Still Vegas, Baby!
The GlassBuild America show opened Tuesday in the only city in the world that could pull off having an Atomic Bomb Testing museum and an Organized Crime Museum less than three miles from each other. Las Vegas is just that kind of town. And what about the show being held at the Las Vegas Convention Center? Well … it’s a pretty darn good one so far.
The traffic has been steady and the mood optimistic. It’s been especially nice to see the return of some European-style booths scattered amid the usual inline ones and to see machinery manufacturers actually displaying machinery again. Though the machines’ presence is smaller than is typically seen when the show is in its alter-location, Atlanta, or at the glasstec show, it is noticeable.
I spent most of the first day at the Glazing Executives Forum, which offered a mix of presentations and break-out sessions to the approximately 220 attendees. By far the most popular session was the “talk-show-like” discussion featuring Mic Patterson of Enclos, Jay Phillips of Guardian and Oliver Stepe of YKK. Consensus was that business is really coming back but confidence in that business sticking around is not. They were all well-received with one exception.
The highlight on the first day for me was seeing Donn Harter, former everything, receive recognition for all he has done for the industry and association over the years. By “former everything,” I mean Donn is a former NGA volunteer membership director, president, temporary chairman, code official, sheriff, founder and president of the California Glass Association and author. He was one of those responsible for the association’s growth in the late 1970s and 1980s and it was nice to see him, along with the former association presidents who came to honor him, as well as his family and friends. Once you have met Donn you never forget him. It was a thrill for someone like me who worked with him for many years see him honored.
Shower doors and software seem to be in renaissance on the show floor and I saw a number of companies return to exhibit that we haven’t see in awhile. There was also a bit of buzz about the USGlass football pool and the newly reconstituted Glass Expo West™, which our magazine is sponsoring in suburban Anaheim next year.
If you follow this space, you know that each year I do some not-too-serious award-giving during the show. I egotistically call them “the debbies.” Here are the debbies from day one:
1. Best branding and uniforms: Wood’s Powr Grip. Awesome coordination of color and message in celebration of the glass handlers’ 50th anniversary. Nicely done.
2. Best new definition: Façade geeks. Coined by Mic Patterson of Enclos they refer to “those guys who really dig curtainwall and building exterior technology.” “You all know at least one,” said Patterson at the Glazing Executives Forum.
3. Most ex-presidents: Definitely at the Harter table during the aforementioned ceremony. In addition to Harter, former association presidents Jim Ponder, Georgina Alexander, Ron Clauson, Tom Lee and Jerry Wright were on hand to honor him.
4. Funniest–and totally true–Vegas moment: Walking across the parking lot at the Convention Center and seeing a guy get out of his car and approach me. “Hello,” he said, “would you like some free sweet potatoes?” I did not stick around to find out exactly how he defined sweet potatoes.
5. Daily best booth award: Ramapo/Kommerling had an outstanding-looking, very cosmopolitan booth that reminded me of those at glasstec—and it was filled with people like those are, too.
6. Most artistic booth: ICD, which featured the photographs of award-winning photographer Kris Vockler. Kris has done just beautiful work and it is on display in her company’s booth, #2246.
7. The “I’m glad it’s not in my backyard” award: Goes to a Midwest glass shop owner who shall remain nameless. He was telling me that the other building in his complex, with shared parking, had just been rented to the area’s first medical marijuana clinic. “So we drug-test on this side of parking lot, and they give it out on the other,” he said with a bit of exasperation. Well, look at this way, it’s going to be real easy to give out directions …
8. Sentimental favorite: Seeing the “Big Red” catalog in C.R. Laurence’s booth again. How comforting it was to see the “Sears & Roebuck Catalog” of our industry again.
9. Funniest moment or “the bad timing award:” One major curtainwall supplier decided to email notices of a price increase to their customers during the Glazing Forum yesterday morning. As emails went off throughout the room, mass expletives could be heard. “Gee,” said one attendee, “that really changed what people would be going to their booths to talk about.” I bet it did!
10. And it wouldn’t be a show without: Palmer Mirro-Mastic in booth 2451. They have been in every one since the beginning.