. The newlyweds got married in early December and hadn’t had a chance to take a vacation yet.

Breaking the Code
Tuesday began with a presentation by Bill Koffel, president of Koffel and Associates, a code consulting company that represents industry interests throughout the Glazing Industry Codes Committee (GICC) and before a variety of code and life safety
organizations.

Koffel presented a very sobering view of the disharmony between the relatively new International Code Commission (ICC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The ICC is the result of convergence by and standardization of the three major model building code groups into one (see USGlass, December 2000, page 22). Most have hailed the consolidation as an excellent way to achieve uniformity and consistency in code development and interpretation.
“NFPA and the ICC are not getting along,” explained Koffel. “NFPA is determined to develop its own code and to beat the other group out with it. Both groups say they are trying to work together, but they are not really. They are adversaries at this point.”

In response to a question about the factors that led to this situation, Koffel mentioned that the ICC had filed a lawsuit against the NFPA concerning its use of the wording “International Electrical Code” (see USGlass, June 2000, page 22). “They are aggressively going to compete with each other and the glass industry will be effected,” he said. “They are even watching wording of the codes in regards to copyright issues. In the past I could submit the same language to multiple code groups, but now we must be careful when one group copyrights the information.”

Koffel said that his company, GICC or any of the associations would not be well served to “choose” one code over another. “We will not endorse either code. We have the need to work with both groups and we need to remain neutral.”
The annual market trends and update session, titled “Market Trends in Commercial Glazing,” was provided by Nick Limb, a partner with the research firm of Ducker Worldwide. Limb provided glimpses of the commercial glazing market to come. “Single, multi-family, housing starts will be down four percent this year,” he said. “And manufactured housing will decreases will be much greater.” Limb expects 5.5 million tons (7 billion square feet) of commercial glass to be used this year.
Limb also presented some interesting research concerning the percentage of glass used in the exterior of different types of buildings. Basic retail stores use the most glass as a percentage of the exterior surface—38 percent. Approximately 21 percent of the surface area of offices and banks use glass. Use of glass was also tracked along geographic lines, with the South using the highest percentage of glass on building exteriors, and the Midwest using the lowest. “The largest single commercial glazing market is in the South,” Limb said. Commercial glazing was also tracked by type. Thirty-six percent of glass is used in new construction, 26 percent in additions and 38 percent in remodeling and/or replacement.
• Limb also made a number of predictions about the use of glass in the future. Among them:
• There will be tremendous growth in the value-added products;
• The use of glass in interiors continues to increase;
• Expect large increases in the use of decorative and privacy glasses; annual growth of ten percent or more is possible;
• Variable climate-controlled glass will make strong headway;
• The use of low-emissivity glass will continue to grow; the percentage of low-E glass that is sputter-coated will decrease. “We are only halfway through the adoption and use of low-E glass;”
• The float suppliers will continue to dominate in the coated glass arena;
• Contract glazing companies should expect to have seen an average growth of 14 percent in 2000 and median growth of 10 percent;
• Contract glazing growth was slowest in the Midwest (a 7 percent increase) and highest in the Northeast (15 percent).
• Before ending his presentation, Limb also released the results of his company’s survey of contract glazier’s problems. Among the most frequently-cited problems contract glaziers had was:
• The need for more highly energy-efficient products;
• The beginning breakdown of the supply chain with building owners attempting to purchase directly from manufacturers;
• Long lead times.

A meeting of GANA’s membership followed with reports by GANA President Knutson of Viracon, executive vice president Smith, general counsel Kim Mann, technical director Carney and the chairs of each of GANA’s five division.
Knutson reported that the association now had 162 members and also was in the process of adding a new affiliate membership category. Dennis Csehi of Spec-temp, the chair of GANA’s tempering division, provided an update on the work being done on roller wave distortion and Ren Bartoe was cited with special recognition for his work on this project.

