Volume 40, Issue 1 January 2005
Issue @ Hand
Just as there’s a general feeling of being overwhelmed that comes from your first time at glasstec (see Memoirs of a glasstec Virgin in the December 2002 USGlass, page 66), there’s also a perspective you gain from being—though I hate to admit it—a glasstec veteran. This was my tenth glasstec in the past 22 years, and one that brought to light a number of incremental changes that have taken place during the past few years. Specifically:
1. Dollar Doldrums: The U.S. dollar hit a new low against the EURO the day the fair started. This meant that almost everything U.S. exhibitors paid had a nearly 30-percent premium on it. But for many, especially the U.S. machinery manufacturers, the premium was more than offset by the increase in business from foreign customers. “Our machines are usually too expensive for the Europeans to buy,” said the representative from one U.S. manufacturer, “but this year, the dollar is so low against the EURO that we are actually very competitive to European manufacturers.” Non-U.S. manufacturers had the opposite problem. “It’s extremely difficult to sell into the U.S. right now,” said one Italian manufacturer, “everyone is saying ‘wait until the dollar gets stronger.’”
2. Fast Feet: glasstec always showcases the latest in fast ways to get around. Two years ago, scooters were popular and running through the halls. This year, pedestrians became motorized as a number of Seagues criss-crossed the halls.
3. Snow Showers: The late show dates combined with an early November snow led to one of the most moving sights at glasstec: watching visitors from countries in the Southern hemisphere who had never seen snow before go out and play in it. Their pleasure and wonderment was fun to watch.
4. Technical Training: glasstec has grown to become a center for learning about the newest developments in glass. Incoming glasstec director Marianne Hohenschutz did an excellent job putting together an active floor and an educational program that incorporated architects, universities and scientists from around the world.
5. Bouncing Back: In the wake of 9/11, attendance by U.S. companies was down considerably in 2002, but bounced back this year. The lure of new technology attracted people such as Leon Silverstein of Arch Aluminum, Bob Lawrence of Craftsman Fabricated Glass Inc., Arthur Berkowitz of J.E. Berkowitz, John Dwyer of Syracuse Glass, Bill O’Keeffe of O’Keeffe’s and Tony Lambros of CHMI, among others.
6. International Influx: Every glasstec sees a large influx of visitors and exhibitors from one region in the world. In 2000, it was Latin America; 2002, the Middle East. This year, the greatest expansion in numbers came from China and Korea. One of the most intriguing stands was manned by two gentlemen from China displaying their new vacuum-filled insulating units. While vacuum-filling may seem an oxymoronic statement, Xu Zhiwu of Qingdao Hengda Industry Corp. insisted that a complex series of small holes allows a nearly complete vacuum between the two lites.
7. GANA’s Gravitas: Exhibiting for the first time at glasstec was the prestigious Glass Association of North America. The association represents the powerhouse fabricators and manufacturers throughout North America. “We visited with lots of members,” said account executive Ashley Charest.
8. Electric Shock: Some U.S. exhibitors complained bitterly about the practices of charging estimated electricity charges in advance. One booth, which needed electricity for lights, a computer and very small refrigerator only, was required to pay $600 EURO in advance and told it would get a refund for unused portion after the event.
9. Messe Malaise: Perhaps it was because of a very busy show schedule and the lateness of glasstec this fall, but this year’s staff in the Messe’s restaurants, outlets and other service centers seemed a bit smaller and bit a more stretched to provide the same level of service as in the past. Some of the little extra touches that gave the event an international elegance were also curtailed. Overall, though, the event is still the grandest and most educational you’ll find in the glass industry.
10. Personal Favorites: For me, every glasstec has provided at least one moment that moves from business into a personal favorite memory. This one occurred on Thursday evening at a gala dinner hosted by Peter Lisec for its customers and honored guests. A true international event sponsored by gracious hosts, the dinner featured fine food and wine and wonderful entertainment by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. At one point during the evening I was listening to the music (which ranged from a mischievous YMCA to the Vienna Waltz itself) led by an exuberant conductor on the stage, while watching the head waiter conducting his own waiter’s gallop at each table with gusto. It occurred to me that some things are universal—like a love of a job that shows through and pride in one’s work for a job well done.
P.S. Please see page 18 for some very exciting news about our staff!
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