Blizzard Wreaks Havoc on Midwest, Glass Industry
February 2, 2011

The Midwest currently is in the midst of a major blizzard that has broken records in some areas, and much of the area-including the glass industry-has been shut down for the day.

Much of the Chicago snow fell overnight, according to several industry representatives. (Photo courtesy of Terry Thomas, MTH Industries.)

"The only reason I'm here is that I spent the night here," says Terry Thomas, operations manager for MTH Industries in Chicago.

Thomas says the company has 5 1/2-foot snow drifts at its doors. "It's still snowing pretty heavily and we're supposed to get another 4 to 6 inches," he said during an interview this morning. "The city's pretty much shut down."

And the glass breakage started early, he says. "We had an emergency last night at [a building downtown]-they had a window blow out. We had one guy who was able to go out and board up the window, and when he got there he got stuck in a snow drift."

Mygrant Glass's distribution center in Northlake, Ill., a Chicago suburb, is closed for the day, according to Jim Ricci, market manager for the area. "Nobody's moving," says Ricci. "We have people who live within half a mile of our warehouse who can't get there."

Chuck Bibbiano, regional operations manager for Chicago-based Glass America, lives in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, and has been snowed in since late yesterday afternoon. "The police pretty much have Naperville shut down," he says. "They're using snowmobiles to get around."

Bibbiano hoped to be able to get out later today, but said he also is seeing snow drifts 5 to 6 feet in height. "You get to a point where you get too much snow, and people aren't going to go anywhere like today," he says. "If this was a normal storm, say 5 to 7 inches, people would be out driving, but no one's going anywhere."

"The city is pretty much shut down for the day to give road crews a chance to do their work," added Mark Meshulam, executive vice president of Builders Architectural Products Inc. in Deerfield, Ill. "Road crews are out in force. Since the bulk of the snow has stopped as of around 11 a.m. today, I suspect that most business will be able to resume tomorrow."

In the states that neighbor Illinois, the snowfall had not yet been as heavy as what Chicago has seen, but the winter weather still has created some issues for businesses there.

Mark Silverberg, president of Technoform North America Inc. shared the snow has made a mess of Twinsburg, Ohio.

"Our Bautec insulating strip division closed production third shift last night and first shift today due to weather. Our TGI warm-edge IG spacer division production is running at about half capacity - it was optional for production people to come in and a few people wanted to come in. Virtually no one is in the offices, with the phone extensions forwarded to cell phones and office staff working remote on their laptops from home so customers can reach us. We just don't want our people out during these dangerous conditions," Silverberg says.

Tony Leto, executive vice president of sales and marketing for The Wagner Cos. in Milwaukee, tweeted this morning that the company was having a "snow day." "Due to the storm, Wagner will be closed today," he added, noting that orders would be accepted online.

If you're in the Midwest, how are you handling the snow? Please send thoughts on the storm and photos to mheadley@glass.com.

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