Mann provided an update on the lawsuit in which a class of plaintiffs had sued most of the primary glass manufacturers for price fixing (See USGlass, September 1999, page 14). “All but two of the defendants have settled,” said Mann. “The suit is now in discovery and I don’t expect to see much change about it for a long time. I could give possibly give you this exact same report next year.
Mann also provided information about a “very troubling” verdict in a California lawsuit in which the plaintiff was injured when the tempered glass in a shower door broke. “The glass company contended that the Federal safety glazing standard basically pre-empted the state one. It had generally been held and believed that State law could not propose a higher standard. But in this case, the glass company was held strictly liable for not having put a warning label on the glass,” said Mann in almost mock disbelief. “The case could have far-reaching implications.”

Tuesday afternoon found many of the attendees outdoors as the weather began to get warm, while others participated in a tennis clinic.

After-Dinner Thinks
Bill Knutson explained the unusual addition of presentations at the Tuesday night dinner this way: “Last year, when we did the panel with the heads of the primary manufacturers, a few of them mentioned to us that it might be getting a little stale and that we might want to take a year off. We thought that was a good idea. But then we realized that of those five or so on the panel last year, only two were still around this year, and we thought people might like the opportunity to meet some of the new faces. Since the agenda was already full, we added it here.”
Knutsen was referring to the departures of the Paula Winkler-Doman from Visteon, Richardo Gonzales Sada from VVP, Steve Kalosis from Pilkington and the re-emergence of Barry McGee upon the retirement of Richard Leggett at PPG. “I got a comment for the new guys,” quipped Roger Kennedy when it was his turn. “I’ve been on this job 18 months and I’m second in seniority here.”
Leroy Drake, director of Visteon/Float Operations, Russ Ebeid, president of Guardian Glass Group, Richard Karcher, president of building products/North America for Pilkington, D. Roger Kennedy, president and CEO of AFG Industries Inc. and Barry McGee, vice president of flat glass for PPG each spoke for approximately five minutes.

Drake told the group that while it was disappointing that the acquisition of Visteon Glass by Pilkington was not consummated (see USGlass, December 2000, page 18), he was confident that Visteon had a strong future ahead of it. Sporting a very dapper “Regis Philbin” look, Guardian’s Ebeid talked about some of the new products in development by his company’s research team. “You’ll see new types of glass that can repel water and dirt … how about glass that can function as an antenna? It’s already being made.” Ebeid said the company has four float plants in production around the world right now, including Poland and Brazil and one to be built in either Belgium or the United Kingdom.

In the job only eight months (see related story, page 87), Pilkington’s Karcher spoke of his disappointment at the failed Visteon deal as well.

In addition to a humorous story (see page 81), AFG’s Kennedy talked about trend toward value-added products and quality enhancements in the future. He was followed by PPG’s McGee, who said he was “glad to be back” in flat glass. McGee demonstrated an almost preacher-like zeal in his admiration for PPG’s Starphire glass. “This is the most beautiful glass we have ever made,” he said of the popular glass.

The Fab Four
Wednesday morning offered a session entitled “Ask Your Fabricator,” which featured Brad Austin, senior vice president of Viracon; Jim Bradford, president and CEO of United Glass Corporation, Leon Silverstein, president and CEO of Arch Aluminum & Glass and John Stillwell, president of AFGD Inc. The question-and-answer format was moderated by Pat Rome of Brin/Northwestern. Rome chairs GANA’s Building Envelop Contractors Division and has won high marks for the rapid development of that relatively new division.

When asked if the trend toward consolidation of fabricators will continue, all panelists responded affirmatively. “It’s a difficult thing to do,” said Bradford. “The ones who do it well will prosper; the others will fold.”

Silverstein agreed. “It’s a good thing and it makes the companies stronger. If you want to have relationships with national companies, you need to be able to offer services nationwide.”

Responses to a question by Phil Deighton of Visteon about energy-efficiency showed the most irony. “We have looked hard at our energy costs and our energy products. We have a great story to tell about the efficiency of glass. Yet as an industry we have not done so.”

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