The Top 10 GlassBuild America in Review
By Megan Headley, Ellen Rogers, Charles Cumpston,
Sahely Mukerji and Debra Levy
GlassBuild America drew dedicated attendees to its annual
exhibition, which this year took place September 12-14 in Atlanta.
Want the full product scoop? Then turn to page 50 to read this issue’s
Showcase department—and look for additional product updates in future
issues of USGlass.
Next year, GlassBuild returns to the Las Vegas Convention Center, September
12-14. Here we have a glimpse of the most talked about trends:
1 Daytrippers: More attendees at
this year’s event seemed to be visiting for the day rather than the full
three days. “I came in this morning and am leaving tonight” was a common
refrain when visitors were asked how long they were staying. But those
who did come came focused, exhibitors found.
As one exhibitor commented, on the condition he not be named due to his
somewhat gloomy observation, “Attendance seemed down to us. But we try
to stay optimistic. The attendees who do come are serious about their
2 Talk About the Future: Approximately
100 attendees heard Jeff Dietrich, senior analyst at the Institute for
Trend Research in Concord, N.H., comment during GlassBuild’s sixth Annual
Glazing Executives Forum, “The direction of this economy is upward.” According
to Dietrich, “When we come out of a recession, we accelerate, partly because
of stimulus dollars, partly because we sell off things to survive. And
then there’s something called slower growth. It’s not double-dip recession,
it’s not a recession, but slower growth. The operative word being ‘slower.’”
He advised, “You need to be planning for it, hiring for it and purchasing
This year will see a slower rate of recovery, Dietrich said. “2012 will
be ongoing recovery. 2013 flattens out and recession begins.” 2014, he
predicts, will be mild recession. 2015-2017 will be growth.
2010 saw the best year in manufacturing in the last 25 years, and now
it has slowed a little bit, Dietrich said. “It’s slowed in Europe, China,
India, Russia, everywhere, it’s a slow patch. We’ll pick up in 2012. I
don’t think construction will be hit by the 2014 recession. You’ve already
paid your dues. This is the time for opportunity in the business cycle.
Up is not always good, and down is not always bad. Business cycle is a
cycle, and a cycle is what it is.”
3 Energy Is Still Hot: “Lots of people
come looking for the silver bullet,” commented Chris McMahon of Technoform
Glass Insulation when asked about attendees at the show. “[They’re] looking
for a specific U-value, looking for the product that will get them ‘there,’”
whatever that number may be. Rather, he pointed out, it’s more often a
combination of innovative products that is needed to improve overall product
efficiency. And, he noted, there seemed to be a “genuine interest in innovation”
at the event.
McMahon and his colleagues also noted the attention garnered by “super-insulating”
products, such as triple insulating glazing, is growing beyond the cold
climates of the North.
Mark Silverberg, president of Technoform North America, added that the
company is seeing growth and demand across all regions. Customers in Florida
are moving from non-thermal to polyamide, he said, and he’s seeing jobs
in Southern California as well.
Silverberg noted that the codes are no longer the sole motivator for buildings
to be efficient; projects such as schools and government buildings, where
the owner is “stuck” with the long-term operating costs, are particularly
“In a down market people are still building, but they know it’s got to
last,” McMahon agreed. “Things that are being built are being built better.”
Several companies offering commercial doors and window products had a
focus on energy. Among them, Thermal Windows in Tulsa, Okla., now offers
a polyamide thermal break in its 800U casement window.
“It’s getting some impressive U-values,” said Terry Newcomb, marketing
director. The company is featuring a prototype, but Newcomb says he expects
to be ready for orders by 2012.
“It can be challenging to get a commercial casement with a U-value of
0.35 or below, and now with this you can do that,” he added.
4 Manufacturers Out in Force (Fabricators
Few and Far Between): It’s been noted in recent years that fewer glass
fabricators have been packing the GlassBuild hall. But this year brought
several introductions from primary manufacturers.
