Volume 46, Issue 10 - November 2011


The Top 10 GlassBuild America in Review
By Megan Headley, Ellen Rogers, Charles Cumpston, Sahely Mukerji and Debra Levy

GlassBuild America drew dedicated attendees to its annual exhibition, which this year took place September 12-14 in Atlanta.
Want the full product scoop? Then turn to page 50 to read this issue’s Showcase department—and look for additional product updates in future issues of USGlass.

Next year, GlassBuild returns to the Las Vegas Convention Center, September 12-14. Here we have a glimpse of the most talked about trends:

1 Daytrippers: More attendees at this year’s event seemed to be visiting for the day rather than the full three days. “I came in this morning and am leaving tonight” was a common refrain when visitors were asked how long they were staying. But those who did come came focused, exhibitors found.

As one exhibitor commented, on the condition he not be named due to his somewhat gloomy observation, “Attendance seemed down to us. But we try to stay optimistic. The attendees who do come are serious about their business.”

2 Talk About the Future: Approximately 100 attendees heard Jeff Dietrich, senior analyst at the Institute for Trend Research in Concord, N.H., comment during GlassBuild’s sixth Annual Glazing Executives Forum, “The direction of this economy is upward.” According to Dietrich, “When we come out of a recession, we accelerate, partly because of stimulus dollars, partly because we sell off things to survive. And then there’s something called slower growth. It’s not double-dip recession, it’s not a recession, but slower growth. The operative word being ‘slower.’” He advised, “You need to be planning for it, hiring for it and purchasing for it.”

This year will see a slower rate of recovery, Dietrich said. “2012 will be ongoing recovery. 2013 flattens out and recession begins.” 2014, he predicts, will be mild recession. 2015-2017 will be growth.

2010 saw the best year in manufacturing in the last 25 years, and now it has slowed a little bit, Dietrich said. “It’s slowed in Europe, China, India, Russia, everywhere, it’s a slow patch. We’ll pick up in 2012. I don’t think construction will be hit by the 2014 recession. You’ve already paid your dues. This is the time for opportunity in the business cycle. Up is not always good, and down is not always bad. Business cycle is a cycle, and a cycle is what it is.”

3 Energy Is Still Hot: “Lots of people come looking for the silver bullet,” commented Chris McMahon of Technoform Glass Insulation when asked about attendees at the show. “[They’re] looking for a specific U-value, looking for the product that will get them ‘there,’” whatever that number may be. Rather, he pointed out, it’s more often a combination of innovative products that is needed to improve overall product efficiency. And, he noted, there seemed to be a “genuine interest in innovation” at the event.

McMahon and his colleagues also noted the attention garnered by “super-insulating” products, such as triple insulating glazing, is growing beyond the cold climates of the North.

Mark Silverberg, president of Technoform North America, added that the company is seeing growth and demand across all regions. Customers in Florida are moving from non-thermal to polyamide, he said, and he’s seeing jobs in Southern California as well.

Silverberg noted that the codes are no longer the sole motivator for buildings to be efficient; projects such as schools and government buildings, where the owner is “stuck” with the long-term operating costs, are particularly energy-minded.

“In a down market people are still building, but they know it’s got to last,” McMahon agreed. “Things that are being built are being built better.”

Several companies offering commercial doors and window products had a focus on energy. Among them, Thermal Windows in Tulsa, Okla., now offers a polyamide thermal break in its 800U casement window.

“It’s getting some impressive U-values,” said Terry Newcomb, marketing director. The company is featuring a prototype, but Newcomb says he expects to be ready for orders by 2012.

“It can be challenging to get a commercial casement with a U-value of 0.35 or below, and now with this you can do that,” he added.

4 Manufacturers Out in Force (Fabricators Few and Far Between): It’s been noted in recent years that fewer glass fabricators have been packing the GlassBuild hall. But this year brought several introductions from primary manufacturers.

