Chinese Presence Very Visible at Atlanta Show
September 14, 2011

By Charles Cumpston

The 30 to 40 exhibitors on the show floor at Glass Build America in Atlanta from the Far East cover the gamut of industry markets.

Chinese exhibitors break down into those serving the decorative glass, laminating glass and bath enclosure markets; those making equipment to make these types of glasses; adhesives and sealants suppliers; glass coating and tempering equipment; the door and window market; and commercial/contract glazing products.

One exhibitor, Zhengzhou Henghao Glass Technology Co., Ltd., from Zhengzhou, China, is making itself stand out on the trade show floor by promoting the use of its non-reflective frosted glass on the Water Cube structure, the main gymnasium for the 2008 Olympic Games in Shanghai. This is the facility which stands next to its more famous architectural companion, the Bird’s Nest structure. The glass was highlighted in the circular staircase which leads to the diving boards used for the Olympic swimming events.

It’s not easy for Chinese companies to get into the market, points out Michael Spellman of IGE Solutions Inc., which represents a number of companies from that country (including glass, double edger and washer suppliers). “The majority of the Chinese manufacturers make product that is inferior quality for the American standard. But, there are diamonds in the rough,” he states.

He points out that the Chinese market is bigger than any other market in the world, so lots of research and development is going on by companies in that country. “It’s not the end of the Italian and Spanish companies,” he states emphatically. It’s just another alternative.”

While he explains that it is the dream of Chinese companies to get into the American market, there are high barriers for them to go through. “There is a big difference from the traditional companies which have been selling into the U.S.—a different attitude as the cultures is different. They bring different ideas and language skills to their approach,” he says. “I haven’t met a Chinese company that didn’t want to come into the U.S. market. But it’s very difficult for them because of cultural, language and business differences.”

Spellman points out that the domestic Chinese market is so big that no company has to leave the market, but “the better ones realize that what goes up could come down, so they look at the U.S. as a hedge.”

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