Volume 46, Issue 5 - June 2011


U.S. Aluminum Closes;
Files for Chapter Seven Bankruptcy

United States Aluminum, as well as its parent and sister companies, closed their doors and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy early last month.

Callers to U.S. Aluminum and its parent company, International Architectural Group LLC in Monterey Park, Calif., are greeted with this message:

“Due to unforeseen circumstances the company has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Los Angeles. Dissolution of assets and claims will be directed by the court-appointed trustee. Further information will be forthcoming from the trustee.”

Court documents filed on May 11 by International Architectural Group in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California list more than 900 pages of creditors, including Guardian Industries Corp., PPG Industries, Vitro America, AGC Glass Co. and countless glass shops. The company indicated in its filing that it has between $50 million and $100 million in assets and $50 million to $100 million in estimated debts.

In June 2010, International Aluminum Corp. emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy as International Architectural Group. Its brands included United States Aluminum, RACO Interior Products, International Window and International Extrusion. Having seemingly recovered from the earlier setback, surprise greeted this most recent announcement.

“It’s always unfortunate to witness the demise of a company in our industry, especially one that has employed people and provided customer service for over 60 years—particularly when this happens somewhat unexpectedly,” says Bob Leyland, director of sales for Kawneer North America in Norcross, Ga. “Not only are employees faced with immediate unemployment, but also customers are confronted with an interrupted supply chain that can have a negative impact on their ability to execute contracts.”

“It was with deep regret that we learned of the Chapter 7 filing,” adds Oliver Stepe, senior vice president of YKK AP America Inc., “and our best wishes go out to all of the dedicated employees affected by the news … U.S. Aluminum had a rich and proud history that will not soon be forgotten.” Stepe adds, though, “At the same time, the fact that an adjustment in industry capacity occurred given reduced domestic demand for fenestration systems since 2009 is not a surprise.”

While industry colleagues may be saddened by the news, former customers in many cases were outraged as they found themselves left with unfilled backorders or deposits provided for materials that had not yet been supplied. Other companies have stepped in to offer their products and improve their own services.

“Since the announcement on May 11, Kawneer has been actively alerting our employees of the importance to provide prompt pricing and service to customers that require help in meeting their obligations,” Leyland says. “We have also been contacting customers directly, offering our assistance during this difficult period.”

“Tubelite is very empathetic to the employees and customers of U.S. Aluminum,” says Ken Werbowy, Tubelite’s president and chief executive officer. He adds, “Both Tubelite and its network of stocking distributors have the capability and capacity to assist in dependably servicing a portion of this demand and have already begun doing so.”

Kelly Townsend, national sales director with Columbia Commercial Building Products, says his company is also working with many former U.S. Aluminum customers. “As many customers and former U.S. Aluminum customers advise, our lead-times and customer service are a big advantage for [us] and should help on many projects where orders now have to be switched to alternate suppliers while trying to maintain current project schedules,” he says.

Sun Capital Affiliate Buys Vitro America Assets at Auction
American Glass Enterprises has purchased the assets of Vitro America LLC and three other indirect Vitro subsidiaries, including Super Sky International and Binswanger Glass, through a court-supervised auction June 1 in Dallas. The purchase price

American Glass Enterprises has purchased the assets of Vitro America LLC and three other indirect Vitro subsidiaries, including Super Sky International and Binswanger Glass, through a court-supervised auction June 1 in Dallas. The purchase price was a gross price of $55 million.

American Glass Enterprises is an affiliate of Sun Capital, the parent company of Arch Aluminum & Glass LLC and United Glass Corp. (UGC).

The purchase price of $55 million was well over the anticipated sale price of $44 million. “From a supplier perspective, this should mean a robust recovery,” commented Vitro America CEO Arturo Carrillo on the winning bid.

“We are delighted with the successful outcome of the bidding process for Vitro,” said Jeff Leone, chief executive officer (CEO) of Arch Aluminum following the announcement. In an interview with USGlass, Leone noted, “The strategic plan is to be the number one or two player in this industry. We want to have a solid glass product line, a solid metal line and we want the company to be solid financially so it can ride through the industry peaks and valleys. Our acquisitions are all directed at that direction.”

He added, “Now the real work begins to consolidate our three companies Arch, UCG and Vitro. Our mission remains to create the leading glass fabrication business in North America by focusing on quality and service to our customers: on time, on spec, on cost.”

Just how the three companies will be consolidated is being watched closely by fabricators and customers alike.

“We’re still watching. At this point, it’s too early to tell,” commented George Petzen, estimator for LinEl Signature, following the sale. He added, “It all boils down to what the judge says, and the creditors committee.”

Before the sale is complete, Vitro America in consultation with the creditors committee must seek approval of the sale from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of North Texas.

“We were not surprised to see this consolidation and expected the ‘great recession’ would alter the industry landscape,” said Kelly Schuller, Sr., vice president of sales and marketing for Viracon. “We view the combination of Arch, UGC and Vitro as a development that will aid in stabilizing and strengthening the industry going forward.”

The bidders during the auction also included Grey Mountain Partners LLC, a private equity firm in Colorado, and VI Industries, an affiliate of the Mexico-based steel company Villacero.

Representatives of Vitro S.A.B., the former Vitro America parent company based in Monterrey, Mexico, declined to comment until the sale process is concluded.

Vitro America representatives have deferred comments to Sun Capital, which had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.

Visit the USGlass daily news service at www.usgnn.com for additional details on this story as they emerge.

Architectural Testing Acquires Assets of ETC
Architectural Testing Inc. (ATI), in York, Pa., has acquired substantially all assets from Effect Technologies Corp. (d.b.a. ETC Laboratories). The facility in Rochester, N.Y., will be evaluated for continued operations, but customers will now have the ability to be serviced from multiple locations with more disciplines than previously available.

Started in 1995, ETC Laboratories focused on physical testing and simulation of doors, windows, skylights, insulating glass and other building products. Dave Kehrli, the founder of ETC Laboratories, as well as several key employees, will remain with ATI.

“The current economic times, especially in the building construction industry, have simply created an environment that could not allow my business to continue operating as a going concern,” Kehrli says.

Craftsman Fabricated Glass Reduces Products, Workforce
Cristacurva announced in March that it is implementing a number of changes for its Houston-based subsidiary Craftsman Fabricated Glass, including eliminating a number of products and some manufacturing processes, as well as “adjusting” the size of its workforce.

“We will no longer be offering the following manufacturing processes as of [March 15]: beveling, certain patterned glass, tabletops, sandblasting, pieces with a size smaller than 12 inches,” says Javier Sanchez-Gil, chief operating officer. “We will be very happy to serve replacements of jobs we have supplied with any of these processes in the past.”

Sanchez-Gil also noted that the workforce there will be reduced by approximately 20 percent. Previously, there were approximately 170 employees.

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Guardian Industries has relaunched its corporate website, www.guardian.com, to enhance the user experience and better deliver information on products and solutions. Company and product information, global locations, news, jobs and video and photo galleries can all be found in a single click
Azon has re-designed its website, www.azonintl.com. The site provides more information on structural polyurethane pour and debridge-type thermal barriers for framing and the company’s Warm-Light® spacer, as well as case studies and real-world applications
The American Architectural Manufacturers Association has made additional glass-related documents available on www.glassdocs.com, a website that is jointly managed with the Glass Association of North America and the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance, and serves as a one-stop reference site listing all publications relating to fenestration glass for the benefit of the architectural and code communities in North America

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