For all of you, who haven’t heard, from the 12th to the 14th of September there was a glass show going on in Atlanta, Georgia. It was not kitchen and bath show, but rather glass show organized by glass industry and for glass industry. I was there, along with other people, to see what's new out there, to learn, to examine new machines, to meet people and talk with them. I can thank my boss for the opportunity!
The trip started with us flying out early morning September 13, going to the show directly from the airport, spending the whole day there, and then coming back to hotel around 5:00pm. The following day we went back to show at dawn and were present until it was over. Then after that there was the airport again and an airplane back to New Jersey. So, September 15 I was back in office and I saw a huge pile of projects that got thrown my table. It took me a weeks to catch up with all of it. And that is the reason I am writing about the show now.
First of all let me tell you something – there were lot of companies presented there. Not as much as in Germany, but still two days were just barely enough to see all booths and spend at least 10-15 minutes with those who was interesting to us. For full listing of companies participants of the show, visit the web site – http://www.glassbuildamerica.com/. The big guys sash as CRL and GGI, Klein, Lasec and Quanex – they of course were the centers of the expo. GGI’s booth won an award for the best booth of the expo.
Quanex’s booth had open bar, and CRL’s one was full with new product. There of course were all bunches of other guys, not really related to shower door business- window and screen manufactures, door manufacturers, glass racks, tools, cutting tables – you name it. Heavy machinery and full productions lines were presented by European companies. You could see Italian and German names. Ford Automotives also was there with commercial vans.
And of course Chinese representatives were there too – on every corner, presenting anything, from glass laminating equipment and to exact copies of CRL hardware.
So, what was amazing? The first thing to impress me was the wide variety of machinery. Different kinds of automated equipment were presented by Bottero, from glass cutting tables, bevellers and polishers, glass washers. All you need for a medium size glass company. Lisec – presented complete production lines for the glass and glazing industry, turnkey solutions and ready to use factories.
There was another Italian machinery manufacturer presenting an amazing router, which could route out any notch into the glass then change the router bit to drill bit and drill holes without changing the table. All what we need in shower door manufacturer!
Unfortunately, they did not allow me to make pictures; so, all the photos I got are just general photos of the exhibition.
Second, there was a printing table of a German company – that could print any image on the glass. What was more impressive about that printer – that the glass after printing can be tempered! And that, my friends, opens all whole new chapters in glass business.
What else? O, Yes! CRL had all new hardware for any of glass solutions – from shower doors to point support glass and glass railing. It seems to me that CRL is getting bigger and bigger every year. And it shame that with their growth they also greatly harm all of us with their sells policies.
And for the end of my essay, I would like to speak of things that are more empiric than material. I want to say few words about general mood of people that we meet on expo. You know how that happens, right? All the companies that were there, all salesmen, all reps; they represent the construction industry. They either serve or manufacture for construction and they directly involved in new and ongoing construction projects.
And we all know that construction industry is in deep-deep hole, if not to say more. December of 2010 was the worst month on my memory, and then January and February of 2011 were not better. So every conversation with every person on expo’s floor would start with the rather sacred question, “So, how is the business?” And we got many different answers, some of them were negative. Like a glass company in Florida complained that their business plunged down for about 70 percent. But some of them were optimistic. The sells representative from Enduro Shield, for example, said that they had a very good year so far.
It was like this – the big guys looked like they were standing strong, confident in their strength and future. Like if they know that we are almost “out of woods.” And the smaller guys were stretching muscles and looking to bigger companies in hope that those guys know better.
But in reality they all were cautiously optimistic. And on my way back to New Jersey, in the airplane, mentally rewinding the events of last two days, I thought to myself that maybe we will see the light at the end of the tunnel, maybe this long period of darkness is coming to the end. And hopefully the coming winter will not feel so cold and miserable like the one we left behind.