Jumping In

My mother’s words echo in my head as I write this. “Debra Anne,” she would say, and believe me, whenever she said Debra Anne and in that tone to boot, I would surely listen, “Debra Anne, if everybody was jumping off a bridge would you do it, too?”

Now being the analytical child that I was (though my mother might call it ‘obstinate’), I would stop and think a minute and say “Well, Mom, it would depend on the bridge. Because if the bridge was on fire and I was going to burn, yes, I’d jump … or if people I could save people from harm, then I would, too.” My mother must have drawn upon some inner patience as she put up with this.

Well today, I am jumping in again because everybody upon everybody is doing their top ten lists (including our own most popular news stories of the year), so I am going to do a few off my own over the next few weeks. So here goes, my take on the top ten most important domestic glass industry stories of the year:

  1. The Trainor Bankruptcy—that the country’s largest contract glazier rose to such heights and then dive-bombed into chapter 11 serves as a cautionary  reminder of just how fragile the economy is and how volatile the contract glazing industry is.
  2. And all the others ones—bankruptcies and closings by long-time industry players including AAI, Konarka, Beneda, Santelli Tempered and a list that is way too long. The effects of a multi-year recession took their toll on a record number of industry-related businesses.
  3. Chinese Curtainwall Anti-Dumping Measures—In a story that spanned nearly the whole year, North American curtainwall manufacturers fought against what they believed to be unfair competition by the Chinese. They eventually prevailed, though representatives of the Chinese manufacturers have vowed that the fight is not over yet.
  4. Vitro’s Legal Problems—in a legal and financial saga worthy of the best  telenovella, the legacy Mexican manufacturer is fighting legal challenges  by U.S. investors. Said legal and financial problems eventually led to the sale of Binswanger to private equity firm Grey Mountain.
  5. Guardian’s new minority owners—announced a few months ago, the Koch Brothers acquired a 44 percent interest in the company and former Ron Vaupel, vice president of business development for Koch Industries, a Koch company, was named CEO just two weeks ago. This marked the biggest shift in ownership by a primary doing business in North America since NSG acquired Pilkington.
  6. Glass Falling from the Sky—or in this case from balconies made news throughout North America and one province in Canada went so far as to  regulate the installation of such balcony glass in the future. In a story where no one really knows why it’s happening but everyone is sure it’s not  their fault, glass from Texas hotels to Canadian balconies reigned down on  their respective locations.
  7. People being killed by glass—We ran way too many stories this year about regular folk being hurt or killed by glass, mostly glass furniture. On February 23, we reported      that an ASTM standard for glass in furniture would be out soon. We are still waiting.
  8. Harmon bids adieu to service work—deciding that local service work was not a business model it wished to pursue any longer, Harmon exited service work in October, further defining the line of  demarcation between service work and contract glazing.
  9. The Apple Lawsuit—A woman in New York sued the technological giant, saying that it was negligent by not protecting her from walking into the all glass door. She wasn’t the only one as people as prominent as Justin Bieber also had close encounters of a glass kind this year.
  10. The Revived Economy—the general trend of the last few months, mercifully and thankfully, has been upward with most indices pointing a positive direction for the industry in 2013.

And as 2012 comes to a close, I would like to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to read this blog and for being part of our publications. It’s an honor to work for this industry, I am reminded, almost on a daily basis, of how many good people there are in it. Much happiness and health in the coming year.