Everyone has his or her own indicators of the future. Whether it’s of good things to come or bad things to watch out for, we have a unique set of harbingers that we swear by. Some are solid economic indicators, and others are not—but they always prove true. Well, mine relates directly to GlassBuild America 2014, which came to a close last Thursday, and it is this:
The residential growth (or contraction) of our business always preceeds the commercial. In short, if you know what’s going on with the door and window end of the business, fast forward 16-18 months, and you’ll see the same on the commercial side. Oh, the numbers will be different, of course, but the same business trends will hold. The residential (DWM) market careened to a halt in the great recession about a year and a half before the contract and commercial glazing side did. This informal truism has not failed me yet.
Well, judging from the aforementioned GlassBuild, the door and window industry has entered a delirium that can only be induced from a cornucopia of sales. It’s a delight to see now, and it will be when it hits the contract side in about 18 months.
The first signs are surely present now, as pent-up demand resulted in tons of machinery and truck shopping by attendees. Most of the truck manufacturers sold everything they brought and left with orders for more. The only thing lacking from this giddy economic condition is the confidence that it will continue. That confidence was severely shaken, if not broken, in the recession.
But hopes at the show were high, and it was very nice to see an industry in economic Renaissance. I also saw two relatively new products that generated enough “show buzz” to deserve being awarded a “debbie”—an informal (and sometimes irreverent) set of awards based on what I saw at the show:
Most product buzz: A tie between the heavy glass breaking machine by Bromer and the retractable screen system from Slide Clear out of British Columbia. The “Thick Glass Breaker” uses LED lights to align the score, is control-powered and utilizes an alarm system to operate at proper air pressure. Both products are deceptively simple in design but big on results. And isn’t that what they say the best inventions are?
Best booth: Dreamline. The shower door manufacturer mixed a very cosmopolitan booth with virtual and digital offerings that epitomized the modern design.
Most innovative: Machinery distributor IGE created a mini-machinery mall with distinct desks for each manufacturer the Florida-based company represents. If they were after a “one-stop shopping” look, they surely achieved it.
Best Booth Giveaway: Vetrotech created a stylistic metal frame in which to showcase its newest glass. Vetrotech loaded the frames with individuals’ photos with a Vegas background that created a product reminder, as well as a Vegas keepsake.
Best uniforms/branding: Matodi, for their robin’s egg blue logo-ed shirts paired with black khakis. Nice look.
Best demo: What’s the best way to show how well your anti-fog mirror works? Try and fog it up. That’s exactly what was going on in the Casso-Solar booth.
Favorite photo: The one below, which I call “Dead Glass Walking.”