Viewpoint: A Look at Phoenicia’s International Expansion

Q&A with Rina Chakour, vice president of marketing and business development
January 5, 2018

In recent years, Israeli glassmaker Phoenicia Flat Glass Industries has worked to build its international business presence, primarily in North America. The company, which operates a float plant in Nazareth Illit, Israel, has been focused on increasing its portfolio of high-performance glass products as it seeks out new customers. Glass Magazine interviewed Phoenicia’s vice president of marketing and business development, Rina Chakour, about the company’s growth and future plans. 

Let’s start by looking at the worldwide glass market. What are the main trends you see in the global float glass industry?

The future of the global flat glass industry looks good, with opportunities in building construction glass, automotive glass and specialty glass. As more and more buildings are covered with glass, the demand rises all around the world. The major drivers of growth are in the construction market, [and in] rising automotive production and sales, rising per capita income and technological advancement.

Some [product and technology] trends include increasing usage of advanced nanotechnology in flat glass, solar control glazing for automotive and building glasses, lightweight glass and security glass. 

What are Phoenicia’s plans for expansion? 

We are looking to expand our product portfolio to add new products like [low-emissivity] and solar glass.

What are the main challenges for Phoenicia? 

The main challenge for a company like Phoenicia is [having] one float line without the ability to experiment much, or to develop new products due to the need to produce and maintain customer demand. Bigger companies around the world can afford to do that. For Phoenicia, we follow the global trends to continue to bring the best high-quality solutions and products to our customers. 

Phoenicia has become a more familiar face in the North American industry. How important is the North American market to the company? 

The North American market has become very important for Phoenicia as we continue to service some of the biggest fabricators by offering them the highest quality of glass together with extraordinary customer service. Glass fabricators in this market are aware of the risks of working with low quality products and are not willing to compromise. Thus, the opportunity for Phoenicia to grow its sales in this market became clear.

For our customers, the fabricators, its essential to work with high quality glass, with consistency in the glass parameters and performance. And most importantly, [to work with] a partner that understands their needs and is willing to do what it takes to keep them happy. These are the main reasons Phoenicia is a player in international markets in general and in the North American market in specific.

How did Phoenicia first enter the North America market?

Phoenicia stated its journey in this market through its most premium product, the ultra-clear low-iron brand called True Color. The clarity of the glass and the lack of the green tint allowed the fabricators to use the glass for fabricating, painting, printing, silvering and to enjoy the high light transmission to create beautiful solutions and keep their customers happy as well.

Since then, Phoenicia introduced the rest of its products like laminated glass and security glass, in addition to the thin and thick clear float glass, and received similar positive responses from its customers.

What are the challenges of importing float glass? What can a fabricator do to plan ahead and ease these pressures? 

The main challenges for importing glass are planning and stocking the right quantities. Phoenicia is very successful at forecasting the demand for its products together with the fabricators’ experience, to reach a state of always in stock. Fabricators are not complaining of shortage of any kind.

In addition, Phoenicia ‘s logistics team is well experienced and ensure a relatively short delivery time to the North American market.  

What are your expectations for 2018? 

Our expectations for 2018 are [continued] growth in demand for glass, more exposure and understanding of Phoenicia’s brands and qualities.

We expect higher demand for our laminated specialized products like Lami-P Sound Control, and impact-resistant glass, in addition to our defense line of products (forced entry resistant, bullet resistant and blast resistant).

Looking even further, what are your expectations for the float market in five years any beyond?

For the longer term, research shows that the global flat glass market is expected to witness growth on account of rising insulation demand from the construction sector. Furthermore, increasing awareness regarding the importance of tempered glass in the automotive industry. 

The increasing use of laminated and insulating glass in solar energy applications is expected to enhance further market credibility. Rising construction in terms of refurbishment as well as upcoming projects … around the world coupled with growing awareness for durable building materials is expected to fuel flat glass demand. 

Increasing architectural and engineering trends toward the rising use [of flat glass] in building façades is anticipated to impact positively the market. And increasing use in photovoltaic modules, solar panels and low-E glass owing to rising need for clean energy is anticipated to be a key factor driving market growth. 

We expect the regulatory environment of the flat glass market to become more and more active and influential which will require producers to implement higher codes and other such stringent safety legislations. Many safety and strength check regulations will be put into practice in various countries to ensure functionality for security concerns.