The United States made its presence felt at glasstec 2016 on both the attendee and exhibitor sides. And non-North American companies at the show have been able to get the pulse of the American industry that they supply to.
As expected, machinery was a highlight of the event.
“There are a lot of investments going into cutting equipment right now in the U.S.,” says Elmar Zeidler of Germany-based Hegla. He notes that yield is a major focus with U.S. companies in cutting, as they seek to minimize as much waste as possible.
Zeidler adds that the U.S. continues to be a growing market for machinery overall for a variety of reasons.
“What we see, and from what we hear, the minimum wage increase to $15 an hour on the west coast and New York could be leading these companies to a lot of automation,” he says.
Another trend he’s noticed is that laminated glass is being used much more in the U.S. than in the past, and he expects the North American market will continue to grow its application of jumbo-sized glass, which is more common in Europe.
Companies in other segment such as hardware are also adapting to U.S. glass trends.
KL-Megla, which is headquartered in Germany, recently designed a shower door hinge to meet North American market demand. The product—called the Milano Premium Max—is a spinoff of its most popular item, with a similar design but smaller in size.
“The U.S. market wanted a pair of hinges that can carry a heavy door panel but aren’t bulky,” says Matt Roe, a U.S. representative of KL-Megla. This, he says, is an example of how the North American market has unique demands and that it’s important for his company to respond to them.
He says he has seen many North American customers during the week and that the show is a great opportunity for them, as well as for exhibitors traveling across the world, to get exposure to the global market.
Michael Gainey of Germany-based Ensinger agrees.
“We’ve seen people from all over the world [by the second morning of the show],” says Gainey, “… from the Far East, Korea, Japan, the Middle East and Mexico, as well as the Nordic and Mediterranean regions.”
Shiloh Spoo with Bend, Ore.-based GlasWeld was at the GlasWeld Europe booth and said he hasn’t seen much traffic from the U.S. Joyce Chen of ABC Hardware, located in California, also didn’t see many Americans at her company’s booth, though both companies garnered interest from other regions. ABC Hardware, in fact, was most interested in connecting with other exhibitors given it is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
Overall, the mood at the event was positive.
“In talking with exhibitors around the show, it seems that companies selling bigger-dollar items saw the best improvements from the last glasstec,” says Mark Imbrock of EDTM. “People are spending money again.”
Exhibitors and attendees alike have been able see a massive variety of glass products throughout the nine halls and four days. Not only has it been an opportunity to do business, but it’s also a chance for industry members to get an idea of all the present and prospective innovations that are happening across the world.
Gainey, who works with Ensinger’s North American subsidiary, says one of the most interesting things he saw at the show was multi-curved tempered glass. He says this is an example of innovation coming from the industry that’s driven by the design community’s ever-evolving desires.
“Architects are stretching the boundaries with what they want to do with glass,” he says. “And I think the industry has responded well with aesthetics and with energy efficiency, as we have seen at this show.”