Volume 42, Issue 8 - August 2007

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Oldcastle Glass Inc. Buys the Vistawall Group 
in $190 Million Transaction
BlueScope Steel Ltd. announced its sale of The Vistawall Group to Oldcastle Glass® Inc., an architectural and commercial glazing company based in Santa Monica, Calif. The $190 million sale closed on June 29. 

With the purchase of Vistawall, Oldcastle Glass is now the largest manufacturer of architectural glass and aluminum glazing systems in North America. 

“The Vistawall acquisition provides scale and a national footprint with sales in all 50 states, and is the cornerstone of our growth strategy to be the market leader in engineered products used to close the building envelope,” says Ted Hathaway, chief executive officer of Oldcastle Glass.

Lance Hockridge, president of BlueScope Steel’s North American divisions, says BlueScope is pleased with Vistawall’s performance but that “this was a portfolio decision, it’s about our options.” He adds, “This is a good move for Vistawall. We believe Oldcastle can take Vistawall to the next level.” 

“Oldcastle Glass is a unique strategic partner for Vistawall and we are delighted by this acquisition,” says Tom Harris, president of Vistawall. “We expect to dramatically improve our efficiencies and service levels through sharing of best practices between our locations. Oldcastle Glass has the financial resources to invest in our growth and they have shown strong commitment to providing a safe and exciting workplace for our employees.”

Harris will lead Oldcastle Glass’s engineered products division after the acquisition.

BlueScope bought Vistawall, its North American aluminum architectural products company, headquartered in Terrell, Texas, in April of 2004 when it acquired Butler Manufacturing Co. for $206 million. The acquisition included Butler’s divisions in North America and China and Vistawall’s businesses also in North America and China. According to information from BlueScope, it will continue to own and operate the Butler businesses along with Vistawall’s China companies. 

Competitors say they are looking forward to the change.

“I don’t think [the Vistawall sale] has a major impact on the industry, but only Oldcastle knows how they plan to work their strategic initiatives and how they plan to blend all of their companies,” says Doug Ellerbrock, vice president of United States Aluminum.

“The big get bigger and your supplier becomes your competitor,” adds Bob Price, director of sales at J.E. Berkowitz. “A lot of people are going to be out with these acquisitions—it becomes difficult for small companies to compete.”

“We welcome Oldcastle to the nationwide architectural aluminum market, with Arch being a company that has provided both glass and aluminum for almost 30 years,” says Leon Silverstein, president of Arch Aluminum & Glass. “We’re flattered that they are following our lead.” 

CMA Fee Structure Draws Debate During NFRC Meeting
The National Fenestration Rating Council’s summer meeting, held July 23-26 in Denver, was not without its share of debates, discussions and disagreements. The NFRC’s proposed Component Modeling Approach (CMA), which has been in the works for more than three years, was again the hot-ticket item. 

The CMA fee structure was a major discussion point. The proposed fees were announced earlier this summer and were met with opposition from some representatives of the commercial glazing industry who view the program as unnecessary. 

Marcia Falke, NFRC chairperson of the board, explained that the original fees were based on the start-up of initial costs, about $2 million, and on 10-percent market penetration. She said fees could be reduced through additional outside funding and through increased market penetration.

Greg Carney with the Glass Association of North America asked about the measures NFRC has taken to try and gain additional outside funding.

Jim Benney, NFRC executive director, said they had been in communication with utility companies in California [energy service providers] and were also working with the Department of Energy to see what type of funding is available. 

Carney also stressed how a program for certifying and labeling the energy performance for commercial glazing products used in high-rise buildings is not necessary since these buildings are already using high-performance glazing.

“If you want to target a market area of the industry I might suggest storefronts [and other low-rise construction] where energy-efficient products are not used,” Carney said. “There’s more opportunity there.”

No final decisions were made regarding the program. Insulating glass (IG) certification was also discussed. The day prior to the board meeting Margaret Webb, executive director of the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance, spoke out against a portion of the IG certification task group’s proposal for certification implementation that would require national accreditation of testing laboratories.

“If testing labs are required to be accredited to perform every single test protocol … it will probably double the cost of testing,” said Webb. “I’m concerned about the affect this will have on the smaller manufacturers that don’t already test because the increased cost will make it difficult for them to participate in the NFRC program [i.e. certifying and labeling].”

Webb said the testing laboratory approval programs currently in place have been accepted by the industry for decades and do not need to have additional requirements placed on them.

While some members opposed Webb’s position, as they were of the opinion that there is insufficient oversight of IG testing labs, the majority voted in favor of Webb’s amended proposal to not require national accreditation of testing labs.

The proposal was forwarded to the board for consideration. While there was a certain amount of debate at the board level regarding the equivalency of ASTM E 2190 and ASTM E774, as they are both referenced in the proposal, the board agreed to accept the report for review.

For a look back at the daily activities of the summer meeting visit www.usglassmag.com and click on Only Online.

The next NFRC meeting will take place November 5-8 in Tempe, Ariz.

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