A Final Toast from Napa

Reference to events is often by ordinal number—the first annual this or the tenth annual that. I have never heard an event billed as a “Last Annual,” but this may very well be it for the Glass Association of North America’s (now NGA-GANA) Annual Conference. While organizers announced dates for a Fall Conference later on this year and the Building Envelope Contractors Conference next year, no annual conference dates have yet been announced.

The GANA Annual Conference was the successor to an event known as “Glass Week.” Glass Week was held in a different time, when strong independent fabricators were in abundance, when the primaries were mostly still domestic with generous budgets and when members would bring their families for four to five days of work and relaxation. Always held in exceedingly nice locations and lovely venues, the program included work sessions and seminars until about 1 p.m., followed by open afternoons for tennis, golf and networking.

Many of the larger suppliers held receptions or hospitality suites in the evening and you could hopscotch from one to the next to talk and catch up. I have some great memories of those events. It was a warm and wonderful meeting full of all the industry’s best and brightest leaders and characters. It felt like a family.

GANA itself was an umbrella successor to a number of related groups that had joined together—the Flat Glass Marketing Association, the Glass Tempering Association, the Laminated Safety Glazing Association—and did so successfully. I think they were able to have that success because they recognized each group was always going to have its own interests and threats, and have to combat threats to those interests. These groups still have needs and they will have to be recognized in the new world order.

The way GANA was set up, the groups never really competed with each other for priority or funding. The Tempering Division developed its own priorities, as did the laminators and, later on, the primaries, decorators, protective and fire-rated groups, all of which created divisions of GANA in subsequent years. GANA’s strength was always the dedication and efforts of its volunteers. They set the agenda and priorities and they executed upon it. They are this industry’s treasure.

GANA’s Glass Information Bulletins may not have been the flashiest of documents, relatively plain white papers in fact. But they had what people wanted; they had substance. GANA has brought substance everywhere. The two hardest parts of being a trade association—its technical services and its advocacy/representation functions—were on GANA’s back for all these years. And those functions will still be needed in the new world order as well. They need to be protected and grow.

So like any right of passage from a wedding, to when your child leaves for college to when you move from one job to another, it’s usually an exciting and hopeful time, yet bittersweet with a tinge of sadness. Sad because we knew what we had and what was good about it, and we hope the future will be even better.

A toast to GANA.