Volume 41, Issue 11 - November 2006

The Big Time
A Look Back at GlassBuild America 2006

By Charles Cumpston, Ellen Giard and Megan Headley

From a traditional standpoint, if you will, New York may be considered “the city that never sleeps,” but the glass and glazing industry did its fair share of keeping Las Vegas wide awake September 19-21 when thousands of people took part in the annual industry trade show, GlassBuild America. According to show organizers, 10,000 people took part in the event; nearly 500 companies displayed their latest products and services.

Doug Canfield with Casso-Solar said the show was a good one. The company was there exhibiting under a new name: Casso-Solar Glass Machinery Group, which is a combination of Casso-Solar and three other companies it represents: Yuntong Glass, Fleischle and Olbricht.

“We formed [the group] in June …,” said Canfield. He explained that Yuntong, a manufacturer of tempering equipment, “is very conscious of making sure its equipment has a long life.” Olbricht manufacturers high-production glass equipment, as well as photovoltaic equipment and Fleischle is a manufacturer of screen-printing equipment for the glass industry.

In addition, Canfield said Casso-Solar’s own laminating lines were successful at the show. “We sold nine, we’ve delivered seven and we had a lot of inquiries for them at the show,” he added.

Other exhibitors were pleasantly surprised, “I did not think it would be as big as it was,” said Phil Plant sales manager with Billco Manufacturing. “I was surprised at the number of people there.” Plant added, though, that the show ended up being very good for them. “The traffic was good, we got a lot of good leads and we sold several pieces of equipment,” he said, adding that they did, however, scale back the size of their booth and the amount of equipment they displayed.

All About Value
Whatever it was attendees were after, show exhibitors had it. But exhibitors brought more than just products; many agreed the important factor is listening to customers and making changes in response to their needs.

Southern Stretch Forming based in Denton, Texas, for example, had just opened its third plant in Zelienople, Pa., in response to customer growth in the Northeast.

“We’re here focusing on trying to make contact with customers in that area,” said Charles Michie. “You might not expect that here [in Vegas] but it’s going very well.”

There was also lots of focus on adding value to products. For example, Cytec Surface Specialties of Smyrna, Ga., was offering information about its UVEKOL® glass laminating system. Not only can the liquid-resin process be used to create laminated glass for a variety of applications, it also offers added qualities such as sound control, and can be used in safety, hurricane and security applications.

“Door and window manufacturers, especially, were impressed with how easy and profitable it is to laminate your own glass,” said Michael Burris, technical sales representative. “We were able to give them comparative cost analyses on the spot, which they appreciated, and we also had many requests for follow-up conversations.” Burris also said they saw a major push from the glass industry for new alternatives that add value to products. “We heard real needs expressed for reducing energy costs and using more hurricane-resistant and code-compliant glass. We also saw a growing interest in using laminated glass for noise control and security applications.”

On the hardware side, Bob Cronk said his company, Select Hinges, has a product that has passed 25 million test cycles. “Customers want something that lasts, and that’s what our tests show.”

According to Kim Rotsky, marketing communications specialist with Tremco in Beachwood, Ohio, they were at the show bringing their whole-system and single-source offerings. She explained that offering a complete line of gaskets, sealants, tapes, spacers and blocks helps to eliminate some of the gaps that customers could face otherwise when buying components separately from different suppliers. 

Victor Yakin with Halfen Anchoring Systems said his company was introducing a new top-slab curtainwall anchoring system. The brackets can be used with most stick and unitized systems, have 3-dimension adjustability and a working load capacity to suit many typical applications.

“Large glazing contractors typically have their own proprietary systems that are similar to this,” said Yakin. “With our new product, mid-size glaziers can use it and be competitive to what big companies do.” He continued, “Our business is with the regional glaziers; we’re making something accessible to those who otherwise would not have access.”

C.H.M.I. from Keokuk, Iowa, also used the show opportunity to introduce new products. One of the new products, according to company representative Andrew Chatfield, was a sliding glass door/room divider that has no bottom track. The system has a folding magnetic hardware catch and mechanism so it automatically locks into place.

New and Improved
In typical trade-show fashion, several exhibitors used the venue as an opportunity to introduce both new products as well as products that had been recently upgraded.

