Volume 39, Issue 10, October 2004


Increasing Imports of Chinese Glass Products Takes its Toll on North America

China’s increased manufacturing capabilities are having an increasing effect on the North American glass industry. In fact, according to statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, total glass imports exceeded exports for the first time last year. North American producers face the most competition from Chinese value-added products, such as laminated glass, mirror and furniture glass. And, according to Drew Mayberry, president of Lenoir Mirror in North Wilkesboro, N.C., the Chinese imports are affecting the industry both directly and indirectly. 

“As furniture manufacturers [in North America] have shifted production to China, the glass we would have installed in the past has been shifted to [the companies in] China that are manufacturing the furniture as well,” said Mayberry. “Furniture manufacturers that used to be our customers would build [their products] and then buy the mirror from us. Now they are buying everything completely assembled from Chinese producers. Furniture manufacturers have shifted their production offshore, taking the market away from us.”
This fact leads to another concern. When furniture that includes glass is imported into the United States the data is not broken out by components, so there is no way to track the data.

“When glass comes in to the United States on a curio cabinet it comes in as furniture, not glass, so we can’t track it,” said AFG’s Fred Wallin in an economic forecast during the Glass Association of North America’s recent fall conference in Nashville. He agreed with Mayberry, adding that the furniture industry has been greatly affected because of this shift in manufacturing. 

So what’s driving this manufacturing shift? According to Mayberry, cost. 

“Whether it’s labor … or the fact that they [the Chinese] provide no benefits, no one knows for sure, but what we have going for us is time.” He explained that in China there are still logistics of five to seven weeks. “Markets that are good for us are those that are more custom and require quick turnover,” said Mayberry.

As far as the future of China’s manufacturing presence goes, it, too, is expected to continue increasing. A study by The Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland-based industrial market research firm, reported that construction expenditures in China will likely increase 11.2 percent annually through 2008, reaching approximately $454 billion at current official exchange rates. In real (inflation adjusted) terms, spending will grow at a 7.8-percent annual rate. 

Although the group’s study says growth in Chinese construction demand will slow somewhat compared to the 1998-2003 pace, China is expected to continue to outperform other major national construction markets through 2008. In terms of glass specifically, the 40-percent float glass capacity China has today is expected to increase to 50 percent by 2010. 

ICC Denies Appeal from Wired Glass Manufacturers
On September 13 the appeals board of the International Code Council (ICC) heard and denied an appeal filed on behalf of wired glass manufacturers, which would have reversed a decision from last May that limits the use of wired glass in all building structures in areas subject to human impact.

The appeal filed by the wired glass manufacturers alleged that Greg Able of Advocates for Safe Glass (AFSG) misrepresented himself as a building code official by wearing a green badge during the ICC code hearings that took place last May. However, the appeals board said there was no evidence that Abel's badge was obtained under false pretenses, and said the badge did not affect the vote. 

Wired glass manufacturers also alleged that the vote was in violation of the ICC's code development process rules, as the proposed change was not supported by technical data. However, the appeals board said the data presented during the hearing did, in fact, fulfill the proponents requirements to justify the change.

The denial of the appeal lets stand the vote from the ICC code hearings, limiting the use of wired glass in all building structures in areas subject to human impact.

Set Sail on USGlass Magazine’s First Alaska Management Cruise 
June 4-11, 2005, USGlass magazine and its sister publications will 
embark on the first ever Industry Management Cruise to Alaska. Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas® Cruise will feature educational seminars and industry social networking opportunities.

The cruise will depart on June 4 from Vancouver, British Columbia, and stop in the ports of Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, Alaska, as well as Hubbard Glacier. Between ports there will be three days of hard-hitting sessions geared for those managing the industry. 
A tour of an Alaskan distributor will also be a part of the event as well as extensive social events and gatherings for meeting old and new colleagues. 

“We are pleased to be able to offer such an event to those wishing to enhance their level of management expertise and to add to the betterment of their industries,” stated USGlass publisher Deb Levy. “It will give attendees a great opportunity for interaction—combined with some fun and great scenery.”

The cruise ship is comprised of 12 decks complete with a casino, rock-climbing wall, solarium, fitness center, basketball/volleyball courts, multiple restaurants, lounges and clubs to meet any attendee’s needs during the eight day/seven night event. Staterooms start as low as $849 per person.

Info+ www.glass.com/cruise.php or call Holly Biller at 540/720-5584 ext. 123. 


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