BEC in the Books

The 24th edition of the Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference is in the books. In addition to having a feel of normalcy about it, the event serves as a miner’s canary for the industry in forecasting coming trends. Here are my top five takeaways: The Energy Noose Tightens—well, it’s not a noose really, but it is a group of regulations designed to increase energy efficiency in buildings. New York City’s new Energy Codes are beginning to reverberate to other states. We can expect to see more, not less, regulation around energy in more states in the future. Luckily, our industry has products that offer the energy-saving performance these codes will… Read More »

Back to the Same, Except it’s Different

Technological change slammed right into the contract glazing industry at the Building Envelope Conference and its effects were evident everywhere. The conference, which is designed for glazing contractors, was last held in early March 2020 and was the final industry event until Glass TEXpo™ this past May. It is sponsored by the National Glass Association and mixes educational sessions with social and networking opportunities. While most people seemed to revel in just seeing their colleagues’ full faces, sans masks, for the first time in the last two years, there was a realization that COVID had changed a little bit of everything and technology was changing the rest. Pre-registration lists showed representatives from 95 installing companies… Read More »

Education in a New Lite

Join USGlass magazine publisher Debra Levy for this installment of “Leadership in the Glass and Metal Industry.” Today’s guests are Marcus Dreher and Alex Buechel, co-owner and creative director of


The news today of the sale of Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope® (OBE) was expected. The buyer was a bit of a surprise, and the price was a shocker. Somehow the news that Irish company CRH was interested in divesting of OBE made its way into the business press late last year. This in itself was highly unusual, as the parties involved usually take great pains to keep such information confidential until a deal, or at least an agreement in principle, is completed. They do so for a variety of reasons including security and regulatory ones. I could not think of another case where an impending sale had been “leaked” to the public… Read More »


These are not the easiest of times for our industry. They are not the hardest either. In many ways, the glass industry is suffering the effects of long COVID, and, though not life-threatening as it is to humans, it is difficult to handle and leaves us wondering when it will end. Let’s start by talking about supply. Is there a glass shortage? The answer is the same as when I wrote a blog on the topic nearly a year ago. Is there a shortage? Yes, if shortage means you cannot get the glass you need in its normal timeframe and under normal pricing patterns, then there most certainly is. But… Read More »

The Top Five, Of Course

So the question is “How was the show?” and the answer is “Don’t know.” The show, of course, is Glassbuild America (GBA), which was held in Atlanta last week. The “Don’t know” is because tradition says you never really know the success of a trade show until weeks, maybe months, after it’s occurred. COVID, of course, blew tradition away. Nothing was usual about this year’s show, from the temperature checks before entry to the lack of usual services at the venue and hotels. It was, of course, a very memorable event. How much of a success you deemed the show depended on where your expectations were. Many exhibitors told me… Read More »

Day One: Simon(son) Says

So which do you want first, the bad news or the bad news? That seemed like the question being asked at the Glazing Executives Forum held yesterday in conjunction with the GlassBuild America show. Attendees were socially distanced, so it was harder to estimate, but it seemed the most popular sessions attracted about 120-150 people. The most popular was entitled “Supply Chain Challenges,” led by Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors (AGC). Simonson painted such a negative picture that it prompted an audience question at one point, asking, “Is there any good news?” Simonson responded that he’s an economist and it’s his job to highlight the problem… Read More »

A Bright Spot

One of things I’ve enjoyed most about this past year has been getting to host a podcast about leadership in the glass industry. This innovative series has leaders in our industry talking about just that–leadership and the challenges they face, as well as the lessons they have learned over the years. This month’s podcast features Oliver Stepe, president of YKK AP America Inc. who talks, among other things, about being a kid who grew up on Long Island running a company based in Japan with its main plant in rural Georgia. It’s a neat conversation. The response to series has been great and, thanks to the sponsorship of Western Windows… Read More »

The Shame of It All

I am sure that like me, you were hit with a wave of nausea when you first learned about it. You felt those waves because you are in the building trades and you know the shame of it all, on many different levels. The collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Fla., on June 24 is sickening. The loss of people is breathtaking; the numbers of those relieved to have their lives, but contemplating how to live them with all their possessions and homes gone is chilling. How many of us haven’t dueled with a building inspection we felt too strict or unreasonable? And yet here, the building was… Read More »

Bernard Always, Remembered

He was never really Bernie. I would wince the few times I heard someone say “nice to meet you, Bernie,” after being introduced to him. I knew he was Bernard and he must not have liked hearing Bernie in its place. Then that big smile would cross his face as his hand reached out in a forceful grip. “Nice to meet you,” he’d always say, without ever adding “It’s Bernard.” As you probably know already, Bernard Lax, president of Pulp Studio in Gardena, Calif., died suddenly August 3 at the age of 64. He was as silent about his accomplishments and good deeds as he was about correcting his name…. Read More »

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