Volume 35, Number 10, October 2000



                            latest news developments

Oldcastle Glass Group Purchases Hoffer’s Inc.’s Operating Assets

The Plano, Texas-based Oldcastle Glass Group has purchased the operating assets of the Wausau, Wis.-based Hoffer’s Inc., along with its Glasmont and Dykstra divisions. After spending several months working to acquire Hoffer’s, Ted Hathaway, chief executive officer of Oldcastle, says he is excited about the acquisition. “I think they have a very strong and seasoned management team,” Hathaway said. “They’ve built a very strong business both in commercial and residential markets.”

Earlier this year, Hoffer’s sold its auto glass segment to Iowa Glass of City Rapids, Iowa (see related story in September USG). Hoffer’s has eight glass fabrication operations in five states and provides an array of glass products and services, according to the company. Oldcastle, a division of CRH plc, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, says it currently has more than 3,500 employees and 46 operating facilities.


Solutia Submits
Post-Trial Motion

Solutia Inc. has filed a post-trial motion to amend a September 14 ruling in its case against Crown Operations International Ltd. of Sun Prairie, Wis. According to the ruling by Judge John C. Shabaz in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Crown breached its agreement to use only Solutia’s Saflex plastic interlayer in processing encapsulates for solar control in laminated glass. However, while the ruling found Crown guilty of breaching the agreement, it offered no solution to the problem for Solutia, according to the St. Louis-based company.

Originally, Crown made eight charges against Solutia in the case. The judge dismissed Crown’s five claims that Solutia had unlawful patents on the solar control plastic interlayer used in laminated glass in two rulings prior to this one. Later, two of Crown’s other claims were dismissed completely, according to Solutia. Finally, on Crown’s final claim, Crown received only a partial reprieve. Victoria Holt, vice president and general manager of Solutia’s Saflex, is pleased with the earlier decision of the court, but hopes this part of the case fares well also. “We’re gratified that the court has dismissed seven of the eight claims made by Crown,” she said. “We believe, however, that our contract requires Crown to use only Solutia’s Saflex plastic interlayer when it manufactures these products. We’ve asked the court to enter a judgment requiring Crown to honor its contractual commitment.”

However, despite Solutia’s dissatisfaction with the previous trial, Crown’s attorney, Joe Leone, said his client is pleased with the results of the case. “We have no animosity against Solutia. We still think they make the best stuff. We’re just not too pleased with their business practices,” Leon said.


Massive Window Replacement
Set for CNA Plaza

A comprehensive plan to replace 2,900 windows of Chicago’s CNA Plaza, South Tower, with heat-strengthened laminated glass, which is designed to resist cracking and avoid fallout, is currently underway. Windows awaiting replacement have been reinforced with 3M’s anchored-film restraint system that is made to keep glass from falling out if it happens to crack.

“This comprehensive plan meets the shared commitment on the part of CNA and the City of Chicago to ensure public safety,” said Bernard Hengesbaugh, CNA chairman and CEO. “The film system we have already installed provides the strongest protection against glass fallout while we systematically replace our windows with the best technology available.”

The replacement comes after a piece of glass fell from the building in October 1999 and killed Ana Flores of Chicago. After an 11-month investigation of the fallout, engineering firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates (WJE) determined that the glass used in CNA’s South Tower is subjected to thermal stress which can cause windows to crack under certain light and temperature conditions. Experts beleive the heat strenghtened laminated glass being used in the replacement to be “the best glass technology in existence to address thermal stress.” In addition, the glass also contains a built-in safety film to prevent glass fallout, and on the four floors with computer equipment requiring special insulation, the heat-strengthened insulated glass units have been armed with 3M’s anchored film restraint system. (See related stories the February 2000, July 2000 and October 1999 issues of USG.)


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