GBA header 2019

The Power of Association

The beginning of 2019 brought big change to my professional (and personal) life and career—I chose to retire. While technically now out of a job, I know I am not also out of an industry I’ve called home for 39 years. In fact, my first gig upon retirement was to return to an association—the National Glass Association. I was invited to speak at the New Professionals reception at their Annual Conference in Naples, Florida. After nearly four decades in the business, the first thing I wanted to do was thank the industry for providing for me and my family for that time. It is my privilege to continue to participate in ways that nurture the next generation of new professionals and to instill the sense of gaining an industry as family over time.

The best advice I can give to individuals is to learn an industry and, in turn, that industry will take care of you. Experience in sales, technology and the like are important. Taking the time to choose an industry and learn it will generate exponential value for oneself, the employer and the industry. Companies come and go; jobs change; but, the industry—especially the glass industry—will remain.

Much has evolved in the glass industry over the last 30+ years. Many of those changes I’m certain were debuted on the GlassBuild show floor. The use of technology and the internet has drastically changed the way we go about business. Another noticeable difference is in the way a glass shop now operates. 30 years ago, cases of glass and mirror were stocked, and people were cutting and edging glass daily. Today, much of the glass is delivered pre-fabricated from suppliers and is ready to be installed.

In addition, fabricators have made major investments to improve their services to installers, allowing glaziers to focus on what they do best: sell and install glass. This has led to greater continuity and partnership at each stage in the supply chain, giving each segment—fabricator, installer and customer—an important role in the process.

I began to realize the value of getting involved outside the walls of my own company, C.R. Laurence Co., when I was introduced to, then, Glass Association of North America, and now the National Glass Association. The association provides a forum to discuss issues and trends, the good and the bad, with many of the best companies around the country. It is quite a feeling to come together as fabricators and suppliers (often competitors) to work together to create a resource for the industry, like the Heavy Glass Manual, which not only expands the knowledge of the entire market, but also helps fabricators, installers and architects alike. This type of achievement can really only happen thanks to the venue and support of the trade association umbrella.

GlassBuild America is a prime example of the association bringing the industry together. GlassBuild is an ideal forum to meet customers, gain input, introduce new products and see what’s coming next. Many colleagues and customers share a goal to find one new product, service or idea that can be implemented at their businesses to help them grow. Often, they find several.

I would enjoy catching up with people while at GlassBuild America in September in Atlanta. It’s a terrific opportunity to expand your knowledge of your craft. It’s also an ideal place to think big, think creatively. Then when you return home, you can determine where your next calculated risks can make new things happen for your own business. Hope to see you there.

Paul Daniels is former senior vice president of sales at C.R. Laurence Co.