For its first time exhibiting at this event, Guardian packed its booth with lots of new additions. The company’s new InGlass interiors segment may have been eye-catching, with its vibrant color and unique textures, but its new SunGuard products—SunGuard IS 20, which was designed to lower U-values of dual-glazed windows by up to 20 percent, and SunGuard SNR 43, which offers a high LSG ratio and low solar heat gain coefficient—seem sure to provide clear views and thermal comfort in future LEED-rated buildings.

“All these products together are a powerful illustration of the advances occurring at our Science and Technology Center and our ongoing commitment to glass innovation,” commented Chris Dolan, director of commercial glass marketing.

PPG Industries had plenty to showcase in its booth as well. Glenn Miner, director of construction and marketing for the flat glass business of PPG, said the company has “been tickled” by the response to its Solarban R100 glass, adding that the international response especially “exceeded expectations.” The transparent-reflective, solar control low-E glass was introduced last year. He also revealed that the company would be introducing later this year its Sungate 600 low-E glass, expected to have a smoother surface and more color neutral appearance than its predecessor, Sungate 500. Miner says the new product is expected to be the best performer in its class.

Propped prominently on the booth’s podium was a small sample representative of the company’s new marketing alliance with thermochromic film producer Pleotint (see page 30 for more).

AGC Glass Co., meanwhile, had brought out its new Krystal Images product. The company is laminating a decorative film between two low-iron lites at two of its facilities. But, he noted, many of the attendees at the show wanted to know why they should spend the extra money for the company’s U4 Fourth-Surface Technology. The booth was filled with reps waiting to explain that the coating allows double-glazed units to achieve the same levels of efficiency as costlier triple-glazed units, thanks to a pyrolytic low-E hard coating that can be installed on the fourth surface of the insulating glass unit.

Among those few fabricators at the show, Trulite Glass & Aluminum Solutions took the opportunity to show the industry—and many of its own employees—how it will blend product lines from its recently acquired businesses. As Trulite’s Doug Penn explained, the booth represented a combination of the systems from the former Arch Aluminum and Vitro Architectural Products. Penn noted that the company kept a number of the Vitro systems that were newer than other products and had “today’s performance factors.” Penn added, “The heavy temper United Glass Corp. brought in is huge,” noting that the new line-up allows the company’s architectural team to “go out after the big projects.”

5 International Arrivals: Although GlassBuild was held just a few weeks before Vitrum in Italy (look for December 2011 USGlass for that show review), leading some to show-hop, the Italians were out in force.

Renata Gaffo, who heads up both GIMAV, the Italian machinery manufacturers association, and Vitrum, pointed out that the U.S. market is still an important market for Italian suppliers, as it has been traditionally. “For the last couple of years it has been weak,” she said, “but we have faith in this market and we expect it to come back. So we are here.”

Cinzia Schiatti, foreign sales for Schiatti Angelo, Italian machinery manufacturer, said that the U.S. market reminds her of the European market. “Sometimes it shows improvement, but it is still a difficult market.” On the other hand, she pointed out that while the Far East, particularly China, has been hit by the same economic conditions as the rest of the world it is still showing more growth than the United States and Europe. “Overall, we feel like there are good prospects and we look forward to a better future,” she said.

The Chinese were back in a show of force and new products that garnered a great amount of attention. One exhibitor, Zhengzhou Henghao Glass Technology Co., Ltd., from Zhengzhou, China, stood out on the trade show floor by promoting the use of its non-reflective frosted glass on the Water Cube structure, the main gymnasium for the 2008 Olympic Games in Shanghai.

Still, it’s not easy for Chinese companies to get into the market, commented Michael Spellman of IGE Solutions Inc., which represents a number of companies from that country (including glass, double edger and washer suppliers). “The majority of the Chinese manufacturers make product that is inferior quality for the American standard. But, there are diamonds in the rough,” he added with a nod to the IGE booth.

