Five for Nineteen

The new year is around the corner and with the year’s end comes a look back at it. 2019 was a mixed bag, notable because its news did not include the major bombshells (think CRL to CRH) of the past few years but memorable because its news has major implications for years to come. So here’s my top five stories of the year, not necessarily the most widely read, but the ones I think will prove the most significant over time.

  1. The Sale of Erie Architectural Products to YKK AP North AmericaThis sale gives YKK a strong presence in the unitized arena and adds to its expertise—a very strategic move by the company that will prove even more significant with time.
  2. DiBlasio’s March Against Glass—well not all glass, but what hizzoner called “inefficient glass buildings.” Through press conferences, interviews and appearances on TV, you’ll see New York City’s mayor focus all his wrath concerning energy inefficiency on glass. And, while his actual proposal says nothing about glass, his work to make glass the whipping boy of energy efficiency stuck. As I said in my blog we have lots of work to do to counter this.
  3. Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope® Sells Antamex—It really had to happen as the glazing subcontractor did not fit with OBE’s core businesses but the purchaser was a bit of a surprise. The sale to the private investment firm O3 was first reported in January of this year.
  4. The Battle for the Wall Becomes an Endless War—Efforts to limit the amount of glass that can be used on the exterior of buildings, in the misguided effort toward energy efficiency, heated up again this year. What the glass industry once thought of as a singular battle has turned into an ongoing war with no end in sight. As long as glass remains an easy target, there will be groups of code officials and other building material manufacturers at work to limit glass.
  5. Labor Crisis Grows—The lack of qualified labor is a perennial issue but no more so than this year as the high demand for skilled workers collided with an anemically low supply. While a dearth of installers is challenging, our industry is also lacking in quality project managers, purchasing agents, contract specialists and more. And, as the boomers who had filled these jobs retire without replacements, it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. The lack of players—and lack of a deep bench—will have repercussions in the industry for years to come if we don’t get it fixed.

This is a wonderful holiday season for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that our distinguished columnist Paul Bieber came through his recent operation successfully. Paul had a benign brain tumor that was pressing on his optic nerve. He had it removed a few weeks ago and we are thankful he is doing well. If you’d like to pass along your good wishes, you can reach Paul at

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to Paul and all.