Determination and Resiliency on Display at GlassBuild

“Together again.”

It seemed to be an unspoken theme and a spoken phrase throughout the floor at this year’s GlassBuild America (GBA), which took place September 13-15 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

Exhibitors, colleagues, attendees and friends—old and new—finally got to be together once again when one of the industry’s largest trade shows returned after being canceled last year due to the ongoing pandemic.

“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.

Robert Todd, senior outside sales representative at Wieland Wrisco, said the show was a positive occurrence for the industry. “It shows that the industry is resilient,” he said. “It shows that there is a tremendous amount of business and opportunity out there. In spite of supply chain and labor challenges…The purpose of the show is to network, look at leads, present new products, discuss industry issues that we’re all facing, and the vibe was generally positive,” he said.

H.T. “Tom” McKendree, vice president of sales for compact lifts and material handling equipment at Winlet, introduced a new machine at the show. The company’s Winlet 915 is a compact glass manipulator that can handle up to 915 pounds.

“It’s just so good to be able to get back to some kind of normalcy in the industry; to see your old friends and make new friends out here.”

Rolling with the Punches

Officials at Bavelloni knew that this year’s show would be something different. For the company, that meant not bringing machinery. Walter Schlup and Max Williams, senior vice president and vice president of sales, respectively, said this decision was based on the current circumstances and that things could change at a moment’s notice.

The personal interaction on the show floor was one of the most motivating factors for many companies.

“Meeting customers face-to-face is important,” as is supporting the U.S. glass industry, said Williams.

Schlup concurred. “Whoever intended to [arrive to GBA 2021] is serious and came with a purpose.”

This was a sentiment echoed by exhibitors across the exhibition space.

Daryl Huber, vice president of customer strategy at Soft Tech, also noted the importance of attending the show, despite the stark differences they’d see due to the effects of COVID.

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

Since Soft Tech 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 commercial and residential markets. These include a fully functional dealer module, Version 3.8 with an advanced drawing module and more.

Matthew Sampsel, key account manager at Press Glass Inc., attended the show and agreed that labor problems have affected the company. He said one solution that is being employed is investing in automation.

“Certainly labor has been an issue, just as it is with everyone,” he said. Since his company does a lot of work with jumbo-sized glass, he said they’ve invested in equipment and machinery that will allow them to move, fabricate and handle the glass efficiently.

Along with automated machinery and equipment, new supplies and products were a focus at GlassBuild.

Magid unveiled its new line of personal protective equipment (PPE) specially engineered to serve the glass and fenestration industries’ unique needs. Officials noted a favorable amount of attendees stopping by the booth.

“We opened the doors [on the first day] and had 20-30 people in our booth and it was non-stop traffic,” said Jennifer Walrich, product manager at Magid. “People are noticing the sweaters [we offer] and how light-weight they are and it’s a really good thing.”

IGT Glass Hardware showcased new products while experiencing GlassBuild for the first time. A highlight of its booth was a completely shattered glass door— still in one upright piece. IGT developed a protective and transparent film to bond to the glass to increase safety by keeping it together in the event of a shatter.

Aside from new products, meeting everyone in attendance and relishing in anticipation of being a first-time exhibitor were important for the company.

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

New Products and Partnerships

New partnerships were also a big focus for several companies at the show. The Wagner Companies partnered with Faraone to distribute railing products in the U.S.

Phil Hackbarth, Wagner’s senior director of sales, said that many glaziers with whom they work are doing mainly shower doors and partitions and lots of them are now being asked to take on the railings.

“… and they [aren’t as familiar] with the railing systems, as they are with the glass,” said Hackbarth. “So we’re trying to work with them [and build] that partnership …  Much involves code compliance and they aren’t always familiar with those.”

Softsolution North America was another company excited about a partnership–its recent merger with Litesentry. President Nathan Huffman, said in the past the two companies might have perceived themselves to be more of competitors, “but our products are really more complimentary—from start to finish, we have the quality inspection tools.”

In addition, Softsolution has also partnered with Glaston to develop and provide even more quality inspection systems for tempering lines.

While overall the show traffic was down compared to years past, what didn’t slow was the quality of the attendees visiting the booths. Many exhibitors reported productive meetings and interest from those who visited their booths.

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