Glass Expo Northeast™ Exceeded Expectations

By Emmariah Holcomb

This year’s Glass Expo Northeast™ (GENE) ’19 exceeded expectations for most of the exhibitors and attendees who took part in the two-day event. Attendance in Uniondale,
N.Y., was outstanding, and industry professionals took notice. Educational seminars, one-on-one meet ups and product demonstrations were all part of the conference’s overall success. According to several attendees, “this regional show is going to be hard to beat.”

A Warm Welcome

GENE’s introduction was heard by everyone who managed to fit into the Long Island Marriott, on March 27, 2019.With barely an open seat in the amphitheater, attendees were eager to learn what was in store for them at the conference. Debra Levy, USGlass magazine publisher, set the tone for the event by highlighting some of the seminars.

“This is the largest Glass Expo Northeast we’ve had, and the show keeps growing,” said Levy.

Seminars immediately followed and more attendees began to squeeze in before the first presentation began.

The conference offered a total of eight seminars and an interactive keynote speech that focused on the importance of body language.

The first, “Northeast Economic Update,” was presented by Key Media & Research’s (KMR) director of research, Nick St. Denis. He began with a focus on the housing market.

“Housing startups are up more than 125 percent since 2009’s historic low according to Dodge,” said St. Denis, explaining, there’s a critical reason for such a positive increase in the housing market.

“The trend over the past few years is for the younger generation to start buying homes again,” said St. Denis.

He also highlighted how new construction impacts the industry. Office construction, for example, has been a key driver on the non-residential side, which can be a good sign for glazing contractors. St. Denis also highlighted the continued topic regarding industry employment. He stated, “we’re seeing things return to pre-recession levels, contract
glaziers are hiring. About three-quarters of those we asked said they were hiring, but as I’ve said for the past few of my sessions, we constantly hear about the need for more skilled laborers.”

There’s also another shortage—one that impacts the delivery side of the industry and could impact your next project.

“There is a shortage of approximately 51,000 truck drivers in the U.S. and that number is expected to increase,” said St. Denis.

Unitize It

A presentation about the “Growing Importance of Unitized Systems,” presented by Greg Galloway, ProTek brand manager for YKK AP America Inc., immediately followed St. Denis.

Before diving into the benefits, he defined the differences between unitized and stick built construction. Galloway emphasized the unitized curtainwall system is constructed in the shop and then installed at the jobsite. Stick built projects are all constructed at the jobsite.

“For the last three years or so we’ve seen a rise in unitized,” said Galloway.

Key points to remember about unitized, according to Galloway include:

• With stick built you typically have more movement as you’re putting each piece in place;
• With unitized you have about six times more ability for movement;
• You’re not doing critical seals at the jobsite;
• Once you’ve built in the shop, you typically use several crates to transport the systems to the project; and
• Most unitized systems require lifting machinery to aid in the transportation.

“The key thing to remember is building design does matter,” said Galloway. “We’re seeing an increase in all systems that are moving more work and labor into the shop. It has significantly less costs than primarily working in the field,” Galloway added.

Speaking Body Language

The keynote speech was presented by Janine Driver, a body language specialist and author. There was barely an open seat in the audience when Driver began addressing the crowd from the back of the room. Many were wondering why she was speaking behind them, but they were instantly drawn in by her presence and delivery. Throughout her speech Driver explored and explained the importance of observing and understanding a person’s body language. She stated body language allows a person to gain information from someone without them saying anything at all.

“Body language happens before thought and we need to remember that,” said Driver.

“I wasn’t expecting to learn so much about the industry from her keynote but I did. I’ll now be more aware of what my body language says to others,” said one attendee.

“This is always the best show, and so far it’s really good,” said Scott Rubin, Cline Doors vice president.

Next on the agenda, Valerie Block with Kuraray America spoke about “Hurricane Code Considerations.”

“Most people think it’s just Florida, but it actually expands farther than that,” said Block.

She highlighted several key points that everyone in the industry should be aware of, especially in windborne areas, some of them included:

1. Identify your building code (state, city, local municipality);

2. Determine if your geographical area is regulated by the code requirements for windborne debris protection;

3. Look into wind maps; and

4. Review the current ASTM standards.

Industry Challenges

“Finding Quality Workers in the Glass Industry” was another first-day seminar, and was presented by Dustin Anderson, Anderson Glass owner, and spokesperson for®. He spoke on a topic that several in the audience immediately related to—the importance in knowing how to effectively recruit and retain employees.

He also mentioned the importance of knowing how to market the industry to millennials as a means of combating the frequent labor shortages. He suggested companies meet millennials at career days, to show them first hand about the glass industry.

“C-Suite Changes Coming in the Contract Glazing Industry” wrapped up the first day’s educational program. The session was led by Schüco USA president, Attila Arian and Lyle Hill, Keytech North America president.

The two took a tag-team approach while addressing the crowd. Hill began by telling the audience something that happened to him that could also happen to them.

“I’m sure you’ve all noticed that costs continue to go up, it’s common nature that when the big get bigger the middle gets squeezed, leaving few options to combat the costs,” said Hill.

One factor in the rising costs, according to Hill, is foreign competition.

