Looking to the Past … and Future
Two Industry Leaders Reflect
This year, two well-known industry representatives are celebrating milestones—but
of a very different sort. Bill Yanek, executive vice president for the
Glass Association of North America (GANA), is celebrating his fifth anniversary
with the association since taking over in 2007. Meanwhile, longtime glass
industry journalist Charles Cumpston has announced that he will retire
at the end of the year, after 32 years of covering the industry’s biggest
issues and trade shows. Read on for a look at what Yanek hopes to see
in the future—and the changes Cumpston has seen over the past 32 years.
Yanek joined GANA as executive vice president in the summer
of 2007, when long-time association executive Stan Smith retired (see
related story in September 2007 USGlass, page 22). Yanek previously had
served as a state issues advocate for the Washington, D.C.-based Real
Estate Services Providers Council (RESPRO). He is a 1992 graduate of the
U.S. Military Academy at West Point and also earned his law degree from
the University of Kansas. In addition, Yanek serves as a Lieutenant Colonel
in the Kansas Army National Guard, and recently spent nine months deployed
to Djibouti, Africa.
USG: What has surprised you about the glass industry?
BY: When I came on board in 2007 and we started talking about ramping
up the advocacy, I think it was a little surprising that so much was already
going on and that there were ... places where we could plug in, whether
it’s ASHRAE or other areas on the energy side that we could impact. The
second was I was quite amazed that through our major events at how much
work gets done at GANA. They certainly are working meetings, especially
our fall conference and our annual conference in the spring. As each of
our divisions meets, real work gets done, consensus information gets documented,
and our Glass Informational Bulletins get finished.
USG: GANA is quite a significant resource for the industry
with all of the documents and informational bulletins it produces. What
would you say to those who have not yet been involved in that process?
BY: Well, if you look at the divisions that GANA has, everything
from decorative to tempered to insulating to energy, we have a division
or group that caters to any segment of the commercial architectural glazing
industry. Even though our work may take you away from the office or there
might be some travel involved, we have a group that caters to your interests.
If you look at our span of events, I think we have events that cater,
whether you’re a building envelope contractor or an architect or you’re
in the technical realm at the fall conference, and even in the advocacy
areas with our glazing industry code committee or our energy division,
which is heavily involved with ASHRAE, there’s a place where we can plug
you into GANA. All associations struggle with a group of a few doing a
lot of work and the potential of those people getting burned out, so as
a staff we are always looking for additional volunteers to help us, but
we’re confident that if you’re interested in the commercial and architectural
glazing industry or even in the glass and energy realm we have a place
USG: What are some of the highlights of the last five
years, and your goals for GANA for the next five years?
BY: Over the last five years I think we weathered the economic
downturn and are hopefully coming out of it, but GANA certainly has weathered
that storm. We’ve been able to keep a strong membership; in fact we’ve
grown our membership probably by about 10 percent over the last five years,
which is amazing considering what we went through in 2008 and 2009 and
moving forward. We’ve had consistent membership from the industry leaders.
We continually keep those members involved and they’re in our leadership
ranks at GANA. We’ve been able to change the makeup of our technical team
and I think we’ve increased our technical services to members. We also
were able to take advocacy to a new level at GANA … and take it from a
defensive stance to an offensive stance. We’ve become involved in the
National Association of Manufacturers, and Washington, D.C., fly-ins;
we’ve done a couple of those over the years but ought to do more. We’ve
become more involved with the regulators and also with our elected officials.
Last, looking back on the last five years, we’ve been able to evolve our
events to serve our members. Fall conference is pretty much the same as
it’s always been and it’s remained strong as the preeminent technical
conference that GANA offers. We took what used to be Glass Week and evolved
it into what we now call Annual Conference and it’s a separate early-year
event that really brings industry leaders together. BEC has continued
to thrive really, even during the economic downturn. If you’re a building
owner, if you’re an architect, if you’re a building contractor—all those
different facets, we bring them together in Las Vegas and it has been
a real success. On the advocacy front, we’re going to continue to be involved
in the ASHRAE and the Glazing Industry Code Committee. GANA ought to look
at having a government affairs committee or an advocacy committee of some
sort. What we don’t have in attendance at our meetings right now are the
public affairs or government affairs specialists from our individual companies.
We need to have a place where they come in. We know our member companies
have them, and we deal with them at times when we do the fly-ins in Washington,
D.C., but we need to have them at GANA events. On the energy side, kind
of parallel to that as well is, our new energy division, we need to have
the energy experts from our member companies as well. We’re starting to
go down that route and we have some, such as Helen Sanders from Sage who
runs our energy division, and some of our member companies in the solar
industry, but we don’t have enough of those energy industry individuals
attending our meetings. We need to evolve our energy division into a relevant
venue for energy professionals.
