Nov 04

We’re All Busy …

I know you’re busy. So am I. In fact, many of us are busier than we have been in years and for the most part, it’s a good thing. Actually, a very good thing. But in spite of your schedules, I want to encourage you to take a few minutes each day and read the newsletters put out by USGlass magazine. They come in under the™ banner and are delivered to your computer every work day. You can read the entire day’s report in about five minutes, and it is an excellent way to keep up with industry events and happenings. There are some great bloggers offering commentary and advice, and it is simply an excellent way of staying current. If you are going to be in a given industry, it is incredibly important to know what is going on in that industry.

Some More of THE Story

I covered the Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope® (OBE) purchase of C.R.Laurence (CRL) in quite a bit of detail with interviews, blog commentary and in an upcoming article that will appear in the November issue of USGlass Magazine. However, most of this reporting was done from the CRL side of the story. I have long been a friend and admirer of Don Friese and was quite excited for him when all of this came about. Others covered the story in a bit more detail than I did, but in case you missed it, I for one, was particularly interested in comments made by OBE CEO Ted Hathaway at last week’s Dodge Outlook Conference in D.C. and as reported at™.

Specifically, the coverage, which included some terrific quotes form Hathaway, provides some excellent insight from OBE perspective for the “deal.” And in my opinion at least, makes the story all the more compelling. Quoting Hathaway … “We’re all looking for strategies that make sense and the strategy to grow has to be based on the customer. For us, we were doing external envelopes, CRL sells hardware to be used internally … Buying CRL was a strategic platform to go inside the building.”

Oh, by the way, Hathaway commented later in the presentation about the current labor situation … a topic we have been hitting on in these weekly blogs for a while now … when he said, “The war for talent is real.” He also stated that one of his concerns is “hiring and keeping the best people.” Thank you Mr. Hathaway. 

Yes I Know

A few readers contacted me to let me know that they had recently seen news reports making the world aware of the fact that Illinois lottery winners don’t get cash if they win a state lottery, but an IOU instead. The news was everywhere, including Bloomberg Businessweek. I am not a lottery player, but this is certainly not good news for those of us suffering over here in Illinois. Current estimates are that the IOUs are worth over $6 billion and will be in excess of $8 billion by year’s end. And to make things even more interesting … or painful if you live in Illinois … the state of Indiana is now running radio commercials encouraging Illinois residents to buy their lottery tickets from Indiana because if they win an Indiana lottery, they will get paid. Talk about salt in the wound. Cut that out Indiana! You have already taken thousands of jobs and people from Illinois, and now you want to destroy the Illinois lottery??? Shame on you, Indiana!

They Just Don’t StopAnd I Don’t Get It

A few weeks back, I commented on something that I had stumbled upon while on vacation in Door County Wisconsin this past summer. Specifically, I found a rocky beach area at a place called Cave Point where dozens upon dozens of rock towers had been erected using rocks found on the shore line. Some were as tall as five feet. I have been visiting this area of Door County for almost 50 years and had never seen this before. I later found out that this is something that has been taking place in other parts of the country for a few years now but again, I was not familiar with it. I did a little investigating and found out that environmentalists are railing against the practice because they believe it will speed the erosion process and also disturbs the natural order of things. I also discovered that my oldest daughter and my granddaughter had actually visited this exact site and erected about a half dozen of these things. Well, last weekend, while on a short trip with my wife Sandi to take in the fall colors in what some believe to be the most beautiful area in the country, curiosity lead me to stop in once again at Cave Point to see how the towers were holding up. And was I surprised! In spite of the very damp, windy and cool weather, there were at least 12 and maybe 15 people building towers on the shore for as far as you could see. Some of you will yawn at this, but I am absolutely amazed. Maybe because I just don’t get it. Do you???

They just don’t stop!

They just don’t stop!


The Sports Thing

Congratulations to the Kansas City Royals. I honestly thought the New York Mets would be a formidable opponent for them in the World Series, but the Royals took advantage of every Mets mistake (and there were plenty) and seemed to easily claim the title. But of course, being from Chicago, I have but one thing to say … “Just wait til next year.” Cause I think those Cubbies are gonna be there!

