by Regina R. Johnson
Its third year marked a homecoming for Glass Expo Pacific Northwest 98, when the regional educational event returned to Vancouver, BCthe site of its inauguration. Industry professionals from as far away as Mexico and Eastern Canada participated in the two-day event August 21-22. As in previous years, education, networking and exposition were hallmarks of Glass Expo Pacific Northwest.
Seminar topics catered to all segments of the flat glass and metal industries. There were panel discussions by professionals from the window, auto glass and insurance industries, sessions on shop safety and sharpening sales strategies and hands-on demonstrations of window film and auto glass installations. A welcoming cocktail party and a breakfast sponsored by Joseph Taylor, Inc. provided an opportunity for attendees to relax and mingle. In addition, participants were treated to a tour of U.S. Aluminums new manufacturing facility in Langley, BC (see sidebar below).
A special session presented by Dean Mieske of Performance Achievement Group, Inside Sales Strategies to Increase Your Sales, led the strong schedule of seminars. Glass Expo attendees who participated in the three-hour session learned how to turn virtually every call into a sales opportunity, how to handle the price shopper and other strategies.
C.R. Laurences Danny Donahue presented Advanced Shower Door Installation Techniques, a session packed with information. Donahue, who installed frameless enclosures in Southern California for years, emphasized the importance of providing the customer with every option and allowing them to choose without any leading. He also discussed the calculations involved in proper installations, reminding attendees, "Math is very important; it will set you apart."
The Auto Glass Insurance Interface was another highlight of the seminar schedule. The panel, featuring Bill Hardt of State Farm Insurance Co., Carl Tompkins of Sika, Robbie Robbs of Vital Innovations, Inc., and Ed Fennell of Bartlestone Glass, focused on the future of the auto glass and insurance industries. According to panel members, advances in automation will define the business in upcoming years.
According to Fennell, industry efforts to standardize electronic data interchange (EDI) will greatly improve things for auto glass repair and/or replacement (AGR) businesses, particularly the smaller competitors. "This will put us, the little guys, on an equal playing ground," he predicted.
Tompkins, noting that the insurance segment is the AGR industrys biggest customer, responsible for 68 percent of total volume, said, "We need to work closer together than in the past." To facilitate relations, he stressed the need for continued third-party involvement to educate and work with the insurance industry.
Tompkins also predicted increased cost averaging by insurers to avoid different prices for different adhesive systems (kits) and the validation process required to confirm that the billed kit was actually used. Through cost averaging, insurers would offer a flat, average price per kit used.
State Farms Hardt is a strong proponent of increased automation in the AGR industry (see Heart-to-Hardt, page 62). "You wont have a choice if you want to stay competitive," he said.
Hardt also foresees increasing reliance on the internet for services from the policyholders first claim through billing. He also predicted big changes for the AGR industry that may include some of the tremendous consolidation hes seen in the auto body repair business.
Robbs agreed with Hardts assessment that the internet will one day replace EDI. "There is a need to move to a more interactive environment," he said. "It will be easy and in real-time." Systems for a "virtual claim network" will be in place within two years, he predicted. Robbs also discussed the increasing competition in the Canadian insurance industry, and the impact this has for AGR. "To be successful," he said, "we need to understand the dynamics that are impacting our business and we need to be adaptive to those."
In addition to the learning opportunities posed by the seminars, attendees were able to take advantage of the information and product demonstrations available on the trade show floor. Approximately 60 exhibitors from throughout Canada and the United States presented their latest products and services. Many remarked that Glass Expo Pacific Northwest offered the rare opportunity to reach industry professionals from Canada.
"We dont get a chance to show very much in Canada, so we dont miss [exhibiting here]," said Grant Armstrong from Joseph Machinery in Calgary, AB. Armstrong, who attended the event when it was in Vancouver two years ago, added, "This gives us a chance to shake hands with people we talk to on the phone but never get to see, just to thank them for their business."
Pete Metzen of Schnee-Morehead in Santa Fe Springs, CA, was another repeat exhibitor of the event. "We come back because its local for us," he said. "It gives us a greater exposure to Canada."
For the first time ever, Glass Expo Pacific Northwest will be held in Portland, OR, in 1999.
Regina R. Johnson is the editor of USGlass magazine.
One of Glass Expo Pacific Northwests most exciting offerings was a tour of U.S. Aluminums new 60,000-square-foot facility in Langley, BC. For the approximately 25 attendees who participated, the tour was a testament to the pride and innovation that is obviously an essential part of the companys manufacturing process.
The plant, which opened last fall, is the manufacturers first in Canada and supports its expansion plans, according to sales manager Kiomars Dabbagh. He adds that, in addition to increasing market share in North America, "[The facility is] part of our expansion into the global market."
The facility serves the Northwestern U.S. and Western Canada region. Approximately 25 personnel staff the location, and Dabbagh predicts, "As we grow into Alberta, well add in the field and then here as needed."
The Langley plant provides systems for storefronts, curtainwalls, ribbon windows and slope glazing, as well as fabricated doors, operable windows, sheet metal working. Other in-house production capabilities include thermal-breaking using state-of-the-art technology, and a semi-automated horizontal paint line offering a wide range of fluoropolymer and acrylic finishes. As Dabbagh says, the plant is designed to "meet all the day-to-day needs of the industry."
Commenting on the facilitys first year, Todd Joubert, vice president of sales and marketing, remarked, "Were off to a good start. Weve got a long way to go, though."
Harry and Betty Meier of Harrys Door & Window in Sechelt, BC, said they were impressed with U.S. Aluminum and the plant. "They seem very concerned about detail and take a lot of pride in their product," said Harry Meier. "I think its kind of neat that theyre coming into this area."
"I wasnt expecting anything of this size," remarked Joe Wong of Dorland Commercial Doors in Edmonton, AB. He added, "I dont think theres another paint line of this sizenot in Western Canada, anyway."
Bill Coady of Andersen Windows in Monroe, WA, called the tour "interesting," and said, "I appreciate them showing us the products and explaining the manufacturing process. I have a better understanding of the entire process."
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