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Green Building News

Recycled Stimulus Anxiety for Serious Materials

Slow development of jobs-creating projects isn’t exclusive to the stimulus-funded weatherization program. Just ask Serious Materials

Image Credit: Serious Materials Inc.

There’s little point in recapping in great detail the weatherization-rollout tribulations that regularly salt online news feeds, including this one. The gist of most of them, up through last week’s Associated Press feature headlined “Weatherizing Program Falling Short,” is that the bureaucracy behind the stimulus-expanded Weatherization Assistance Program has moved more slowly than anticipated, although program administrators say the preliminaries are finally being wrapped up and WAP is about to bust out of the blocks.

The surprise is that longtime observers of government-managed enterprise seem, well, surprised when enormous, complex, bureaucratized projects grind along behind schedule, even as impatience with the lousy economy mushrooms. The truth is, WAP hasn’t cornered the market on exasperation over delayed initiatives.

Reckoning hope and reality

Late last week, the New York Times followed up on a company-turnaround-in-progress at Republic Windows & Doors, the Chicago-based manufacturer whose full emergence from near collapse was contingent in part on WAP’s ramp-up but also on the timely refurbishment of Republic’s factory, which was largely dismantled by its former owner, Richard Gillman. Gillman has since been charged with mail fraud, money laundering, organizing and continuing a financial crime enterprise, and felony theft of much of the factory’s machinery.

After California-based Serious Materials bought the business, though, things initially seemed to be looking up. (Serious Materials is now known as Serious Energy.) About a year ago, Vice President Joe Biden and other politicians visited Republic Windows to celebrate its prospective revitalization under Serious Materials’ guidance – a revitalization that was include the rehiring of all 250-plus former Republic employees by the end of 2009. As GBA noted last fall, however, delayed implementation of the expanded WAP and the extensive refurbishment of Republic’s facility dramatically slowed the pace of rehiring, with only 20 employees back at work as of mid-October, although, with business gradually picking up, the company’s CEO, Kevin Surace, said he expects a total of 100 expected back on the job by the end of 2010.

That’s not exactly great news for Republic’s unemployed workers, but it’s obviously part of the current reality for enterprises big and small in the energy efficiency realm.


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