Volume 46, Issue 1 - January-February 2011


Apogee Chairman and CEO Russ Huffer to Retire
Minneapolis-based Apogee Enterprises Inc. announced on January 19 that chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) Russell Huffer will retire, pending the naming of a successor. The board of directors of Apogee has initiated a national search for his successor.

Huffer, 61, also has stepped down from his position as chairman, effective immediately. The board has named current director Bernard P. Aldrich to replace Huffer as non-executive chairman. Huffer will continue to serve on the board of directors until a new CEO is named.

Aldrich, a member of Apogee’s board of directors since 1999, is the retired chief executive officer and president of Rimage Co., a publicly held designer and manufacturer of workflow integrated digital publishing solutions. He has also served as chair of Apogee’s compensation committee and as a member of its nominating and corporate governance committee. Aldrich retired from Rimage in 2009 after 12 years as president and CEO.

Huffer was elected Apogee chairman in June 1999, after having been elected president and CEO in January 1998. He joined Apogee in 1986 as vice president and general manager of Viracon, Apogee’s largest subsidiary. Before joining Apogee, Huffer spent six years in various management positions with Guardian Industries’ coatings, float glass and glass fabrication divisions. Previous to that, he spent two years as a senior designer at Ford Motor Co. and seven years in the U.S. Air Force.

During Huffer’s time as Apogee CEO, on a comparable basis, revenues in the company’s core business rose significantly, from approximately $580 million in his first fiscal year as CEO to more than $925 million at their height in 2009. He also was responsible for realignment of the company’s business strategy and generating more than $600 million of cash flow from operations, during his tenure as CEO. However, Apogee’s construction-related segments have struggled during the downturn.

In the company’s third quarter 2011 fiscal report, architectural segment revenues declined 21 percent, with an operating loss of $8.4 million. Backlog ended at $165.7 million, compared to $193.0 million at the end of the second quarter and $246.4 million at the end of the prior-year period.

new hires
Crystal Window & Door Adds to Sales Team
Crystal Window & Door Systems, based in Flushing, N.Y., announced that Blaise Benevenga has joined the company’s sales team. Benevenga will spearhead Crystal’s dealer/distributor sales efforts in New Jersey.

Prior to joining Crystal, Benevenga has worked with window manufacturers Silver Line Building Products and Dor-Win Manufacturing, as well as with the former Vinyl Building Products, an extruder of window lineals.

Clifford Joins CRL; JaBaay Promoted at Doralco to President
Brian Clifford is C.R. Laurence Co. Inc.’s (CRL) new director of business development for its architectural metals division. Clifford has more than ten years of experience in the architectural metals industry, most recently serving since 2005 as president of Doralco.

To fill Clifford’s role as president Doralco Architectural Metals has promoted Matthew JaBaay. JaBaay, with more than 13 years of experience at the company, most recently as vice president, will now be responsible for operations and sales for all of
Doralco Architectural Metals’ Brands.

Viracon Names Kelly Schuller Senior Vice President
Viracon has hired Kelly Schuller as senior vice president, sales and marketing. Schuller joins Viracon after serving for four years as Apogee’s vice president of strategy and business development directing projects across all business units. Prior to joining Apogee, Schuller held operational positions within United Health Group Innovex and Pillsbury. He was an associate principal at McKinsey and Co. and held a position as a CPA for Ernst and Young LLP.

The company also announced that it has promoted Bethany Stringer, Matt Jukkala and Mike Smith to the position of Six Sigma Black Belts. In their new roles, Stringer, Jukkala and Smith will be supporting manufacturing and transactional processes.

M3 Glass Technologies Announces New Plant Manager
M3 Glass Technologies in Irving, Texas, has added Larry Byrd as plant manager. Byrd began in the glass industry more than 30 years ago as a shipping manager for Oldcastle in Grand Prairie, Texas. After multiple promotions, he held the assistant general manager title until 2006. Most recently, Byrd was manufacturing manager for Arch Aluminum & Glass in Ft. Worth, Texas, for four years.

