Volume 42, Issue 7 - July 2007

Shanghai Green
China Glass Finds a Developing Industry Focusing on Environmentally Friendly Products
by Charles Cumpston

SHANGHAI—At the recent China Glass here in Shanghai, as everywhere else today, the concept of green, as in environmentally friendly, was a strong focus. Low-E products and the attributes of insulating glass (IG) as an energy saver abounded in exhibitors’ booths. According to Dennis Raske, director of international sales for Allmetal Inc., his company is selling a lot of stainless steel spacer into the Chinese market. 

“The insulating glass standards are in the process of being changed here,” Raske says, “and they need the stainless steel for longevity.” 

Karl Schroetter, executive director of sales Asia for Lisec, the Austrian-based supplier of IG equipment, agreed that the IG standards in China will be upgraded. “The process has been going on for five years, and it’s a step-by-step process,” Schroetter says. 

“Big public companies are making big machinery orders and for higher quality machines.” Gerhard Reichert, vice president of business development for Edgetech I.G. Inc. in Cambridge, Ohio, pointed out that the changes in the IG standards and the effort toward energy efficiency would have been evident to anyone participating in the Glass Processing Days China seminar, which was held immediately before the show. 

“The Department of Energy is translating its materials on energy efficiency into Chinese,” Reichert says. “All the countries are really working together to make all the low-E in the Pacific Rim energy efficient.” U.S. sales agents for Chinese companies also had positive feedback about the show.

Mike Young, the new regional sales manager at Casso-Solar Glass Machinery Group Inc. in Pomona, N.Y., says that while Americans were at the show as dealers, they were not there as customers. 

“I did meet a few people from the United States, but they weren’t looking for the products we offer,” he says. Casso-Solar is the agent for Yuntong tempering furnaces. “However, there was one large Mexican company there which was interested.” Young also remarked that he was surprised at the lack of equipment in booths.

For IGE Solutions based in Jupiter, Fla., the show was beneficial, according to Michael Spellman, president. The company represents Chinese companies Tenon and Fushan. 

Tenon produces insulating glass lines and Fushan supplies glass processing machines. 

“We were in the booths of both companies we represent, and we saw a good amount of people from the West Coast and from Mexico and some from Western Canada,” Spellman says. “We were talking some big projects. The people who were there were serious and wanted to sit down and talk business. For us, the trip was very worthwhile. This was our fourth time at China Glass and it definitely stays on our itinerary.” 

Expert Exporting
The vast majority of China Glass exhibitors were domestic companies, and most attendees came from the Pacific area. However, that does not mean Chinese companies don’t have their export eyes on markets outside of their region.

Wenji Deng, assistant general manager and manager of imports/exports for Qingdao Jinjing Co. Ltd., a Chinese glass fabricator, says his company exports 50 percent of its production. “We ship about 10 percent of our output to the United States and the rest mainly to Europe,” he says. 

“We sell direct.”Deng says that the U.S. market is a good one and he likes that the people there are “very frank.” He says that the amount of glass the company is shipping to the United States is increasing every year, and a lot of his company’s U.S. customers come to China Glass to discuss business.

“We started out with tempered glass, but now we do a lot of pattern glass and some laminated glass,” Deng says.

Qingdao Jinjing also has plans to expand into the United States. “We found out in our conversations with U.S. companies that they need you to be close by for shorter delivery time. We will follow that structure,” Deng says, explaining that his company is considering establishing local warehousing or a distribution center in the United States. From the equipment supplier’s point of view, Patrick Wang, general manager for Shanghai North Glass Technology Industrial Co. Ltd. (North Glass), has big plans for the United States.

“We sold six tempering furnaces in the United States last year, all direct, but we have now signed an agreement with Salem Distributing Co. for them to represent us in the United States,” he says. According to Wang, North Glass exports 80 percent of its production to more than 50 countries. “We sold 300 furnaces around the world last year,” he says. “India is our first export market, followed by Europe and Russia. Now we want to develop our market in North America.”

Wang says he doesn’t see any big differences in doing business in the United States compared to the rest of the world. “Companies are all looking for the same thing,” he says. “Our equipment is cheaper and it’s almost the same quality, so they like to buy from us.”

North Star occupied a large booth that held tables for discussion and a lounge area where people could relax, but no equipment. “We don’t have any working machinery here at the show because our facility is nearby and we can take customers there,” Wang says.

A Market Growing Up
At China Glass two years ago, there was a lot of grumbling and dismay, particularly from the European and United States equipment manufacturers, about the Chinese copying their machines. 

This year, technology pirating came up a few times in conversation, but there was much more acceptance of China as a legitimate market that must be considered and recognized. 

Petri Lammi, president of Glassrobots, the Finnish manufacturer of safety glass machinery, says that the Chinese market is growing. He also noted that low-E glass is becoming more important. “This creates a high demand for tempering ovens to make the glass,” he says. “The quality is getting better. Customers in China are very price-sensitive, but the bigger companies want quality.”

Dino Fenzi, the long-time president of GIMAV who remains one of the industry’s most astute global observers, says that his company has been in the Chinese market for 25 years, primarily with its mirror-backing paint. “That was a more logical market to develop,” he explained. “But the insulating glass market in China has been moving and in a couple of years it will be logical for us to be in that market with our sealants in a big way.”

Lisec’s Schroetter may have summed up the event’s position best. “China Glass will be even more important in the future because the market is growing and a lot of people from this region don’t want to travel to the shows in Europe and America,” he says. 

Glaston Inaugurates Plant in Tianjin 
Glaston Corp. held the official inauguration of its 13,000-square-meter production plant in Tianjin, China, on May 18. More than 300 people, including local dignitaries and Finland’s ambassador to China, attended the ceremonies. The company chartered two planes from Shanghai, where China Glass was being held, to bring current and potential customers to the facility for the opening. The plant opened last summer and has been operating at capacity.

Petri Makinen, managing director of the plant, says that May 18 is a lucky day in Chinese culture. “It is connected with prosperity and a lot of people get married on this day,” he says.

Mika Seitovirta, president of the Tampere-based company (known as Kyro Corp. until the official name change on June 1 and the parent of known-name companies Tamglass and Bavelloni), made the point that the facility is the first Glaston plant to offer both equipment and tools, combining the offerings of Tamglass and Bavelloni. This is a major part of the company’s One-Stop-Partner philosophy.

“The Tianjin facility houses the production of pre-processing and safety glass machines and lines as well as Bavelloni Tools’ operations for the growing Chinese market,” says Seitovirta.

Tamglass, which has been supplying the Chinese market since the 1980s, has more than 300 lines operating in the country.

In a press conference at China Glass the day before the inauguration, Seitovirta pointed out that Glaston’s sales are primarily in Europe, with 29 percent in the Americas and 15 percent in the Asian Pacific area. “Asia has the biggest growth potential for us,” he says. This is because of its active construction market and the growth of low-E glass. 

“Energy is driving developments in this market,” he says. Seitovirta projected that the Tianjin facility will conduct 10 to 15 percent of Glaston production within two to three years.

He also reported that for the first quarter, the company’s gross sales were up 26 percent over the same period the previous year (to 42.5 million euros). “Business is good everywhere except in North America where housing is lagging,” he says.

Glaston has also reorganized its structure and Jack van Meerbeeck is now head of North American sales and service and Raimo Nieminen holds the same position for South America.

“Glaston depicts our future,” Seitovirta says. “Our new slogan is ‘Seeing It Through.’ We finish what we start.”

the author:
Charles Cumpston is a contributing editor for USGlass magazine.

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