No Show, But Tell

I had it all planned. No matter what name it had existed under, or where it was held, this was going to be my 39th consecutive year attending the show. To the best of my knowledge, no one else holds a longer consecutive record. Never missed a one since the first in 1982. Until now that is. The COVID-19 pathogen has claimed another victim, and this time it’s not a human one.

By now you have surely heard that GlassBuild America (GBA) 2020 has been cancelled, its next live incarnation will be in September 2021 in Atlanta. Before I go further, let me mention a few things. First, I want to point out that I began going to the then-NGDA annual convention at a very early age—just entering my 20s in fact. Secondly, I want you to know that my perspective is formed by a number of years running that show years ago when I worked at NGA and the fact that our company, KMR, now also produces live events for the glass and metal industry, though mostly on a regional basis. Third, I was very surprised it was cancelled but understand how the virus has led many people to choose to skip this year.

I feel an affinity for the show as it and I grew up in the glass business together. It marks the passage of time for me. It holds memories. It has always signaled the start of the selling season and is an effective and fun way to catch up with your colleagues in person.

The photo here is of two coasters that I still use every day in my home. They sit in my den and were made by a company called Rhodosil and given to attendees years ago. One is from the first show I attended in 1982 in Atlanta. The second is from 1988 in San Antonio. I used to have a complete set for every year they were produced but, over time, most have broken and these are the last two that remain. The picture also shows a sample from the assortment of programs, trinkets, pins (yes, the association gave out pins in those days) and other memorabilia that I have kept over the years. There are even enough stories from this show to write a book, which I hope to do someday.

So there is no joy in this news for me and I will tell you, as a show organizer, it is a gut-wrenching decision to have to make. We faced the cancellation with our Glass TEXpo™ regional event earlier this year and there is a sadness that comes with it that is akin to mourning. You grieve just a bit for what might have and should have been.

The best thing about any live show has always been the people you get to see and the catching up. There are things you learn by talking to someone face-to-face that you can’t learn any other way. And you get to experience new products live—you can see, hear, touch and smell them.

So even though it won’t be the same, virtual venues will have to do for this year. GBA’s sponsors are transitioning to a virtual event and we will have more info as it’s available. KMR, the parent company of USGlass and Door and Window Market [DWM] magazines, recognized in mid-March that many usual participants would not be attending this year. We set about to create something for those who were unable to attend GBA. The thing we wanted most was to keep the interaction and human linkage that a live event provides. The virtual event we announced two weeks ago is very different than most you see. Glass Expo VE, in conjunction with our educational partner Glasscon Global VE, will be held September 9-10 online. Here’s a brief preview:

Registration is free for all readers. You can sign up at http://www.glassexpove.com/attend.php. Use the code USGB.

As for me, my plan to call the Guinness Book of Records and hold a big 40th GBA party just got moved back a year. But that’s okay. We will venture through these reasonable facsimiles this year and all be back together live—and most importantly healthy—next year.

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