Sunday, January 25, 2015

Positive Indicators Continue

We are very early into the new year but the economic indicators and predictions are all quite bullish.  The Architectural Billings Index and Dodge Momentum Index both have been plugging along in the positive.  In addition, cash flow predictions are finally improving and pointing to a healthy bump in non-residential construction starts.  So while we have legitimate concerns on supply and transport, at least for the near future the business climate is still looking to be very ripe. 

Elsewhere…

--  Excited to say there’s a new blog out there for everyone to check out.  One of the industries true influencers… John Wheaton of Wheaton-Sprague has joined the blogosphere.  Check out his initial efforts HERE.  With the incredible insight that John is always sharing, usually on twitter, his blog now will easily become a must read. 

--  Speaking of must-reads, major kudos to Katy Devlin of Glass Magazine for the coverage she provided from the BAU event last week in Munich.  Katy went solo to the show and cranked out incredible, timely coverage via Twitter and on GlassMagazine.com  She made the show come to life and allowed all of us unable (and unlucky) to attend at least have the ability to follow along in real time.  Great job Katy!

--  I mentioned this a year ago but was at this airport again this week… Dulles Airport is absolutely a masterpiece for a glass geek to take in.  Simply awesome applications everywhere.

--  It was on that trip this week to DC where for the first time ever I had a cab ride where the cabbie did not have a GPS.  So I’m running the directions from the GPS on my phone.  I am still scratching my head on that one.  How can you be in that position without that tool?  Another reason I try and do Uber instead- those guys HAVE to have GPS.

--  I was doing research this week and I ran into an old Glass Magazine article penned by Greg Carney.  Man I miss that guy.  With the annual GANA events coming up in the next several weeks, I have a feeling I’ll be thinking about Greg a ton.

--  Those GANA events I speak of, the Annual Conference and BEC are scheduled for early March in Las Vegas.  BEC, thanks to the incredible leadership from Jon Kimberlain of Dow Corning, is really primed to be another excellent edition.  The agenda this year is very strong with some great speakers including Joseph Puishys, the CEO from Apogee.  A few people in the know have told me that Mr. Puishys is an incredible public speaker.  So I am looking forward to that for sure.  In the coming weeks, I’ll surely highlight more of the agenda as well…

--  Last this week… so I have to ask… outside of the New England fans (including the great Dan Pompeo of Architectural Glazing Solutions who is off the charts with his support of Boston area teams) is anyone rooting for the Patriots next week?  I am on record already with my Seahawk support and prediction, so that’s not changing.  But I just wonder if there’s anyone who’s not a normal fan of either team rooting for New England.  Regardless I will be watching the game for the commercials as much as the game itself…

LINKS of the WEEK
 
--  An awesome story of when people come together… raising money for inner city kids to go to Harvard.  Now over 500K! 

--  Being someone who loves pizza and respects the people who make and deliver it… count me on the side of the driver… and the internet agrees with me… wild story.

--  Good food for thought one here… how TV inaccurately shows what real professions do.  It’s that creative license thing at its peak.

VIDEO of the WEEK

Well Kobe Bryant may be out for the season now but before that happened one amazingly creative person built this parody video called “Let it Tank” using the theme from Frozen’s Let it Go… just beautiful stuff here if you are basketball fan who happens to know Disney or that incredibly popular song.







Saturday, January 17, 2015

THE Book for PR insight

Different than normal post this week…  Just talking one subject- books….
Over the holidays I read one of the best books ever.  The book was an extreme look inside the world of public relations at the highest level, where the media spotlight seems to be on 24/7.  The title of this amazing read is “What Did Jesus Drive: Crisis PR in Cars, Computers, and Christianity” by Jason Vines.  The majority of this book is how Vines, the PR lead for Ford and Chrysler (among others) handled major public relations issues with his companies, the strategies and thoughts behind the decisions.  Plus there's some great background on the most successful marketing plays ever pulled off in the auto industry as well.  The best part of this book was the style of writing, it was written like you were having dinner with the author and he’s just telling your stories about his days in the trenches, and leaving it all in there, no “political correctness” scrubbing- the whole story in a conversational manner.  So what does this have to do with the glass business?  Basically the immediate thought is we are pretty fortunate as an industry that for the most part our PR crises do not go mainstream and if they do they surely peter out quickly.  In addition it gave me perspective on how to handle events if they came up. Overall it’s just a great business read on the inner workings of the car, computer, and bible industry.  Yes a portion of the book is dedicated to a company with the task of reprinting the bible and that was pretty fascinating to me.  I never expected that industry to have any issues that is for sure!  Those of you who know me and have been reading this blog since 2005, know that my favorite all time business book was “The Disney War” by James B. Stewart.  I have to say that this one may knock that one from the top.