USG: Who are some of your greatest influences?
BY: Nobody does a better job of training junior leaders than the
military. In my opinion, nobody gives brand-new college graduates as much
responsibility as the army does. Those mentors I had, those early commanders,
they put a lot on your shoulders and you learn through failing in a lot
of ways, and the army does that on purpose, even at West Point … Also
when I joined [GANA], I was able to work with my predecessor, Stan Smith,
for six months. It went too quickly, but I was able to work side by side
with him, which was a fantastic way to come on board so there was no shock
to the system when it all happened.
USG: What are some of your business pet peeves?
BY: I tend to gravitate toward organizations and people that have
a positive outlook and a lot of energy, and if there are people who are
dour about what they do and don’t like what they do, I think they ought
to find another place to work. I also think business leaders ought to
be assertive, not just stay back and react to things ... Also people who
display an aversion to failing at all costs. They really don’t get things
done at the end of the day. If you’re not making any mistakes, you’re
probably not trying hard enough …
USG: What would you be doing if you weren’t working in
the glass industry?
BY: I probably would be back on active duty with the military. I left
the active duty military in 1998 and it’s a much different military now;
there’s a lot more going on now. If I had the size and the talent I wouldn’t
mind being a professional athlete. USG: Any particular sport? BY: I guess
football, but make sure you note, only if I had the size and talent [chuckles]
… I grew up in Western Pennsylvania where football is king. USG: What
are your favorite hobbies? BY: I have an 11-year-old son, an 8-year-old
son, and a 3-year-old daughter, so it’s pretty much everything that revolves
around them. I coach them in multiple sports. Personally it would be running
and reading when I can. I serve on the board for the association that
runs my son’s soccer program; I coached a little bit but ran out of coaching
talent when he was around 7, so I try to lend my knowledge to the association
Charles Cumpston has spent the last 32 years covering the glass
industry. He began his career at the now-defunct Glass Digest, then spent
another six years at another glass-related publication before, as he says,
“saving the best for last” and joining the USGlass editorial staff
in 2005. Cumpston specializes in international issues and has attended
glasstec 15 times, beginning in 1982. This year will mark his last time
at the show in Düsseldorf, Germany (see related story on page 42), as
he recently announced he would be retiring at the end of the year. Read
on for a look at what Cumpston has seen over the last 32 years.
USG: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen over the
last 32 years?
CC: The development of technology, in all aspects of our industry,
and how global our industry has become. The glass itself is more sophisticated
than it was 30 years ago. Production is much more sophisticated with more
advanced fabrication equipment. When I started in 1980, the U.S. market
was pretty much [just the] U.S. There were very few foreign companies
or products in the market. That changed first with companies coming in
from Europe and then China.
USG: What do you think are some of the industry’s biggest
CC: Making glass and architectural metal products that can be used
for construction to make it the leading building material. Few, if any,
designers would think of making a structure today that didn’t incorporate
a large amount of glass and metal. It is the building material of choice—and
increasingly so on the interior as well as the exterior of structures.
USG: What do you think the industry most needs at this
CC: A better global economy so that more glass and metal is used in
construction. And what the industry has always needed: better profit margins.
USG: What is the strangest thing you’ve ever seen in
your industry travels?
CC: Not really much comes to mind. But I do remember once touring
a Pilkington facility in the United Kingdom and there were two enormous
round machines which had been used to polish glass. At the time, of course,
we had sophisticated polishing machines, and it was difficult for me to
think that only a couple of decades before these huge wheels had been
used to polish the glass.
USG: What will you most miss about the industry?
CC: The people. I’ve met so many wonderful people.
USG: Who are some of your greatest influences from your
time in the industry?
CC: Bud Glassberg, of course, who was my mentor, and [publisher] Debra
Levy, for seeing what she has done with USGlass and the magazine
empire which she has built from scratch. I am not entrepreneurial at all,
so all the entrepreneurs in the industry (and there have been many) have
had a profound influence on me. I admire them. Also, Russ Ebeid, Pentti
Salin and the Glass Association of North America (GANA) executive directors
and all the people who took time, along the way, to explain and educate
me about the industry. I could go on and on. I’d also like to mention
Renata Gaffo, head of GIMAV, for introducing me to the Italian industry
and the importance of globalization and the people at glasstec for all
the kindness they have shown me over the years.
USG: What do you think you would have done had you not
spent last 30 years in the glass industry?
CC: I hate to think about it because of what I would have missed if
I had not been part of the industry.
USG: What are your plans for retirement?
CC: Stay active, enjoy life with friends, and go wherever the flow
takes me, and continue to marvel at the innovations which I’m sure will
take place in the architectural glass and metal industry.
© Copyright 2012 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.