Volume 37, Issue 1, January 2002

Business the Hard Way
        Film Companies Find Themselves Showered with Business in Aftermath of
        Terrorist Attacks

by Penny Beverage

On September 11, our world was forever changed. In an instant, being searched six times at the airport became a comfort, not a nuisance, and we all went on the lookout for anything or anyone suspicious, even in our own towns, mailboxes and surrounding our places of work. Suddenly, in addition to security glazing, window film is on the minds of many. In recent months, it has been featured on national news channels such as CNN and in major U.S. newspapers. It is being applied across the nation as never before.
 
The industry is fortunate to be able to fill a need for security products. In fact, some companies are working nonstop but—secretly—applying film during the evening and late-night hours so the national news won’t pick up the story, revealing any vulnerable spots still existing in the United States.

Headline News 
Days after the terrorist attacks occurred at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and the World Trade Center Towers in New York, stories hit the news about the damage incurred in both locales. On September 16, the Los Angeles Times ran a story about the Pentagon’s structural stability in the area it was hit, entitled “Pentagon, a Vulnerable Building, Was Hit in the Least Vulnerable Spot.” In the story, Esther Schrader reported that the area of the Pentagon hit recently had been renovated for additional protection; while much of the Pentagon would have merely collapsed in the event of such a gruesome attack, this section of the building was equipped with blast-resistant windows—2 inches thick and 2,500 pounds each—that stayed intact during the crash and fire. In addition, the building had fire-resistant doors that opened automatically and allowed many people to escape the building.

Scott Haddock, an industry expert who serves as president of the Protective Glazing Council and president of GlassLock of San Jose, Calif., confirmed that the Pentagon was equipped with safety glazing in the area in which it was hit.

“We’re going to see more details come out later on, but from what I’ve gathered, the renovated areas did have windows specifically built and designed for ballistic and blast resistance. From what I understand, the damage would have been much more considerable if they’d hit one of the other areas of the Pentagon,” he said.

Soon, news stations across the country were running similar newscasts, including a story that hit CNN just a week after that attack, reporting that the U.S. Capitol Building was being equipped with security film to strengthen its own windows in the event of another attack.

According to Jeffrey Plummer of Bekaert Specialty Films of Clearwater, Fla., the CNN reporter with Capitol credentials who released the story was asked not to return to the building again and his press credentials were revoked for making the information public. Likewise, officials from the U.S. Capitol urged CNN to remove the story from its newscast—approximately three hours after it began running—a request to which CNN readily complied, realizing the seriousness of the matter.

Bekaert, which only recently was allowed to reveal its involovement, gathered dealers from across the United States to travel to the nation’s capital and complete the application. While military reservists and other active troops traveled to their bases to defend them and some even traveled across the world to participate faithfully in this “war of injustice,” as President George W. Bush has called it, window film applicators came together at the Capitol Building to do their own parts in the war on terrorism.

“One dealer called me from Missouri and said, ‘business is slow here right now—I do automotive tinting and people are down, they don’t want automotive film when our country is in a state of emergency. Can I go to Washington, D.C., to help in this effort? I just want to do my part,’” Plummer said.

In all, about 60 people traveled to D.C. to participate in the Capitol’s film application, working from 5 p.m. to the early hours of the morning to avoid the press and any further publicity.

Other Projects
While this small army of film applicators completed the job at the Capitol Building, other military bases, government buildings and vulnerable spots of the nation were also equipped with window film and attachment systems. In the past, dealers have said it was often difficult to receive government work and to convince the government of the need for security film, but such is no longer the case (see the November-December 2001 issue of Window Film, page 21, for related story).

Haddock could not disclose what specific buildings were currently undergoing these advancements, though he said he and his colleagues had been working non-stop to equip buildings with attachment systems and security film quickly.

“I think the majority of the people, by the nature of the business that we’re in, are busy answering the requests of the federal government. There is a lot of emergency funding that’s been made available and some of us are working 24-7 in response to all of the immediate demands for protective glazing for existing buildings both in the federal government and more specifically, the Department of Defense,” Haddock said.

Another busy company is Atlanta-based ShatterGARD™, which issued a news release just four days after the attacks urging government officials to secure its buildings’ glass with window film. The release was sent to 5,000 media outlets, including newspapers, magazines and major television networks such as CNN and NBC. Jordan Frankel, president of the company, said Fox News had already featured a 3-minute special about window film and its safety benefits since receiving the release and he has also received word that CNN may run a similar feature.

Before the attacks, ShatterGARD’s BlastGARD™ film was applied to the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare center, the U.S. Defense District Depot, the U.S. Naval Post Graduate Academy, Wells Fargo Bank and the NASDAQ Stock Exchange in New York.
Since the attacks, ShatterGARD has been involved in the application of film at Hope Air Force Base in North Carolina, Air National Guard of Pennsylvania, Air National Guard of Arizona, Hill Air Force Base of Utah, U.S. Dept. of Army in Korea, Barber Point Naval Center in Hawaii, and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta, where the former president resides for one week out of every month, according to Frankel.

NASDAQOUT NASDAQSTUDIOINSIDE ShatterGARD applied film to the NASDAQ building in New York.

An End In Sight?
While those interviewed for this article were grateful for the additional business the window film industry has received recently, all, of course, wish the surge in business was the result of a different cause. Likewise, most were in agreement that while window film is important, additional security is also crucial to these recovery/preparation efforts at military and government installations across the United States. Haddock said that in the event of such ghastly attacks as occurred on September 11, window film will mitigate flying glass shards, but first and foremost, security must be tightened.

“It is my understanding that when they built the World Trade Center, they considered a plane attack, but they didn’t consider that large of a jetliner full of fuel. That’s what made the difference—the intense heat,” he said. “In that case, I think it’s more of a question of tightening security so that something like this could not happen again.” 


Coming Together Online
Along with Scott Haddock, president of the Protective Glazing Council and GlassLock of San Jose, Calif., others in the industry are working busily to provide protective glazing to the large market that now exists for it, one company has formed to link federal, state and local government agencies with providers of force protection and physical security equipment and services. The company, govsupply.com, originally planned a later launch of early 2002, but announced on September 25 that it would accelerate its introduction to assist in the current recovery—and security preparation—efforts. govsupply.com was created by Intellimar, a sales and marketing company.

“We initially planned to launch the interactive site early next year. However, since the unfortunate attack on America, we have been working day and night to get the site launched within the next quarter,” said govsupply.com president Mark Oakes. 

Alliance partners currently include Applied Research Associates Inc., CPFilms Inc., GlassLock Inc., Mistral Security Inc., Overly Door Co., Norshield Security Products, North American Bullet Proof and ParKut International Inc.

Govsupply.com plans to enable federal, state and local governmental customers to gather all necessary product information and procure the industry’s products and services through a single online portal.

Ginny Kubler, director of marketing and sales for CPFilms Inc., expects the website to be a success in uniting the industry’s security glazing companies.

“CPFilms is pleased to be associated with such a high caliber of suppliers and looks forward to providing the excellent products and services that the federal government requires,” she said.

Haddock agreed, “We think govsupply.com offers a tremendous opportunity to showcase our engineered products for windows through a single source that offers top-of-the-line security products and services for a one-stop-shop to the U.S. Federal Government.”

While these companies have united in the efforts, others are working on their own to promote security film and make the government aware that they are there to do their part in the effort.


Penny Beverage serves as assistant editor of USGlass magazine. 


USG

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