Sunday, August 24, 2014

Cold Winter Ahead, Low Gas Prices Here for now, Open Office Problems and Potential Bad Designs

The casino/hotel that is housed in one of the more fascinating glass and glazing projects in recent times is closing down.  And among the excuses out there is the actual design of the building.  The Revel Casino in Atlantic City closes its doors September 1st and while the building envelope looks spectacular, the layout and flow on the inside allegedly caused major issues.  Online there’s been some interesting discussion on what went wrong with this property and while I think that the overall gambling downturn in AC is a bigger reason (among many others) than the building design, I was amazed that people did jump on the layout issue.  Building layout is a major factor in the success and failure of businesses every day.  Yet so many times it does not get the focus it deserves.  And further more, the desire for a great exterior aesthetic has taken more priority than what the process inside will look like and work as.  I have never seen this property in person and am depending on the stories and views I see online.  Any of you that have been there and seen it feel free to e mail me your thoughts- do you think the layout was the biggest factor in this properties demise?

Elsewhere…

--  Speaking of design… does the open office layout cause more theft and confusion?  Good story on that here.  Personally, while I like an open floor plan, the lack of continuity like mentioned in this tory (i.e. you don’t have your own desk) would make me crazy.

--  The Farmers Almanac is out and the prediction for this winter is for cold and misery yet again.  The almanac is working with an 80% success rate, so I tend to believe what it says when the predictions call for similar in 2015 as we saw in 2014.

--  I usually am one to hammer when gas prices go high, so I should note that gas prices right now where I am at are shockingly low.  3.36 by me this week… now hopefully that continues but with the holiday coming I am sure it will spike up.  For the life of me I have no idea how this all works and its pretty comical that I am happy with a 3.36 price but its sure better than the $5 I thought we’d see!

--  Props and thanks to a couple of great regional trade organizations.  The Colorado Glazing Contractors Association and Washington Glass Association are class acts and both worked this summer to help promote GlassBuild America to their members.  So a major thank you to Rebecca Graves (CGCA) and Maryanne Howell (WGA) and their members for their support.  Those who know me know how I feel about industry support for major events and these groups certainly did their part in jumping in the way they did.

--  I shouldn’t have to remind you about GlassBuild America coming in a few weeks, but may as well.  Still time to get flights and get there.  I for one am pumped when I see new exhibitors still signing up daily including a game changer for interior switchable glass that will garner a ton of interest.  Anyway you will not want to miss this event!

--  Last this week… college football kicks off this week.  Crazy prediction… if Wisconsin beats LSU this Saturday, they will win the National Championship.  (That sound you hear is all my friends in SEC country moaning that I am nuts…and I am)  I do love college football and can’t wait for it to get going!

LINKS of the WEEK

--  The guy behind the dreaded “pop up” ad.

--  Fellow road warriors… a windowless plane with some cool technology.. yes or no?

--  Great class by Justin Timberlake with a special birthday wish

VIDEO of the WEEK

Well as you know from reading this blog and being alive basically, the amazing ALS Ice Bucket Challenge continued to grow.  What an incredible run and the money being raised is off the charts.  So in between all of the heart-felt videos, there have been a few bloopers.  Video of the week has a bunch here, though once you watch  the first minute or so you get the picture!




Saturday, August 16, 2014

Busy Markets, Great Industry Support, Amazing Ad and the Ice Bucket Challenge

Is being very busy almost everywhere mean the industry is back and healthy?  Was the industry ever really that healthy to begin with?  Regardless of how you may feel about the 2nd question, it’s the first one that needs to be examined.  While many people report to me that their sales levels and backlogs are excellent and other factors like the booming registration of GlassBuild America lead me to the conclusion that people are busier/happier than in the past, there’s still a nagging fear.  That worry is couched in two areas, cash flow and the overall economic conditions in the world.  Cash flow as I have written here a few times is still a challenge for many.  There does not seem to be an easy fix to that given the banks are still not providing that safety net that many companies are were used to.  The overall economy still has issues and holes that are worrisome.  This recent run is not built on a very solid foundation and world (and in some cases domestic) volatility makes one very skittish.  Regardless, this is the time to make it go but keep an eye on all that is going on, so if the foundation cracks open, the fall may not hurt as much.

