Volume 45, Issue 2 - February 2010


CRL Expands in U.S. and Overseas
with Acquisition, New Facility

Los Angeles-based C.R. Laurence Co. Inc. has acquired Tajima Corp. USA. Tajima, also in Los Angeles, has been supplying design, engineering and manufacturing services to the architectural metals industry in the United States for more than 20 years.

“We are proud of the fact that all the employees of Tajima will be joining CRL as Tajima’s operations are consolidated with our existing Los Angeles architectural metals and manufacturing operations,” says Lloyd Talbert, president of CRL. “Yuval (Al) Eini, the president of Tajima will be joining CRL as director of sales and engineering in our architectural metals group. Al will join Armando Rodriguez, the CRL brand manager of architectural metals, in continuing the process of developing the market for these products. In addition to the current CRL and Tajima product offerings, there are many additional products and services planned for launch later this year.”

In addition to the acquisition of Tajima, CRL has completed an agreement with Pacific Door Closer Inc. to become the exclusive manufacturer and distributor of balanced doors developed by Wikk Industries (which Pacific Door Closer purchased in 2008). CRL will begin production and distribution of this line in the spring of 2010.

In addition to these acquisitions, the company also is expanding overseas with the opening of a new 36,000-square-foot facility in Ilsfeld, Germany. Formerly located in Bad Wimpfen, the new location brings the products and services closer to Stuttgart.

“This is an important segment of our European strategy,” says Donald E. Friese, chairperson and chief executive officer. “We want to offer our European customers the same wide range of products we currently provide North America and Australia. We also plan to present our ‘rapid customization’ process to the European market, providing customers with products built to their specifications, with lead times similar to ‘off-the-shelf’ products. As we move forward, we plan to focus a great deal on Europe as an opportunity for growth.”

The new facility will enable CRL to stock a much larger inventory of products for European customers, and also will feature new shipping equipment and computer systems.

Atrium Companies File for Voluntary Chapter 11
Dallas-based Atrium Cos. Inc., parent company of Atrium Windows and Doors and Champion Window Inc., and others, filed for Chapter 11 on January 20 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Likewise, its Canadian subsidiary initiated reorganization proceedings under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto.

Though Atrium and its subsidiaries have filed for bankruptcy, company officials announced at the time that the filing is part of an agreement they reached with more than two-thirds of their senior secured lenders to reduce its outstanding debt by more than $350 million, or more than 50 percent of its existing debt, through a “pre-negotiated” restructuring of its balance sheet.

The company lists between 5,001 and 10,000 creditors; estimated assets between $100,000,001 and $5 million; and estimated liabilities between $500,000,001 and $1 billion in its official Chapter 11 filing. A number of the company’s creditors holding the 50 largest unsecure claims are suppliers within the glass and glazing industry. Some of those listed include: Cardinal Glass ($814,810); Mikron ($492,612); Amesbury Group ($237,119); PPG ($235,347); Royal Window and Door Profiles ($224,675); Truth Hardware ($139,441); and H.B. Fuller ($82,723).

According to the company statement, Atrium intends to complete the restructuring process in approximately three to four months. Atrium and each of its subsidiaries intend to operate as usual during the debt restructuring process, and existing management will remain in place. The company does not anticipate any layoffs or facility closings as a result of the debt restructuring, and plans to continue to pay all employee wages and benefits in the normal and ordinary course. Suppliers will be paid under normal terms for goods and services provided after the filing date of January 20.

“The balance sheet restructuring will substantially reduce our outstanding debt and put Atrium in a much stronger financial position to grow our business over the long term,” says Gregory T. Faherty, president and chief executive officer. “We have already done the hard work of lowering our cost structure and reducing excess capacity in light of the difficult environment under which we have been operating for more than three years.”

USGlass Magazine Named Finalist in Prestigious Neal Awards
USGlass magazine’s article “Millions Spent, Nothing Gained,” written by contributing editor Tara Taffera (see April 2009 USGlass, page 30), has been named a finalist in the prestigious American Business Media’s (ABM) 56th Annual Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Awards.
Taffera’s article was one of 700 entries submitted for the awards, and was one of just three to rank in the finals for the Best Single Article category for publications that have less than $3 million in gross advertising/circulation revenue.
“We are thrilled beyond words to be a finalist in the Neal competition—long known as the ‘Pulitzer Prize’ of business-to-business journalism,” says Debra Levy, president of Key Communications Inc., which publishes USGlass. “Tara did an incredible job of investigative journalism to shine a light on a very sensitive subject. The report resulted in stories in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and ABC News, among others. It also led to a call by one U.S. Senator for a congressional investigation and was cited in the case being argued about glass tariffs. We have always believed in the importance of fair, accurate and unbiased journalism and it's nice to see these efforts recognized.”
“While this recognition from our peers in the publishing industry is very gratifying indeed, it is made even more so by the flood of feedback we received from our readers on the value of this article,” adds Megan Headley, editor of USGlass.
“It is an honor for our magazine to be recognized in this way,” says Taffera. “Our staff does a great job every day to bring stories of importance to our readers. That often means digging deep into stories others don’t want to tell and our readers compliment all of our editors for those efforts.”
Award finalists will be honored during the Neal Awards luncheon in New York City next month.

Tri City Glass & Door Announces Recent Acquisition
Tri City Glass & Door in Appleton, Wis., announced that it purchased Oldcastle Glass Green Bay on December 28, 2009. According to the announcement, the acquisition increases Tri City’s sales by 50 percent and brought its employee base to almost 100 people. The company says it will continue to offer the same level of quality and service that customers have grown accustomed to from both companies.

Chuck Bender, president of Tri City Glass & Door, says that the decision to purchase the operations was a good investment for his business.

“We had been looking for a new venture and saw this as a viable option,” Bender says. “The capabilities of the two companies were very much in line, as we both focus on aluminum and glass fabrication and distribution for the commercial, retail and residential markets …”

Bender explains that Tri City Glass & Door is focused on servicing the state of Wisconsin, and at this time there are no plans to expand that reach.

“I think we can now do an even better job of serving our same markets and areas,” Bender says.
In explaining his business strategy Bender says his company simply does “the opposite of what others do and that has worked well for us.”

He adds, “The economic downturn will not last forever and we all need to continue to invest in the future and not focus on the past.”

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