Sunday, July 27, 2014

Remembering Active Al

Our industry lost another unique and special person in the last week.  A gentleman who did things his own way and did them extremely well.  The passing of Al Shaprio, also known to many as “Active Al” was a stunner and bummer to me.  Al was a character through and through but one that would take legitimate interest in the lives of the people he was dealing with.  While he owned a few extremely successful operations, it was Active Glass that I dealt with.  And despite being a nice guy, Al was unforgiving.  He paid you fast (best around) so he expected to be first in line for everything.  He rode me hard but also made sure that he took care of me and my company too.  He also had a huge heart, when my children were born, Al sent thoughtful gifts that we still have to this day.  He always asked about everyone in my life as well.  And while I didn’t communicate with Al much in the last several years because my life had changed, when I ran into him, he was always as warm as ever- always offering to give me as much business as I could handle (even if I wasn’t a fabricator anymore) and note, that no one will pay me faster… Anyway, it was a shocking piece of news, and I am so sorry to see him go.  My condolences to his family.  Our industry and world lost a great one….

Elsewhere…

--  Are we as an industry in line for another battle?  This past week the Urban Green Council took some shots at glass and its usage.  Now what they said was not all wrong, in fact they made some good points about choosing materials wisely.  However the title alone of “Urban Green Council Warns Against Glass Envelopes” does not portray us well.  Especially in this short attention span society where most folks will only read the headline and move on.  In any case it needs to be said that we’re still vulnerable and still not a product of choice.  Oh and my metal friends, there was a blast on you guys in there too…. So just a heads up, that once again we have people taking shots…

--  Each month I read Glass Magazine and pick out the best ad of the issue.  This month the kudos go to the gang at Quanex.  Their ad for TriSeal was clean, sharp and bold. Good work with a really smart use of call out bubbles.  It caught my eye for sure.  Well done!

--  Also in the always-excellent Glass Magazine was a very powerful letter and picture to the editor by Joe Bruce of Guardian.  I have known Joe for many years and he’s a tremendous guy, and his letter on returnable racks and the cost of people discarding them was excellent and spot on.  We can be our own worst enemy in this industry sometimes.  Hopefully people will read Joe’s letter and be smarter and more respectful with other people’s property.

--  As you surely know GlassBuild America is coming and I am starting to see more and more press releases on products that will be on the floor.  One product that will catch people’s eye will be AGC’s Dragontail.  It is an ultra thin glass that is mostly used in mobile devices and tablets but will also have expanded use in architectural applications.  AGC will be doing a ball drop test in their booth showing this off and it will be something to see.  I believe it’s just a matter of time before “thin” glass starts to hit in many different applications…  Good call by AGC to show it off at a show with the power and size of GlassBuild.

--  Last this week… the Architectural Billings Index continued to soar.  I think from a sales standpoint things are solid out there.  Not getting any complaints on that.  Cash flow is a different story… that continues to be the bugaboo for many.  Hopefully things will normalize on that end soon.

LINKS of the WEEK

This can’t be real right?  A long list of deal breakers for a man looking for dates…

Are Krispy Kreme donuts that good?  Like being robbed at knife point good? 

Count me as one who hates baseball’s “unwritten rules” 

VIDEO of the WEEK

I’m a huge fan of voice impressionist Frank Caliendo.  This past week he used his immense talent to read a letter from basketball player LeBron James in the voice of actor Morgan Freeman.  Just tremendous stuff (more if you are fan of Frank and followed the whole LeBron saga)


Friday, July 18, 2014

Awards and Champions

We have the World Cup of Glass final coming up but before that, let’s talk about some other winners- the folks that have made it to the finals of the Glass Magazine Awards.  These awards are truly the industry gold standard, nominations come from the industry and voting is done by the industry.  Winning here is a huge honor.  Once again this year amazing candidates from all over the country have been nominated.  In the  “Best Sales Representative” category I am familiar with all three finalists and picking a winner will be pretty impossible for me.  I have known Dan Pompeo for a very long time and he is amazing- tons of energy and he always comes through.  I have gotten to deal with Stacey Quesada of Glass Apps on a few occasions and her attention to detail and follow up is one of the best I have ever worked with.  Zach Passman has always been a guy I have been told great things about, so seeing him on this list was no surprise at all.  So this vote will be incredibly hard for me.  But I will eventually pick one, and every one out there you need to do the same- for this category and the others as well.  Here’s the link, click, read and vote.  These folks are all winners in the fact they made it this far and it will be fun to see who gets the nod for being the best in 2014!  Voting ends July 31st

Elsewhere....

So it’s the finals of the World Cup of Glass.  Our three finalists are USA, Germany, and Italy.  Each won a “group” over the last few weeks.  Now they face each other.  4 categories… points are 3 for winning, 2 for second, and 1 for 3rd.  Most points win… here goes:

Innovation:

USA 3
Germany 2
Italy 1

USA actually gets lucky that it faces these two in this category.  While the US is strong in innovation its not dominant.  But compared to its competition, it still takes this category.

