Glass Industry Meets in San Diego for Education and Networking Opportunities

Educational opportunities and a look at the industry’s latest products were a major draw for attendees at Glass Expo West™ ’19, December 4-5, 2019. The show gave exhibitors a chance to highlight their latest products and interact with customers in the Western region. The two-day show, sponsored by USGlass magazine, attracted approximately 1,000 visitors to theSan Diego Convention Center.

Kuraray market manager Mark Jacobson said he’s seen an increased demand for his company’s Trosifol SC interlayer for sound control. The noise codes in New York are one driver behind this trend. He’s seeing demand in the hospitality sector, hospitals, airports and high-density downtown office buildings.

Energy efficiency is a major California trend. EDTM vice president Mark Imbrock said the California market has a heavy demand for energy-based profilers which measure UV light, visible light, infrared light and solar heat gain coefficient. He explained that many sales reps in the region use the profiler to show the performance capabilities of energy-efficient glass. It can also be used to measure the existing glass in retrofit projects for modeling purposes.

EDTM recently made a Bird1st detector for Guardian Glass so that fabricators and installers can make sure that the bird-friendly coating is on the correct surface. If the coating is not on the correct surface then it won’t be as effective for bird deterrence.

Bird-friendly solutions were also on display at Glass Coatings and Concepts’ booth. Its frit can now be used on surface one to deter birds. Sales manager Tim McGee expects to see the demand for this product grow as more codes incorporate bird-friendly glass requirements.

At the Glaston booth the company focused on its ProL full convection laminating oven. Regional sales manager Matt Goebel said the demand for this product is driven in part by the need for companies to upgrade their laminating ovens.

DeGorter vice president Pete DeGorter explained that his company was working to get changes made to specifications for handrails to include EVA. He said that some of the advantages of EVA over PVB include fewer delamination issues, a clearer color on the exposed edge and more durability and temperature stability. DeGorter represents Evalam in the U.S.

Economic Update

While the show floor allowed attendees to speak with exhibitors about their latest offerings, the show’s educational seminars gave attendees a look at issues impacting the glass and glazing industry as well as valuable business insights.

The show’s educational program began with the “Glass and Glazing Industry Economic Update,” presented by Nick St. Denis, director of research for Key Media & Research. While nonresidential construction spending flattened out in 2017 after several years of strong increases, St. Denis projects a 4% increase for the sector in 2019 and a 2% increase in 2020.

Office construction had been a major driver of this sector but with vacancy rates on the rise and the sector maturing, there is slower growth in the office sector. Retail construction has been slow due to the shift in online shopping; however, this has brought an increase in warehouse construction.

“That’s unfortunate for glass and glazing companies because they’d rather install a storefront with expansive glass than a punched opening in a warehouse,” said St. Denis, who added that store alterations have been up in the last couple of years.

The institutional side of nonresidential construction has become a stronger driver than commercial in recent years due to the increased spending in the educational and healthcare segments. St. Denis explained that after a recession the commercial side grows quicker because it’s based on private spending, whereas the institutional side takes longer to pick up speed due to contracts and public funding.

Multifamily construction, which led the way after the recession, has leveled out recently after years of double-digit increases at the beginning of the decade. St. Denis said the strong state of the economy has helped out the single family side of residential building.

Looking to the West, St. Denis said that despite strong construction employment the numbers still aren’t at the pre-recession levels of 2006. However, California makes up a large portion of the contract glazing focus. According to St. Denis, the state makes up 12% of the country’s population but 17% of the top 100 U.S. contract glaziers are headquartered there. Of the top 100 contract glaziers, 22% of their total locations are in California.

St. Denis surveyed glass fabricators and manufacturers about their expectations for 2019 sales vs. 2018 sales and almost 50% expected an increase of 10% or more. He also explained that many companies have been and plan to continue to raise prices due to increased costs on their end caused by the cost of freight, the labor shortage and increased materials prices.

Emphasis on Glass

Glass Expo West also featured several other relevant presentations. Pulp Studio CEO Bernard Lax spoke about different types of graphical glass products and technologies in the seminar “Decorative Glass: Benefiting from Graphic Imaging.”

In “Pushing the Design Envelope with Fire-Rated Glazing,” Vetrotech Saint-Gobain western regional sales manager Laura Head gave an overview of fire-rated glazing products and their differences.

She explained that protective glass provides protection against smoke and flame, but allows heat to come through, whereas resistive glass protects against smoke, flames and heat. Resistive glass is often required by code in applications needing 60-minute fire protection or greater.

The next Glass Expos event will be Glass TEXpo™ ’20 at the Henry B. González Convention Center in San Antonio May 1-2, 2020.

Jordan Scott is an assistant editor for USGlass magazine. She can be reached at jscott@glass.com

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