Volume 40,   Issue 1                             January 2005

Candid Conversation
Talking with Lee Harrison, GANA's Incoming President for 2005

Glass Week 2005, sponsored by the Glass Association of North America (GANA), will take place February 5-10. It will mean technical meetings, educational seminars, networking and social activities. Also at Glass Week, Lee Harrison will be installed as the new president of GANA for 2005. Harrison, who serves as the president of Walker Glass in Montreal, spent some time talking with USGlass about his activities and involvement with GANA.

Q. How long have you been involved with GANA? The industry?
My career in the glass and mirror industry began with Walker Glass in 1974.
I became involved with the National Association of Mirror Manufacturers (NAMM) in the late 1980s, when they deemed, in their wisdom, that it was time they brought in a token Canadian. As its president, I supported the concept of merging our organization into GANA, which we ultimately did about six years ago.

Q. Why did you decide to join GANA?
I think the decision for NAMM to join GANA was an easy one. Mirror manufacturing is a tiny industry, but with much in common with other glass transformation industries. As a trade association, we can be much more effective as part of a large, industry-wide organization.

Q. Tell me about some of the projects and activities within the organization with which youíve been involved.
As a director, of course, one has a chance to keep a finger on the pulse of all of the organizationís activities. However, most of my direct involvement in projects has been at the level of the mirror division. This has ranged from lobbying for legislative changes to generic promotional campaigns to technical initiatives such as the setting of standards. In a trade association there is no shortage of projects to get involved in. When you attend meetings, you inevitably get talked into being on a committee. When you donít attend meetings, you inevitably get voted to chair a committee.

Q. As the incoming GANA president, what are some areas you think are important?
Of course, the most important thing that an organization such as GANA must do is keeping itself healthy. An association can only be effective if its membership represents a majority of an industry and if its members participate actively.

As for specific issues, I think that the biggest, single issue facing the glass industry right now is the rapid erosion of the American manufacturing sector, being swallowed up in huge gulps by the new China. As an association, I feel we must do everything in our power to lobby for conditions that can keep American manufacturers competitive.

Q. As president, what are you looking forward to this year?
I look forward to working more closely with the folks at Association Services Corp., GANAís management team in Topeka. GANA is very fortunate to have [this] group of people managing it. I do, however, face the immediate challenge of figuring out where the heck Topeka is Ö

Q. What do you feel to be the biggest benefits of association involvement?
I really enjoy what I get out of the meetings and conferences. Itís an excellent way to meet and spend time with people from the industry and I find the information exchange to be invaluable. Of course, the benefits of leaving for a week in February to go from 10-below-zero Montreal to sunny-and-75 Florida (and writing it off, to boot) cannot be underestimated.

Q. With this being the start of a new year, what are some of your resolutions?
I no longer make New Yearís resolutions. I came to realize some time ago that, after a week of Christmas celebrations, usually culminating in one final evening of debauchery on New Yearís Eve, I am generally not competent enough to make decisions affecting the next 12 months of my life.

Q. For someone who does not know you, your company or GANA, how would describe these three areas?
I would describe myself as a person who strives to maintain a good balance between my business and my personal life, demanding of myself only that, whatever Iím doing, I do it well and have fun doing it.

I would describe Walker Glass, quite simply, as a group of really great people!
I would describe GANA as the embodiment of the North American (wholesale) glass industry. 

Q. When youíre not working, what do you enjoy doing?
My first passion is my family so, no matter what Iím doing, I enjoy doing it with my wife, Janet, and/or the kids. My next passion is outdoor activity, four seasons of the yearóbiking, rollerblading, swimming, golf, touch football, skiing, you name itóas long as itís outside and it keeps me moving. And finally, thereís cooking. When Iím not outside, Iím usually found in the kitchen, endeavoring to concoct some sort of culinary masterpiece. I seldom succeed, but I do enjoy trying. Thereís a lot to be said for a hobby where you get to wield a knife in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.

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