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USGNN Original StoryGANA Meeting Continues Saturday Morning with Division Reports

Glass Association of North America (GANA) lawyer Kim Mann captured his audience's attention right away at the Glass Week session on Saturday morning. Mann was addressing the recent filing of price-fixing lawsuits against a number of primary manufacturers. He did so during the first in a series of reports from different divisions of the association. Mann handled the legal updates.

"There are seven such lawsuits that I am aware of," said Mann, "and a good number more are expected. They target the primary glass manufacturers." Mann spoke to an audience that had his undivided attention. He added that the glass industry, by its very nature, has caught the attention of class action suit lawyers.

He cited the small number of primary manufacturers as the main reason for the legal focus. "It's easy to allege price-fixing in an industry of few players. It's harder to do in industries with more players," he said.

Mann believes two main events led to the filing of these lawsuits. The first was the implementation of fines by the European Union (EU) against four major primary manufacturers for alleged price fixing in Europe. (CLICK HERE for related story.) The second was the success of lawsuits in the trucking industry in Europe that became a precursor for a number of other price-fixing lawsuits.

Mann reminded the group that GANA always has had a strong anti-trust policy. "Trade associations are where competitors gather and it's important to avoid any kinds of appearance of discussion of pricing, warranties and surcharges. Surcharges are the hot topic today," he said. "Primaries are not the only ones who assess surcharges. Many do. I am not suggesting they are illegal, but you must be careful in how they are created."

Mann also believes additional fines will be assessed by the EU regarding alleged auto glass price-fixing and that those fines "may be five, six even seven times higher than those for flat glass."

Incoming GANA president Brad Austin of Viracon then gave the report for the insulating glass division. "We continue to grow and are strong," he said, providing an overview of the information that had been presented in the insulating division meeting the day before.

Cliff Monroe of Arch Aluminum gave the tempering division report. The group is developing a video about tempering along with other ways to help the uninitiated understand what tempering is. Monroe reported that those at the division meeting had turned their attention to the issues raised by the International Window Cleaners Association (IWCA) (CLICK HERE for related story.)

"We've decided our best strategy is to take the high road with the IWCA. That is the best way to move forward," Monroe said. He added that the division is working on a static-cling "No Scrapers" decal that could be applied either in manufacturing or in the field. He also discussed an ASTM optical standard that his division is reviewing. The manual on which the group had been working is almost ready for publication with only 15 items left to complete.

Kris Vockler of ICD always has a smile on when she reports on her division's activities. That's because Vockler, who chairs the Decorating Division, gets to discuss the association's fastest growing division. A survey of division members currently is underway to determine member needs and possible programs and services. The division also has launched a member projects showcase available in the members-only area on the GANA websites. (CLICK HERE for related story.)

The activities of the laminating division were recounted by its chair, John Bush of Oldcastle. The group is working on content development for an AIA presentation and a downloadable video about how laminated glass can be used. The division has seven task groups working in different stages.

The association's technical director Greg Carney then reported on the activities of his department. He introduced Urmilla Sowell as the new assistant technical director. Carney, who is involved in a staggering number of projects for GANA, gave an overview of a few those efforts. He mentioned that the Flat Glass Manufacturing Division is in the process of completing a Glass Information Bulletin about the weight of glass and the Mirror Division recently completed a bulletin about the proper fabrication of mirror and is updating the ASTM standard related to silvering of mirrors.

Carney also mentioned that he had, for the first time, prepared a complete summary of all the technical projects upon which his department had worked this past year. "I did a technical report for the year and it was 424 pages," said Carney, joking. He said that, luckily, it was able to be summarized in 12 pages and is now available in the members-only area of the GANA website.

The upcoming International Code Council (ICC) meeting also was discussed. Carney said that Mann was on his way there (after his presentation at Glass Week) to represent the interests of the association to provide advocacy for a proposal that would allow AAMA 507 to be recognized as alternative by the code group. "No one should have a monopoly when it comes to product certification," he said. "The proposal is expected to be heard today [Monday]."

He then discussed what many believe to be the single, biggest problem area in glass industry: the lack of NFRC responsiveness. "You have heard me rant and rave and occasionally cuss about NFRC. You've also heard me be the voice for our industry at NFRC," Carney said.

He added that he and IGMA executive Margaret Webb were considering not responding to votes because of the role of the NFRC board in overruling the committee. "Once they [proposals the NFRC group works on] go to the NFRC board they come back very different than what was agreed to by the committee. It's very frustrating," he said.

Andy Gum detailed the efforts of the Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Division. Gum said energy would be an emphasis in the future. BEC is the association's largest division with 139 members - 16 new members in this past year alone. He mentioned how the BEC Conference has become a who's who of the glazing industry. It's really an exciting time. Gum promised attendees will be blown away by what they see at the BEC.

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