From the fabricator: The massive GlassBuild America report
If there was one word that could sum up GlassBuild America 2012 it would be “engaged.” For the last few years, the show saw exhibitors continue to build amazing booths but attendees struggle to fill expectations against a brutal economy. This year, however, the tide turned. This time, the attendees were truly engaged in positive conversations with the exhibitors, and they actually had real live business to discuss. I heard from so many people who booked business or found great prospects that it really was exciting. Like one exhibitor told me: Last year it was, 'wow I hope someday to use your product.' This year it was, “I have a project and I want to use your product.' What a difference a year makes.
I have been to boatloads of shows over the years and I always gauge the crowd and get a feel for expectations. After this one, I can’t help but feel positive that we are headed in the right direction. Time surely will tell, but for now, I am enjoying where we are going.
My quick awards:
- Best booths: Quanex: They always have a great presence, but this year their booth was perfect: open, inviting, informational and truly welcoming. The runner up was PRL for its amazing mix of materials, including some really unique hardware.
- Most newsworthy event: The Glazing Executives Forum “State of the Industry” panel absolutely delivered in an 80-minute session that could have gone on all morning.
- Hot product: Decorative glass still rules, but the installation equipment for the glazier was a very close second (loving the lifts and cranes!)
- Best shirts: Lauren Manufacturing with the blue, orange and black shirts. Sign me up; that group has excellent fashion taste!
- Top showstoppers: Several booths had professional models working, and YKK even got Jay Leno (or a close impersonator) to work their party. Looks like the Vegas style is back!
- And before I hit my part of the show, I have to give major props to the ladies who put this event on. They build this thing from the ground up and deal with every obstacle thrown at them to put on a first-class event. Congrats ladies; you are one talented and amazing team!
Now on to the show scene…
Who I saw on the very busy show floor:
- Last week I said, "If you see me, stop me and say hi." The first to do that was Mike Gainey of Azon. Odd to see Claude Duquette of Eastman now that Solutia is a part of that company. He did look dapper in a great red Eastman golf shirt though. He was with Doug Marren, who will be returning from the solar world to work in glass again. It's great to have him back in our side of things! Good to see industry stalwarts like John Dwyer and Bernard Lax. I saw the Idaho State football hall of famer Dave Michaeli of AGC; looks like he could gear up now and rush the QB. And speaking of AGC, running into Matt Ferguson was an unexpected pleasure. No show for me is OK unless I see Jan Rogan of PPG, so I knew all would be well when I visited her on day one. The always-dynamic duo of Bob Price and Mike Nicklas of JEB even stopped and said hi to me.
- On the fashion side, Danik Dancause of Walker broke out a powder blue sport coat that not only drew attention at the show, but also had all the women at Coyote Ugly wanting him to dance on a table. (That will never happen to me!)
- Always nice to see my old friend Chad Simkins, who is now doing great things for Soladigm. Speaking of old friends, getting to see Bret Summers of Arcadia was great, as was catching up with Michael Schmidt at Erdman Automation (whose booth was jammed all day, every day).
- A few more: saw fellow bloggers and NGA heavyweights (as well as excellent businessmen) Bill Evans and Chris Mammen. I also met for the first time Mike Albert and Bryan Bush: great guys. Got to have a quick visit with one of the best reps in our world, Dan Pompeo, who was there with his better half and the brains of their operation, his wife Stacey. The Quanex people as a whole are always so welcoming to me. I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality. Dave Lutrell and Tom Noe of Glasstech actually admitted that they read the blog. Then again, they said this at the big reception party, so who knows… LOL. Bowie Neumayer of Cardinal and I caught up and compared notes on Fantasy Football. Hopefully by the time you read this Bowie’s team will have a win on the board or they’ll be heck to pay.
- Finally on the scene, it was super to catch up with family: my brother and nephew Josh along with Justin Benline and Tim Marconi of WA Wilson were there. Great to see my bro and Josh and watch them cringe realizing that they are related to me as I worked the floor in an obnoxious yellow media vest. (Yes, I think both want to disown me.)
Who I missed…
- I know Rodger Ruff of AGC was there but didn’t ever get to catch up to him. His booth was always packed when I went by. Tom O’Malley, the legend from Doralco, I saw for a second and never saw again. Joanne Funyak of PPG missed the show, and all really missed her. Joe Carlos of Triview was working the floor and seminars, so I didn’t get as much time with him as I would like. I saw Derek Malmquist, the excellent VP of marketing for SAGE for a split second, and then did not make it to his booth in time to visit. Very disappointing for me. Saw Mark Spencer of SAPA several times, but the guy is too popular, so never could get a chance to talk. And last but certainly not least, Earnest Thompson of Guardian had to miss because of other meetings… or maybe because he was afraid an Alabama fan would approach the booth and remind him about the U of M-Bama game.
- Hope to see everyone in Atlanta in 2013. This year proved yet again that this is the show where the industry meets and the networking is just top notch. It was amazing to see how many meetings and gatherings there were all over the show floor, in the lounges, at the lunch tables, heck any area that someone could sit down really. BUSINESS WAS BEING DONE! It was great to see. This show brought it out…
- Last, my feet hurt. Time for universal rules that we can all wear sneakers or comfortable shoes. No more worry about fashion and political correctness. Let's focus on comfort!
The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.