On the Road with USGlass

Six Degrees of GBA

The show included a number of impressive scans.
The show included a number of impressive scans.

There’s a scene toward the end of the movie Footloose where the townspeople just can’t take it anymore. Their years of decorum and propriety collapse into a frenzy of pent up energy and action. Joyous dance explodes from every corner of the small town of Beaumont, Anywhere USA. Eyes are open, lives are changed, freedom reigns.

Well, this week’s Glassbuild America show in Atlanta has such a wave of exploding energy that I swear I saw Kevin Bacon dancing in the aisles.

The glass industry is back and the energetic flow of business being done was palpable. “If you are not making money in the glass industry right now, you shouldn’t be in the glass industry,” said one attendee who asked not be named. “How long it lasts, I don’t know, but right now it’s good.”

How good? Good enough to warrant the return of big machinery to the floor, good enough that most of that machinery was pre-sold before it arrived in Atlanta, and good enough to keep booth staff hopping until the end of the day for the past two.

Traffic was steady the first two days of the show and is slower today, but the volume of deals being done is high. The atmosphere is one of almost giddy optimism, and a number of exhibitors with whom I spoke said it was the best sales event since 2007.

Others, though, took a more measured approach, saying they would not know the ultimate outcome of their experience for months to come.

The show had some new innovations including a door and window dealer showroom and “fast learning” classes on the floor of 15 minutes each. Attendance varied by the topic.

And the action wasn’t limited to the show floor either, as a number of suppliers and other groups hosted their own afterhours social events, another sign of more business being done.

If you follow this blog, you know I usually include my own daily awards, which I call “the debbies” for all things irrelevant and unimportant. Here we go:

The Fenetech booth sported a coordinated professional look.
The Fenetech booth sported a coordinated professional look.

Best large booth: Software manufacturer Fenetech, beautifully done and coordinated.

Best small booth: The Winlet booth with some pretty neat robotic glass handlers. I don’t think it’s any accident they are painted in transformer colors because they literally transform themselves before your eyes.

GBA 15 winlet1
These Winlet robots can transform themselves before your eyes.

Most buzz: The Caldwell booth with its expanded and innovative window technology offerings.

Most discussed new service: Order lunch on your iPad or iPhone and have it delivered to your booth.

Biggest surprise of the show: The high number of international visitors.

Biggest announcement that no one made: That the show dates for Glassbuild 2016 have moved from September to October 19-21. Be careful when you look it up online because a number of informational websites still have the old dates.

Most thought-provoking comment I heard: “You know I come to a show like this and I realize that I couldn’t start a glass company nowadays. Everyone wants to sell you truckloads, and no one wants to talk to you if you don’t want to buy them.”

Funniest comment (heard over breakfast): What’s a grit and why would I want to eat one?

What the well-dressed Tubelite team was wearing.
What the well-dressed Tubelite team was wearing.

And the coveted best dressed/ best shirt debbie goes to: The checkered crew at Tubelite. (Though it was a very tough choice this year with the Quanex cool blues nipping at their heels.)

That’s all for today. Now I gotta cut loose–foot loose.