From the fabricator: The gigantic AIA recap

The 2012 American Institute of Architects show is in the books, and there's no doubt that the vibe was positive on the show floor. This is the first show in a long time where I heard a true sense of enthusiasm from people towards the economy and our markets ... at least related to sales/growth. I think for many companies, the past few years were so rough that seeing some light these days is reason to celebrate. No doubt, we are not out of the woods--and still, so much can change--but the attitude of the majority of the folks I talked to was on the extremely positive side. In fact, morale was so good, the typical trade show talk about competition destroying markets, cash flow issues, rumors and such were not prominent like in years' past. Oh, it was still there, because that's a staple of our world, like it or not. But in the end, it was pretty minimal compared to the commiseration of the past.

DC did not disappoint; the show had a steady flow. It did have some dead pockets, but not like the past two years. I will say that I wouldn't want to live in DC; the traffic and layout of the city and streets were mind numbing.

Just a note ... this blog is dedicated to the AIA show. We'll be back next week with other industry stuff like the ABI, McGraw Hill's new report and the start of hurricane season.

Other show musings...

  • As always, getting to see some of the great people of our industry is the best for me, and this year was no different. Among those I was lucky enough to run into was the amazingly talented Wendy Zhou of Guardian. She's an all-time favorite of mine, and now probably an all-time favorite of every architect that met her on the floor. Brian Leizerowicz of EFCO also was welcoming, though I am sure he'd prefer to run the other way when he sees me approaching! It was great to catch up with Glenn Miner at PPG looking dapper in the latest greatest Rob Struble trade show clothing collection: a lightweight, stylish windjacket. Plus, it was nice to see Mike Rupert of PPG for the first time in a while. And, I did get a picture with the legendary P. BEAR of PPG Starphire fame. (Great interest generator, by the way; kudos Mr. Struble)
  • Some great new booths making debuts included a sharp setup from Viracon. It was really eye-catching. GGI also had a show-stopping debut with an area laid out with a ton of great looking glass that you could flip on through. Pilkington looked to be in a new structure (at least to me) with the rest of the NSG Group, and it was fantastic. Fun for me too because they had several pictures of jobs I once had a part in, good memory lane stuff. AGNORA from Canada showed off a massive lite of glass, along with some excellent looking deco pieces for their maiden voyage in the show.
  • Their booth wasn't new as it debuted in the fall at Greenbuild, but SAGE had a lot of buzz around their snazzy setup. Their new parent Saint-Gobain had a massive "scoreboard" that stood above their booth; it was pretty mesmerizing. Guardian was busy the entire show with all of its new product launches. Earnest Thompson designed a pretty awesome booth space; you saw a lot of stuff in a very clean and sharp way. I also liked the sample setup for their new InGlass program. Lots of buzz too around the Panda Windows exhibit, as their door systems left architects in awe. Because of the steady traffic, I never could get into Berkowitz, Cristacurva, Pulp Studio or Dlubak's exhibits. They were all small but very effective.
  • The biggest buzz pre-show and during the show surrounded YKK. As I mentioned last week, they promoted an announcement promised to be unlike anything the industry had ever seen before. They did a great job of building the suspense, then put on a great show to launch their new high performance unitized curtain wall. I can say the presentation surely was like nothing I had ever seen before! Kudos to Oliver Stepe, Mike Turner and company.
  • Random and wrap up....
    -- Interesting that at the 7/11 next to my hotel they charged me $0.05 for a bag. Unless I have been missing something, that had to be the first time I was hit with a bag surcharge.
    --At the same convention center as AIA was the US Counter Terrorism Show. Architects and spies in the same place; could you get more different?
    --Also, it was the first major trade show I have seen go with a badge that was without a plastic sleeve. It was just a slick, thicker piece of material that seemed durable enough. I assume this could be a trend, though I wonder how much more expensive it is compared to what shows normally use.
    -- In the end, DC proved to be a solid venue, as expected. Next year, AIA is in Denver, and even though I like that area, there's no way the show will be as good from a traffic standpoint. 

So, now we move on to GlassBuild America in the fall. The floor is filling up and nice buzz is building. You'll be hearing a ton more from me on this as it gets closer, but needless to say, it's a must-attend event, especially if you want to stay on top of the trends and industry. 

Read on for links and clip of the week...

The author 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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