China a Hot-Button Topic at GlassBuild America

The seminars offered this year at GlassBuild America, which got underway yesterday, include a series of discussions on the effect China is having on the glass and fenestration industries, a topic equally important to the auto glass industry.

During yesterday's seminar "China's Impact on the Fenestration Industry," Richard Lipski with Advanced Global Technologies discussed the challenges and rewards of global sourcing. Lipski particularly detailed how a company can use the burgeoning market for Chinese exports to its advantage, creating a blend of both domestic and international products to offer customers and control costs.

One of the challenges Lipski discussed is the problem of ensuring that other companies, particularly international suppliers, are legitimate businesses.

"With the Internet, you can find many companies supplying products, but what you don't see is that they are just storefronts," he said. "It requires a lot of work, it requires a lot of follow up and it requires a lot of communication."

Lipski explained that companies interested in doing business with international need to have people in the other country who are dependable and have integrity and credibility.

"Out of sight, out of mind is not a good thing. You need people who have a long term vision," he said.

Lipski was not alone in his presentation. Henry Taylor, president of Architectural Testing Inc. was the first to take the podium, describing just how it has come to be that China is the rising manufacturing giant, challenging not only the United States and many countries in Europe, but also other countries with developing economies, such as India, that are often seen as equally prime countries of opportunity for outsourcing business and manufacturing.

However, in the case of the auto glass industry, shop owners have little direct communication with Chinese manufacturers; large scale manufacturers can follow Lipski's advice and blend product mix with glass made in China and other countries, and some manufacturers are not shy about doing so. What impact does this have on the auto glass community? Opinions vary, but many have questioned if there is any American-made auto glass left to be had (to read some of the opinions expressed about imported windshields or to share your own opinions, visit the AGRR message boards at Both Taylor and Lipski indicated that China as a manufacturing market will boom in the next few years and while it is sure to change the industry.

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