Volume 38, Issue 7, July 2003


Like a Hurricane
    Impact-Resistance Sweeps Through the Glass Industry
by Max Perilstein

Each and every day, the hottest fads are pounded into our being constantly. Whether itís American Idol, the Rubix Cube, Cabbage Patch Dolls or Tickle Me Elmo, thereís always something the mainstream is just in love with. Right now in the glass and glazing industry the hottest thing is hurricane-impact material. But these products are not just a passing fancy; they are crucial and will be a part of our landscape for a very long time.

Just read USGlass and youíll see the various ads for the impact products. Hurry up and order your ProtekStormFrontResistorStormMaxHurricaneGoaway products now. The next thing you know, Burger King will be coming out with hurricane-impact French fries

Big Business
In all seriousness, the hurricane-impact business is big for a good reason. No one wants to build a structure and then worry throughout the three- to four-month hurricane season every year. While the big storms are somewhat rare, when they hit the damage they cause is beyond belief.

The need for hurricane material rose after Hurricane Alicia hit Texas in 1983. 
Now, before I continue, I would be doing the millions of USGlass readers a disservice if I did not comment on the naming of hurricanes. You know my feeling on the importance of a good name. Each Atlantic-born hurricane gets a name. They are decided years in advance and allow this evil force to somehow be personalized. People in Florida still talk about Andrew like he was an unruly neighbor. Anyway, I researched the names for 2003 and here are some, along with my corresponding comments:

Bill: Wow, I guess the name William is too formal for a hurricane.

Fabian: I wonder how much long-lost singing star Fabian paid to have a hurricane named after him.

Larry: How can you name a hurricane Larry when you have classic hurricane Ls like Lyle and Leon?

Odette: Iíve never known anyone named Odette. Now that would be intrusiveóbeing crushed by a hurricane named Odette.

Peter and then Rose: Being a baseball fan, it would be bizarre to get hit by back-to-back hurricanes named after one of the most legendary baseball players ever.

Sam: Amazingly, Solexia was their second choice.

The list always ends at W, leading me to believe that the fine folks who name hurricanes have retired the name Zachary for the Zs, knowing how much damage he does to our house daily.

Up with the Codes
Now, back to the serious topic at hand. Everyone, it seems, is onboard because the building code changes have been swift and enforced. Most people outside the hurricane zones of the Southeast and Gulf states really have no idea how the lives of fabricators and glaziers have changed because of the codes. While the movement to improve building material began in 1983, it didnít take until Miami-Dade (then Metro Dade) implemented new rules. Andrew had blown through the previous year, and with the damage staggering (estimated at $26.5 billion worth), there was no stopping the improvements needed. Miami led the way with stringent testing and a notice-of-approval plan that made sure fly-by-night companies could not just come in, supply and go away. With that, it forced the great minds in our industry to change how they do things. Glass and metal had to be tested togetheróas a complete systemóthus ensuring a proper synergy if a major weather event struck. 

Now, I can get into the nitty-gritty of the codes, but I am closer to looking like Tom Cruise than I am an engineer. So I wonít go any further. I just wanted to explain to the readers why their beloved magazine has been over run with hurricane-impact ads.

The hurricane business is so big that it now has its own organizations, the International Hurricane Protection Association. And when it comes to names, the head of that group is aptly named Frank Storms. Now, thatís a perfect name for the situation, wouldnít you think? In any case, for more detailed information on hurricane codes and the material needed, just flip through this magazine. 


Max Perilstein Max Perilstein serves as director of marketing for Arch Aluminum and Glass. His column appears bimonthly.



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