What’s News Dec/Feb 2018July 12th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs
Panel Produces Alternate Take on Aluminum and Steel Tariffs
Tariffs on steel and aluminum created many uncertainties within the fenestration industries in 2018, as well as among the general U.S. markets. (See related sidebar on page 30.) However, a new report claims that those tariffs have also been effective at increasing jobs and U.S.-based aluminum production. The report, produced by Robert E. Scott, senior economist for the Economic Policy Institute, served as the backbone for a panel discussion amid a recent National Press Club event, hosted December 11. Titled “The Real Economic Effects of President Trump’s 232 Aluminum and Steel Tariff,” the event aimed to answer questions about impacts over the preceding nine months.
Amid his report, Scott claims that, “aluminum tariffs have led to a strong recovery in employment, production and investment in primary aluminum and downstream industries.” He was joined on the panel by former U.S. Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN); Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing; Jesse Gary, executive vice president and general counsel at Century Aluminum; and Jeff Ferry, research director at the Coalition for a Prosperous America.
Bayh began the panel discussion by speaking about his longstanding interest in aluminum and steel, in which he suggested that Indiana has the highest percentage of manufacturing employment, while serving as the largest producer of steel. As a result, “I’ve seen firsthand what happens when jobs evaporate,” Bayh said. He went on to suggest that people in the U.S. are willing to compete, but that competition is hampered in the cases of steel and aluminum, due to unfair and predatory trade practices.
Scott followed those thoughts by suggesting that steel and aluminum tariffs have been very effective—to the degree, he said, that there will be a 67-percent increase in aluminum production by the end of 2018, with seven new smelters in operation, which he suggests will create more than 1,000 new jobs and generate $100 million in new investments. Meanwhile, “There’s been no negative impact on employment or the economy,” he suggests.
EPA Settles With Chapman and True View Over Violations
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in December that it has settled with West Chester, Penn.-based Chapman Windows and Doors over violations of the lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting rule (RRP). This follows an October settlement with another window company, True View Windows, over similar violations.
The RRP rule was created to protect the public (and especially children) from lead-based paint hazards occurring during repair or remodeling activities in homes and facilities built before 1978—including window replacement. The rule requires individuals performing renovations to be properly trained and certified, and to follow lead-safe work practices. In March 2018, the EPA announced six settlements from violations of LRRP, resulting in $287,000 in settlements over the preceding year.
As a result of its violations, Chapman Windows and Doors will pay a $17,500 penalty due to inactions in February 2017, while the company was working under parent company Air Tight Home Improvements. The EPA accused Chapman of failing to document whether homeowners received a required lead hazard information pamphlet in a timely manner, while also failing to retain records documenting compliance with lead-practices during renovation and ensuring that renovators were EPA-certified.
In the case of True View Windows and Glass Block Inc., the company was also cited for violating the LRRP rule, when EPA officials discovered it was performing work in Phoenix without the required certification. True View also failed to comply with resident notification requirements, to post signs warning the risks of lead-contaminated dust and to keep records of lead-safe work practices. As a result, the EPA reports that True View must pay a $15,060 penalty and spend $14,940 on blood lead analyzers and test kits for six Maricopa County, Ariz.-based health clinics.
Vista Window Company Closes
DWM magazine recently con-firmed that Lordstown, Ohio-based Vista Window Company has closed its operations. After receiving information indicating that the company laid off employees in late December, while placing others on leave, an employee confirmed that operations ended Monday, January 14. DWM’s editors were able to speak with a Vista employee the prior Friday, January 11, though they were unable or unwilling to discuss the matter or to connect us with any of Vista’s executive leaders. As of Monday morning, the company ceased answering its main corporate line and shut down the associated website. DWM has since spoken to another of the company’s employees, confirming that it has closed.
“It tends to slow down this time of year, but it’s been slower than usual since about Thanksgiving,” the employee says. “We were getting very minimal hours.”
Other than slower than usual times, the employee says there were no warning signs from the company indicating that the closure was impending.
“For weeks, folks could have been claiming unemployment,” they say. “That’s sad.”
According to the employee, Vista continued taking orders for its window products through close of business Friday ( January 11), while also collecting funds for existing orders.
“Then this morning, in a meeting, they said, ‘We’re done. We’re closing the doors,’” the employee says. “They took down the website and that was it.”
According to information previously published on Vista’s website, the company was founded in April 2001, by a group of “industry veterans” and registered several indicators of solid performance over the years, including landing on Inc magazine’s list of fastest growing companies and other “top” industry lists. In 2014, the company moved into its new corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility in Lordstown, while continuing operations of its original facility in Warren, Ohio, where it produced thermal coated products, as well as patio doors and bow and bay windows. As late as 2015, the company was owned and backed by Canfield, Ohio-based JP Capital Management, shortly thereafter registering plans for a $2 million expansion of its Swainsboro, Ga.-based facility, where it fabricated vinyl replacement windows and insulating glass. According to information published on CapitalWorks website, Vista was then acquired by and made an add-on to Portland, Maine-based Paradigm Window Solutions (a CapitalWorks company).
By press time, employees of Paradigm and CapitalWorks had so far failed to respond to DWM’s requests for comment.
Dealer’s Windows Prove Resilient at Mexico Beach
After the unimaginable damage of Hurricane Michael, one house along the Gulf of Mexico stood to the attention of media outlets nationwide.(See related sidebar on page 19.) Built in 2017, “Sand Palace” was constructed to withstand “the big one,” New York Times reporters wrote. Ocala, Fla.-based Custom Window Systems Inc. (CWS) supplied the doors and windows.
According to CWS president, Rodney Miller, the home’s owners went above and beyond building codes when designing their beach-front residence, leading them to purchase CWS’s 800 Series WindPact Plus doors and windows. The product is designed and tested to withstand high velocity hurricane zones, including wind speeds of up to 180 mph. Out of all the doors and windows in the house, Miller says that only the outside lites were cracked on just two windows.
“If you’re in a hurricane or debris area, you have to do something,” Miller says. And while recent codes allow homes to withstand more, many of the homes that were destroyed were older, he adds.
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