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USGNN Original StoryGlass Distributors, Installers Share Inauguration Reflections

With the speeches and celebrations surrounding the inauguration of President Barack Obama still fresh in many minds, many glass industry professionals are reflecting on their involvement in yesterday's historic moment.

Steve Bouchard, president of Glass Distributors Inc. (GDI) in Bladensburg, Md., had a special connection to the bullet-resistant glass products used for the presidential viewing booth following the inauguration.

"In November 2004, Associated Builders of Hyattsville, Md., came to GDI to supply the bullet-resistant material for the presidential viewing booth for the inauguration," he recalls. "We used a product that met a specified threat level. We cut and fabricated the desired material in an emergency scenario to meet the construction deadline. Upon the completion of the inauguration four years ago, the U.S. Secret Service saved the material we provided and put it into storage for use yesterday."

According to Bouchard, Associated Builders brought in Amco Metal Products in Gaithersburg, Md., to install the material in the presidential viewing booth, and was contracted by the Secret Service to install the material in front of the podium on the Capitol steps.

L.B. Kline, the owner of Amco, says the company has been installing the viewing booth for several inaugurations.

"We've been doing the installation for what's called the viewing stand that's on Pennsylvania Avenue since 1973," Kline says. "We did the Capitol up until Reagan's second inauguration, and then we didn't do any more of that until this year."

Kline explains that in the past the work had been divided among several contractors due to manpower, adding, "But because of the growth of our company over the past four or five years we had enough manpower to do all of it this year."

Kline recalls that although the association between Amco and the Secret Service grew long before he was with the company, he's been around to see the changes that have taken place in the products they supply for this serious function. "The products are much better now … you have better interlayers that are available now that weren't then [in 1973]. A lot of the coatings on the glass, and things like that, are far superior to what was used then. Plus, a lot of the glass used now is low-iron glass instead of standard clear glass so it gives more clarity; the green tint is not there."

Regarding a clear view, Kline explains that the glass is essentially "self-supporting" to achieve the clearest possible view for, and of, the president. "The glass is all butt-glazed, so that's why you don't see any visual clips or framing systems that hold it in place."

Obviously, not just anyone will be allowed onto a jobsite this secure and the glaziers did have some hoops to go through to get onsite.

"All of our guys are screened," Kline says, and, "they go through security clearances."

Kline says that yes, yesterday he watched parts of the inauguration on TV, and that he and his son-who helped with the installation-were both excited to see their installation a part of such a historic day.

"It's something we're always excited about doing. We take a great deal of pride in what we do and the Secret Service knows that, that's why they call us back," Kline says.

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