The Other Shoe Dropped
The aftershock to the earthquake
If last week was the earthquake, then this week was the aftershock. And a heck of an aftershock indeed. Just four business days after Guardian Glass dropped a massive 40 percent price increase on the industry, Vitro followed suit with their version of an increase featuring 40 percent as the main number.
I was stunned. I honestly did not think this was coming at this point. I knew other shoes would fall, but I expected a longer time between increases and a lower number. If you re-read what I wrote last week, there’s been no doubt that the corrections were needed and coming, it was just more to the point of how much and how fast. After the fallout of the increase, I could not see how anyone would follow Guardian quickly into the fire. But Vitro not only followed them in, but pretty much took the heat away from them and positioned it on to themselves.
Pretty wild in a competitive world, eh? The cheering in Auburn Hills when Vitro’s letter came out could be heard for miles. While the Guardian increase took your breath away, the Vitro one, that fast after, and for pretty much the same amount, smacked of opportunism and not need. It amazingly made people madder over this issue, if that was possible. A chance to pile on an industry that was and is wounded, confused, scared, etc. Just crazy to see. And I’m also probably more shocked because I love the folks at Vitro—I worked there a long time ago and have lots of friends there, and people I respect immensely.
I just don’t get why they did what they did when and how they did it. But then again, I am on the outside looking in. All I can comment on is what I feel and also how it looks, which to me is not good. Am I saying Vitro should not have increased? No. I’m sure their costs have gone up like all of ours, but it sure looks pretty funky that four business days after a competitor raises that they have the same exact pressures and the numbers basically are the same.
Also, it bears noting that with both increases besides the lack of a clear justification for that big of a number, there is still a fuel/energy surcharge in place and that is no shrinking violet either.
The psyche of our industry right now is fragile. The back-to-back blows, combined with all else has people from companies of all sizes freaked out. These increases and the way they are being implemented are extremely hard on all makes and models. The bigger companies have the most exposure, tons of long-term commitments to work through. The smaller have issues getting materials as is, and don’t have the deep pockets to ride things out.
Time to fight through it all. We will. We as an industry always have. My worries that I noted last week remain. I don’t want to see bad products imported into our markets. (And again, I note, not all imports are bad) I don’t want to see corners cut (like less innovation or specialty) because of this and I don’t want to see less glass on a project because we somehow went crazy on the bottom lines. Already in the marketplace, we are seeing immediate concerns of project cancellations—as noted in this piece. Overall just a frustrating run we have going on right now.
Interestingly enough the metrics we follow are strong but the concerns that are out there are really giving people pause. While I am thrilled when I see the latest DMI in the positive again, I am getting opposite reports from those in the field that they see things slowing. The next Architectural Billings Index is due out this week, and I will be floored if it’s in the positive. But given my track record of late, I guess I’ll be happy to be wrong. We shall see!
Huge Layoffs in Crypto currency
Interesting take here: the U.S. economy issues are crushing things like crypto, and the layoffs in that sector are huge. Maybe it’s time to get people trained from these other sectors that are losing people and bring them into ours. Project managers are still a massive need. Plus, no matter how nuts our world is, we are still more stable than most. The question is, how do we attract people from these other areas into ours?
Bill Briese of GED Passes Away
Saw the sad news of Bill Briese of GED passing away. Bill was a class act and a true gentleman. I interacted with him many times at GlassBuild and learned a ton as he would demonstrate what the latest and greatest GED had to offer. Huge loss in so many ways for our industry and world, and my condolences to Bill’s family and the team at GED.
Quaker Windows Awards 28 Scholarships
I am big fan of Quaker Windows and they did yet another cool thing recently with the awarding of 28 college scholarships from their TMK Memorial Fund. Good on Quaker for investing in the youth and their education, and hopefully some of those folks will end up in our industry too!
Last this week, gotta go lighter—and had to have fun again with another list! This time, it’s the top baby names of the year. The “classics” are back according to the piece and one classic is “Oliver” which comes in at No.3. That is going to be tough for any kid with that name to get into this industry and be as good as the legendary Oliver Stepe from YKK. That’ll be an impossible one to live up to! Some interesting choices here also in the rising names and ones that are losing popularity. Check it out!