Oldcastle focuses on hurricane market with new Atlanta facility
Officials from Santa Monica, Calif.-based Oldcastle Glass say its planned Atlanta facility, set to start operations in September, will help serve increasing demand for hurricane-resistant glass in the Southeastern United States.
“Driven by the implementation of new, more rigorous building codes, hurricane-resistant laminated glass is one of the fastest growing segments of the architectural glass market,” says Deep Bhattacharya, Oldcastle’s vice president of development and technology.
Oldcastle officials announced March 29 that the company will consolidate two of its Georgia locations into a 207,000-square-foot fabrication facility in Atlanta. The plant will feature tempering, laminating and insulating machinery, focusing production on its hurricane-resistant StormGlass and solar-control SunGlass products.
Barry Smith, owner of Building Cladding Services of Helena, Ala., says the devastating 2005 hurricane season that included Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma served as a wake-up call for a lot of building owners, architects and builders in coastal states.
“There was a general sense that we’re OK and we’ve been OK for a lot of years,” Smith says. “That was a wake-up call that we are more susceptible to damage than we thought. [As a result], being prepared, using hurricane-resistant products, has come to the forefront as more of an issue.”
The expansion in Atlanta follows Oldcastle’s acquisition of Florida Laminating and Tempered Glass Co. last year. More growth in the region may follow for the company, Bhattacharya says. “We are continually looking for opportunities to re-inforce our market leadership and grow our market share in the Southeastern market,” he says.
Ron Brock, president of Westshore Glass Corp. in Tampa, Fla., says Oldcastle is not the only glass company targeting the hurricane market in the region.
“There is no problem with supply [of hurricane glass],” Brock says. “In fact, there’s probably more supply than there is demand in Florida. More people are trying to get their hands in the pot.”
Last year, Cardinal LG, the laminated division of Cardinal Glass Industries of Eden Prairie, Minn., opened a laminated glass facility in Ocala, Fla. AFG Glass of Kingsport, Tenn., added an autoclave in 2006 to its Jacksonville, Fla., facility to increase laminated glass output.
While many glass companies have been targeting the Florida hurricane market, Smith says other coastal states such as Alabama and Mississippi lack as strong of a supply for hurricane-resistant glazing products, offering opportunities for glass companies. “In the case of a Mississippi project I worked on, there were only two or three manufacturers I found that could respond,” he says.
The market in those states also provides hurricane-glass manufacturers with an opportunity to educate architects and building owners.
“I think the players are more in tune with what’s going on in Florida,” Smith says. “Where I’m at, the architects, and builders and owners are very much in the dark. There is a great need and opportunity for manufacturers to be educating the team over this way.”
- By Katy Devlin, e-Newsletter Editor, e-glass weekly