Volume 15, Issue 6 - November/December 2011


Industry Reacts to Solar Gard Sale
With the announcement of the completed acquisition of Solar Gard Specialty Films by Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics the industry has been buzzing with reactions to the big news.

“This transaction represents what we’ve been saying for years—that the future for specialized films is bright and that Solar Gard is best positioned to lead the market,” says Christophe Fremont, general manager of Solar Gard. “This partnership legitimizes the window film solution and opens the doors to the enormous glass market and sustainable habitat industry. This is an incredible opportunity for the industry overall, and we consider this historical strategic acquisition by Saint-Gobain as the most influential partnership that the industry has ever seen.”

Solar Gard’s three global production facilities and operations under development, sales and service centers worldwide and all employees currently working for the company were included in the transaction.

“The acquisition of Solar Gard is an important catalyst in the continued advancement of specialty films,” says Loic Mahe, vice president of composites at Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics.

For some in the industry, the acquisition was not a big surpise.

“It’s a solid move by Saint-Gobain to augment their portfolio of habitat related products,” says Mike Feldman, owner of Advanced Film Solutions in Tampa Bay, Fla. “Glass manufacturers are aware of the OEM potential of thin film technologies in combination with their glass manufacturing. This is the big ‘get’ for the near future. Photovoltaic and photochromatic or smart films are also in their target planning if and when these films can be made in volume and at a low price point.”

Other members of the industry have predicted success for the Solar Gard brand with this leadership change as well.

“Considering my history with Solar Gard and the window film industry in general, I think I am qualified to say that the Saint-Gobain acquisition of Solar Gard is going to be beyond great for our industry and of course, all the dealers associated with Solar Gard products,” says Mark Bollegar, president of MarketPro Direct in Tampa, Fla. “In fact, this might just be the most significant acquisition our industry has seen to date. Saint-Gobain is one of the world’s largest and most respected manufacturers of flat glass products and that means there is finally an acquiring company that makes for a perfect marriage within our industry—one that will bring dramatic growth opportunities to the table. Window film has always been somewhat of an outcast step-child in the eyes of much of the glass and glazing industry, yet with Saint-Gobain behind Solar Gard, I see nothing but good coming from this union.”

“I think it is a good thing because [Saint-Gobain] is a huge company in the window manufacturing industry,” says Dean Alexander, owner of Elegant Effects Glass Tinting in Fort Collins, Colo., and a Solar Gard dealer. “It shows [Saint-Gobain] thinks there is a lot of potential in the film industry. I think it really does add credibility to the industry.”

The International Window Film Association (IWFA) also sees value in bringing a major player in the glass industry into the window film industry.

“Saint-Gobain is a major internationally recognized leader with an established commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency within the architectural market. Their decision to become a serious participant in the window film industry is a natural fit, due to the extensive energy-saving benefits of window film,” says Darrell Smith, executive director for the IWFA. “Current and planned energy efficiency regulations, legislation, and incentives encourage more cost effective measures that can be deployed on a mass scale, and window films provide a solution to these needs. When there are new resources and expertise brought to bear in our industry, all members can benefit in the longer term, since the total reach, impact, and resources of the industry are increased.”

Others in the industry don’t think much will change and it will be business as usual in their market.

“I’ve seen Solar Gard change hands a couple of times and they always hang in there,” says Lee Selvage, owner of Solar Guard of Alabama and a Solar Gard dealer. “Nothing will really change for us.”

“I’m sure since both of the companies are large that merging will help them obtain what they are hoping to obtain,” says Stuart Helton, owner of Solar Eclipse in Knoxville, Tenn., and a Solar Gard dealer. “The only difference for us is that we see both of their names now. I haven’t seen any changes as far as prices are concerned and I don’t know that I will see any changes in that area.”

Solutia to Acquire Southwall Technologies
Solutia is set to acquire glass and film products company Southwall Technologies for an “aggregate equity purchase price of about $113 million” according to a press release from the company.

“This acquisition positions Solutia as the world leader in advanced sputtering technology, combining the industry’s leading commercial expertise with next-generation innovation capabilities to provide advanced film solutions to the premium window film and electronics markets,” says Jeffry N. Quinn, CEO of Solutia. “Our growth strategy remains focused on enhancing our portfolio through synergistic bolt-on acquisitions that allow Solutia to better serve high-growth markets and support the success of our existing businesses. This is just one component of our strategy to put our strong cash flow to work to create value for our shareholders.”

Solutia will gain Southwall’s XIR® Technology, used in VKool films and all of the company’s manufacturing capabilities for window film production. Solutia will also now be offering a new product where film is “encapsulated between Saflex® polyvinyl butyral interlayers to form a protective barrier in laminated glass against the harmful effects of the sun.”