Quality:

Germany 3
USA 2
Italy 1

Maybe it’s a myth but I do subscribe to the theory that Germany is the home of the best quality products around.

Products:

USA  3
Italy 2
Germany 1

US dominating here, based on sheer product range and usage.  Picking 2nd was harder but went with Italy based on their decorative product lines.

Industry Support:

USA 3
Italy 2
Germany 1

I almost went with Italy at 1 because of how they really step up to support GlassBuild but the Italian contingent is not that active at the trade or code level so there’s no way they could be first. 

Final Total

USA 11
Germany 7
Italy 6

Final Conclusion:  This was a fun exercise to do… The one downer is that we’re not unified from a world standpoint when it comes to code and design.  That is something that needs to be improved upon.  I will say that it gets me excited that events like GlassBuild America bring ALL of these countries together on one floor, so you can see the greatness in action from all over!

--  Speaking of GlassBuild America, I am really excited about a few things… but the one call out I’d like to make this week is to the folks who stepped up and are taking major sponsor roles.  These are companies that realize that they are supporting the industry and the industries largest North American show, while also getting amazing brand recognition all in one fell swoop.  So major props to Quanex, Bohle, Dip Tech, GGI, Hartung Glass, Kuraray America, Diamon Fusion, YKK, Guardian, SAPA, Dow Corning, FMI, and Pilkington North America for stepping up. 

--  Last this week… a quick personal note- my nephew Josh, who has been in the industry now for several years including his current run at WA Wilson got engaged over the weekend.  Congrats to Josh and we’re thrilled that our family is getting a great new addition with Nicole!

LINKS of the WEEK

--  Fellow road warriors please read this one on the shared hotel computer… I have always been wary…

--  Another travel note… this would NOT be good… bicycle style seats on planes.  Yikes.

--  A drought in California and yet homeowners getting flack for their lawns?  What???

VIDEO of the WEEK

I have always liked Weird Al Yankovic and his song parodies.  Harmless good fun.  His latest is “Foil” as a take off on “Royals”


Friday, July 11, 2014

The Final 3 are Set!

So as the soccer World Cup ends, our version in the glass world still has two more steps to go.  This week was the debut of the good ole USA and they did not disappoint, but I have a feeling they will find the finals much tougher!  For this round the foursome was USA, Spain, Japan, and Russia.  Since its been a few weeks a quick reminder on the categories for scoring- Innovation, Products, Quality, and Industry Support.  For this round the glaring omission of France really played out because when the tallies were added, Russia really was not ready for this tourney.  While they have what is considered to be an awesome trade show, they’re still quite a bit behind in every other category at this point. Japan and Spain both had solid showings and may have done better in a different group.  Spain with its dominance on the decorative side and strong support of the industry showed well and Japan with major float players and some solid innovations helped mask its limited industry support.  Meanwhile the USA won the group because innovation is still strong and industry support significant despite what many may think. 
The final totals:
USA 15
Spain 10
Japan 10
Russia 5
So next week is the final… it will feature USA, Germany, and Italy.  There is no question this will be a very difficult one to score with each country bringing so much into the process. 

Elsewhere…

--  A hearty congratulations to Steve O’Hollaren of ICD for passing his LEED Green Associates exam… that is NOT an easy test… great work sir, can’t wait to call you with lots of LEED related questions!!

--  While we’re patting people on the back, kudos also to Dip Tech on the launch of their new blog/newsletter.  The folks there obviously put a ton of time, thought and planning into it because it was a really sharp and organized effort.  Something I look forward to receiving on a regular basis!

--  The Dodge Momentum index up again for 3rd straight month.  Overall the indicators have been solid and momentum for sales has shown to be positive.  The worry I believe continues to be cash flow.  All in all though summer is off to solid start.

--  I think I was the last person in the US to see the movie “Frozen”- so I finally did.  I enjoyed it as it was typical Disney.  But the reason I write this is I read that people have been waiting up to 6 hours to meet the “princesses” at the theme parks.  SIX HOURS.  It got me thinking, is there anyone that I would wait 6 hours for- to just get to say hi to.  I mean if it was a 6 hour wait and you get some time with the person then sure I could name a few, but just to shake a hand or get a picture?  Not sure I can come up with a living person. 

--  Pretty cool case study I read recently on the social effect of “green” products.  Two sets of hand sanitizer were laid out at a trade show.  One was marked with one basic title.  The other with a similar title but noted it was “green.”  So during the event the table was watched onsite and discreetly.  When someone was standing at the table, the large majority went for the “green” product.  When no one was working the table, the totals flipped the other way- many more went for the regular product.  Goes to show you we still have a society that has people who say the right things and may publicly try to do, but in private still do what they are more comfortable with.

