Land of opportunity

Philip Dewhurst Jr, commercial director for The Georgian Bar Company, talks about doing business at GlassBuild America and eating hot dogs at a baseball game.

Scooting along to GlassBuild America 2019 at the Georgia World Conference Centre was a very different story to GBA 2017, which was stifled by Hurricane Irma; two years ago, visitor numbers were down and many exhibitors were unable to attend. So, it was particularly nice to see it spring back to its best this year, with approximately 10,000 visitors.

This was the sixth consecutive GlassBuild America exhibition that I’ve been to. Alternating each year between Atlanta and Las Vegas, it’s great to visit both locations and see the differences between the two. Atlanta tends to have more of an international presence and initially it was thought of as a more serious event than Vegas.

I wasn’t exhibiting at the show this year, so it gave me more time to catch up with distributors, build on relationships and make new contacts. I visited the show every day and each time something good happened, even securing a meeting in the last 15 minutes of the show with someone I had been chasing for over a year. I usually don’t pay much attention to the last day of a three-day show, that’s certainly a lesson learned for me.

I thought it was great that Adrian Barraclough brought a solid contingent of rising stars from Quickslide to expand their horizons and to see international markets first hand. I have no doubt they will have garnered sound experience to put into practice back here in the UK.

The evenings were well organised too. Guy Hubble from RegaLead arranged for 21 of us to watch a baseball game. It’s such an iconic American sport, very easy to watch and gave us another opportunity to sit and discuss the day over a beer and a hot dog. The only issue was the heat: it was 93°F and 73% humidity, and I still wore my jacket.

Speaking to fellow Brits, Pigs seemed to be the biggest draw. Sarah Ball at Balls2 Marketing (organisers of Pigs) had put on the second US event, the first being at GBA16 in Vegas. Even though Atlanta is a tad further for regulars to travel to than Birmingham or Glasgow, the Pigs event proved to be a huge success. Hosted at Gibney’s Pub on the Wednesday night, we had an incredible 50 people attend and it was a great chance for the Brits to get together.

We also had some Americans joining us, and even a German. It’s so much easier to have good conversations in a casual atmosphere with a drink in your hand, rather than trying to do it all during the show.

I was glad to sponsor the event through both The Georgian Bar Company and WINtek, our American interest. We also had great support from Emplas, Edgetech, Glazpart, RegaLead, Thermoseal Group, Quickslide and even the National Glass Association, organisers of GBA, while Central RPL and BM Aluminium both threw extra money behind the bar as the evening went on to keep the drinks flowing.

With all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, new export markets have never been more vital. Next year it’s Vegas, and Sarah and I came up with the idea for a Pigs Pavilion at GlassBuild America. We are currently talking to the organisers of the show and potential UK exhibitors to see if there’s an appetite for it.

Many USA manufacturers are adopting European style windows, so the timing is perfect for UK companies to take advantage of this. We are looking at giving British businesses the opportunity to be represented at this huge exhibition under the Pigs banner. So, if you’re interested, then give Sarah or me a call. We think that for anyone looking at prospective US trade prospects, this would be a safe and relatively cheap introduction to the market.

Obviously, they’ll be an obligatory Pigs party at some point in the proceedings.

Even though we’re only in the early stages of our plans, I’m already getting excited to return to Vegas next year. Now that Sarah has (unofficially) appointed me as the honorary international Pigs representative, I can’t wait to offer any help I can to anyone looking to explore new markets in the land of opportunity.