The looking glass
President and CEO
AGC Flat Glass North America Alpharetta, Ga.
During the past three years, AGC Flat Glass North America has undergone a name change and an internal restructuring. How have these changes benefited the operation?
Change is the nature of business these days. We’re constantly analyzing and challenging the way we do things to be more efficient in how we run our assets.
We’ve been focusing on three main areas. First, we’ve been pushing our internal organization to be more engaged in the business by equipping everybody with the proper tools and capabilities through increased training and the proper information through [good] communication.
Second, we’re building on the old AFG’s strong legacy of customer satisfaction to drive a new concept that we term “customer intimacy.” This involves creating broader and deeper relationships with our customers to gain a better understanding of their needs and how we can tailor our offerings to meet them.
The last is related to the name change. The name change is more than just a change in our logo. It signifies a harmonization of all of the companies that are a part of AGC‘s [Asahi Glass Co.’s] worldwide organization. AGC is the No. 1 producer of glass in the world, and we certainly feel we have access to a very deep pool of knowledge and expertise throughout the company. We’re trying to take steps to build links to the other regions of the world to leverage the investment they are making in research and development.
How do you respond to industry speculation that one or more float glass manufacturers will exit the U.S. market in the near future?
Clearly, the market is and has been suffering from overcapacity, and it’s not something we perceive as improving anytime soon.
It’s difficult to speak for the competitors in this industry. Some are private players and some are part of larger global entities, so it’s hard to [comment on] their financial performance and their decisions to stay or leave the industry.
We’ve taken aggressive actions to better weather this down cycle. We closed our facility in Cinnaminson, N.J., and exited a joint venture with Vitro in Mexicali. We’ve taken ourselves from 81/2 float tanks to seven, putting us in a stronger position in this down cycle. We’re also very well diversified. We participate in the automotive market and the residential and commercial glass sectors, and we’re the strongest player in the photovoltaic solar glass market. We have a very diversified portfolio and … we’re pretty well positioned. We are committed to the North American marketplace and have no plans at this point to further shrink our business in North America.
What effect, if any, do you anticipate the downturn in the residential construction market will have on the commercial segment?
That’s another hard one to anticipate. I think the first question is: How will the downturn affect the overall economy? Then, what will the domino effect be on the commercial market? I think everyone’s guessing at this point.
We have not seen any sign of softening in the commercial sector as far as demand is concerned. We have seen an increase in the competitive level of that sector.
On the other hand … we do follow McGraw-Hill, and they are anticipating a downturn in the commercial market. We’re anticipating some softening in the market, but I can’t link it to the residential downturn per say, other than its overall effect on the economy.
What commercial glass trends do you anticipate will take off in the coming year? How will AGC capitalize on them?
Obviously, the “green” push in commercial building is having a major impact on the types of products architects are exploring. Performance coatings are also becoming more important. We have a very broad portfolio of offerings in that area with our pyrolytic and sputter-coat performance coatings, and we continue to introduce new versions of these products to address the growing need. We also see increased interest in post-temperable coatings. From an ease-of-processing point of view, they allow fabricators the flexibility to respond to customer demand rather than dictate the schedule of the supply chain.
In the longer term, we expect to see interest in building-integrated photovoltaics. That’s something we’re watching very carefully. The economics aren’t there yet, but we certainly have the products and technology.
Education: 1982, Bachelor of Science, electrical engineering, Auburn University, Ala.
Career: May 2006-present, president and CEO, AGC Flat Glass North America, Alpharetta, Ga.; April 2004-May 2006, president, energy and utilities, and senior vice president, LogicaCMG, Lexington, Mass.; 2003-04, president, United States Pipe and Foundry Co., Birmingham, Ala.; 1996-2003, president, North American Utilities Division, Schlumberger Ltd., Tampa
Personal: Age, 48; hometown, Greenville, S.C.; married, wife Maggie, two daughters
Diversions: Spending time with family, fly-fishing, golf and skiing
Connections: AGC Flat Glass North America, 11175 Cicero Drive, Suite 400, Alpharetta, GA 30022; 404/446-4201; www.na.agc-flatglass.com