On the Road with USGlass

Taking Care of Business

Thursday was quite the day at the glass show here in Vegas. I swear I saw tears of happiness in the eyes of a few exhibitors, and I know I saw blisters of pain on the foot of at least one attendee—because he showed me. Hard to get those images out of my mind at what is the busiest national glass show in nearly a decade.

This Barkow truck, decked out with the company's new Next Ledge product, is heading for Montana
This Barkow truck, decked out with the company’s new Next Ledge product, is heading for Montana

As predicted, the slow start Wednesday had ramped up by the end of the day and continued to build through Thursday. “We have not seen this level of activity since before the recession,” said John Weise of Barkow, who was promoting a truck with its new “Next Ledge” removable upper ledgeboards.

As with almost all the machinery and equipment on the floor, Weise’s truck sported a “sold” sign, in this case bound for Kalispell, Mt. Pent up demand and years of “getting by until the economy gets better” exploded into a cacophony of demand as operators sought to replace aging trucks and equipment with upgraded models of efficiency.

After those years of getting by with minimal R&D work, suppliers were once again unveiling new technology and substantial enhancements to their products, another sign of an industry in growth mode once again.

Mike Schmidt of Forel introduced me to the company’s next generation arrising machinery, which produced some the sharpest and precise corners and edges I’ve ever seen. “People recognize that machinery such as this that brings a level of consistency adds reliability and peace of mind,” he said.

This glass transport equipment can lift glass both in and outside. It's made by Wienold.
This glass transport equipment can lift glass both in and outside. It’s made by Wienold.

Equipment for mid-sized and regional fabricators became its own subcategory at this show. Klaes Bernhard Hambruegge of Weinold Lifte displayed some compact and lighter glass-lifting machines with smaller footprints. “We believe this is the only piece of equipment of its type that can be used both inside and outside the building,” he said.

Proving that research can result in changes in even the smallest of products, Dave Braune of Grove Products debuted shims in a number of new sizes. “We want to create different shims in just about every fractional denomination so you don’t have to put two or more shims together any more,” he said. “That’s the best way to do it.”

Dave Braune of Groves does a shim-ie shake with his new-sized shim.
Dave Braune of Grove does a shim-ie shake with his new-sized shim.

In fact, innovation large and small was so prominent on the floor that I decided to bring back my own annual daily show awards, which I call “the debbies.” Here are today’s picks:
Most Fun to See: John Dwyer of Syracuse Glass who said “we did it, we did it” with a such of level of excitement I thought he’d scored big at one of the casinos. Nope. The focus of Dwyer’s enthusiasm was the new autoclave his company had just purchased. His excitement was infectious.

Best Rumor of the Day: Krypton prices were coming down. “Light bulbs used to account for 40-50 percent of Krypton usage,” explained Tom Gallagher of Linde Gases. “But those light bulbs are no longer being made as the laws in the U.S. have changed. This means there will be more Krypton available at lower prices.” Good news for insulating glass manufacturers.

Best Dressed: In the male division: new grandfather Steve Perilstein of W.A. Wilson, who sported a pair of such fashionable eyeglasses that you need not look further to know he’d won. And Sylvia Cerda of Rollac Shutters won the ladies division for her bright and stylist dress and her infectious smile.

Nice clan lines created an illusion of space in this relatively small booth by Glass Warehouse.
Nice clean lines created an illusion of space in this relatively small booth by Exaktglass.

Best Small Booth of the Day: Exaktglass designed a clean, simple booth that focused on the products it offered.

Best Reminder of Time: This year marks my attendance at this show for the 35th consecutive time (yes, I started very young). It was the first trade show of any type I ever attended and I have seen it through its five different names, eight cities and thousands of exhibits and visitors. Nearest we can tell, only Dan Degorter beats me in terms of consecutive attendance, as he started coming with his dad when he was in his teens. We both grew up with this show, and it’s still an annual reminder not only of time that has past, but of new opportunities ahead.