TruSeal Technologies, which was in the process of relocating its headquarters from Beachwood to Solon, Ohio, introduced Duralite, a high-performance no metal spacer. The new design features a composite laminating technology without using metal, which results in superior thermal and durability performance, according to Gus Coppola, the company’s president.

“In addition to warm-edge offerings, we’ve tried to continually feed the demand for new products and technology,” said Coppola. “Our research and development [group] worked hard to introduce this new product and we think it will be well-received.”

After introducing its I-Strut and I-Spacer products to the U.S. market at GlassBuild 2005, Technoform president Mark Silverberg said the company has seen tremendous gains over the past year.

“All of the market leaders in commercial insulating glass are looking at it; more than ten locations are doing testing [through the] Insulating Glass Certification Council and we’re also trying to bring this to the architects,” said Silverberg. “We’re giving them the durability they need and the process integration they want.”

Colors, Colors, Colors
Whether used as part of flooring, walls, backsplashes, even shower doors, bringing color to glass continues to be a big trend.
Coastal Glass Distributors of Charleston, S.C., recently unveiled a new line of colored glass products, and the company’s Milton Blanchett said the response so far had been excellent, as customers keep finding new ways to use the products. 

“Some people are even [asking about] substituting them for tile in showers,” said Blanchett. The company currently has 57 standard colors, but custom colors are also available. “We’re constantly looking for more patterns and textures,” Blanchett added.

Gardner Glass Products of North Wilkesboro, N.C., was exhibiting its new line of painted glass products, which the company was actually showing for the first time.

“We’re in the very early stages,” said John Myers, vice president of flat glass sales. “We’re here to get feedback about the new line.” He said that while there are numerous colors available, so far they have learned that white looks like it will be the number-one seller. Myers said what they were really there to get a feel for was learning what colors customers and the industry will want since changing paint color for glass is not as easy as mixing paint in a hardware store.

“We need to find out what our standards will be,” he added.

Glass Producers Upbeat
The word from the glass suppliers on the show floor was good. Everyone—primary manufacturers, specialty glass suppliers and fabricators—said that business is good.

Cynthia Coulter, senior manager sales and marketing with ACH Glass Operations in Tulsa, Okla., reported that business is strong and said that August had been the strongest month the company has had. “It has been this way all year—steady,” she added. Strong areas include Southern California, Arizona and Las Vegas/Southern Nevada. “Western Canada is also strong because it’s gearing up for the Olympics,” she added.

Jon Hughes, manager of architectural sales for AFG Glass, which recently moved its headquarters from Kingsport, Tenn., to Atlanta, echoed the sentiment that business is good, pointing out that the company is starting to see growth in the commercial segment. The type of work is regional, he explained. “In New York City, it’s high-rise. In Florida, it’s condos. In Toronto, it’s office work. It’s a mix of everything,” he stated.

Glenn Miner, market manager, commercial trade flat glass products for PPG Industries Inc. in Pittsburgh, spoke positively about the commercial side. “It’s been a good year and we expect it to continue.” He said that solar control products have been doing well. “There’s good strength across the board, especially products we send through the Certified Fabricator program.” He said that PPG, like the other glass fabricators, is giving architects more choices and “that’s good for all of us.” 

In the Viracon booth, Christine Shaffer, marketing manager for the Owatonna, Minn.-based company, called the market strong. “We don’t anticipate it will be weakening in the near future,” she said, noting that the condo market adds to the market’s strength.

Garret Henson, the company’s director of sales, also said that the condo market in Florida is strong, as it is in Chicago. He added that there is a lot of activity in the Southeast, and in the Southern California/Las Vegas/Arizona area. “The big office building market is in New York City,” he stated. According to Henson it’s more a continuation of the strong market rather than any new movement. He pointed out that the Colorado and Arizona areas are seeing “campus activity,” while Southern California’s hot area is condos.

Richard Balik, vice president-general manager for the specialty glass division of General Glass International in Secaucus, N.J., reported that specialty glass is growing by leaps and bounds. “Everyone wants something unique,” he explained. He pointed out that his company is offering a number of new pattern glasses, for use mainly in shower doors.

Cathie Saroka, marketing director for Goldray Industries Ltd. in Calgary, added that business has been exceptional. “We’re selling a lot of glass for wall cladding. Acid-etched glass is still strong and so is glass flooring,” she stated.

