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4 Ways to Futureproof Your Fabrication Business at GPAD

It’s almost time to pack your best practices and your bags for the return of Glass Processing Automation Days, or GPAD, set to kick off Tuesday, March 29 in Nashville at Grand Hyatt Nashville. The conference, hosted by the National Glass Association, will draw leaders in glass fabrication, technology, machinery and more for education, tabletop displays, plenty of networking, and solutions for the future.

In anticipation of GPAD, NGA CEO Nicole Harris hosted a Feb. 24 webinar with Ron Crowl, managing director of FeneTech, a Founding Partner and Platinum Sponsor of GPAD, and Syndi Sim, vice president of marketing and business for Diamon-Fusion International, a fellow GPAD Platinum Sponsor. The group offered insights on the conference and its theme, “Futureproofing Glass Fabrication.”

1. Focus on automation.

Futureproofing a glass fabrication business means automating processes, according to Crowl and Sim. “Futureproofing is at the heart of GPAD. Software, automation was the glue that put the whole program together,” says Sim.

Since the pandemic, fabricators have been challenged to optimize production efficiencies with fewer people, which often means integrating more automated solutions. “Over the last few years, as an industry and world, we’ve found we have to do more with less,” Crowl says. “This is more urgent now than it ever has been. It is the difference between someone extremely profitable and someone who is just getting by.”


2. Collaborate with customers, suppliers and peers.

GPAD brings equipment suppliers and glass fabricators together to discuss everything from innovations to best practices, says Crowl. “This event truly is, and always has been, a meeting of the minds. It’s one of the few places where the best in software, people and machinery all come together in-person to exchange the knowledge and equipment that will help future-proof the glass manufacturing and construction industries,” he says.

GPAD offers a “meeting of the minds” across the glass industry supply chain, adds Sim. “Everybody wants to be successful. How do we do it? We all need each other,” she says. “You need the glaziers, the fabricators, suppliers. And when you have all of them in a room with forward-thinking, strategic planning, growth opportunities, it is a time to refocus and regroup.” 


3. Build best practices.

The content, networking and solutions-focused opportunities of GPAD aim to help fabricators build and hone best practices.

Crowl describes three factors that he sees in companies that are engaged in futureproofing their businesses. “The first thing I see is an organization that puts systems in place to ensure repeatable work practices. … Second is creating visibility. They put tools in place to allow their promises to be kept for their customers. The third thing is companies are building quality into their products, and they make quality inspection a part of their daily business,” he says.

4. Reach across the supply chain.

GPAD will be held in conjunction with the NGA’s Building Envelope Contractors Conference, which kicks off March 27, and brings together the glazing contractor community. The co-located conferences will come together on March 29 for “Bridging the Supply Chain,” a half-day of programming for fabricators, glazing contractors and suppliers. Companies across segments can cross-pollinate ideas, learn of new construction projects, and leave with new high-value glass industry friends and business contacts. Building peer-to-peer relationships in-person can make or break projects experiencing pain points amid labor shortages and supply chain issues. “Co-locating brings together glass fabricators and their glazing contractor [customers]—two parts of the glass and glazing industry that NGA represents—the supply chain that we serve,” says Harris.

Watch the on-demand webinar.


Katy Devlin

Katy Devlin

Katy Devlin is content director for the National Glass Association and editor in chief of Glass Magazine. E-mail Katy at