Volume 42, Issue 11 - November 2007

When in the Midwest …
Midwesterners Flock to Glass Expo Midwest™ in Grand Rapids 

Glass Expo Midwest™ ’07 brought together glass industry professionals throughout the Midwest, October 9-10, in Grand Rapids, Mich., for an industry trade event unlike any other. More than 800 people gathered for the two-day event held at Amway Grand Plaza Hotel & DeVos Place. The event was co-sponsored by USGlass magazine, the Michigan Glass Association, the Detroit Glass Dealers Association, the Ohio, Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin Glass Associations, the Illinois Glazing Association and the Association of Glazing Contractors.

Held In Honor 
This year’s Glass Expo Midwest™ ’07 was held in honor of Christian A. Haller, who passed away February 14, 2007, at the age of 70, after a long battle with multiple myeloma. Members of Haller’s family were in attendance to officially open the event on October 9 at a ribbon cutting ceremony held in his honor. 

Haller came to Illinois from Germany in 1954 and worked as a bricklayer prior to joining Cardinal Glass Co. In 1960 he became a salesperson for Cardinal Glass, where he later became general manager and vice president. He moved to Michigan in 1976 and managed a window manufacturing company. In 1978 he became a manufacturer’s representative serving Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.

Walking the Floor 
More than 60 booths could be found on the trade show floor. Exhibitors at the show said regional events such as this one allow them an opportunity both to see current customers and meet some potential ones.

“I always consider it a good show. We always get to see some customers and pick up a few new ones,” said Mary Hester of JLM Wholesale.

Hester was on-hand to treat attendees to a hardware demonstration. The hands-on session showed the proper types of hardware to use, how to choose them, how to order and how to price them. It also included tips on how to build a profitable hardware business.

Hester noted that at regional shows, she often sees a much different crowd than those at the larger events. “I think the people who aren’t willing or able to go out to the big shows appreciate this opportunity,” she said. 

The show also proved a useful reason for connecting with other glass industry professionals. Nancy Longest of Builders Glass of Greenville Inc. Greenville, Mich., reported that following the show, her husband, Guy, president of the company, took advantage of the regional show to reunite with colleagues. 

“He refreshed some contacts that he hadn’t had for a few years,” she said. 

David Elson, a sales manager with Guardian Industries in Ypsilanti, Mich., was another attendee who “absolutely” found the show to be beneficial. “I think Glass Expo Midwest had a lot of really top-notch people that put it on,” he commented following the show.

In addition to the activities within the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, some attendees took advantage of another opportunity. The aluminum entrance, storefront, curtainwall and ribbon window system fabricator Tubelite Inc. opened its facility in Grand Rapids to tours. Attendees visiting the facility saw how storefront, door and frame and curtainwall products moved through the warehouse; watched doors and frames being assembled and packaged; and even got a glance into how Tubelite’s delivery trucks are loaded and shipped. 

On with the Thinking Caps
In addition to the exhibits, the event featured various seminars designed specially for glass shops. 

“I … saw tons of people going out for the educational program, too, so that’s always good to see,” Hester said. 

“I think that a lot of the seminars were very beneficial,” said Elson. For Elson, the presentation on overseas competition from Michael Collins of Jordan, Knauff and Co. proved to be especially useful. Collins aimed to inform attendees about the impact of global competition, particularly from China, on door and window companies in the United States. 

Among the other seminars designed specially for glass shops, attendees heard tips on everything from customer service to where to use certain products.

Chris Holmes of PPG Industries in Stevensville, Mich., opened with a discussion on the role of low-E coatings in energy-efficient glazing. At times when energy prices continue to increase, every opportunity to be more cost efficient can translate into more sales, Holmes said. He offered attendees tips on how to utilize low-E and spectrally selective coated glasses in their projects.

Tom Minnon of YKK AP America explained the distinct differences in where and when storefronts, window walls and curtainwalls should be used and how they should be installed in buildings. He explained what differentiates each type of system and how to specify projects properly.

Paul Duffer, senior research associate with PPG Industries, addressed flat glass surface corrosion. He offered insight on the factors that cause glass corrosion, as well as some of the methods that can be used to alleviate it.

USGlass columnist Paul Bieber, the principle of Bieber Consulting Group, offered his audience tips on how to cut costs in the glass business during his seminar “Buy Glass and Other Goods—Better, Cheaper and Faster.” He also offered tips for understanding and protecting shops from price changes, and suggested developing relationships with key vendors, which could pay off with reduced glass costs down the road.

Dan Molloy from Molloy LLC discussed the “art” of expert phone interaction. Molloy offered tips for handling difficult customers and examples of what works and doesn’t work when talking with customers.

In addition to the tailored presentations for glass shops, attendees were able to sit in on a talk from former NBA player Tim McCormick. McCormick, who now provides color analysis as a broadcaster for ESPN and ABC College Basketball, focused his motivational message on the belief that NBA stands for Never Be Average. 

What Were You Thinking?
A noted contract glazier and noted suppliers of glass and metal came together to talk about the ways they drive each other crazy in the seminar session “What Are You Thinking? Can Contract Glaziers, Glass and Metal Suppliers All Just Get Along?” at Glass Expo Midwest™ 2007. 

Lyle R. Hill, president of MTH Industries in Chicago, said as the session opened that he represented “the misunderstood, overworked, underpaid people called the glaziers.” Robert Price, director of sales of J.E. Berkowitz of Pedricktown, N.J., and Steve Green of TubeLite in Walker, Mich., offered the viewpoints of glass and metal suppliers. Hill’s first question seemed a simple one: “Who do you think your customer is?” he asked the suppliers. 

Green quickly responded, “The guy who’s buying the product.”

“The key word is ‘buying the product,’” Hill said. “Then why don’t we spend more time communicating with him and less time communicating with general contractors, architects, etc?”

According to Hill, part of the glazing contractors’ job becomes re-educating architects who have been misinformed by manufacturers about a product’s capabilities and availability. Glazing contractors need to be a bigger part of that conversation about product choice, he suggested. 

“The glazing contractor is often the last person to know what’s been promised to an architect,” Hill commented. 

Price pointed out that in many cases glazing contractors don’t provide a connection between the manufacturer and architect. “How many of you send a specification in when you call to get a price on something?” he asked his audience. 

These two ends of the chain did find some commonality during the session, however. “There are a lot of architects out there who will get you in trouble with glass,” Price said, and no one disagreed. 

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.