Next up on the list is “Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!” by Nicholas Carlson.  Should be interesting to read especially right after the Vines book. 


That’s it for this post, I apologize for no links or video of the week.  We’ll be back to normal (or whatever “normal” is for me) next week!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Remembering Lowell and Predictions for 2015

Very packed blog this week and before I get to the news portion, a remembrance of a great man who passed over the holidays.  Lowell Rager, formerly of LOF and best known from his days at Ford and Visteon Glass passed away at the end of last month.  Lowell was absolutely one of the nicest and classiest gentlemen in our industry.  Lowell was a technical icon; he knew everything and what he did not know he learned with great ferocity.  He was, among many other things, the guy behind educating the industry on the turtle code.  The code so bizarre that many could not believe it, but Lowell knew everything there was to know about it and the glass that was needed to save turtles and other marine life.  Lowell carried himself with style, always dressed nicely, was always put together and always with a smile and solid handshake.  One of the last times I saw him was a mid summer day in Detroit, a jobsite that had the always fun “quench marks” on the glass.  Lowell deftly explained and handled the issue better than anyone I have ever seen.  He did this all while not breaking a sweat, while wearing a suit and tie, in the searing mid summer Michigan humidity.  Cool and in control.  Awesome.  No one else could pull that off.  Whenever I would compliment Lowell on here or in person, he would tell me I was “much too kind”- well I can say he deserved every compliment and then some.  The world and our industry is not as good today and in the future without Lowell.  Rest in Peace my friend.

Elsewhere…

--  No doubt the fall out from the Trulite-AGC deal dominated the industry last week.  The big item was the closure immediately of some of the facilities acquired and that was something I totally misread.  Maybe I am na├»ve or just plain clueless (don't answer that!) but I did not expect any facilities to close so fast. I figured some would, just not day 1.  Probably the only silver lining is the fact that those who are losing their jobs should be in major demand since qualified employees are very hard to find in our industry.  Still sad though.  And now the watch begins to see how the rest of the industry reacts to markets being consolidated. 

--  Also there was a tremendous comment (and my attempt at areply) posted on my blog on the Glass Magazine site that talked about how the industry has changed.  Great take.... worth reading and considering.

--  Last week I recapped my 2014 predictions… now time for my five fearless predictions for the glass and glazing industry for 2015. 

  • 1.     Instead of one big acquisition in our industry, I am predicting several smaller ones, maybe along the lines of 5 or 6 this year.  I do think one sale will be someone who no one expected would sell.
  • 2.     The “Bird Safe” revolution for glass will grow with more and more architects starting to ask for it. 
  • 3.     With North America now loaded with more digital printers for glass than ever, 2015 will be the year where its usage in several industry segments takes off. 
  • 4.     At least 2 major companies return to participate heavily in GlassBuild America this fall.  With the show being a premier attraction, some companies who have skipped will realize they can’t miss it again.
  • 5.     The glass shortage will have an effect but the transportation issues will be even worse, items that the industry will have to be very creative and proactive to deal with.


--  Speaking of transportation issues- this is another angle of what we are up against.  From the Detroit Free Press on January 4th  

For example, a nationwide shortage of truck drivers recently forced Ann Arbor Township-based shipping company Con-way Freight to launch its own driver school. The firm provides 12 weeks of training at no cost for prospective drivers, who spend half of that time earning compensation for dock work until they receive their certification.
Con-way expects to train and hire 50 Michigan-based truck drivers in 2015 — all of whom return to their homes at night, unlike long-haul drivers — and about 1,600 nationwide. The company gave a "significant" raise to its current drivers in June and plans to deliver another one in January, said Con-way Freight President Greg Lehmkuhl.
"More than anything else in the next few years, it's a war for qualified and safe drivers," Lehmkuhl said. "The whole industry is raising wages to attract people into the driving profession."
So glass haulers, already short on qualified people now have to take on nimble companies looking to control the game themselves.  Not to mention fabricators who need drivers or need to keep them face the same pressures.  This is a tough one folks. 

--  Last this week… a crazy one.  I am pretty much a protectionist when it comes to North America, so what to do when the US and Canada get in a fight over building material supply?  This one is a bizarre one involving steel, who makes it and where it goes.  Reading it makes me feel like kid between divorcing parents.  Make sure you scan some of the comments too, some wild takes there.  Anyway let’s hope diplomacy, compromise and logic take hold here instead of backbiting.

LINKS of the WEEK

-- Fellow road warriors… what would you do?  Fly or not?  Me?  I fly.  No worries.

