Volume 39, Issue 3, March  2004


Coming Clean, Part II

It’s probably no secret that we journalistic types don’t particularly mind seeing a healthy debate about controversial issues in print. And we here at USGlass feel it’s our role to bring those items to light for vigorous discussion in our pages. 

So I was looking forward to hearing arguments on both sides from our readers after my column about “self-cleaning” glass was published. (See Coming Clean, January 2004 USGlass, page 4.) Well, I heard from our readers alright. I heard from hundreds of you. But what I didn’t hear was any controversy or pro-and-con discussion at all. For the first and only time in my career that I can remember, everyone from whom I heard agreed with my comments.

I even got some cryptic voice mail messages such as “Deb, read your editorial. You’re right.” Click. “Amen, amen, amen on the self-cleaning glass story,” said another. Click.

“I read your editorial with interest,” wrote Wayne Gorell of Gorell Enterprises. “Well said, and what most of us have been telling the glass companies since they tried to introduce this product. Besides the name, the big problem is the price. Tough to justify to the consumer that something that might help them in maintenance, but not a lot, costs as much as low-E glass that will save them money ...”

“BRAVO! You are right on point with your editorial,” said Tony Hobart, group vice president of Guardian, a company with more than a passing interest in the subject. “Since the original announcement of the ‘self-clean’ product in 2001, I have continually raised the concern to both the trade and internally at Guardian, that this was a gross overstatement that would ultimately ruin a great opportunity. At Guardian, we have always referred to it as ‘low-maintenance’ or ‘easy clean.’ It is absolutely absurd that you never have to clean your windows, yet the perception the customer has will be just that if the industry continues to call it ‘self clean.’

“I have heard statements from window customers in many locations around that country that this is a class-action suit waiting to happen,” he continued. “Thank you for calling us (the industry) out on this very important issue and, if we use our heads, we can salvage this great opportunity to add value to our glass products.”

By whatever name you call it, this technology is just the kind of innovative, value-added glass our industry needs in the future. I hope the manufacturers involved revisit the nomenclature issue. We here at USGlass are going to refer to the category for the time being as “low-maintenance” or low-M glass. This is in keeping with our style for low-emissivity (low-E) or low-iron (low-I) glass. We will revisit the issue if another name starts to stick or if the description becomes associated with only one manufacturer.

Everyone wants value-added glass products to grow, and it would be a shame if this one didn’t because of what’s in a name.

Happy Spring!



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