Solutia has announced that Southwall stockholders will receive $13.60/share in cash for all outstanding shares of Southwall common stock tendered in the offer and accepted for payment by Solutia, representing a 45 percent premium to the closing price per share of Southwall common stock on October 6.

“We look forward to realizing the potential of Southwall’s portfolio of energy efficiency solutions as we combine our innovation in sputtering technology with Solutia’s commercial and market expertise,” says Dennis Capovilla, CEO of Southwall Technologies. “Together we will focus on the delivery of next-generation films to our customers that achieve unmatched levels of solar performance and optical clarity.”

Reaction to the Southwall Technologies sale will be included in the free Window Film magazine e-newsletter. To subscribe at no charge to the bi-weekly Focus on Film newsletter visit windowfilmmag.com and click on “Free e-Newsletter” under Subscription Central.

Schell Named Vice President of 3M’s Renewable Energy Division
Twenty-five years with 3M has led Alison Schell into her new role of vice president and general manager of its Renewable Energy Division. Schell will be providing strategic guidance to help expand the energy generation and energy conservation side of the business.

“Alison has proven to be a valuable asset during her nearly 25 years with 3M, establishing herself as a trusted resource in a multitude of capacities,” said Chris Holmes, executive vice president for 3M. “As the fastest growing business in 3M, our Renewable Energy Division continues to reach new markets with next-generation technologies that can reduce cost per watt—key requirements that will continue to attract customers all over the world. I’m confident that Alison’s strong international experience and business development proficiency will further solar cell manufacturers’ success as this industry moves from emerging to high-growth.”

Previously, Schell served as the director for 3M corporate strategy and marketing development. She also has experience with occupational health and environmental safety, specialty chemicals and safety security and protection services.

“I am really excited to join the renewable energy division, which is the fastest growing division in the company,” says Schell. “Over 50 percent of our division sales come from products that were not even here five years ago.”

Schell credits her colleagues with inspiring her and shaping the way she works with customers.

“The quality of the people I have met at 3M has been consistently high,” says Schell. “I’ve learned a lot from their creativity and dedication as they really work on solving our customers problems. We are always thinking about how we can help our customers businesses succeed. That’s always been a part of our company and in my DNA as well.”

Schell’s goals for the renewable energy division include the continued launch of new products as well as maintaining the company’s leadership position in the market.

“We are heading towards a solution focus,” says Schell. “We just launched last month three new products into our OEM architectural glass market for solar, decorative, day-lighting and safety and security. We also launched exterior prestige which has taken off like crazy. It’s really taking our multilayer optical technology to the next level. We also want to stay the current market leader in window film. That is one of my big goals—market leadership.”

Solutia’s Performance Films Division Announces New President
Solutia has named Craig Ivey as the new president of the performance films division in St. Louis. Ivey succeeds Mike Donnelly who was elected as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Solutia.

Ivey has been with Solutia for more than 14 years and was currently serving as vice president of photovoltaics for Solutia’s advanced interlayers division. He also has served as vice president of business operations for the Asia Pacific market.

“Mr. Ivey has been with Solutia since the company began and brings more than 25 years of expertise in manufacturing, business and leadership to performance films,” says Melissa Zona, director of corporate communications for Solutia. “He has been instrumental in growing Solutia’s presence in the Asia-Pacific market, and his leadership positions the division for growth.”

Energy-Efficiency Remains a Major Focus at Greenbuild
The window film industry has staked its claim at the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Greenbuild show, held for the first time outside the United States. The event was held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and a number of window film companies were on hand to offer information on “greening” windows after installation.

“We’re trying to sell energy conservation,” said Rob Heber at Solutia Performance Films.

To that end, the company is drawing attendees in its booth to see…rather, feel…for themselves how its EnergLogic Series of films can block heat. As Heber explained, the product is able to upgrade a single-pane window to the performance of a double-pane window.

Solar Gard, meanwhile, is focusing on energy retrofits. The company’s Sentinel series includes 10 films that can be applied to the exterior of a window. Lawrence Constantin, vice president of sales, explained that this product is really geared toward those areas that are difficult to apply from the inside, such as skylights. It’s an immediate solution for “greening” a building, he pointed out.

Solar Gard is one example of a company that is breaking down the barriers between film suppliers and glass suppliers; as of October 3, Saint-Gobain had finalized its acquisition of the film company.

Pleotint is another such company. The supplier of the sunlight-responsive film, that when applied to glass creates a dynamic glazing product, has a booth at the show. Fred Millet is demonstrating to attendees how the product reacts to heat, but, as he pointed out, he’s not the only one. “Southwall’s displaying our product, PPG is displaying our product, so we’re able to say it’s not just us – it’s an industry-wide thing.” Both companies have recently announced partnerships with Pleotint.


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