“The really two big markets in the world right now are China and the U.S. If you’re a fabricator where do you think you’d go? To China, where there are 14 dialects and a more cumbersome legal system, or the U.S., which has one language?” said Arian.

“Here you have a big market, a large opportunity for growth and a better landscape for technology. I’m not trying to alarm you, but I am trying to bring things to your attention. We as an industry need to be prepared for change,” Arian added.

Business Matters

Hill also led the session, “ABC’s of Business” on the second day. He began by letting audience members select letters of the alphabet from a box, and then went through most of the letters in the form of business tips that can be used throughout the glass industry. This game-style technique allowed dozens to interact with Hill, as they learned how to implement various tips within their companies.

“Trends in the Glass and Glazing Industry” was next presented by Richard Voreis of Consulting Collaborative. One of his most talked about industry trends involved future materials that are currently being created.

“The future will definitely incorporate silica, carbon nanotubes, aluminum metal foam and bamboo. The bamboo however will mostly be seen on a building’s interior,” said Voreis.

According to Voreis, aluminum represented 85 percent of the non-residential market segment in 1980, and in 2018 it represented 84 percent, a mere 1-percent decline.

Keeping Glass Clean

The seminars concluded with a presentation that focused on the importance of architectural glass storage and maintenance. Paul Düffer, who retired from PPG Industries’ research and development department, presented “Unique Vulnerabilities of Glass at Construction Sites.” One point Duffer discussed was how easily moisture can build up and damage glass.

“Glass surface corrosion occurs when an environment remains moist for extended periods of time and comes in contact with glass. This can often happen, but the important thing is doing something about it before it gets worse and you either have to do a full restoration or replace the glass,” Düffer said.

On to the Show

Each day after the seminars concluded attendees took to the trade show floor to meet with exhibitors and potentially get leads on future projects. And there was a multitude of trends and topics being discussed. The first was a noticeable increase in project demand.

“The main trend we’re seeing relates to job size. All jobs and projects are getting bigger and it’s a good problem to have. The constant high volume allows us to keep putting quality at the forefront,” said Ashlee Bechtold, Rochester Insulated Glass Inc. sales coordinator.

Americlad Quality Metalcrafts showcased its variety of panels and spoke to attendees about its custom fabrication options. Representatives also saw an increase in the number of projects they’ve completed.

“Each project is specific, and we do most of the work with just one phone call. Since we don’t stock items, we’re very streamlined and can do most of the building ourselves. Our customers have had us busy lately and that’s something we aren’t complaining about. I think the industry, especially in our area can expect more work in the near future,” said David Ferch, regional marketing manager.

There was also lots of activity at the Sussman Architectural Products booth, as many were interested in the family-owned company’s ability to bend metals to create truly unique works of art. The fourth-generation business also highlighted its various finishes, uses of materials and what it’s expecting to continue in the industry.

“We take pride in being a 100-percent solar-powered facility with no stock items. Our family has perfected the art of bending metals and creating custom finishes that attract the eye. One thing everyone needs to keep in mind is that things are constantly advancing. And from what we’ve been seeing, people are more interested in the fine-tuning with projects—not to mention the increase in demand for architectural bending involving metal. It’s only going to increase as time goes on,” said Jake Sussman, project manager.

Glass transportation was also a heavily discussed topic. Many mentioned how changes in truck designs have allowed for easier transports.

“Everyone knows you can’t just move large pieces of glass for projects in just any vehicle … unless you want it broken. I know I want my customers’ glass to arrive in one solid piece, that’s why our vehicles now feature sliders,” said Dylan Carpenter, account executive.

These sliding racks are designed to hold glass in place while it’s being transported.

Functional style also plays a role in highly efficient deliveries.

“The newer European style for industry vans has really become popular because you can stand inside them. You’d have to bend and be more cautious and aware with the older models,” said John Weise, F. Barkow president.

Exhibitors such as Quanex Building Products focused on structural challenges. The company displayed and spoke to attendees about its Super Spacer that reduces sealant stress, improves condensation resistance and promotes sound absorption.

Assa Abloy showcased its adjustable latch, which allows a more secure locking mechanism, according to Melissa Thompson, the company’s glass solutions engineer.

Attendees were also interested in the new dripless gun from Strybuc Industries.

“This is definitely going to change how installers see caulk guns. It literally won’t drip and it’s heavy duty,” said Paul Pierangeli, sales and marketing vice president.

Mayflower representatives spoke about an unfortunate industry trend: financial inflation.

“There’s an increase in prices because of the tariffs and it’s widespread. I think it’s a big unknown that keeps hitting us hard in the industry, yes an increase in prices might be great for the supplier, but what is it doing to the projects? Will they start to suffer in quality because of the inflated material and glass prices,” said Tin Donnelly, sales manager.

Another new product is taking safety and security to a new level.

“Our new product [patented glass and film] protects against NIJ level 1 and 2, weighs less than 6.6 pounds per square foot and is the only one that can currently fit into standard storefront frames. It’s the ultimate when you think of overall protection,” said Kathleen Stone, TriState Sun Control vice president of sales.

To watch our video coverage from Glass Expo Northeast™ be sure to visit

Emmariah Holcomb is the assistant editor of KMR’s AGRR magazine, a USGlass sister publication. She can be reached at

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.