GlassBuild America closed its 2017 run at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center on Thursday, and the show highlighted several trends that have been prominent in the door and window industry for the past few years.

Attendance at GlassBuild was hurt by travel delays caused by the remains of Hurricane Irma, which hit the Atlanta area on the eve of the show.

For example, contemporary designs are still big, as seen on products ranging from hardware to window profiles. Also big: Lots of glass.

“The market intelligence is telling us that everyone wants more glass area and less visible frame and sash,” said Mark DePaul, business development manager for Energi Fenestration Solutions.

High-Tech Helpers

The lack of skilled labor was an inescapable conversation on the show floor. It’s a problem that’s driving innovation from software makers and machinery manufacturers.

For example, Joseph Machinery’s fabrication center was a popular draw for GlassBuild attendees. It’s been updated with additional production modules, said senior sales engineer Chris Cooper.

“With the labor issues, this has been the big saver this year,” he said. “More customers are asking for this machine to be more flexible.”

Peter Dixen, CEO, A+W Software, said the company is very focused on the Internet of Things (IoT) and integration of business intelligence reporting into its systems.

“Everyone is busy and they want to get the most out of the factory,” said Dixen.

Windowmaker Software brought an experienced team to GlassBuild – according to the company, its four representatives at the show had more than 100 years of experience with the product.

GlassBuild 2017 was the company’s 60th trade show in North America, and the company put the focus on solutions for window and door dealers with new versions of both the Windowseller program and the Windowmaker Measure app.

There were also high-tech products on display to help dealers reach customers in innovative ways.

Chameleon Power makes visualization applications that allow the end customers of glass, window and door manufacturers or installers to configure and “experience” products in a fully customizable, photorealistic digital environment before buying. Several major industry players, including Guardian and Ply Gem, use the company’s tools.

“We give that customer the experience without the manufacturer having to have the product samples available, and it’s a lot better than just looking at a picture,” said Jack Yurich, the company’s director of U.S. sales.

Machinery and More

Wakefield Equipment displayed several of its machinery solutions in its booth, and general manager Owen Cleary wanted to let customers know that the company has completely revamped its website with informative videos and much more.

Pat Mooney showed off its PMI 14 machine used for creating opposing 45-degree angle work. It’s used primarily for extruded aluminum.

“Every customer who stops by wants to buy something,” said Patrick Thornton, president.

Pro-Line’s booth highlighted the company’s new four-head welder.

“We replaced 12 cylinders with eight cylinders,” said managing partner Todd Tolson. “It’s more reliable, better-functioning and easier to maintain.”

Prodim exhibited at GBA after being away for a few years to show off its digital scanner for 3-D glass, and it sold one of these at the show.

Haffner showed off its customizable saws, welders and cleaners.

“What sets us apart is everything we do is custom,” said Michael Ciccone, technical sales lead. That even includes how much of a footprint the equipment takes up in the plant.

Witte displayed its vinyl profile-bending equipment, and it had the only operating profile-bending demonstration on the show floor.

The blinds-between-glass trend remains big as well, and ODL’s Blink and Intigral both had large booths at the show.

Intigral showcased its products, but this year the company took a different spin on its message to customers.

“We are here trying to get certified fabricators to build the kits themselves: people who want to build their own IG and blinds,” said Jamie Cigany, marketing manager, about the company’s Certified Fabricator Program, which will save time and costs for these companies.

She said there was a great deal of interest at the show, and the company will be releasing its list of certified fabricators shortly.

Caldwell Manufacturing showed off its Gateway for home automation, another trend that’s catching on with homeowners. Gateway provides connectivity to more than just doors and windows. It also connects to thermostats and other devices, all of which can be accessed from a single app. Look for it early next year.

Chelsea Building Products featured a variety of product,s including its new Inoview. Karen Kubicko, marketing communications coordinator, said the company has a YouTube video on the product as well for Web users to check out. The product utilizes dual-pane glass and argon and offers a .26 U value.

“You can get all the way to .14, so it offers a high thermal value,” she said.

Chelsea was purchased in March by Aluplast, so some of that company’s products were on display as well. This included a sliding door, and Kubicko said a lot of attendees commented on the “cool hardware.”

Storm Impacts

A major topic of discussion at the show was the low attendance. GlassBuild opened just as the remnants of Hurricane Irma hit the Atlanta area, disrupting travel for many attendees and exhibitors. Because of that, several companies were no-shows or didn’t get to set up their booths until Wednesday. Attendance appeared sparse on Tuesday, the first day of the show, but it picked up the next day before seeming to fall again on Thursday.

However, most people who did make it said the attendees walking the floor this year were the ones who really wanted to conduct business, and many companies reported that they developed some solid leads from the show despite the relatively weak attendance.

GlassBuild America 2018 will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center September 12-14.

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