Volume 43, Issue 11 - November 2008

News Now

Viracon Layoffs in Statesboro Affect 164 Employees

Viracon in Statesboro, Ga., laid off 164 employees in early October as a result of the current economic conditions that have affected much of the construction market.

Bob Randall, vice president of operations in Statesboro, said that the workers who lost their jobs were offered severance packages and other resources. 

Viracon officials say there are no plans for layoffs at either of Viracon’s locations in Minnesota and Utah.

“Those facilities remain at capacity as we continually work to balance production volumes with demand,” Christine Shaffer, director of marketing, told USGlass.

Viracon, like many businesses, has been impacted by the current economic downturn. 

The September 17 second-quarter earning statement from Viracon parent company Apogee Enterprises stated that backlog had declined compared to the first quarter, due to “slowing bid to award timing, cancellation of two casino projects and increasing competitive pressures in commercial construction markets.” Architectural segment backlog was $446.7 million, compared to $405.4 million in the prior-year period and $491.0 million at the end of the first quarter.

The statement also noted that with the architectural glass business running at full capacity during the quarter, “labor costs were higher than planned to overcome production bottlenecks while maintaining a focus on delivering complete, high-quality product orders on-time to customers.”

PPG Announces Float Plant Closures and Upgrades 

With demand declining for automotive and residential window glass, PPG Industries has announced it is realigning its performance glazings business. The company said it will cease production at its Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada, glass manufacturing facility in the first quarter 2009. Shipping and distribution of products there will continue until inventory is depleted. The company also said it would idle one float glass line at its Mt. Zion, Ill., glass plant in the second quarter next year but will invest $100 million in its remaining glass-making facilities.

The plant and unit closures coincide with the reopening of rebuilt, higher-throughput lines at PPG glass plants in Carlisle, Pa., and Wichita Falls, Texas. PPG’s July 8 sale of its automotive glass and services business to an affiliate of funds managed by the private equity firm of Kohlberg & Company LLC was also a factor in the plant closure decision.

“This realignment will enable us to adapt to the changing demands of the industry,” says Mark Orcutt, PPG vice president of performance glazings. “The changes are part of PPG’s transformation of its performance glazing business and will help to improve our focus on profitable market segments and value-added products.”

Orcutt specifically cites specialized glass for the emerging solar market and energy-efficient glass to satisfy evolving building codes fueled by the green building movement, which is driving the commercial construction market. The realignment of profitable business segments, he added, will strengthen PPG’s glass operations and enhance the company’s ability to meet the needs of customers who seek coated and high-performance glass products.

“PPG invests very heavily in the development of new products and technologies,” Orcutt says, “so it’s important that we leverage this in markets that value and reward scientific advance.”

As part of the business transformation, the company is investing $100 million in various projects to improve productivity at its remaining glass facilities. According to Orcutt, “In addition to the higher throughput lines coming on-stream in 2009, we’ve identified several opportunities to improve efficiency and expand operations at our other glass plants.” The $100 million capital investment program, which includes both equipment and process upgrades, is expected to be complete by the fourth quarter 2009.

Arch Aluminum Adds Nashville-Area Location

Tamarac, Fla.-based Arch Aluminum and Glass Co. Inc. has signed a lease for a 55,000-square-foot manufacturing center in Madison, Tenn. The facility will feature new tempering, insulating and fabrication equipment.

“We’ve been servicing the Nashville and Central/Western Tennessee market for years from our other locations, now this facility will be able to raise that service to an entirely new level,” says Leon Silverstein, president and chief executive officer. “We are now actively looking for plant personnel and are excited about the growth potential in that region”

The new Nashville-area facility is due to be in full production by the end of the year, and will employ between 45 and 65 people.


The article titled New Heights in the August 2008 issue should have read that the IGMAC Certification Program will continue to test to the CGSB12.8 standard until such time as the volatile fog test temperature has been raised to the same level as the CGSB 12.8 standard. The IGMA Certification Program tests to the ASTM E 2190 and it is this program that is harmonizing with the IGCC Certification Program, tentatively effective January 1, 2009.  

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