6 They're Buying Again: Among the highlights at the Lisec booth was its BSV-45ANK fully automated spacer-frame bending system. “The new BSV can bend pretty much anything,” commented Bob Quast, president of Lisec America, before revealing that it and other display models had been purchased off the show floor. According to Quast, people are buying, and not just at the trade show. He pointed to an interesting differentiation in the marketplace: fabricators looking simply to add capacity to their facility will buy a machine from “here and there” at auctions. But fabricators looking to expand their product lines—and they are out there, he said—come looking for automated solutions from strong brands. And the latter is beginning to increase, Quast added. “I think more people are looking to diversify,” he said.

Dan Degorter, whose Monroe, N.C.-based firm represents a number of machinery manufacturers, described that market as “steady.” He commented, “We believe the worst is over. The Administration is pushing hard, but until we get construction back I don’t see us improving. I see us holding our ground.”

He added, “We try to sell a quality product with quality service. If you want a quality product, you’ve got to spend the money.”

Some of the less traditional areas of the architectural market have helped machinery manufacturers. Giulio Vitelli, export area manager for Italian machinery manufacturer ForEl, said his company has been growing in the United States in the last 18 months because of the environmental issues which have been more important: double glazing for thermal efficiency. “There is also a need for higher performances in the products used for energy efficiency and so we spend more in research and development to develop better products to meet our customers’ needs. The machines have to be able to make units with flexible spacers, work with different gases and thicker glass.”

7 No More Railing Against Railings: Although most of the talk on the show floor dealt with the railing breakages being reported in the consumer press (see October 2011 USGlass, page 32), railing suppliers were out in force with a number of quality options to get people talking positively.

Lara Morgan of J.M. Gruca pointed out a lot of people don’t know where railings fit in the glass and metal industry. The show guide lumped them in with metal fabrication—but after pointing to the company’s recently developed glass fin-supported railing, which doesn’t need a stainless steel support, Morgan made it clear that their products straddle a line between glass and metal.

Paul Dructor, general manager of ARTACO Railing Systems (formerly Taco Railings), had to agree that simple install is key. “Architects and contractors want a complete package that arrives ready to assemble and we deliver just that,” he said. “We have mastered the art of creating complete systems with the benefit of reduced labor time using specialty glue versus welding, without sacrificing great style and functionality.” Dructor added that attendees “love[d] the concept of doing the whole railing system.”

8 Measuring Success: Quanex Building Products Corp. focused on its customer’s products in its booth “zones,” introducing its various capabilities (which, since last year’s event, now includes Edgetech IG). Among the highlights, booth staff introduced “The Optimizer” U-value calculator. This program estimates total window U-values via a specially designed electronic application. Ric Jackson, director of external affairs, described the tool as “very powerful tool for helping customers design a window or choose a glazing package.”

Guardian likewise kept the focus on its online tools. The company’s new Building Energy Calculator was designed to help customers compare annual energy costs for a variety of glazing types in locations throughout the United States, and proved popular at the event.

9 Still Trucking': The MyGlassTruck.com team was collecting orders and donations in its booth. As Rustin Cassway, president, explained, $18 on every purchase was going straight to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. And there was plenty on hand to draw in potential customers as they filled the pink donation box mounted on the company’s display rack. The company was spotlighting information on its curtain-side glass truck, as well as its slider roll-out glass rack (see September 2011 USGlass, page 60).

F. Barkow, meanwhile, was looking down—at tires. The company’s new and innovative “single stack” truck was sold at the start of the show, and John Weise, president, reported that interest in the new technology was high (see page 50).

10 Making an Impact: A range of impact-resistant products could be found across the show floor, ranging from detention windows to hurricane-resistant louvers. But for a glimpse of these GlassBuild products in action, scan the MS tag here or visit the USGlass Studio on www.usglassmag.com.

Turn to page 46 for more on the decorative glass trends seen at GlassBuild.

© Copyright 2011 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.