Volume 33, Number 3, March 1998


Industry News

Odor Causes Temporary Shutdown of LYNX Processing Center; 17 Hospitalized

A foul odor coming from a malfunctioning air conditioner forced the shut down of LYNX Services From PPG in Fort Myers, FL, for several hours in February, sending 17 employees to the hospital, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.

The local newspaper reported that approximately 200 LYNX employees were evacuated from the 50,000-square-foot building around noon on February 19, returning to work at 2:30 p.m. when air-conditioner repairmen found burned-out fuses in the company’s heating-ventilation system. Employees first noticed the odor an hour before the evacuation.

"It smelled like a chemical substance coming from the walls," Helen Carney, a LYNX employee, told the News-Press.

According to Chris Umble, the company’s national sales manager, LYNX and State Farm Insurance Co., for whom LYNX handles claims in Fort Myers, placed incoming calls into a voice answering system during the shutdown. "We knew it would be for a brief time, and our priority was to evacuate people who work in the office until things were found to be safe," said Umble.

The telephone call center, which operates 24 hours a day, has been at the location for six months.


Use of Glass to Protect the Stars & Stripes Announced and Retracted

The excitement generated in the glass industry by an announcement of "the largest piece of glass ever made" by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and the chair of a charitable foundation was quickly dashed when the information was later declared "inaccurate."

According to a source at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, a barrier has not yet been chosen to protect the Star-Spangled Banner when it is restored as part of the Millennium Project. This contradicts information presented at a February press conference with the Pew Charitable Trusts’ president and CEO, Rebecca Rimel, and Hillary Rodham Clinton. At the conference, Rimel stated that the 30- by 42-foot flag would be protected by the "largest piece of glass that has ever been made." When contacted by USGlass magazine, however, the Smithsonian said the flag will not be laid flat for restoration until September, and the final decision on the type of material to be used as protection will be made at a later date, and sources say, glass might not be chosen at all.

The Millennium Project consists of partnerships for the restoration and preservation of American icons such as the flag, the subject of Francis Scott Key’s patriotic anthem. The White House itself had no comment. —LS

Apogee Takes Charge of $35 Million for Exiting European Operations

Apogee Enterprises, Inc. announced that it would take an after-tax charge ranging from $35 million to $39 million, or $1.22 per share to $1.36 per share, for its fourth quarter ending February 28. The cash impact of this action was expected to result in expenditures in the range of $12 million to $16 million. The charge primarily relates to the new construction unit of the company’s Building Products and Services segment, and provides amounts for exiting all European curtainwall and related operations.

"By calendar year-end 1998, we currently expect to have exited both our Asian and European curtainwall operations," said Russell Huffer, president and CEO of Apogee. "After this exit, Apogee’s only continuing curtainwall operations will be in the United States."

Glass Industry Responds to Florida Tornados

The rash of tornados that swept through Central Florida has created an incredible demand for residential glaziers in the area. "We are swamped with calls since the tornado," said a frantic employee of Continental Glass in Orlando, FL.

"We are at the point where we are not taking calls anymore," said Jackque Bowes of Harmon Glass in Orlando. "We are going to neighborhoods and just working down the road house by house."

However, in some neighborhoods there are no houses left to repair, which could keep glaziers in the area busy working on new houses indefinitely. "It’s going to be never-ending," says Bowes. "There are going to be many houses that have to be rebuilt."

Jim Jackson of Architectural Glass Systems in Orlando agrees that most of the work done in the area will be rebuilding projects. "I think the destruction was so great that many buildings will have to be completely rebuilt," he said. "There is not much room for replacement.

Pilkington Stocks Tumble as Rival Plans to Build in UK

UK-based Pilkington Glass Ltd. saw its shares tumble 17 to 131 pounds ($10.34 to $79.91 U.S.) in January following French rival Saint-Gobain’s announcement that it plans to build a major float glass line in Britain, according to a report in the London Times. Saint-Gobain, Europe’s biggest glass producer, sells flat glass in Britain but has supplied the market from France, Belgium and Germany. The $39.6 million plant is expected to begin production by the end of 1999.

Glass Shop Owner Sentenced

Jason Harte, the owner of Crystal Glass, a glass replacement company in Brooklyn, NY, was sentenced to five years in prison last month for breaking more than $150,000 worth of store windows to drum up business for himself, according to an Associated Press report. Harte admitted that in 1996 and 1997 he and his employees had used hammers, rocks and slingshots to break customers’ windows for which his company had contracts to replace as needed. They destroyed more than 20 plate glass windows and doors around Manhattan, sometimes breaking windows at the same store more than once.


