GlassBuild America is back after COVID forced the event’s shelving in 2020. Glass and glazing companies are displaying their new products—and determination—at the Georgia World Congress Center in the heart of downtown Atlanta.

It is clear that the pandemic has left its mark on GlassBuild. After having last year’s show canceled, exhibitors mentioned not setting their expectations too high, but are excited for the community to start interacting and engaging again.

“It’s a different type of year,” said Amber Deimler, vice president of sales for MyGlass Truck. “Customers are understandably busy and may find it difficult to make it to GBA for each of the three days, so it is a matter of taking each day as it comes. It’s exciting to finally reconnect and meet customers and potential customers,” Deimler said.

However, despite some of the disruption and changes that come with navigating COVID, the company still showcased its products and services with its 14-foot Hero truck body on display. The truck’s aluminum body holds glass racks in the interior and the exterior with options to accommodate glass of different sizes.

It hasn’t just been exciting for exhibitors. One attendee was overheard during the early hours of the show reacting to the environment.

“It’s like being a kid in a candy store!”

Strainoptics was on display at GBA for the first time in its own booth – with product innovations and extra measures to mitigate the effects of COVID.

A new take on Grazing Angle Surface Polarimeter (GASP) instruments, the company shared a look at the newest automatic technology to measure the strength of a surface in real time and store the data.

“It’s slow, which was expected,” said Don Ware, general manager at Strainoptics, of the smaller crowd size in comparison to shows in the past. The booth features QR codes in place of brochures in an effort to remain as contactless as possible.

IGT Glass Hardware is also showcasing new products while experiencing GlassBuild for the first time.

A section of IGT’s display with a shattered window in one piece showcasing its transparent film.

The company displayed different samples of glass, with a newly developed film to increase safety by keeping the glass together in the event of a shatter.

“It’s exciting to get to know customers and get our name out there,” said Gustavo Henao, co-founder and CEO of IGT.

Creative Millwork unveiled its Grid Runner System, an aluminum addition, to its product lineup.

“[It’s] normal aluminum that has muntin bars applied directly to the glass,” says Hutch Dannels, sales and marketing manager for Creative Millwork. “Many customers go with a piece-piece method and they pin in their muntin bars onto aluminum storefronts or their window systems in general. We have a new clip to where we can cut a full-length vertical or horizontal piece … When [users] go to assemble it, instead of dealing with all of the pins and labor it takes to build a window, they can just snap a piece together and apply everything at once and still screw into their window system.”

Creative Millwork’s new Grid Runner System.

Dannels says the product has been in the works for two years.

Protectapeel offers temporary peelable protection and specialty coatings. Director of operations Sofia Bower says business has been booming during the pandemic. “I feel COVID has made us more accessible. We used to do a lot more in person, which I truly enjoy—going out to sites and factories. We’ve learned to adapt to that and now we can reach a lot more people in less time.”

Software suppliers have a large presence at the show and had many new updates to unveil. Daryl Huber, vice president of customer strategy at Soft Tech, mentioned that since the company was acquired last year by Compusoft, it now has additional resources. In turn, the company has made several updates to many of its software programs for the residential and commercial door and window industries. This includes a fully functional dealer module, Version 3.8 with an advanced drawing module and more.

“Everyone we talk to is busy,” said Huber. “And there are still labor problems so this is a way to help solve the labor problem through digitization.”

At Preference North America, Neil Barry reported that the company now has quite a library of mobile apps, virtual reality offerings and a new CRM and document management system. “We have grown a lot in these areas,” he said. “We are hoping to meet some new prospects here as well as our current customers.”

Friedman Corp. has made some changes in its software to coincide with the integration of other companies it has acquired and added to its portfolio. Those include Logimax, a warehouse management system for third party logistics and distribution centers, and Varsity Logistics, a multi-carrier parcel and freight shipping software. Craig Skonieczny, vice president of operations, said the company also offers e-web services. “You can integrate our user experience into your website using our ERP software,” he said. “One of our customers has ten different lines utilizing that web service.”

After a year and a half of uncertainty and confusion, the glass, glazing and fenestration industry finally got to reconnect at one of the largest tradeshows since the start of the pandemic.

“Anyone who made the effort to [attend GBA] came with a purpose,” Huber said.

GBA runs through Wednesday, September 15. Stay tuned to USGNN and throughout the week for our continuing coverage of the show.