Volume 36, Issue 4, April 2001

March Madness

Miami Show Offers Networking Opportunities and Educational Outlets
by Ellen Giard


Since spring was just around the corner, and much of the United States had probably endured about all the snow and ice it could handle for one winter, you might agree that spending a few March days in Miami wasn’t such a bad way to welcome the approaching season. Many glass professionals did just that March 14-16, when they headed there for the National Glass Association’s (NGA) annual trade show and convention. Throughout the three-day event, approximately 6,800 attendees found the latest in products and services from approximately 350 exhibiting companies and educational seminars.

The Tip-Off
For those who could resist the temptation of the nearby beaches and beckoning golf courses, the opening ceremonies got the show underway with keynote speaker, Miami Herald humor columnist Dave Barry, whose column is syndicated by hundreds of major newspapers. But before Barry’s humorous presentation got underway two awards were presented. The Maurice Russell Peterson Memorial Leadership Award—shortened the Maury Award—was given to Carolina Mirror’s vice president for industrial sales, John Matthews. Matthews graciously accepted the award, thanking both his wife and customers for their support.

Ron Clawson, last year’s award recipient, presented the Glass Professional of the Year Award to Bill Birch, former executive director of the Glass Association of North America (GANA). Bill Knutsen, GANA chairman, accepted the award on Birch’s behalf. “I’m humbled to be Bill Birch’s friend, and honored to present this award to his son Chris.” As Chris accepted the award in his father’s absence, he said, “He [Bill] was overwhelmed by this award and looks forward to the day he can thank many of you personally for this wonderful honor.”

This was not the first time Birch was honored for his achievements. In 1997 he was inducted into the Glass and Metal Hall of Fame™, sponsored by USGlass magazine.

Nice Shot

After the awards presentation, Barry began with a joke, and the audience didn’t stop laughing until the end of the ceremony. He jokingly titled his presentation, “I’ll Tell You What You Can Do With Your Fuel Surcharge,” but never once discussed the topic. Instead, he kept the audience entertained by talking about everything from what not to say in Miami, turning 50, current events and relationships between men and women.

The closest he came to touching upon the glass business was when he told a story of having all the windows replaced in his house. “Miami is a great place for the glass industry, because there are lots of hurricanes here,” he said. “I recently replaced all the windows in my house with new, hurricane-proof glass. I don’t know what all they are made of,” he said. “But based on the price, probably a lot of diamonds.”

Seminar Commentary

Following the opening ceremony, many attendees chose to roam the trade show floor, checking out all that was available from the exhibiting companies. Others made their way to educational seminars to beef up on such topics as energy-efficient glazing, safety standards, contract review and administration and more.

Gordon H. Smith, of the Gordon H. Smith Corp., enticed a crowd of about 50 participants to one of the best-attended seminars with his lesson, “The Impact and Importance of Consultants in Today’s Glazing Field.” The seminar discussed why and how glazing contractors can benefit from the services of a consultant. Smith encouraged audience members to take advantage of the available service, explaining that consultants can provide technical advice to ensure that a system is not installed where it’s going to fail—even when it doesn’t seem as though it will. He also stressed the importance of a knowledgeable consultant over just any consultant. “Should you be afraid of us?”, he asked. “ I don’t know. I believe we are knowledgeable professionals who are here to assist you. Should you be afraid of other consultants? Not as long as they have at least as much knowledge as you do about the subject.” He added, “We need you as much as you need us.”

Jim Benney of the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) also led a seminar, “Rating the Energy Performance of Fenestration Systems.” In this discussion, Benny provided attendees with an overview of the NFRC rating system. One area of his seminar discussed how the NFRC can assist architects and glazing contractors—one way being in product selection. “More and more architects are now tending to use an increased amount of glass in buildings for both architectural expression and for daylighting.” He added that with the rising glass usage users are seeing an increase in employee satisfaction, improvements in productivity and a decrease in artificial lighting costs. “The NFRC is helping because it assures that the product is performing ‘as specified,’” added Benney.