For its first time exhibiting at this event, Guardian packed its booth
with lots of new additions. The company’s new InGlass interiors segment
may have been eye-catching, with its vibrant color and unique textures,
but its new SunGuard products—SunGuard IS 20, which was designed to lower
U-values of dual-glazed windows by up to 20 percent, and SunGuard SNR
43, which offers a high LSG ratio and low solar heat gain coefficient—seem
sure to provide clear views and thermal comfort in future LEED-rated buildings.
“All these products together are a powerful illustration of the advances
occurring at our Science and Technology Center and our ongoing commitment
to glass innovation,” commented Chris Dolan, director of commercial glass
PPG Industries had plenty to showcase in its booth as well. Glenn Miner,
director of construction and marketing for the flat glass business of
PPG, said the company has “been tickled” by the response to its Solarban
R100 glass, adding that the international response especially “exceeded
expectations.” The transparent-reflective, solar control low-E glass was
introduced last year. He also revealed that the company would be introducing
later this year its Sungate 600 low-E glass, expected to have a smoother
surface and more color neutral appearance than its predecessor, Sungate
500. Miner says the new product is expected to be the best performer in
Propped prominently on the booth’s podium was a small sample representative
of the company’s new marketing alliance with thermochromic film producer
Pleotint (see page 30 for more).
AGC Glass Co., meanwhile, had brought out its new Krystal Images product.
The company is laminating a decorative film between two low-iron lites
at two of its facilities. But, he noted, many of the attendees at the
show wanted to know why they should spend the extra money for the company’s
U4 Fourth-Surface Technology. The booth was filled with reps waiting to
explain that the coating allows double-glazed units to achieve the same
levels of efficiency as costlier triple-glazed units, thanks to a pyrolytic
low-E hard coating that can be installed on the fourth surface of the
insulating glass unit.
Among those few fabricators at the show, Trulite Glass & Aluminum
Solutions took the opportunity to show the industry—and many of its own
employees—how it will blend product lines from its recently acquired businesses.
As Trulite’s Doug Penn explained, the booth represented a combination
of the systems from the former Arch Aluminum and Vitro Architectural Products.
Penn noted that the company kept a number of the Vitro systems that were
newer than other products and had “today’s performance factors.” Penn
added, “The heavy temper United Glass Corp. brought in is huge,” noting
that the new line-up allows the company’s architectural team to “go out
after the big projects.”
5 International Arrivals: Although
GlassBuild was held just a few weeks before Vitrum in Italy (look for
December 2011 USGlass for that show review), leading some to show-hop,
the Italians were out in force.
Renata Gaffo, who heads up both GIMAV, the Italian machinery manufacturers
association, and Vitrum, pointed out that the U.S. market is still an
important market for Italian suppliers, as it has been traditionally.
“For the last couple of years it has been weak,” she said, “but we have
faith in this market and we expect it to come back. So we are here.”
Cinzia Schiatti, foreign sales for Schiatti Angelo, Italian machinery
manufacturer, said that the U.S. market reminds her of the European market.
“Sometimes it shows improvement, but it is still a difficult market.”
On the other hand, she pointed out that while the Far East, particularly
China, has been hit by the same economic conditions as the rest of the
world it is still showing more growth than the United States and Europe.
“Overall, we feel like there are good prospects and we look forward to
a better future,” she said.
The Chinese were back in a show of force and new products that garnered
a great amount of attention. One exhibitor, Zhengzhou Henghao Glass Technology
Co., Ltd., from Zhengzhou, China, stood out on the trade show floor by
promoting the use of its non-reflective frosted glass on the Water Cube
structure, the main gymnasium for the 2008 Olympic Games in Shanghai.
Still, it’s not easy for Chinese companies to get into the market, commented
Michael Spellman of IGE Solutions Inc., which represents a number of companies
from that country (including glass, double edger and washer suppliers).
“The majority of the Chinese manufacturers make product that is inferior
quality for the American standard. But, there are diamonds in the rough,”
he added with a nod to the IGE booth.
