Great Expectations

When I boarded my plane to New Orleans last week to attend Glass Processing Automation Days, I expected to attend an informative, well-organized event where I would make connections with a wider net of companies and learn more about fabrication equipment. And I did. 

But, when I found myself walking with GPAD sponsors and attendees down the middle of Canal Street in a police-escorted jazz band parade headed to the Creole Queen riverboat, I quickly―and happily―adjusted my expectations. While GPAD is designed to educate attendees on the latest glass processing equipment and software technology, it also presents an opportunity for attendees to foster the family-like relationships of the glass industry. Competitors walking side by side, sharing stories of the past, present and future of the glass industry they all love. 

“The world isn’t standing still; if your business isn’t moving forward, then it’s going nowhere,” said Ron Crowl, president of GPAD organizer FeneTech, during his opening remarks at the 2014 GPAD, held March 20-21 in New Orleans. By the end, one presenter summarized the event, saying, "you can assess if you want to be on the cutting edge, sit back and watch others take the lead or end up on the bleeding edge." 

This year’s 101 speakers and attendees—from as far as Australia and Italy to as near as New Orleans—were a testament to improving business. From the thorough presentations complete with videos and live demonstrations, to the shared memories, jokes and stories from a whole group of what we at Glass Magazine like to affectionately call “glass geeks,” the tone of the event was positive and refreshing, focused on diversification to make business better. 

New-to-the-industry Chip Rogers, president of Woonsocket Glass & Mirror Co. in Rhode Island, perhaps said it best: “It feels great to be with a company that’s actually doing well and growing.” For him, GPAD was precisely what event organizers strive for: a great learning experience. “We made many friends and future business partners. We plan on attending more industry events in the future where we can share our 60+ years of experience with others while learning which directions others are heading.” And isn’t that just what we need?

Stough is assistant editor of Glass Magazine, write her at bstough@glass.org.

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