On the Road with USGlass

Where in the World?

Where else can you go and hear people talk about perimeter sheets, honor five industry legends, watch an association president get his hair shaved off, listen to a beautiful serenade, and leave while getting pelted with a bunch of used socks?

Nowhere, except the Colorado Glazing Contractors Association’s (CGCA) 30th-anniversary dinner and Industry Legends awards ceremony. The dinner was held as a kick-off to Glass Expo Rocky Mountain™ ’23 last week and honored its “Industry Legends”—Carle Abernathy, Les Law, Rick Ryan, Lou Sigman and Joel Watson—with accolades and awards. A different delivery person presented each award, all of whom bore an uncanny resemblance to CGCA executive director Rebecca Graves. (You can learn more here.)

The evening began with a moving tribute to former CGCA member Don Reschke, by his wife. Reschke passed away in October 2021.

Les Law spoke movingly of how the CGCA helped close up Columbine High School after the shootings there in April 1999 and how their members worked at cost. “It was a big job, and none of the companies wanted to take a markup; instead, they donated their work at cost. We ended up being able to donate $25,000, which was used to help build the new high school,” he said.

Law was followed by Rick Ryan, who asked who in the audience knew the significance of the number 288. Approximately 15% of the hands in the room went up. “288 was the number of inches in a Kawneer stock length,” he said. “Everything we did was cut from those 288 inches.” In the end, though, Ryan focuses on relationships. “We are in the business of relationships,” he said, “and CGCA helps foster relationships and helped me do business more effectively.”

Joel Watson followed Ryan. “I always tried to leave things better than I found them. Whether it be the company or the association, I wanted to leave them better off than when I got there,” said Watson, who added he was enjoying retirement immensely.

Another of CGCA’s founding fathers, Carle Abernathy, spoke next. In a moving speech, he talked about the need for respect within the industry, going back to when he started in Champaign, Illinois. “I was a customer. I worked for a local retail store and always had to call Bacon & Van Buskirk for Glass. Eventually, Roy and I became friends, and I went to work there. Rick [Ryan] said, this is a business of relationships, but it’s also a business of respect,” he said. Abernathy then added a plea for educated project managers. “We need to promote solid project management,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you have a [bachelor’s] degree or a Master’s. We need to train and develop an educated core of project managers.”

Abernathy was followed by Lou Sigman, who received his honor as the “people’s choice” winner, the one chosen by CGCA members. Sigman, too, took the audience down a memory lane of industry accomplishments. As the “people’s choice” winner, Sigman was also given the dubious honor of playing barber and shaving the hair off the head of CGCA president Chris Medina. Why you may ask? Because CGCA members could buy votes to decide whether Medina’s hair should stay or go for a good cause.

To no one’s surprise, the votes were overwhelmingly in favor of a shave. All the proceeds from the ballots were donated to a local charity. As Sigman tried to demur until the next day, the audience yelled, “Shave it, shave it,” until he finally took the razor and went right down the center of Medina’s head. The CGCA president took it in stride. “It’s for a good cause,” he said with a smile and a shrug.

Sigman’s Sweeney Todd impersonation was followed by a performance by Graves. This year will be her final one as CGCA executive director before retirement, and she sang a heartfelt song about leaving, ending with a short speech of her own. She concluded by throwing socks into the audience—the letters S O C K S being an acronym for dealing with self-doubt.

The evening was long on warm memories, tall with standing ovation after ovation and a more than fitting prelude into Glass Expo Rocky Mountain™ ‘23, which opened the next day.

Here are some photos from the week.
And here are the videos from Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023,  and Monday, Jan. 23, 2023.