LINKS of the WEEK

-- If you have seen the amazing 30 for 30 on Pablo Escobar, do so- in the meantime his legacy lives on with hippos.  Tons of hippos.

-- While we are talking animals- woman banned from zoo... and deservedly so!

--  Rooftop solar doing great down under

VIDEO of the WEEK

A friend of mine had posted this on Facebook and I just can’t believe it- a car and a bear… a big bear…


  

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Looking Back at AIA

Before I get to the AIA review and an update on the World Cup of Glass, I have to lead off with the gigantic story that broke late Thursday and posted first GlassMagazine.com.  Cardinal Glass Industries buying Catalina Tempering Inc.  From a commercial side this is not big news.  From the residential side this is earth shaking.  Just a huge acquisition for Cardinal and now the 2nd one in the last few months that has really made waves (first being the acquisition of Northeast Laminated in late April) Cardinal now has jumped in with 2 sharp, strategic moves and really signals their intention to continue to be a force especially on the residential glass world.  Catalina was a homegrown company that saw major success built by strategically placing plants near window manufacturers to supply them custom tempered.  I don’t believe many people could have seen this sale coming; surely there were no major indications of such. The bottom line here is that Cardinal is making moves and companies once thought to be “off the market” may actually not be…

Elsewhere…

Because of the size of the AIA recap- I am pushing Round 3 of the World Cup of Glass back a week…

--  AIA was a mixed bag.  Always great to see people and learn new things about the industry, products, and services.  However the show itself was just not that good.  Traffic was inconsistent and very light in some areas of the floor and it’s pretty apparent that the architects that were there just have too many things to see and do during this show.  Anyway, I know some companies were pleased and others not so much.  And no matter it does not dampen my enthusiasm for the next big event in our world- GlassBuild America- as that show is really coming along nicely with huge new exhibitors, innovation, and probably the coolest education set up you can imagine. 

As for the seen and visited part of the show… here goes…

--  It was good to visit Joe Erb while walking the floor; he’s always got a great insight or 100.  Walker Textures is really an impressive company- I know I always comment on their sartorial splendidness (Danik in a bow tie at this show- wow) but fact of the matter this operation should be used as a case study for a group that really “gets it.” They are always evolving and innovating.  Plus it was super to get to chat with Ross Christie of Walker while there.  Speaking of innovation, I was very impressed with the Viracon App.  Really a strong tool and will be used the way that medium was designed.  It was a pleasure to run into Jerry Schwabauer of Azon- had not seen him a while.  Cool product that was not really our industry was the home elevators from Savaria- they did feature beautiful glass doors though.  Now I don’t think I’ll ever need or have a home elevator but if I get one- this is what I’ll buy! 

--  Guardian was there in force and always so hospitable to me.  Amy Hennes is a class act and getting to see the legend Brian Craft is always a pleasure.  Brian’s healthy and looking great and led a sold out seminar during the show.  I knew very little about Vetrotech Saint Gobain, but came away from their booth impressed- getting hurricane resistant approvals is no easy task and they did it with their product.   Also impressive the new unit glaze system from CRL/US Aluminum.  Really appreciate Paul Daniels giving me a quick demo.  And I made a quick visit to see Sage and was impressed by their new booth showing shapes, sizes, and new product advancements.

--  A lot of foreign companies were on the floor trying to get a foot in the market; hopefully they realize that doing AIA is only one part of the mission to reach North America’s buyers.  PPG was there as always, got to chat with my favorite Jan Rogan and visited with Glenn Miner as always.  Rob Struble happened to be there but I never got to talk with him as he was engaged with someone every single time I swung by.  That to me may be my biggest regret of the show!  You can always count on YKK to have a buzz around their booth and this year was no different. I was very very impressed with the team from tesa tape and their product.  They will be showing at GlassBuild for the first time this fall and I think they will be a very popular destination for attendees to visit.

--  Random other thoughts… I blew it by not bringing my running gear- the temps were perfect and so many places to run.  I downloaded the app and took “Uber” everywhere.  The semi controversial car sharing service was a godsend for me.  I know that those in the cab and transport industry hate them, but as a pure consumer, in an event like this where getting around is such a pain- it was the MVP of my time there. 

--  Last this week; the World Cup of Soccer surely had our country enthused.  My wondering is what happens in 4 years when the games are in Russia and the times of games aren’t as convenient to watch live?  Still it’s been a fun tourney with still some great games to go.

LINKS of the WEEK

--  Homer Simpson designed a car in an episode in 1991.. and was ahead of his time!

--  How the World Cup is helping to drive traffic for newspapers and others.

--  Simply crazy story about a person who keeps winning lotteries. 

VIDEO of the WEEK

Ok I have 4 dogs… and not one of them could ever, ever, ever do this.  Riding a motorcycle…. Insane.