From GlassBuild America: Looking beyond the recession to recovery

By Jenni Chase, Glass Magazine
October 2, 2009
COMMERCIAL, RETAIL, AUTO, FABRICATION : MEETINGS AND EVENTS

While the non-residential construction market isn’t expected to return to growth until 2011, it hasn’t stopped attendees and exhibitors alike at GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window & Door Expo in Atlanta, Sept. 30-Oct. 2, from investing in new product lines, services and equipment in preparation for the economic rebound. “Investing at the bottom of the economic cycle so that you have everything ready for growth is key,” said attendee Ira Endres, director of sales and marketing for Bonnell Aluminum, Newnan, Ga., in an interview.

For attendee Ed Sieber, Glass Doctor Franchisee of the Year and president, Glass Doctor of Charlotte, N.C., that translates into more product lines. “We’ve moved into shower installation and window and sash replacement,” he said on the show floor. “We’re here looking at all of the different suppliers and opportunities out there to see if there are any other products that we may want to add to our line.”

Companies that continue to develop new products will succeed in this difficult economic climate, said exhibitor Jeff Nichols, vice president of sales and marketing for Standard Bent Glass, Butler, Pa. The company is promoting DuPont's SentryGlas Expressions line at the show. “The strategy is to have value-added products to have more things to offer the customer base,” he said.

“When it’s slower, you are able to put the proper amount of research and development into products so that when things do break, you’re ready to go,” added exhibitor Tom O’Malley, vice president of sales for Doralco, Alsip, Ill. “We’re staying in front of our customers and trying to give them new product offerings so they can use them for more applications.” On the show floor, Doralco is promoting the addition of plate panels to its architectural metal cladding products.

“Diversity is the key; it’s key to find new markets that aren’t getting hit right now,” said exhibitor Wayne Sharp, Midwest account manager, SAF Southern Aluminum Finishing Co., Atlanta, which is showing its aluminum extrusions on the floor. “One avenue we’re looking at is solar panels, extrusions that are used in certain solar panels. We’re also looking at food service opportunities and decorative glass column covers--anything that doesn’t deal with just commercial.”

Companies are also investing in new equipment. For example, Manko Window Systems Inc., Manhattan, Kan., bought a fully automated insulating line from Lisec, with an automated applicator robot for the TriSeal spacer from Edgetech I.G., Cambridge, Ohio. The line is on display at the Lisec booth. “The people here are buyers, decision makers,” said Gary Jones, president, Manko Window Systems, Manhattan, Kan. “Our industry has a more positive outlook.”

Exhibitor Mark Silverberg, president, Technoform, agreed. “Show traffic has been numerically down but the quality is very high. We’re talking to owners, CEOs and presidents as opposed to engineers and purchasing people … They want to invest in product design and new equipment.” Technoform is promoting hollow struts to support the next generation of high-performing aluminum systems at the show.

Read more about the products and services on display in Atlanta.