by Debra Levy
Putting together the special section beginning on page 30 called "People to Watch" was not quite as easy as I expected. We wanted to identify people who will make a difference industry-wide, for better or worse, as we move swiftly toward the next decade. Then we wanted to show snapshots of those people—both in photographs and comments—so that you would get a sense of who they are. We also wanted to identify those 40 or younger who were just beginning their sphere of influence, so we highlighted them in an area called "Young Turks."
You'll notice a few people—such as John Barlow of Safelite—who are missing. Some are missing because, for whatever reason, they did not want attention drawn to themselves and refrained from providing the information we requested. Others are missing because of our own failure to identify them. We always try to improve, so please feel free to send your comments and suggestions along for next year.
There were a number of common themes among those profiles. In addition to golf being the hobby of choice (surprise) and Jack Welch of GE being the business hero du jour, those profiled consistently echoed two concepts:
The first is that change is constant—that the industry will never stand still and that the true leaders into the next century will be those who anticipate and treat change as the norm as opposed to the unusual.
The second concept is much more industry specific. It deals with the rise in regionalized industry economies and the growth among regional manufacturers, metal fabricators and suppliers in general. These people-to-watch expect that trend to continue and grow. Leadership is an elusive quality—it might even be one of those "know-it-when-you-see -it" things. We think you'll see a lot of it beginning on page 30.
Outside of Southeastern Michigan, Andrew Kochanek might not have been well-known, but he was very much a leader in his community. In many ways, he was the glass industry's every man and his passing is a real loss to his family, church and community. Kochanek, the owner and founder of Andrew's Glass Company in Taylor, MI, died suddenly on April 27. He was only 51 years old. His friend Bob Rombach wrote a moving tribute:
"Andrew had a genuine interest in other people and was considered by colleagues and employees as a warm, compassionate person, who was a Type A personality with a heart. He was active in the local community and sponsored numerous youth sports activities . . . he always kept himself and employees up-to-date with current technologies. . ."
You may not have known Andy Kochanek, but I did. And I was always amazed and impressed by this person who was nice enough to stop by at a trade show just to say hello or send a letter of encouragement for no other reason than just that. When we started our first educational event, Glass Expo Midwest in 1994, he either sent me a note or called once a month to say how much he was looking forward to having the event and how he and his company would be there. He never asked for anything, he just did this because that's the way he was. His encouragement was appreciated more than he would know.
Our fifth annual Glass Expo Midwest, to be held October 2-3 in Grand Rapids, MI, will be dedicated to Andy. I hope he would have liked that, and I hope you get the chance to meet his exceptional wife Susan and sons Todd and Timothy who will be recognized in his honor at the dinner that Friday night.
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