Though it didn’t draw a very large crowd (only about 13), “When OSHA Knocks,” led by Leroy Richards of City Glass Co., provided those in attendance with valuable information. Richards explained to the audience the importance of OSHA inspections and staying up-to-date with safety programs. “The number one thing with OSHA is paperwork. They want you to have all your paperwork up-to-date,” said Richards. That way, when an OSHA inspector comes to your place of employment, “even though he’s probably coming because of one complaint,” everything is in its place.

Floor Coverage
In addition to the available educational outlets, the biggest draw was the trade show, which offered a multitude of products and services through its many exhibitors. At the 2000 show in Las Vegas exhibitors unfolded a mass of new products and innovations; this year it seemed most companies brought along their most popular, current items as opposed to new launches. There were, however, a few new products giving attendees something to talk about.
Drawing a crowd on the machinery floor was first time exhibitor Virtek’s GlasMark laser etching machine. The machine, which was first introduced last October during glasstec, allowed attendees to take home a piece of glass etched with his or her name. According to Cec Archibald, vice president, industrial laser systems, GlasMark combines laser technology and proprietary software offering speed, cost and quality advantages over glass marking processes that use sand. He adds that anything that can be viewed on a computer screen can be marked with repeatable accuracy.

Machinery manufacturers weren’t the only ones displaying new and improved products. Glass Wholesalers Inc. brought along an 8-foot tall L-shaped glass wall, which was 8- by 4-feet long. The wall was constructed of -inch clear, tempered glass and -inch stabilizer fins, which provided the structure’s support. The wall also featured Victoria, Australia-based Austvision’s ‘Spider’ tension rod system, which connected each lite of glass. “We don’t have an official name for the wall yet,” said Bob Larson, vice president-operations. “We’re just going to have to come up with one.”

Other companies launching new products included Sommer & Maca with its VFE-4, four cup flat edger. Dave Nelson, regional vice president said the first one sold in the first five minutes, and the second within the following hour. Tremco introduced its TremGlaze window and door glazing products, which a company representative said had only been available for two weeks, and Sun Architectural Products introduced its tempered, heavy glass stair and landing handrails.

Foul or Free Throw?
Whether they came looking to buy or sell, either way, floor traffic was lighter than 2000’s Las Vegas event which drew in nearly 8,000 attendees.
Oddly enough, the number of glass manufacturers exhibiting has dwindled to zero—PPG, Pilkington, Guardian, AFG and Visteon were absent from the show floor. Staples from previous years, such as Carolina Mirror, also chose not to exhibit this year. “We participate in so many shows, that we are stepping back and looking at all the things we are involved in and where we need to be,” said Matthews who was in attendance. “We thought that now would be the best time to do this ... that it would probably be worth our money to participate in bigger shows. We will probably be back next year in Houston and surely for the 2003 show,” he added.

Lenny Simonetti with Action Bullet Resistant was happy with the show. “We had a tremendous response,” he said. “The first day was a little slow, the second day was great and the third it was slowing down again.”

“We didn’t have too many come by our booth on Wednesday, but we did a lot of business,” said Richard Carroll of Sommer and Maca. “It was the opposite on Thursday—we had a lot of people come by, but we didn’t sell much. We had more quality the first day and quantity the second,” he added.
Slightly more than 80 first-time exhibitors also took part in this year’s show. “This being our first show, it is difficult to draw a comparison or gauge the volume of traffic with previous years,” said Archibald. “I would say that we did have a lot of interest in our product, and hopefully some of those who stopped by will become customers,” he added.

From the Sidelines
With numerous booths to visit and educational seminars to attend, those in attendance had plenty to keep themselves busy.

John Mammen of Mammen Glass & Mirror of Irving, Texas, said he enjoyed the show, especially the machinery displays. “I probably
spent about two-thirds of my time on the machinery floor, because that’s what I was most interested in,” he said. “I didn’t make it to any of the seminars because of time constraints, but overall I enjoyed the show and thought it was laid out well and well-attended.”

Next year the NGA Show™ heads to Houston, March 20-22.

Ellen Giard is the managing editor of USGlass magazine.