Happy Wednesday to you. That’s right …happy Wednesday! I am sitting at my drafting table turned into a desk and typing this with a little bit of energy in my body and a normal thought or two in my mind. So for me, this is a very happy Wednesday and I honestly hope you are having a good one too. I’ll report in on my personal physical condition a little later (see below) but for now, I am anxious to talk about other … normal things … so let’s get going.
I’m Not Surprised
According to a recent study apparently conducted under the guidance of the U.S Education Department, U.S. adults lag behind almost every other developed nation (21 countries were included in the study) in literacy, math, and digital skills. In math, we finished 19th out of 21. Only Spain and Italy performed worse. Me thinks our education system problems are catching up with us. Said Education Secretary Arne Duncan … “These findings should concern us all.” Really???
Can’t tell you how happy I was to read the recent announcement that Richard Voreis has joined the USGlass team. I am a longtime fan of Mr. Voreis and consider him a tremendous addition to what is already a group of very talented people. HOWEVER, Mr. Vorheis and I have some history, as we in Chicago might say, and now that he is one of us, I am probably going to have to share some of that history. More on this at a later date … but not too much later.
The Solar Thing
We talked about the solar matter earlier this year and now, according to a recent article in Engineering News Record, it looks as though we were on the right track. Specifically, the solar energy thing is not only alive and doing well but ready to explode over the next few years. And as previously noted, it will be driven by market conditions (solar panel cost reductions in particular) and not government initiatives. According to recent studies, the average cost of a solar panel has dropped by 60 percent since 2011 driving the average cost for a non-residential system down to $3.71/watt. It is and always will be an economic issue. When the cost of installing and operating a system is below the cost of buying power from the supply sources available, solar systems will be installed!!!
On a Sad Note
A most wonderful man by the name of Pat Strocchia, who I believe many of you knew, lost his battle with cancer this past weekend. I met Pat in 1970 when I went to work for the Tyler & Hippach Glass Company on Chicago’s Northside. I trained under him, worked beside him and became business partners with him and a group of others in 1989. He was a man of the utmost integrity who was fair, kind and generous. He was, without question, one of the finest people I have ever known and I was honored to call him friend. We had talked just about three weeks ago and had made a date to share beef sandwiches at Al’s Beef in the Old Italian neighborhood this spring. Don’t know if I’ll ever eat there again.
The Cancer Thing
I start my next round of chemotherapy in approximately 48 hours (assuming I test out okay later today). The treatments themselves are not bad … it’s what happens immediately thereafter. Pretty much everyone knows someone who has gone through these things so I don’t feel a need to go into a lot of detail here, but it is very tough and, in fact, if I were not going through this personally I could not possibly appreciate how really tough it is. At the same time, I know there are others who have it much worse than me and so I am thankful that I am in good hands medically, that I got it pretty early on and that the rest of my body is in good health and able to handle the treatments … as awful as they are. I will once again thank everyone for the emails, cards and calls. I can’t tell you how much they are appreciated. Thank You from the bottom of my heart!
The Chinese Curtainwall Thing
If you missed it, I strongly suggest you take a minute and read Deb Levy’s blog from two days ago about the ongoing battle between the Chinese curtainwall suppliers and the group of domestic suppliers that have filed anti-dumping charges against them and have thus far prevailed in their claims. You can pick it up at http://deblog.usglassmag.com/ and I think the comments pretty much sum up the current state of affairs. I had reported on this earlier in the year and even provided the contact information for financial support of the domestic group for those who might want to get involved.
Now I know there are two sides to every story and I think I understand the global economy argument as it applies to just about everything we sell or buy, but there is a need to keep the playing field fair and in this area, it does not appear to be so. I met a large Chicago-based general contractor at a social function a few months back and we had a chance to talk about business in general. He mentioned that he had a highrise project that was going to ues a unitized Chinese system. I told him that I was surprised by this because he had always been a very strong “Buy America” advocate. He told me that even after adding in the cost of hiring quality control people to travel back and forth to China to monitor the manufacturing process and adding a person to the project solely to inspect and monitor the materials as they were delivered, hoisted and installed, the price was substantially lower than anything else available. The final decision … ultimately made by the developer/owner … had been an easy one based on the anticipated substantial amount of money to be saved.
As for the current battle, the court system does not always tilt toward who is right or wrong but to simply who has enough money to drag the thing out long enough and spend enough of the other side’s money to more or less win by attrition. Long way to go here!
The Sports Thing
Well, I guess I have some egg on my face here. When I wrote my last full blog, I bragged a bit about my Chicago Bears. Silly me! They have hit the skids and looked pretty bad in doing so. I apologize to all. On another note, the World Series gets under way later tonight and while I am not going to predict a winner (although if I did, it would be the Cardinals in six games) I do want to express my admiration for the St. Louis Cardinal organization. In spite of the fact that they are a small-market team and don’t have the funds to spend on players that larger markets teams (think Yankees here) do, they consistently produce competitive teams that vie for championships. I honestly love the fact that talent, team work and strategy can compete with and regularly beat the almighty dollar.
The Quotable Thing
This comes from a card I received from Roxanne and Tony Lampl a few days ago. I just thought that it was appropriate given the moment.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” -Emerson
Have a Good Week, Everybody!