USGlass Contributing Editor Ellen Rogers Welcomes Son
USGlass contributing editor Ellen Rogers and her husband, Tracy Rogers, technical director for Edgetech IG, welcomed their
first child, son Rylan George, into the world on November 16. Rylan was 7 pounds, 15 ounces, at birth, and all are doing well.

In addition to serving as contributing editor for USGlass, Ellen Rogers serves as the editor of sister publications The Architects’
Guide to Glass and Decorative Glassmagazines, both of which are published by USGlass parent company Key Communications Inc.

Tracy Rogers has been in the industry for more than 20 years, and has worked for both component suppliers and door and window manufacturers and is a well-known as an expert in insulating glass sealing systems.

Tom Smith Celebrates 50 Years in the Glass Industry
Tom Smith Sr. had plenty of reason to celebrate New Year’s—2010 marked his 50th year in the glazing industry, while 2011 is the 40th anniversary for Tom Smith Glass Inc. in Columbus, Ind.

Smith started working at PPG Industries as a drafting detailer in their contract department in Dayton, Ohio, in 1960. From PPG he moved on to Kenny Glass Inc. in Columbus in 1962, and started Tom Smith Glass Inc. in Columbus in 1971.

“Back then most of the contract work was just aluminum doors and full sash and plate glass, with a little bit of curtainwall stuff,” Smith recalls. “Now most of the glass and glazing is high-end work with the curtainwalls and insulating glass and all the types of glass, heat reflective. None of that was available then. Blue tint and green tint was about all they really had back in the ’60s. Everything was pretty much plate glass and as time moved on it moved into tempered and insulating—so it’s a lot safer now.”

Smith has been semi-retired since September 2005 when his son, Tom Smith Jr., purchased Tom Smith Glass Inc. from him.

“Since 2005, Tom Smith Sr. has been involved with the company in estimating and keeping me out of trouble,” says Smith Jr. “My father and I are pretty close and I call on him on a regular basis for advice and support. There is not a replacement for someone who has had 50 years experience in this industry, from running the business to running projects to working with the vast amount of employees—all very challenging in the best of times, not to mention the current times.”

Smith Sr. agrees, starting a business today “would be a lot tougher.”

In some ways, the challenges and solutions Smith Sr. faced early in his career were similar to those today facing glass shops today. Forming relationships with customers and suppliers proved instrumental in getting his new business off the ground.

“I had a couple contractors that really helped me, they got behind me,” Smith Sr. says. One construction company with whom he worked helped him build and get his building financed “after I was really in business for only two years. Without people like that it would have been a lot harder. That was developed over 9 or 10 years at Kenny Glass—they got to know me and they trusted me, so they would help me.”

Adopting new technology also proved important.

“One of the major things that helped us maintain personnel was when we went to computerized estimating. That basically saved me an employee back in the ’80s,” Smith Sr. shares.

Still, Smith Sr. does say he had an advantage in getting started that individuals new to the glass industry could benefit from today.

“For someone to start in the glass business [today] I think they really need to be involved with the industry somewhere before they try it on their own so they really know what they’re doing. Back in the ’50s, ’60s and probably in the early ’70s PPG was almost like a school for my generation. Almost everybody you’d find getting started in the industry came through Pittsburgh in some way or another, salesman or estimator or whatever,” Smith Sr. says. “You don’t have that anymore.”

Pamela Heil of Viracon Passes Away
Pamela Jean Heil, 59, of Owatonna, Minn., died unexpectedly November 22, 2010.

Heil worked at Viracon for more than 25 years and was currently employed there at the time of her death.

Heil was born September 29, 1951, in Blooming Prairie, Minn., where she was raised and attended school. She moved to Owatonna and worked for Pamida and Federated Insurance. She later began working in the factory at Viracon and then in the accounting department.

She is survived by her husband, David, a son, a daughter, her mother, three brothers and two grandchildren.

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