Volume 40,   Issue 7                                  July 2005

theBUSINESS

Mr. Vitucchi’s Dog
by Lyle R. Hill

I cut his lawn, I shoveled his snow and every morning, long before most people were even awake, I tossed a copy of the Chicago Tribune onto his front porch. He was well into his 70s and, even though I wasn’t yet a teenager, we were friends. Many a summer evening was spent sitting on his front porch sipping homemade lemonade and listening to his stories. He wasn’t a particularly good storyteller nor were his stories always original, but the world moved at a different pace then and listening to the old Italian gentleman on those warm summer nights just seemed like the right thing to do. And sometimes, when I close my eyes and let my mind wander, I can still taste the lemonade … still smell the cherry blend tobacco burning in his pipe … still see his dog Peppy laying at his feet … still hear his voice …

“Kid,” he began, “whatta you gonna do whenna you grown up?”

“I’m going to be a professional baseball player, Mr. Vitucchi.”

“You know, kid, I sit hear and watcha you play baseball in the street all the time and I gotta tell you one ting.”

“What’s that Mr. Vitucchi?”

“I tink you maybe should tink about being a teacher, or a barber or maybe one of da guys that pull outta your teeth when they get bad.”

“But I’d rather be a baseball player. Don’t you think that would be better for me?”

“Sometimes, kid, you don’t know what’s a good ting for you. Let me tell you a story about Peppy dat will help you know something. Is dat OK?”

“Sure, Mr. Vitucchi.” 

“Well, kid, you remember lasta year when Peppy she gotta real sick and couldn’t eat nothing?”

“Yeah, I do. And you were very worried about her and took her to the veterinarian to see if there was anything that would help.”

“No, I took her to da dog doctor and he giva me dis bottle of medicine and he tella me to give Peppy one tablespoon of da medicine twice a day, but Peppy don’t want the medicine and no matter what I do, she not gonna take da medicine. But all of the sudden, while I’m fighting wid her, I spilla da medicine on da floor and den you know what happens?”

“What, Mr. Vitucchi?”

“She licks da medicine up right offa da floor. So I no fight her no more. When medicine time comes, I put it on da floor and Peppy, she licks it right up. Whatta you tink about dat, kid?”

“I don’t know what to think, Mr. Vitucchi, and while I know there’s a lesson somewhere in the story that you’re trying to teach me, I’m not sure I know what it is.”

“Here’s da ting, kid. Sometimes, people don’t always know whatsa good for dem … somebodys gotta helpa dem out. Someday, a longa time from now, you gonna remember dis story and you gonna do something cause I tell you about my dog Peppy when she gotta sick.”

… For the past several weeks I’ve been following the actions of the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) and have tried to carefully interpret and understand what they are trying to do for … or perhaps to … the contract glazing industry. The NFRC claims that under a mandate from the Department of Energy it is obligated to develop a testing and labeling program for non-residential fenestration products. If the NFRC was willing to stop here, I could live with it and I think most of the contract glazing community could also—as long as the testing and labeling program was understandable and reasonable. 

But the NFRC people apparently think that they need to do more … much more. Apparently, they feel that much like Mr. Vitucchi’s dog, Peppy, we just don’t know what’s good for us. You see, the NFRC is now heading toward a program that may require drawings for all window, curtainwall and storefront projects be submitted for energy compliance before they are installed and then be field inspected (and in some cases tested) after they are installed.

My guess is that the NFRC will gladly develop the review and test procedures that are to be followed and most likely will provide these services directly or by way of NFRC-licensed or approved participating consultants or vendors. It will not be free. It will be yet another procedure and yet another cost to be paid somewhere in the construction process.

Is this good for the glazing community? I don’t think so, but whether it is or not, I don’t like the idea of some group who does not truly have a clue as to what we do and apparently isn’t too interested in finding out, adding yet another layer of cost while erecting yet another hurdle in the delivery process for us. 

The NFRC has recently encouraged the glazing community to get involved with the program by perhaps running for election to their board … after all, a few seats will be opening up over the next few years. But if the NFRC is really interested in our participation and input, then it should form a working committee with appropriate representation from the glazing community … let the Glass Association of North America select a group to represent us … and proactively cooperate in the development of an acceptable program that benefits everyone and not just a select few. 

There’s a lot at stake here and the industry has a right to be properly represented. Unlike Mr. Vitucci’s dog, Peppy, we contract glaziers sometimes do know what’s good for us, and we almost always know what’s not. 

The Author:
Lyle R. Hill is president of MTH Industries of Chicago.
lhill@mthindustries.com


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