Volume 42, Issue 2 - February 2007
Itís about 2:30 a.m. here on the morning after the Colts downed the Bears in Super Bowl XLI and Iím as wide awake as I get. So instead of continuing to lie in bed drafting this column in my mind, I decided to get up and write it. Itís just going to be about the three topics that were coursing through my brain as I was trying to trade them for some REM.
The first topic is nice people. They are the people you meet in life who you just know are genuinely nice and would be so even if you werenít connected to them by blood or neighborhood or job. And, as I was trying to trick myself into thinking I was sleepy, I thought of two.
First up is Steve Brown of Salem Distributing. Steve had invited me down to North Carolina late last year to learn about some of the new things his company is doing. So I went, expecting to spend a lot of time learning about the companyís new products and reorganization of its flat glass division, among other things. And I did. I got to spend some time with Steve, Howard Hanes, Mike Willard and Bob Carter. Youíll learn some of what this employee-owned company is doing in a future issue.
When I first got there, Steve told me he wanted to take me on a little tour, and together with Mike, we set off. I thought we were going to another part of the plant, but after a 15-minute ride we ended up in what could only be described as an area of Winston-Salem that looked pretty rough around the outside. Within seconds of our arrival, however, we were transported into one of the poshest art galleries Iíd ever seen. It was as though weíd passed through a portal into downtown Manhattan. In fact, weíd been transported into the workshop and gallery of famed glass artist Jon Kuhn. He and his full-time staff of 26 make some of the most beautifulóand most expensiveóglass works imaginable. His works are created, made and then shipped all over the world, right from his headquarters building in North Carolina.
Kuhn settled in Winston-Salem years ago and has achieved fame for the incredible quality and clarity of his pieces. He was kind enough to spend nearly an hour speaking with us and took us through a history of his career and his evolution as an artist. It was a very enjoyable and enriching afternoon.
On the way back, I asked Steve about the Salem connection. ďOh, they buy some supplies from us and have some of our machines, but I just thought youíd really enjoy seeing what they create there Ö I just didnít think you should miss it while you were here. ĒSo you can see why Steve is a most gracious host who provided me with a nice additional memory of my visit to Salem.
Speaking of nice memories and good people, Dick Joyce also comes to mind. One of the staples of the glass industry, heíd served as vice president of sales for Dlubak in Pennsylvania for more than 40 years until his death on February 2. He was a true gentleman. Our industry just wonít seem the same without him. For more information about Dick, please see page 107.
Just a little beyond that page, youíll find Lyle Hillís column, which is about fuel surcharges this month. If it wasnít nearly 4 a.m. now, I might call Lyle and ask him the following question, because I guess itís been bothering me enough to keep me up all night. I understand why so many people are upset about the surcharges currently being assessed. But hereís my question: In almost every other industry, from transportation to lodging, fuel surcharges have been passed along to the end user or are reflected in the product pricing. Yet this doesnít happen in our industry. Can anyone enlighten me?
And while you are at it, perhaps you can explain one more thing: why is it that I am going to be wide awake until about 5 a.m. and then I am going to fall into a deep sleep that even my alarm clock will fail to break? Yup, good thing I am writing this now, because Iím going to miss the sunrise Ö and probably have to fight not to be late for work while Iím at it. Good night.