Volume 39,  Issue 12,  December 2004


Harmon Inc. Enters Definitive Agreement to Purchase AWallS
Specialty glazing contractor Harmon Inc., a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Apogee Enterprises Inc., has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase the assets of Architectural Wall Solutions Inc. (AWallS). AWallS is one of the largest commercial glass installation businesses in the United States, based in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, Ill. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

According to a Harmon news release, the acquisition is expected to add approximately $25 million in annual revenue to its operation. The purchase will include AWallS’ backlog of business, which is primarily in the Chicago and Seattle markets where the company has operations. 

Harmon announced that it intends to hire the AWallS staff, including two AWallS executives, Dennis Pilkinton and Tom Niepokoj, as well as other operations, sales and project management personnel. Pilkinton will join Harmon’s Jim Mroz as vice president of operations, while Niepokoj will fill the position of vice president for new construction sales. 

“This acquisition will enable Harmon to reach more customers in more locations, further strengthen our management team and further enhance our operations,” said Chuck Mowrey, president of Harmon. “It clearly demonstrates the value Apogee places on Harmon and reflects a continued commitment to our company, our people and our customers.”

Russell Huffer, Apogee chairman and chief executive officer, agreed. 

“The purchase of AWallS brings a strong organization that augments the strengths within Harmon,” Huffer said. “We will fill some critical organization needs with key AWallS executives who will assist with our growth strategies and our ongoing efforts to improve the predictability and profitability of Harmon. In addition, we will gain glass installation market share as we add to our presence in the Midwest and enter the Northwest market.”

Both Pilkinton and Niepokoj are former employees of Harmon and left to start AWallS a few years ago. 

“Basically, AWallS was taking all the business in Chicago and Harmon wanted it back,” said one insider who preferred not to be identified.

Expanded Manual of Practice Released
The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), based in Alexandria, Va., and McGraw-Hill Construction, part of the New York-based McGraw-Hill Companies, have announced the release of The Project Resource Manual-CSI Manual of Practice (PRM). PRM is an expanded edition of the U.S. commercial construction industry’s guide for developing building specifications and using construction documents to aid in on-time and within budget project delivery and efficient facility management. 

According to a joint press release, the guide demonstrates that planning, design, procurement, construction, facility use, operation and maintenance are mutually dependent activities. Using CSI’s standardized methods, formats and guidelines, the PRM documentation is intended to facilitate design, construction and facility management by fostering communication among all project participants. 
Info+ www.csinet.org or call 800/689-2900.

Construction Finance Conference Seeks to Improve Surety Pricing 
Four hundred attendees of the annual construction finance conference, co-sponsored by the Construction Financial Management Association and Associated General Contractors of America, which took place October 28-29 in Las Vegas, discussed issues that included surety losses and tougher underwriting criteria, according to an article in Engineering News-Record (ENR). 

According to the Surety Association of America (SAA), there has been a 77.4-percent construction surety loss ratio since July, a 17.1-percent increase over last year. The article also cited Terry Lukow, executive vice president of construction services for St. Paul Travelers Bond, in Hartford, Conn., who said that the drive for market share has led to relaxed underwriting standards and excess capacity. Lukow explained that a strong economy has caused contractors to become overextended, while increased competition has kept surety pricing margins 28 percent below 1986 rates. 


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