From the Fabricator: AIA Show Review

I had some fun and interesting few days in New York last week for the annual AIA show. I gained some excellent insight and, as always, got to visit with the best and brightest in our industry. Before I get into the show review and all that came with it, I have to say just the overall vibe of the Times Square area is craziness. So many people, so much going on. It never ceases to amaze me. Also, I did trek away from Times Square for lunch at what I was told was the best pizza in New York: John’s on Bleeker. And it lived up to the billing. Also, kudos to my Uber driver who somehow crammed his car into the tightest of spaces to maneuver through the thickest traffic ever to get me out of town and to the airport. Needless to say, I could never ever drive in that city. 

Our world and the show...

The overall atmosphere within our industry and the markets was exceedingly positive. Many that I talked with were very bullish for the next two to three years, showing excellent metrics and a strong foundation of business and growth. That was exciting to hear. It didn’t hurt that the Architectural Billings Index released during the show was excellent yet again. Things are rolling and that is something to feel good about. And yes, I should add the disclaimer here that this is all good based on nothing happening at the political level, which, quite frankly, changes minute to minute anymore.

The show itself...

It was solid and better than past events, but probably still not what it should and could be. But for those exhibitors who suffered through Orlando’s mess last year, they at least had something to hang their hat on this time. Probably the issue with the show that struck me the most was the show floor was split with exhibits on the first and third floors. The third floor was huge, well lit, and featured a lot of very big names. The first floor was darker, featured lower ceilings, smaller booths, and despite having big time companies there, just felt different. There was no signage in either hall promoting the other show floor, and I know many architects and attendees had no idea that there were two floors. I know a few folks on the first floor had good shows, but I believe those on the third did much better. I just hate when trade shows break up the floor like that; just not good or fair to anyone except the trade show organizer. 

People and companies… 

NGA had its booth set up to answer code and technical questions with the brilliant duo of Urmilla Jokhu-Sowell and Dr. Tom Culp, and they were swamped. Loved the education approach because, as we all know, the more education and technical we can teach the architects, the better.

EFCO was back in the show with a very impressive booth, and I loved visiting with Joseph Holmes for a few minutes there. Very good guy!

It’s been a while since I have seen Jerry Schwabauer and Patrick Muessig of Azon. They had an incredible product that they are working with Quaker Window on that featured extremely high performing numbers thanks to Azon’s product. It’s a new release from them and you will surely be hearing more about that in the future. I love the continuing innovation path there!

More innovation was on display at VIG Technologies. They had a very interactive display showing their vacuum insulating glass in a heat box as well as a cool acoustical box that really showed the performance of the product.  

Vistamatic also had really amazing pieces on display that impressed me on several levels. Their booth was striking and I give them credit for making it work since much of it got damaged on the way from the holding area to their booth spot. 

It was fun meeting up with Ted Bleecker at the busy SuperSky Products booth. Also seeing Brian Thomas there was a bonus. Good company and great bunch of folks.

Obviously, when it comes to people I consider great, that is usually everyone associated with Viracon. Nicer to me than I deserve. Their show performance (busy and interesting exhibit) was impressive. 

It’s absolutely awesome to have Dan Plotnick back in our industry. Dan has been a favorite of mine for many years and after spending a decade-plus overseas, and time on the residential side, he’s back at Solar Seal and the CGH companies. Great add there for them, and I will be doing a Big 3 interview with Dan later this summer because his story is fascinating. 

I always love seeing the float people and seeing how they’ll be moving the needle product wise in the next few years. The Guardian Glass booth was fabulous, and they had at least three pieces of very big news (bird deterrent glass, VIG, jumbo) that will be positive disruptions in the industry. Thanks, as always, to the great Chris Dolan and team for being so welcoming.

Vitro also was making news with their Acuity product (love the name, logo and look; don’t doubt the talented Rob Struble as he nailed it again) as well as their push into bigger sizes. Plus, seeing my old pal Steve Cohen there was very cool.

Over at AGC there was a bunch of activity happening, but all I cared about was saying hi to my old pal Matt Ferguson. Just hearing that voice again, that very distinctive sound and drawl, made the show for me. Good to see him and everyone else there.

Wrapping up, I saw James Wright, and his energy and positive approach is infectious. Same with my old pal Danik Dancause of Walker. They debuted a new booth that was so beautiful and impressive that no one noticed that incredible suit Danik rocked on day one. Folks, that’s a good booth when that happens.  

I am sure I am missing a few that I should be noting, but I think my head is still trying to acclimate to being back in my sleepy Michigan town vs. the bright lights of New York City. Overall, very good stuff. Now all eyes turn to GlassBuild America. That’s next, and it’s going to be incredible. I am completely confident about it, and you’ll be hearing more from me in the coming weeks for sure. 


  • Because this review is so long, there won’t be a Big 3 interview this week. But stay tuned. The ones I have coming up I believe are outstanding and I am so thankful for all of the positive reaction so far. I really appreciate those who read and especially those who are being interviewed for sharing their insights.

  • Quick major congrats to Dan McCrickard. Dan is a classy man and friend and he just landed an excellent gig at Assa Abloy. Strong company adds talent, love it! Happy for you, Dan!

  • Last this week, just a programming note. No blog next week as Canada Day and the Fourth of July will be upon us. I will be back in this space the week of July 8th with the latest Glass Magazine review, Big 3 interview, and more. I sincerely hope you and yours enjoy whichever holiday you are celebrating, and please stay safe! (I hate fireworks. Please be careful if you are messing with them!)

Read on for links and video of the week…

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications.E-mail him at

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.


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