The main topic of discussion among attendees was the world economy (the G20 meeting was wrapping up in London and much in the news) and its effects on the architectural glass and metal industry.Dino Fenzi, president of Vitrum and head of the family owned company that supplies materials to manufacturers, said that the actions taken at the G20 meeting were good for emerging markets."It’s important to get people working and not have social issues," he said, referring to the street demonstrations in France and Germany.
"For 50 years, I’ve always believed that my success was part of the industry’s success," he explained. "But now I realize it may depend on the U.S. Congress or the G20. Business is directly related to what is happening in the rooms where the world economy is being decided."
Fenzi, who is also a past president of GIMAV, the Italian association of equipment manufacturers, said that none of the group’s members have lost customers, "but the order books are empty. We have not lost market share, but the market has become smaller. The cake is smaller than it has been for 50 years. We hope recovery will be soon."
He said his company has had only two years when sales declined from the previous year. "That was in 1990 and 1998, and those were single digit drops," he said. "For the first time in 50 years, we don’t know what is going to happen."
Commenting on the current global market, Cinzia Schiatti, who heads up foreign sales for her family owned company and is the current president of GIMAV, said, "Always before if it was slow in the U.S., we could find prosperity some place else. But not now."
She also made the point that the current economic circumstances have made some companies seek out quality rather than the lowest prices for machinery which may not be so reliable.
In reference to the Vitrum show, Fenzi said, "So far it is not bad. We may have some smaller exhibition stands from companies than in previous years, but that is common today. We don’t anticipate any reduction in the number of exhibitors and are getting some new ones. The overall size of the show may be slightly smaller but not by much."
Fenzi added, "By the time of Vitrum, a recovery may have come about and that would help. Some companies are delaying getting new equipment, but sooner or later you have to get new stock."
He added, "Some large, international companies have frozen their acquisition decisions because of board policy, and that has made a problem, but still that will come back. Solutions will be found and the economy will run again."