Mika Seitovirta, president and chief executive officer of Glatson, the Finland-based machinery manufacturer that organizes the event, told USGNN.com™, “I am very happy we chose the theme of solar.What you hear from the participants is they have learned a lot. We've heard a lot of 'aha' moments”
He added, “The keynote speakers communicated well to the participants what huge opportunities there are [in solar].”
Glaston has been taking advantage of a number of those opportunities, by adapting equipment for processing glass in the emerging market. “I entered [Glaston] at the very end of 2006 and it [solar] wasn't very high on Glaston's agenda, however, we had some suppliers already working on that. It didn't take us very long into 2007 to put a plan into action,” Seitovirta said.
Seitovirta added, “I am personally first of all very happy that the overall recession hasn't actually influenced the amount of participants - 800 is a very good number.”
A fair number of those attendees from North America were attending GPD for the first time, and there certainly was a great deal for them to take away from the event.
Bob Randall, vice president of business development for Viracon in Owatonna, Minn., was among those attending GPD for the first time.
Randall said he felt the event had the “same themes as at the U.S. shows,” adding, “it’s fun to connect the dots across continents.”
He commented on how the trends in architecture in Europe seem to be ahead of the United States, before pointing to another trend, the rise of construction in the Middle East. As Randall pointed out, it’s been interesting to have a number of speakers hail from that region as during this energy-focused conference companies working in the Middle East have very different concerns from those working on projects or materials in, for example, Finland. Randall said that Arthur Millwood of Emirates Glass LLC in Dubai, had specifically advised during his seminar “Beware: Transparency versus Reflectivity,” “Don’t just adopt the European standards.”
The international perspective was particularly interesting for Randall as Viracon is now exploring sites for international fabrication facilities.
“One good thing about the recession is it allows you to explore things you’ve always wanted to try but might not [have time for] otherwise,” he said.
Joe Erb, commercial products manager of Edgetech IG Inc. in Cambridge, Ohio, called this week “a trip of firsts. It was not only my first time to attend GPD, but also my first time to chair a track and my first time to present.”
Erb presented on “Challenges of Bent Insulating Glass” during the event. Chairing the IG processing track gave Erb a good opportunity to hear a range of presentations, although he noted he’s been drawn into a number of other tracks as well.
“I was surprised with the number of presentations and discussions around switchable glazing,” Erb said, citing the popular presentations by Dr. Helen Saunders of SAGE Electrochromics and Fred Millett of Pleotint LLC.
“There was everything from the very basic to the very general,” he said of the topics, adding, “they all gave you a topic to talk about later at the networking opportunities.”
Erb was one of many attendees for whom the networking was a highlight of the event.
“I always heard it was a great networking opportunity but when I got here and saw the list of who’s who’s … it really had all the players.”
Erb added with a smile, “I’m definitely planning on coming back.”