6 They're Buying Again: Among the
highlights at the Lisec booth was its BSV-45ANK fully automated spacer-frame
bending system. “The new BSV can bend pretty much anything,” commented
Bob Quast, president of Lisec America, before revealing that it and other
display models had been purchased off the show floor. According to Quast,
people are buying, and not just at the trade show. He pointed to an interesting
differentiation in the marketplace: fabricators looking simply to add
capacity to their facility will buy a machine from “here and there” at
auctions. But fabricators looking to expand their product lines—and they
are out there, he said—come looking for automated solutions from strong
brands. And the latter is beginning to increase, Quast added. “I think
more people are looking to diversify,” he said.
Dan Degorter, whose Monroe, N.C.-based firm represents a number of machinery
manufacturers, described that market as “steady.” He commented, “We believe
the worst is over. The Administration is pushing hard, but until we get
construction back I don’t see us improving. I see us holding our ground.”
He added, “We try to sell a quality product with quality service. If you
want a quality product, you’ve got to spend the money.”
Some of the less traditional areas of the architectural market have helped
machinery manufacturers. Giulio Vitelli, export area manager for Italian
machinery manufacturer ForEl, said his company has been growing in the
United States in the last 18 months because of the environmental issues
which have been more important: double glazing for thermal efficiency.
“There is also a need for higher performances in the products used for
energy efficiency and so we spend more in research and development to
develop better products to meet our customers’ needs. The machines have
to be able to make units with flexible spacers, work with different gases
and thicker glass.”
7 No More Railing Against Railings: Although
most of the talk on the show floor dealt with the railing breakages being
reported in the consumer press (see October 2011 USGlass, page 32), railing
suppliers were out in force with a number of quality options to get people
Lara Morgan of J.M. Gruca pointed out a lot of people don’t know where
railings fit in the glass and metal industry. The show guide lumped them
in with metal fabrication—but after pointing to the company’s recently
developed glass fin-supported railing, which doesn’t need a stainless
steel support, Morgan made it clear that their products straddle a line
between glass and metal.
Paul Dructor, general manager of ARTACO Railing Systems (formerly Taco
Railings), had to agree that simple install is key. “Architects and contractors
want a complete package that arrives ready to assemble and we deliver
just that,” he said. “We have mastered the art of creating complete systems
with the benefit of reduced labor time using specialty glue versus welding,
without sacrificing great style and functionality.” Dructor added that
attendees “love[d] the concept of doing the whole railing system.”
8 Measuring Success: Quanex Building
Products Corp. focused on its customer’s products in its booth “zones,”
introducing its various capabilities (which, since last year’s event,
now includes Edgetech IG). Among the highlights, booth staff introduced
“The Optimizer” U-value calculator. This program estimates total window
U-values via a specially designed electronic application. Ric Jackson,
director of external affairs, described the tool as “very powerful tool
for helping customers design a window or choose a glazing package.”
Guardian likewise kept the focus on its online tools. The company’s new
Building Energy Calculator was designed to help customers compare annual
energy costs for a variety of glazing types in locations throughout the
United States, and proved popular at the event.
9 Still Trucking': The MyGlassTruck.com
team was collecting orders and donations in its booth. As Rustin Cassway,
president, explained, $18 on every purchase was going straight to the
Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. And there was plenty on hand to
draw in potential customers as they filled the pink donation box mounted
on the company’s display rack. The company was spotlighting information
on its curtain-side glass truck, as well as its slider roll-out glass
rack (see September 2011 USGlass, page 60).
F. Barkow, meanwhile, was looking down—at tires. The company’s new and
innovative “single stack” truck was sold at the start of the show, and
John Weise, president, reported that interest in the new technology was
high (see page 50).
10 Making an Impact: A range of impact-resistant
products could be found across the show floor, ranging from detention
windows to hurricane-resistant louvers. But for a glimpse of these GlassBuild
products in action, scan the MS tag here or visit the USGlass Studio on
Turn to page
46 for more on the decorative glass trends seen at GlassBuild.
© Copyright 2011 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.