--  This guy just lost it basically.  Better to leave things be when you hit the media then kick the nest.

--  Deer attacks man.  Yep revenge!

VIDEO of the WEEK

The movie Taken 3 is now out…  and the star of the movie (Liam Neeson) played a practical joke on his co-stars ex boy friend.  No way would I want to mess with Liam!


Sunday, January 04, 2015

The Deal is Done- Finally.

2015 is off and running….   But before the calendar turned, the deal that I hinted to finally came to life.  The purchase of the AGC fabrication locations in the US by Trulite is a big deal.  Whenever you have one large operation buying another there’s going to be disruption in the marketplace.  For both organizations, in my opinion, there are positives out of the gate.  For AGC on the float side, this allows them to focus their efforts on their core competency of float manufacturing and coating.  For Trulite, this gives them more critical mass both in locations and talent.  As for the industry it’s another major consolidation to deal with and some of the fallout that comes with it.  That fallout will possibly/probably include reactions from other companies looking to keep pace or fill territorial holes and that process surely won’t be a dull one to watch.  In the end, deals this size will be judged a year from now when integration is complete and all of the parts and pieces are where Trulite wants them to be. Until then we’ll be watching the ripples and also keeping mind of a few other deals that are percolating out there.  A new year is underway and it's going to be fun....

Elsewhere…

--  Funniest part for me of the above deal and my reporting of it?  It was how many folks wrote me after it came out if “this was the deal” I was talking about.  I was tempted to say no… something bigger is coming just to keep that momentum going….

--  So on my first blog, last year, I made predictions for the year…. How did I do?   Here they are with my comments in italics. 

1. There will be one major acquisition in the glass fabrication side of the business that will have the industry buzzing.  Otherwise 2014 will be light on the merger/acquisition side but look out 2015 will be crazy with them.  It took until the last days of 2014 but I got this one right!!

2.     Both GANA BEC and GlassBuild America will be hugely successful.  And yes I have worked or do work with both of these so consider my bias, but I will say both are primed for big years.  The BEC 2014 has a very strong agenda and I have seen the plans for GlassBuild America and I promise you that you will be impressed and WANT to be there.- Count me as 2 for 2.  Both events were fantastic and must attends, as they will be this year as well.

3.     A new green rating system will start to take hold.  Right now LEED is beyond dominant and will continue to be the major player, but look out for one of the smaller organizations breaking through. – Unfortunately despite some good efforts out there, LEED is still the monster, I am not sure anyone will knock them off soon.  This also may have been more of a wish than a prediction.

4.     The code battles will continue and I believe an unlikely ally (another industry) will join forces with the glass industry giving us a stronger voice in the proceedings. – This actually was somewhat quiet, we had the win early in the year and not much else happened.  So count this as a miss.

5.     The use of 4th surface Low E will continue to grow and become a much bigger player in the specification process. – I am seeing more of it but not as much as I thought.  Give me a ½ right here.

So final tally- 2 dead on, 2 not, and 1 almost.  Not bad.  Next week I will run my predictions for 2015…

--  Congrats to my friend, Donald Press over at Okalux North America as he continues to build a nice team there, with the latest being the addition of Peter Stattler to the team.  Peter brings even more talent (on top of everything Donald and his current team posess) to this group.  Nice move!

--  Speaking of talented friends, Ted Bleecker fits that description and he’s one to follow on twitter (@tedbleecker) for insightful and interesting links on energy and solar related matters.  Last week he linked a good one worth sharing here- the top 5 reasons 2015 will be a positive in the energy world.  Good stuff.  

--  And another interesting article I found while enjoying the holidays…  was this one on the Miami Heat suing the architect of their arena.  Some neat insight into construction over runs and egos.  

--  Last this week… my fearless and sure to be wrong choice for the Super Bowl… I’m going with the Seahawks repeating.  Yep, going the easy route of a #1 seed.  Since I like the Seahawks and their fans so much, I hate to even put them in such a jinxed position.  Though on January 5th, 2014, I picked to Seahawks to win last years game and my stink did not stop them then. 

LINKS of the WEEK

--  Wow, this may be the most baffling, bizarre, and odd article you will read all year.  I can’t even fathom how any of this makes sense.

--  Sometimes the crazy idea for marriage proposal can go very badly.

--  If you are an internet geek, this is a cool listing of the most popular websites each year from 1996 to current.  Crazy how popular some of these sites were!!

VIDEO of the WEEK

And just like last year, I start the new year with a look back at the best news bloopers of 2014.  Some are good, some not, still overall a fun one to watch.