Volume 41, Issue 8 - August 2006

Dear USG

The Birth of the 40,000-Pound Shipment

Dear USG,

I am responding to Dez Farnady’s article, “How to Make a Million Bucks” (see the June 2006 issue of USGlass, page 18). He is right in showing that the price of our products has not increased in many years. Perhaps there are just too many temperers or perhaps another entrepreneur will create a niche market. 

The evolution of the tempering market is interesting. Forty years ago, I was a plant manager for Cobbledick-Kibbe Glass Co. in Oakland, Calif., a very large glass distributor and installer. Prior to 1966, tempered glass in the country, for the most part, was purchased from PPG or LOF from their Ford City, Pa., or Rossford, Ohio, plants. After ordering the glass it took six weeks, plus transit time, for a primary distributor to receive it. The price for quarter-inch, clear glass was $3.50 per square foot plus boxing and freight. On the West Coast, the only temperer was Coyne Industries in Oxnard, Calif. Coyne had a furnace that could temper 32- by 64-inch clear glass that was 3/16- or ¼-inch thick. It, too, took six weeks for delivery. Agalite Bronson was just firing up its furnace that it would use to make shower door glass. They eventually sold it to Hartung Glass in Seattle.

Then, the infamous Tony Dunstan entered my life. Tony was one of the founders of Related Product Sales (RPS) a very successful manufacturers rep. He convinced me that Rubin Glass and Mirror in Houston could ship in two weeks for a lot less money ($2.40) and eventually boxing cost was eliminated. They did ship in two weeks and we did pay a cheaper price. A number of tempering companies later opened in the West, including Tufflex. That’s where I met Farnady, who had come from San Jose Steel.

Prior to most of these tempering expansions, while I was still at Cobbledick, I instituted the first application of the “stoce” program with LOF. This helped to reduce the price of glass dramatically. Prior to that, glass was not sold to the distributors and, in turn, to the glass dealer, in an uncut form. At that time, glass was shipped in 100,000-pound gondolas or boxed rail cars and in 1,000-square-foot crates or 800/1600 feet for 3/16-inch thicknesses and you couldn’t mix them in a shipment. We started buying and stocking large 130- by 144-foot stock sheets (large for the time) to be cut to size for the glass dealer and our own contract offices. We also arranged to have LOF brace the exposed glass properly for our rail cars. Our first two shipments were total cullet trash and we had a commitment to accept one million square feet and a rail company declining to handle anymore shipments. I called a trucker I knew and had him take his low-boy trailer and mounted steel A-frames on his bed to the factory in Lathrop, Calif. The plant superintendent there jumped on my case because this was not his company’s unit of sale—40,000 pounds versus 100,000. I told him “Hey, you’ve got a lot of glass backing up in your lehr room and I know of no other way to take it off your hands.” He said, “Don’t tell anyone, I might get fired.” I didn’t tell, but it didn’t take very long for others to follow. 

This was the beginnings of the typical 40,000-pound truck shipment that all distributors and fabricators use today. Thus, the introduction of companies that were not required to buy 100,000 pounds of glass without paying a penalty; they now had the ability to open their tempering company without massive inventory costs. 

On Another Note …

In addition, I would like to respond to Wayne Gorrell’s letter, also in the June issue (page 8). Don’t be so harsh! Some within the industry work under their own disciplines, and Farnady’s is manufacturing, not reglazing of a residence or replacement of windows. You and I might have experienced this application and think nothing of it. He, like every other guy I know in this industry, is always looking to save a buck and that’s how he approached his home situation. I’m also going to assume that you have never been to the San Francisco Bay area where the cost of living is one of the highest—if not the highest—regions in the country. And, yes, a house full of windows can cost you 10 to 15 big ones. 

Just remember when you send your crew there, you give them a wad-full of money for per diem, and be sure and charge it off to the job.

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.