Diana San Diego, marketing and communications manager for SAFTI First Fire-Rated Glass of San Francisco, said her company is “concentrating on educating people about radiant heat.” “We’ve found that people don’t know how to specify fire-rated glass properly.” As part of this effort, she said the company has redesigned its website (www.safti.com) to provide information for architects and specifiers, as well as those who are just starting to get information on it.

Richard P. Joyce, vice president of sales for Dlubak Corp. in Blairesville, Pa., said that his company is doing a lot of military work, such as embassies and military vehicles, so its commercial operations are off a little because of the lead times that it can offer for this versus its competitors.

Will Watts, who works in product development for Dependable GlassWorks Inc. in Covington, La., reported that the company’s diversity serves it well. “We’re not dependent on one niche of the market. We serve several of them and are not locked into hurricane glazing, security glass or glass flooring,” he pointed out. “There is always someone needing something,” he added. He said that the company is doing some things with aerospace companies, as well, and that this will open up new opportunities.

Friedman Introduces Quote Management Information Systems 

Friedman Corporation in Vancouver, Wash., has created a new software program designed specifically for retail glass shops. Called QMIS (Quote Management Information Systems), the program is designed to provide a simple, easy-to-use program for glass shops selling architectural glass products, doors, millwork and supplies. 

QMIS incorporates many of the features from the company’s PowerBids programs, but with a new, modern interface and added features. With QMIS users can quote products they sell from virtually any supplier and manage them from quote to final invoice. Purchase order generation and tracking are also included. QMIS also exports invoices directly to QuickBooks, a feature that businesses using Intuit’s QuickBooks Pro 2003 or higher will appreciate since invoices will no longer have to be re-entered.
According to Alan Russell, product manager, there are a number of features that distinguish QMIS from other programs. He said that the first consideration when designing the program was to keep it simple. 

“If the average employee doesn’t find it user-friendly, it won’t get used at all. A very large number of retail glass shops are still ‘doing it by hand’ or trying to adapt an accounting program or auto glass program to handle products they sell,” said Russell. “Unfortunately, many of those programs were never designed to handle the nuances of this industry. Especially when so many of the retail glass shops are now selling a wider variety of products than ever. Many stores no longer sell auto glass, yet are still trying to use programs that were designed primarily for auto glass and flat glass only.”

QMIS is designed for flat glass (it is not an auto glass program) and the products sold by flat glass retailers. 

“Many glass shops are now selling windows, millwork, pre-hung doors and hardware,” said Russell. “QMIS is specifically designed for these products as well.”

In addition, Russell said the next module, which will soon be released, will allow stores that pre-hang their own doors to also build up their doors, selecting the components necessary to hang a door from multiple vendors. Issues like calculating dimensions correctly (rounding rules), minimum charges based on measurements, etc. are often not addressed; QMIS specifically addresses them. 

In addition, products can be entered from virtually all suppliers. Each product entered can be defined as to how it is sold (by the square foot, united inch, each, pair, etc.); discounts by vendor and category, profit, fuel or handling charges, etc. can also be applied to each product. 

“You can even attach images and product documents to each product so that your sales staff can access them with a simple right click of the mouse when selecting those products during the quote or order process,” said Russell. “It is as simple as we could make it, but it still packs the features needed to do business in a real world environment—features like being able to force prices and see if you have any profit left, alternate bids and checking available inventory are all part of the package.” Security features also allow users to control the features employees may access. 

With the Product Option feature products can be entered and options attached allowing an estimator to simply select “Mirror J Channel,” for example, and the program will instantly display the finishes available for that product. 

“This makes product selection quick and easy and helps your sales force to quickly provide a customer with available option information,” said Russell. 

According to Russell, a big bonus for glass shops is that QMIS can come preloaded with the common glass products sold by the average glass shop. 

“All you have to do is enter your selling prices for the products and you can be using the program within hours of installing it,” he says. “Supplier catalogs are also available, further eliminating the need for entry and maintenance of supported catalogs.” 
The QMIS Division of Friedman Corp. offers training via the Internet, as well. 

Russell added that what prompted him to develop software for this industry was the knowledge that one of the most costly and error-filled aspects of business is the process of estimating and processing orders. “It is also the area that has the most potential for reducing the cost of doing business.” 

Visit www.qmissoftware.com to learn more.

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.