July 1, 2007

How to Make Up Your Mind on the Oldcastle-Vistawall Combination

By Paul Bieber

Is it time to make up your mind on THE news story of the week in our industry? People have been calling me and asking if I think the merger will work. This is an easy question, but not THE question of the week.

Of course it will work. If you define work as making money for Oldcastle Glass. The people putting this merger together are pros at what they do. Oldcastle Glass’ growth comes as much from acquisition as it does from real business growth. This is their declared policy, and they are good at it. After they acquire companies they are tops at combining knowledge and cost savings to the benefit of all.

Do you define success as keeping all the employees happy? This benchmark wouldn’t happen even if every employee was given a million bucks. Some people will grouse they should have had a million and one. A lot of people will be nervous about their jobs. Rightly so. An acquiring company usually changes people. Some people will get new opportunities, and some people will get early retirement.

But that still is not the right question. You might think it is “What will the competitors do in the face of this change?” Well, don’t bother with this one. Unless you are one of a hand full of people, you can’t impact this decision. Certainly the marketplace will change to some degree, but with no way of knowing what the change will be, all will be waiting.

Open the envelope already, what is THE question?

Will the Oldcastle-Vistawall acquisition affect me and my business?


You will have to decide if you want to buy from a super-sized conglomerate or from a local source. The super-sized one will have all the answers, will improve our industry with knowledge and vision and should give a return to its shareholders. The local sources will have to get better at what they does in order to compete. They must carry a fuller line, have better training for people and be able to support you on energy savings and structural information. In other words, every vendor has to get better in order to earn your dollars.

I think we all come out ahead in this. The only one who doesn’t is the one who will sit there and watch the changes in our industry go by without them.

This acquisition will ferment change in our industry. Roll with the changes, or they will walk right by.