The Quotable Thing

I thought that the following quote was appropriate for this week given the comments above and in keeping with what I have firmly believed for at least the last 25 years or more. I gleaned it (the quote) from a presentation that I attended at an AMA program in the late ’80s. I personally think that a lot of leaders don’t really understand the industry they work in and that this is detrimental to their company’s growth and success. Anyhow … here is the quote:

“Every enterprise needs a concept of its industry. There is a logical way of doing business in accordance with the facts and circumstances of an industry if you can figure it out.”   …Alfred P. Sloan


Oct 21

The Answer Is FEAR

The reason is fear. It’s just that simple. Now I understand that there are different kinds of fear and not all fear is bad, but regardless of what type or level of intensity may exist, it is at the heart of it.

Last week, in follow-up to the Jack Welch presentation in Reno, I questioned why it is that managers, even good ones, often put up with under-performing and or problematic employees. I raised a few ancillary questions along with this, but the primary question raised was … why don’t we get rid of bad people when it is obvious that they are underperforming? I promised to give my opinion on this, and so here it is … FEAR.

One common fear is that the person we get rid of may end up being replaced by someone even worse. It’s the old “better to deal with the devil you know than the one you don’t know” thing. We get comfortable with people, and change is always painful, so we learn to work around the bad performer or prop them up to “get by.”

 Further, the fear of being labeled as a “bad guy” can sometimes hold us back. No one … well, I guess there are some … likes to be viewed negatively or think that people might be talking behind their back about how they fired good old Joey, who had been with the company for so long as was such a nice, if not very competent, guy. So the poor performer hangs around so we don’t get a bad rap or look mean spirited.

And the third fear, I believe, is that we are not confident enough in ourselves to “pull “the lever.” We worry that we might be making a mistake or that the person we are going to release might actually be better than we think they are … or that they will take others with them on their way out, and then what will we do? And after all, isn’t someone better than no one? Hmmmm.  

So those are my conclusions, and while I think there are all kinds of derivatives of these issues, I truly believe these three are the core “fears” that can prevent us from doing what we often know should be done. At least I know that I have had to deal with these during my years as a manager and sadly, I often came up short. 

No Surprise Here

According to a survey released last week by thy Associated General Contractors, the concern over the shortage of skilled labor in the construction trades is very real and perhaps even growing. In a survey of 1,358 contractors, over 70 percent reported concerns about manpower shortages in one or more trade groups—51 percent reported concerns over a lack of glaziers.

And No Surprise Here Either

Based on reports coming out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of labor in the construction trades continues to climb but has not as yet had a dramatic impact on over all building costs because material prices have remained flat with some declines. And did you know that construction starts through August were up 15 percent over the first eight months of last year?

The Results Are In – Part 2

Two quick things in response to a few emails and phone calls I received over the last several days in response to things written in this blog last week. First, the story about the Greek philosopher and his DNA analysis (see USGlass™ October issue) is absolutely true. An exaggeration here or there perhaps, but a true story. Secondly, my DNA results as reported last week were accurate. So no more cheap shots, please.

Nothing more peaceful than walking down a lost trail all alone.

Nothing more peaceful than walking down a lost trail all alone.


The Sports Thing

OK, the Cubs are down three games to none to the Mets, and in spite of the fact that Tony Lampl told me “we now have the Mets right where we want them,” I am not feeling too good about how things are going. You see, I made a very “unfortunate bet” with Deb Levy about all of this … after all, the Cubs beat the Mets seven times out of seven games in the regular season … and I am now starting to sweat it, ’cause I might lose. This is gonna hurt … but hey, who knows, maybe those crazy Cubs can still pull it out. Who am I kiddin’? I think I’m gonna be sick … … …

The Quotable Thing

This week’s quote was sent to me by one of my favorite people, Earnest Thompson. It’s a good one …

“If you have to say you is – you ain’t.”    … Joe Louis


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