I was saddened to learn in Jetson Green of the sale of Serious Windows to Alpen High Performance Products. We have been writing about Serious since 2007, when I interviewed CEO Kevin Surace twice. The company started with an acoustically superior drywall that I thought was a very big deal. I was surprised when they moved into windows, but at Greenbuild in 2008 Surace told me it wasn't a big jump: "We are an engineering company, we solve problems." I did not know at the time that they got their technology by buying Alpen Windows that year.
Surace then went on to buy a number of vinyl window plants, including one in Chicago where I wrote an over-the-top headline Progressive Startup to Re-open Rust Belt Factory and Make Revolutionary Green Product; alas, the factory is closed now. They were going to make a green drywall that was produced without the greenhouse gases that came from its use of natural gas. Alas, as Jeff St. John wrote in GreenTechMedia,
That was an attractive proposition when natural gas prices were over $10 per million BTUs, but now that they’re down to $4 to $5, it doesn’t really pencil out anymore, Porat said. Even so, it’s not clear how well EcoRock had caught on with the marketplace -- and the construction crash of 2008 didn’t help matters.
In 2007 Surace told me about what I called his modest ambitions:
Our mission is to reduce CO2 output by a billion tons per year, three percent of all the CO2 produced by mankind. We can do it because the built environment is the play. 52% of all CO2 comes from building: 40% for heating and cooling buildings, and 12% for construction. Nobody wants to do anything about it; I was at the Fortune Brainstorm Green Conference and all anyone wanted to talk about is cars and fuel, when the biggies are cement, metal, glass and drywall.
Now Surace is gone, and the company is back to where it started with acoustic drywall, two vinyl window plants and a sideline in energy monitoring technology. Fortunately, the high performance pultruded fiberglass windows are back with Alpen, all the window lines are still available, and Serious and Alpen promise a seamless transition.
Serious was such a grand vision, with plans to make a serious difference. It's sad that it didn't.