Living in the Moment

Take advantage of all the GlassBuild America Expo has to offer
Emily Kay Thompson
September 9, 2019
COLUMN : Observation Desk

GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window & Door Expo and Window & Door Dealer Day are finally upon us, with the latter event beginning on the 16th of this month in Atlanta. Most of the industry has spent months prepping for this biggest event of the year. Now that we’re here, we can finally be in the moment to experience the show.

We had a number of “influencers”—that is, influential and steadfast voices in glass and fenestration who have a stake in the industry and lobby for its success—weigh in on what they get out of GlassBuild America, what they put into it, and how attendees can make the most out of their show. 

Alice Dickerson, founder and managing director, Division 08 Marketing LLC, a full-service ad and marketing firm dedicated to the building products and construction industry—and current Window + Door Awards (formerly, Crystal Achievement Awards) judge—wrote about the value of the show for exhibitors. “My first GlassBuild in the late ’80s taught me a powerful lesson about the value of trade shows for suppliers.” She recalls seeing a prospect in the aisle who she could never connect with. “I stepped out of my company’s booth to catch up with him and called him by name. He then walked back to my booth with me and I was able to capture about 15 minutes of his undivided attention. Thanks to that in-person connection, this contact soon became a regular buying customer. I would estimate over the course of time I managed this account, product sales amounted to over $1.2 million.”

A representative of one of the many suppliers exhibiting at GlassBuild America, Guardian Glass’ director of marketing for the U.S. and Canada Eric Wroldsen also emphasizes the importance of face-to-face connections. “All of us in the glass industry—in any industry—spend a lot of time talking on the phone, texting and emailing customers and colleagues. This is all time well spent, but it pales in comparison to meeting in person and showing products in a fresh way,” he says. “Many studies explain how face-to-face conversations are more positive and perceived as more credible than digital or audio communication. And we frequently get a chance to have a more casual conversation over dinner, coffee or another activity once the show is over. That time to catch up is invaluable.”

Most every influencer, exhibitor and attendee will agree with these sentiments about the networking and connection that happens at the event. The other undeniable opportunity is that for education. Nicole Harris, CEO of NGA, the event organizer, encourages all participants to learn something. “Learn many things. Learn the unexpected,” she says. “Learning happens by osmosis as you walk through a trade show, but it can also be intentional.” Harris names the Express Learning stage that offers 20-minute single-focus topics, the Action Demos in the live demonstration area, and ongoing live demos in exhibitor booths as intentional learning opportunities. 

Finally, it would be remiss not to mention the biggest reason our attendees show up to GlassBuild America: to see, experience and invest in new technology, tools, supplies and equipment. For those in the market for equipment or machinery, Steven Brooks, national sales director, SmartLift US, says GlassBuild is, “the best place to shop and find out what will work for you and your team.” He continues: “There is no other place in the United States where you can see the huge amount of equipment or machines up close and in person.”

For those of you reading this on your way to the show, or even at the show in our magazine lounge, I hope you’re ready to dive into the moment and live GlassBuild for all it has to offer. Stop by to see me. If you’re stuck in the office, we’ll miss you and hope to see you next year in Las Vegas. Follow Window + Door on Twitter for live coverage of the event. 

Thompson is editor in chief of Window + Door,, and WDweekly. Write her at