Elsewhere…

--  Some great reading in the most recent Glass Magazine… first off major kudos to the three great industry pros in the “G3” section who answered this months question about expectations for GlassBuild.  All three folks, Mike Wallace of Quality Metalcraft, Lloyd Talbert of CR Laurence, and Alysa Hoffmeister of Dip-Tech gave thoughtful answers to the question and they all made a point to note that this show- the biggest and most important in our industry in North America- is a must to support.  Companies like these and the hundreds others displaying in the show really GET IT. 

--  Also my monthly award for best ad of the month was a tough one.  Some excellent and creative work in the issue but we can have only one winner and that goes to Kawneer for their smart “hole in the wall” piece.  Very eye catching and well done! Love the picture and idea.

--  Quick link- this very interesting and disturbing story on why some states are keeping the spread of solar panels down.  This is surely not the direction our country needs to head into!

--  An architectural message board I monitor had a wild thread this week.  Actually the thread started in 2009 and somehow was resurrected.  The discussion was on annealed vs. tempered glass and the differences.  Something we take for granted as a no brainer in our industry did garner some dialogue on this site.  Even the great Bill Coady of Guardian jumped in and tried to educate but discussion continued. In any case the point here is what we take as simple, may not be as such in other areas of the building product universe.

--  The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been one of the most amazing ground roots charitable effort I have ever seen.  Basically people of all walks of life are challenged to donate or dump buckets of ice water over their heads. Most now are doing both to spread the word.  To date reportedly more than 15 million people have taken part. It is everywhere.  The Atlantic wrote about why this process just exploded and provided more background if you are interested.  This is a charity close to my family’s heart since our dad passed from this disease in 2001.  My brother did the challenge (figures the smarter, more successful one of us led the way) and passed it on to my kids and me.  We did it.  And man it was cold.  The evidence is my video of the week… please feel free to check it out.  Also a thank you to the always-classy Mike Cully of United Plate Glass who did the challenge in honor of our dad. 

Please in the end, whether you donate to ALS or you have another charity or charities that you support, please continue to do so.  It is ALWAYS appreciated!

LINKS of the WEEK

Well this is one way to scare off a burglar! 

Man steals identity to become a lawyer.

This is one very tough woman!  Wow.

VIDEO of the WEEK

The previously mentioned evidence from the #ALSIceBucketChallenge.  You get quick glimpses of me, son and daughter…


Saturday, August 09, 2014

The Top Architects

Since so many folks in our industry are focused on architects, the following is for you.  Recently the ranking of the top revenue producing architectural firms was released.  The overall good news is that in 2013, total revenue grew at these firms from 10 billion to 11 billion.  So obviously the uptick that our industry is seeing right now, started on the boards of these groups last year.  Meanwhile the #1 architectural firm in the country by revenue in 2013 was not even close.  Bringing in more than 800 million in sales last year was Gensler.  They doubled 2nd place CH2M Hill and 3rd place AECOM.  Well known names like HOK (8th) and Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (9th) also showed well.  9 of the top 10 were the same in 13 as they were in 12, which shows you those big players do have their ways of getting the work and holding their spots.  Overall the growth is the best news of this story for sure.

Elsewhere…

--  Last weeks bird glass story surely hit home for many.  I received some incredible and helpful feedback from great minds like Kerry Haglund and Frank D’Aprile among others.  One of Kerry’s points was about the new law in place in Minnesota that the stadium is basically skirting due to the time it was designed.  (Also as Kerry pointed out, it was noted in Katy Devlin’s piece).  Meanwhile Frank provided some excellent insight on the codes in various cities and things that we are all not paying attention to in this process.   Plus he left me with this excellent quote:

“City folk love to encourage mother nature and her kin to visit their urban neighborhoods while the very buildings in which they live may harm her.”

And while my issue was with the press aspect of the story, there’s no question we’re only touching the surface here.  And with great minds out there on the case, this will be a problem that will be addressed well and hopefully solved in the long run.

--  Have to give props to Kevin Roth, Arbel Martin and the team from Vistamatic on their excellent new website.  Believe me building or refreshing a website is not easy and these guys did a tremendous job with their new approach.  Congrats!

--  Speaking of new sites, PPG also did an upgrade of their GlassNET site that was very strong and well done.  Positive changes including the fact that there’s more info and its more simple to use than before make this upgrade a winner. 

