A Year We Won’t Forget: A Look Back At 2020’s Top Stories

Before we leave 2020 behind to welcome the New Year, let’s take a look back at USGNN™’s most heavily trafficked stories of the year.

  1. The COVID-19 Pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone’s lives this year as states shut down businesses and imposed gathering restrictions and social distancing protocols. Many of USGNN™’s top stories of 2020 revolved around the crisis.
    • Former Employee Alleges Arconic Fired Him Over COVID-19 Illness – In May, a former employee of Arconic Corp., parent company of Kawneer, filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court of Western Pennsylvania alleging that the company violated the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by firing him due to work he missed while recovering from COVID-19. Arconic has filed a motion to dismiss the suit over failure to state a claim. However, the most recent motion has not yet been granted or denied.
    • Is Glazing Work Essential? For Many Locations, Yes – As shutdowns began throughout the U.S. in March, glass and glazing companies were left wondering whether their work was considered essential and able to remain in operation. In many states, construction was considered essential work and allowed to continue. However, that wasn’t the case everywhere, as some types of construction were deemed non-essential and temporarily put on hold.
    • Dodge Makes Downward Adjustments to Construction Starts Forecast Due to COVID-19The economic recession caused by reactions to the pandemic led Dodge Data & Analytics to change its construction starts forecast for the year. In January, Richard Branch, chief economist for the company, forecasted that the U.S. economy would grow 1.7% in 2020, a slowdown from the 2.3% growth in 2019. However, that forecast was updated in April to a decrease of 2.2% in 2020, with a 2.5% decrease in the first quarter, an 18.3% decrease in the second quarter and a boost in the second half of the year assuming COVID-19’s peak is in May. Branch updated his forecast for 2020 and 2021 during the Dodge Construction Outlook 2021 Virtual Conference in November.
    • Glass Companies Help Prevent COVID-19 Spread Using Checkout Shields, Sneeze GuardsMany glass companies stepped up to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at their local retailers. They’ve adapted, using materials already on hand, to install retail checkout shields, which protect both employees and customers at essential locations.
  1. Permasteelisa Sale: News stories about major company merges and acquisitions also captured the industry’s attention this year, the most viewed of which was the article, “Lixil Agrees to Sell Permasteelisa to Atlas Holdings.” Lixil Group Corp. announced in May that it had entered into a definitive agreement to sell Permasteelisa S.p.A. to Atlas Holdings LLC of Greenwich, Conn. Atlas and its affiliates own and operate a group of global manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses with an emphasis on safety and operational improvement. The acquisition was completed in September.
  2. PIB Migration Suit: The article “Comcast Center Suit Alleges Breach of Contract, Negligence over PIB Migration” was the top non-COVID-19 related legal story of 2020. Four glass and glazing companies were sued by the owners of the Comcast Center in Philadelphia for designing, fabricating and installing what owner Liberty/Comcast 1701 JFK Boulevard L.P. called a “defective exterior glass curtainwall system” allegedly using the “inherently defective sealant” polyisobutylene (PIB). The complaint, filed in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on January 23, 2020, stated that defects in the system could cause the owner to incur more than $1 million in damages. Comcast Center’s construction was completed in 2008.
  3. JFK Assassination: One of USGNN™’s top stories was coverage of a webinar presented by glass consultant Chris Barry. The article “Glass Evidence: Was A Second Shooter Involved in President Kennedy’s Assassination?” gives an overview of Barry’s encounter at the Smithsonian that led him to analyze glass evidence to determine whether a second shooter could have been involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
  4. New Glazier Tool: A new tape measure from Gambit Tools, called Laser Lens, aims to make taking measurements with lasers easier for glaziers and other tradespeople. The article “New Tape Measure Solves Problem for Glaziers,” one of our top stories for the year, explains how the tool works. Typically, a glazier would have to position their tape upside down, and get themselves physically lower than the tape measure in order to look up and see where a dot laser, set up on the ground, is registering on their tape. With the Laser Lens, the transparent section in the tape, made of a polymer material, allows the laser beam to continue through the tape itself, and the user to view the laser point from any position.
  5. Viracon News: Two articles about Viracon round out the top ten news stories of the year.
    • Focus on Innovation Leads Viracon to 50th AnniversaryViracon celebrated its 50th anniversary in April. In 1969, a windshield salesperson named James Martineau approached Apogee’s board of directors with a proposal to create a regional glass fabricator. The board approved the proposal and, in April 1970, Viracon became one of the nation’s first regional glass fabricators. The company, led by Martineau, began with a 45,000-square-foot glass fabrication plant and 20 employees. It serviced a radius of a few hundred miles. Now, 50 years later, Viracon is no longer a regional supplier, but an international powerhouse whose glass products have been installed all over the world.
    • Viracon Prepares for Golden Production RunManaging a run of 24-karat gold-coated glass requires increased security, expedited production and special freight logistics. While it might sound like something out of an action movie, it’s something Viracon does approximately every two years. The company explained this process to USGNN™ in February as the company prepared for its next coating production run.
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