Sunday, June 24, 2018

AIA Show Review

Fun and interesting few days in New York 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 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. 

Ok on to our world and the show...

The overall atmosphere out our industry and the markets was exceedingly positive. Many that I talked with were very bullish for the next 2-3 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 (ABI) released during the show was excellent yet again.  So 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.

As for 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 stuck me the most was the show floor was split with exhibits on the 3rd and 1st floors.  The 3rd floor was huge, well lit, and featured a lot of very big names.  The 1st 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 there was another show floor and I know many architects & attendees had no idea that there were 2 floors.  I know a few folks on the 1st floor had good shows, but I believe those on the 3rd 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. 

Ok now on to the people and companies… 

NGA had their 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 their product inside.  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 & 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+ 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 3 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 1.  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 irrationally confident about it and you’ll be hearing more from me in the coming weeks for sure. 


Because this review is so long, they’ll be no 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 being interviewed for sharing their insights etc.

Quick major congrats to Dan McCrickard.  Dan is a class man and friend and he just landed and 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 4th of July holiday 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!)


--  Free train rides- but really should be for life after this right?

--  Deep and fascinating read on tracking the possible Zodiac killer.


You know me- you know I love Rocky and the now the Creed series… the latest trailer for Creed II is out… looks promising!

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