--  My weekly GlassBuild note… have you registered yet?  Make those plane reservations?  Hotel?  You are a month away basically, time to get it done.  And a reminder, I will be on the floor in my bright yellow media vest (or looking like an airport worker as my brother Steve pegged it last year) so please stop me and say hi.

--  Last this week… if you have not seen Guardians of the Galaxy- give it a shot.  I saw it and loved it.  Funny, different and creative.  Really worth the movie ticket that is for sure. 

LINKS of the WEEK

--  Start prepping now… your Winter forecast predictions by region

--  Sign me up… Family Guy and the Simpsons together!  Love it

--  I have seen many of these “collecting rain water” illegally stories a lot and I still just don’t get it.


VIDEO of the WEEK

A surfing pig.  Seriously.





Saturday, August 02, 2014

A Tough Deal

A pretty significant story hit last week but yet seemingly did not get much traction outside of its home market.  A bankrupt solar manufacturer (based in Pennsylvania) won a 27 million dollar judgment against a Chinese company that reneged on a pretty crucial deal.  The story is pretty fascinating in that the bankrupt company had a chance to properly reorganize if the Chinese company did not run from their deal.  A good accounting of the story is HERE.  The insight from this is being careful with who you are dealing with, especially when there’s so much at stake.  And because of the foreign entities in this deal, who knows if the judgment will ever be paid.  In the end the shame was the solar manufacturer was actually being extremely responsible and trying to do the right thing, only to be thwarted by a company who at least according to the court of law did not come through on its commitment.

Elsewhere…

--  Can you believe its August?  My goodness this year is just flying by.  Wow.

--  I was alerted to an article via the excellent Twitter feed of Conners Sales Group (@ConnersSales) that the Pittsburgh Convention Center has been upgraded from a Gold LEED Building to a Platinum LEED Building.  The structure was certified Gold in 2003.  The story did not explain how or why this structure made the jump.  For me that’s a new one.  And I’d love to see how some of these buildings that were certified Gold and Platinum years ago look now with true energy targets (vs. results) to see if they really are that great.  I guess anyone who reads this knows I am not a fan of LEED, and its things like this that continue to make me question the way they do things.  If someone has the insight on why and how this happens and why it’s not a mainstream thing please e mail me- I’d love to know and share.

--  The “Bird Glass” issue at the new Viking Stadium has gotten pretty newsworthy. When you have heavy hitters like the New York Times and Katy Devlin both weighing in on it, you know it’s big.  My thoughts?  It’s a PR job by the Audubon group to get their name in the paper and get more donations/support.  Why else go public?  The stadium is still a while away from being built and I am sure with more discussion and dialogue a compromise could be worked out.  But by coming out the way it did- to me it smacked of a powerplay to try and get the public to shame the builder into it.  If this was closer to “go” time, I could see it, but it’s my guess that discussions were probably not that far along and this got used as a chance to hit the news.  Maybe I’m wrong… but just a feeling.  Oh and in the end, I do believe that a compromise will happen.  (And note- I do know we have great bird glass technology in this industry and want to see it used, just not thrilled with the way this one came down)

--  So last this week more GlassBuild America talk.  I have to admit, being associated with the show gives me a unique perspective on it and also makes my biased… but I am what I am… so here goes…  Right now I am as excited as I have ever been about the event.  I am hearing that pre registration numbers are awesome and I know from talking to various folks around the industry that more are attending than they have in the past.  And people are coming with significant plans, either to find products, services, people or information that will help them in what is now becoming a healthy market.  At the end of the day this show is OUR show.  It’s an event that is difference maker when it comes to your business and your career (it’s how most reps find new lines as an example) It’s the biggest and most impressive show you can attend in North America and it’s the one event where you can network, learn, find new products and services AND do business at all levels all in one place.  So I think this year if you are not going you will not only be missing something epic, you will be in the minority for sure. 

LINKS of the WEEK

--  Get ready to use your phone to open your hotel door… I’m not sure I like this...

--  I don’t get people some times..  if you see a lion in a cage, are you really going to stick your hand in???

--  Great… another computer related issue to worry about…

VIDEO of the WEEK

I don’t really understand Rugby…. But this clip is fun to watch for the pure action of a steamrolling run and hit.  I would bet the NFL is probably already calling the guy who did the steamrolling!