Five Take-Aways from GBA

The GlassBuild (GBA) show has existed, in some form or another, since the mid-’70s. Its name, focus and venues have changed and continue to evolve, but one thing is for sure: it’s a great place to see your industry colleagues and take a look at some of the newest products. In addition to catching up with friends and compatriots, it’s also a good “looking glass” into the future. Here are my top five trends from GBA:

  1. Automation Nation: The robotics seen in Europe for the past 10 years are finally making their way to the United States, particularly in the area of glass handling. Automated efficiencies will reduce the number of workers needed to install glass going forward.
  2. Larger-than Lite: Size does matter, especially in the future, as a number of fabricators were touting their newly found or soon-to-arrive ability to fabricate very large lites right here in North America. What has been trucked in from Europe and China will soon be fabricated here.
  3. The Chinese Seize the Lite: As the economy has begun to grow again, so has the Chinese presence here in the United States. Some companies were back after a multi-year absence; others have improved their products to such a degree that they are viable competitors in quality, especially in fabricated glass and machinery.
  4. The Next Wave of Immigrants…: here to the U.S. glass industry won’t be manufacturers as much as fabricators and erectors. This is a logical outgrowth of the glass and metal system manufacturers that have come from Europe and beyond. Many have decided that working with U.S. fabricators does not afford them the control they want and that finding qualified companies to erect (read: provide labor only) is problematic. The solution, it seems, is to open your own or invest in a company coming in from overseas.
  5. Alphabet Zoop: The acquisition of C.R. Laurence by Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope® (OBE) has led to a ton of speculation about what the next monumental deal will be. The conventional wisdom says not to hold your breath, as we won’t see the likes of this one for quite a while. Or will we?