Guardian To Expand Coating Capabilities

Auburn Hills, MI-based Guardian Industries plans to expand its coating capabilities to better service the growing North American market for Low-E glass products. A high-speed coater will be installed at the company’s float glass plant in Geneva, NY, now in construction and expected to begin production in May. The coating line is expected to add 50 jobs as the line reaches capacity, according to the company.

Sommer & Maca Wins Contracts in Moscow

Sommer & Maca Industries of Cicero, IL, has been contracted by the Defense Special Weapons Administration through an outside contractor to update two former military installations outside of Moscow. The company’s job will be to install two semi-automatic insulating glass product lines and to train people to operate the units.

According to Rene Bergero of Sommer & Maca, the goal of the project is twofold: to provide employment opportunities for those people who in the past had used their experience to build weapons and to provide components for needed housing. The company plans to begin the project in early summer. —LS

Proposed Cardinal Plant Raises Pollution Protests

Environmentalists in Winchester, VA, are fighting Cardinal IG’s plan to build a glass-making plant there, contending that emissions from the factory would harm the ecosystem of the Shenandoah National Park, just 17 miles away. Despite the 250 jobs the Minnetonka, MN-based company’s $75 million plant would provide, opponents fear the plant will increase acid rain and smog at the vast national park.

"We’ve been doing modeling based on expected emissions and have submitted them to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for evaluation," said Cardinal CFO Jeff Peterson. "Our expectation is that we will be building in Winchester."

The company says it will learn if the emissions modeling passes state requirements within a few months.

American Architectural Makes Acquisitions

American Architectural Products of Boardman, OH, has completed a number of acquisitions, including the purchase of Bennings Pan-Am of Miami, FL. Other entities purchased by the company in recent months include American Glassmith of Columbus, OH; Danvid Company of Dallas, TX; and Modern Window of Detroit, MI.

PPG To Close Plant, Restructure Glass Operations

As part of restructuring of its glass operations, PPG Industries Inc. of Pittsburgh, PA, has announced the closure of a plant in Georgia. The company plans to close its plant in Perry, GA, as well as disposing of the equity interests in two Chinese float glass plants.

PPG has taken pretax charges of $102 million against fourth-quarter results due to the restructuring, according to a Reuters report. The charges include $65 million for closure of the Georgia plant and $37 million for disposal of equity interests in the Chinese float glass plants.



AGR Safety Standards Committee Formed

Professionals from all segments of the auto glass replacement (AGR) industry have formed a committee to develop nationally recognized standards for the installation of aftermarket auto glass (See USGlass, January 1998, page 4).

In its second meeting, held January 13-14, the group voted to form the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards Committee (AGRSS) to develop the standards, and to meet its mission of "establishing automotive glass replacement consumer safety standards through total industry partnership." The group also voted to proceed under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Model Procedures for Accredited Committees.



El Nino Forces Glass Shop Adjustments

The rain and up-to-60-mph winds effected by El Nino in recent months have increased demand for glass shops to fix leaks and broken glass in California.

Todd Zaun of the contract glazing company, Zaun Glass in Burbank, CA, has seen a big increase in residential and commercial glass work. "Large storms come in off the ocean with a lot of wind to add many broken windows, and also causing leaks that do not normally occur," he explained

Auto glass shops are also seeing increased demand. "We have picked up some business because of leaky windshields from poor installations," said Nancy Buckley of Pacific Auto Glass in Paso Robles, CA.

Duane Zier, owner of Bear Creek Glass, a commercial and residential maintenance and repair shop in Stockton, CA, has seen more business due to broken glass caused by storms. "Our after-hours work has increased due to things like holes in windows and wind blowing shingles through windows," he said.

While El Nino may have brought increased work for the glass industry, it has also increased the number of headaches. "It hinders us because we can’t go out to someone’s house to do installations. This means our customers have to come to us," said Buckley.

Zier has also faced problems because of harsh weather. "We are not as productive," he said. "It affects scheduling because you have to dodge between storms to do work."—LS



ASA, AGC, ASC Approve Joint Guidelines

The American Subcontractors Association (ASA), the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), and the Associated Specialty Contractors (ASC) have approved two new joint guidelines. The new guidelines cover project inspections and environmental responsibility. Guidelines for a Successful Construction Project and Guideline on Unforeseen Environmental Problems in Construction are available through the ASA Press.



Asahi Glass, Mitsubishi Admit Payoffs

Officials of Asahi Glass Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., both of Japan, have admitted making payoffs to a "sokaiya" corporate extortionist arrested earlier on suspicion of receiving money from two other Mitsubishi group companies, police said. They suspect Mitsubishi Motors and Asahi of paying 15 million yen each to Taichiro Otake, 55, over three years, according to news reports. The money was paid in the form of advertisement fees in exchange for the sokaiya’s promise not to disrupt their annual shareholders’ meetings. The case has been sent to prosecutors.


Copyright 1998 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.