Mid-Atlantic Glass Expo sees increased attendance
The Mid-Atlantic Glass Association held its 24th Annual Glass Expo on April 20 at Martin’s Crosswinds, Greenbelt, Md. Seventy-one companies exhibited at the show, and nearly 800 people attended. Last year, 68 companies exhibited with approximately the same number of attendees.
A common theme among exhibitors and attendees alike was that while the economy is still mired in a weak growth stage, things are looking up, principally as measured in the increased number of bids firms are getting from customers.
"It appears the industry is getting out of crisis mode, and looking to build opportunities", said Ed Turner of Hawkins Glass Wholesalers. "We're seeing increased bid activity".
“We've seen increased hiring, though still small by normal business cycle standards. It's still not easy; we have to work harder for every dollar. But we're seeing increased bids and that gives us hope”, said John Johnstone of Clear Choice Architectural Glass and Metal.
Mike Henry of Glass and Mirror echoed the same sentiment. "We're seeing increased bid activity. What's more, the quality of bidding is better. The last few years folks bid on any job they could find, sometimes at cost, just to keep busy. Firms are now more selective to improve margins. We are getting more choosier."
"Yes bids have increased, however, we still are finding the time horizon of bids to contract signing running about six months to one year. The normal for us is about three months," said Christian Lopez of Lopez Glass. A commercial and residential glazier, Lopez cites they are seeking an edge in the market by training for more diversified skills among its workforce.
As to where the customer base is being found these days, most attendees pointed to schools and public buildings as opportunities, "though commercial properties are appearing more frequently than they did the past few years," said Lauren Conners of Conners Sales Group Inc.
A highlight this year at the expo was two educational sessions designed for architects, with attendees securing AIA Learning Units for the professional certification.
The Expo is an annual bright spot among NGA chapter events. "It's a great testament to the Mid-Atlantic Glass Association members and staff. This event had some 39 booths a few years back . It now is a very strong regional event for the glass industry,"said Alyssa Kirkman, senior manager, association services, National Glass Association, McLean, Va.