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That’s Rich: Great to be back

Two days cocooned with those who are ready to shape a brighter tomorrow. Oh, what a feeling.

December 8, 2022  By Rich Porayko

I know I’m not the only one still buzzing from GlassBuild in Las Vegas. Wow. What an amazing event. People were excited to be there. It’s the age-old story of taking something you value for granted. Gratitude is so important. Tradeshows and events had become tedious at one point in time. Almost chore-like. There is nothing like having something you love ripped away for you to put life and work into perspective. Turns out that people love GlassBuild. Attendees from around the globe descended on the south hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center with long shopping lists in search of new tech despite a looming uncertainty fuelled by a lingering COVID hangover, global slowdown driven by Russia’s war in Ukraine, chronic worsening global inflation, extreme weather events, Western tensions with China, and the world-wide energy crisis. 

It was what you would expect following having COVID restrictions removed after two years and honestly felt like a high school reunion but on a much grander level. Everyone was far more engaged and had a purpose, momentum, and strength I had never personally seen before. Note that I didn’t say optimism. Nor was there pessimism. Uncertainty, yes, for sure. People are watching what is going on and know exactly what is at stake. And they are moving forward. The sky didn’t fall in 2009. It’s not going to fall now. Probably.

With crisis comes opportunity. Who didn’t pick up a shiny new toy? Granted, I still need to tell my wife about the sweet, new IG line I picked up but with the record-breaking exchange rate, it was too good of a deal to pass up. I’m not sure where the furnace is going to go. Evidently a worsening labour market, strong U.S. dollar, and pent-up demand saw European equipment manufacturers inking deals with North American fabricators. 

“The conversations we have at these events are great,” says Michael Saroka, CEO of Calgary’s Goldray Glass. “You meet so many smart people. There is always someone that has a different perspective. You can get some real organic growth and innovation in what you are trying to accomplish.” 

“I’m here to see what happened in the years that I missed while I was stuck in my basement,” laughs Saroka. “I am eager to see what’s new.” 

Saroka says many of the companies he spoke with couldn’t do anything but R&D over the last few years so that’s all they did. “Now they are showing us all the new toys that they worked on. It’s great to see the cool innovation companies have come up with. I love equipment. Looking at things that seemingly have absolutely nothing to do with Goldray excites my brain. You never know what will trigger an amazing applicable idea.” According to Saroka, digital printing has really grown as have the different ways of approaching it. “We’re seeing equipment companies jump streams and develop equipment that is not normally in their wheelhouse. Employees and companies are trading like playing cards. Some old alliances have broken up and new ones have formed. The infrastructure has changed. We’re navigating a new landscape. As long as there is competition, consolidation is fine. It often brings high-calibre thinkers from different areas together and that results in new creations. The private sector is what drives change in every country so if you want to get something accomplished, stop asking for it, and start making it. Everyone is looking for someone that has an idea.” 

Private sector trade fairs like GlassBuild spearhead and drive continuous improvement. “This is where you get traction and get things done,” says Saroka. “It’s a similar parallel to innovation in general. Someone does something and someone else takes it to the next step. That is how you affect change in society as well. You can make change by creating things rather than by opposing them.” 

While Saroka found energy in what’s new, others were vibrating by just being able to reconnect with old friends and colleagues. That ignited new connections and a tradeshow floor that was humming with a buzz that for two days cocooned me with those that are ready to shape a brighter tomorrow. Oh, what a feeling.

Rich Porayko is a professional writer and founding partner of Construction Creative, a marketing and communications company. richp@constructioncreativecom

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