Volume 36, Issue 7, July 2001

Dear USG

Revisiting Cobbledick-Kibbe

Dear USG, 
In reference to Dez Farnady’s column “Cobbledick-Kibbe and the PM,” (see April 2001 USGlass, page 9) yes, Cobbledick-Kibbe (C-K) Glass Co. was indeed a golden goose. Having worked there as a young man as one of their golden boys, I can say that the company’s training and advancement was superior in all aspects. 

The concept of the project manager was used by C-K, but the person that comes to mind was Hugh “Willie” Williams, who was called an expeditor. Their purchasing manager, George Whaley, made the major purchases. The term project manager and its most current application was adopted by several of us in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I started utilizing the project manager title and its greater responsibility after learning that several generals were working under the idea that a person or group of persons would buy out and manage the job start to finish, and would serve as a prod and support of the field leaders. 
The credit for C-K’s success lies in operating a teamwork concept, which meant getting the material to the site on time and at a cost that was a budgeted and accurate project cost reporting. In other words don’t blame the other guy and tell it like it is, for good or for bad, and then learn from your experience. This way the estimators could concentrate on their estimates and make corrections in their standards. The project manager would know when, where and why he needed certain materials or accessories. Finally, the field people would install the product under a lead man who was totally knowledgeable of the project prior to manning up for the job. 

Cobbledick also did not sell the job just to have another monument. When they built it, it was credible and profitable. This should be the goal of all. 

As I mentioned, Cobbledick was great at advancing employees and was willing to innovate and help change the glass industry for the better. In 1966 at age 28 I was the plant manager of C-K’s wholesale distribution. As soon as I took on that responsibility, I was told to “gut the warehouse and get rid of all the old pieces of relic that had been there since your grandmother was alive and young.” We were going to revolutionize the glass cutting industry. What we did was build steel tube bases and padded steel vertical posts that were inserted inside the base and started the “stoce” operation. We were going to order glass at one size and do the cutting ourselves.

Up to this time ¼-inch glass was sold in a range case, which meant the glass case contained about 1,000 square feet and consisted of random sizes: 50-60, 60-70, 70-80 or 80-90 inches in width and the length would be either 90-100, 100-110, 110-120 or 120-130. So if you wanted a case of glass you might get a 60-70 by 110-120. The downside was you might not be able to use a quarter of the case due to cutting restrictions. This meant you bought a larger size and suffered the cutting loss. As I recall the single case cost about 70 cents or 75 cents a square foot, and by the time you figured cutting and loss, your costs all of a sudden were up about 65 percent. We also knew that one glass plant in California had a lehr room full of glass and two seven-man teams doing the selective cutting and packaging. We decided that we could take the cutting and packaging away from that company and sell our customers the size they required and still keep the price at a level to which they were accustomed.

In those days, glass was only sold and shipped by railcar at 100,000-pound loads. This equals about 28 to 30 1,000-square-foot cases. We ordered the first load, and special instructions were issued to all parties as to storing and shipping. One Monday morning, I raced to the plant and our warehouse crew immediately peeled back the tarps from the lid of the gondola car and, low and behold, there stood 30,000 square feet of cullet. Well, Western Pacific Railway didn’t like forking out 15 big ones, but they had written acknowledgement not to hump the car. So we studied the mess and reordered another carload from the glass plant with instructions of better bracing and shipping risk. The second load arrived, and this time we only lost a third of the shipment. However, the railroad was not going to buy into having to pay for each shipment that we ordered. The problem was we had a commitment to fill our warehouse with all these uncuts and no way to get it to our warehouse. So I took a gamble and called a guy I knew who had done some heavy hauling for us and we loaded a couple of our A-frames on to his low-boy trailer and sent him over to the plant. When he arrived guess what hit the fan—I was told that they couldn’t ship unless they could move it in 100,000-pound increments. I then asked their plant manager where he could find me a means to transport this stoce outside of the railcar. He recognized that we had no other alternative and he would ship the 40,000-pound trailer load if I would pick up the remaining 60,000 pounds ASAP. I was not to tell anyone for fear that other distributors would get wind of this activity and he might be fired. 

As you know there are no secrets in our business, and no, he did not get fired. The stoce was born and the 40,000-pound glass shipping increment became an everyday sale by the manufacturers.

Norm Herd
Northwestern Glass Inc.
Redmond, Wash.

A Family Affair

Dear USG, 
This morning I came into the office and I saw Max Perilsteins’s article in the May issue (see May 2001 USGlass, page 16) sitting on my desk. I must tell you how much I enjoyed it. Max really did a great job with his article and I only wish he would stick to writing and get out of the glass business.

Seriously, it was a marvelous piece, and I would just like to add one more anecdote that Arthur didn’t tell him. When he came to work that Monday morning, I told him I had only one question for him, “How long do you intend to stay?” His answer was, “As long as it is fun.” Well, here we are 26 years later and I certainly hope it has been fun for him. It has been marvelous for me.

Ed Berkowitz
JE Berkowitz LP
Westville, N.J.
P.S. It is a rare privilege for a father to be able to work with a marvelous son like Arthur. 

Hockey Fans Unite

Dear USG,
I really enjoyed publisher Debra Levy’s message in June’s “Issue at Hand” column (see June 2001 USGlass, page 4). It brought back many memories, and I must share one of them. I am from New Jersey (a resident of 41 years), and because we lived in “South Jersey” our last 14 years, 12 miles outside of Philadelphia, we (particularly my kids) are die-hard Philadelphia Flyers fans. On the other hand, a very good friend of mine remained a New York Rangers fan to the core, even though his family lived in a neighboring town. When he wasn’t entertaining a client he would invite me to a Rangers game. (I can still hear the famous chant: ‘Let’s go Rain Giz!’) Although his seats weren’t that far from the beams that traverse the mighty Madison SquareGarden, they were in the official cheering section, which offered its own level of entertainment. 

On one occasion when my friend and I could not make the game, I offered the tickets to a young writer I knew. He and his wife, who were not big city people and were very prim and proper, welcomed the adventure. I warned them about the two girls who would be sitting behind them; not only in terms of their voices, but of the words they would be shouting all night. 

The next morning, I couldn’t wait to get his reaction. “Much to my surprise,” he said, “my wife was able to handle the foul language until there was a bad call. In this booming voice, one of the girls behind us yelled, ‘Hey Ref! You Mother @#$%&*!’ The entire section cheered and my wife slid off the seat.” I believe that was the last time they saw a Rangers game.

Again, my compliments—that column enabled me to take a trip down memory lane and drag you along.

Alan Goldberg
JASMN Communications
Highland Park, Ill. 


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