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GEMS Draws Crowd in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Glass Expo Midwest™ 2007 brought together those from throughout the Midwest last week in Grand Rapids, Mich., for an industry trade event unlike any other. The two-day event was held at Amway Grand Plaza Hotel & DeVos Place. It was co-sponsored by the Michigan Glass Association, the Detroit Glass Dealers Association, the Ohio, Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin Glass Associations, the Illinois Glazing Association, the Association of Glazing Contractors, and™/AGRR magazine.

The show had more than 40 exhibitors and a variety of seminars designed specially for auto glass shops. Deb Levy, publisher of magazine, discussed "Hot Topics in the Auto Glass Business," including the emergence of Belron as a super-power and its branding efforts, the latest legislation to affect auto glass shops and the latest on the Auto Glass Replacement Safety (AGRSS) Standard.

Noted auto glass trainer Bob Beranek, president of Auto Glass Technical Institute, also was on-hand to discuss proper auto glass installation practices. He discussed the latest technology and how to adapt to it, along with the mission of the auto glass technician, installation standards and proper procedures.

Mark Haeck of Mainstreet Computers also spoke during the event on a topic of interest to many: understanding Internet marketing. He assisted attendees with understanding how to increase their web presence and how to make sure customers can find them on the Internet.

In addition to the tailored presentations for glass shops, attendees were able to sit in on a talk from former NBA player Tim McCormick. McCormick, who now provides color analysis as a broadcaster for ESPN and ABC College Basketball, focused his motivational message on the belief that NBA stands for Never Be Average. CLICK HERE to view a video excerpt from the talk.

Wade Adams of American Eagle Auto Glass drove from Cincinnati to attend the show, and said it was time well-spent. "The meetings were pretty good and we got something out of it, so it's always good to drive that far away and come away with something," he said.

He noted that of particular interest to him was the seminar on training CSRs.

"The CSR thing is what we're working on," he said. "Hopefully that'll help us down the road."

Exhibitor Bandi Hantke said the opening session by McCormick was particularly helpful to him.

"Tim McCormick was incredible—very entertaining, very insightful," he said.

Exhibitors at the show said regional shows such as this one allow them an opportunity both to see current customers and meet some potential ones.

"I always consider it a good show. We always get to see some customers and pick up a few new ones," said Mary Hester of JLM Wholesale.

Kristie Ovard, manager of Glazex in Orem, Utah, a first-time GEMS exhibitor, said their first time there was a successful one.

"We've gotten one [new customer] already," she said. "We were excited."

Hester noted that at regional shows, she often sees a much different crowd than those at the larger events.

"I think the people who aren't willing or able to go out to the big shows appreciate this opportunity," she said. "I also saw tons of people going out for the educational program, too, so that's always good to see."

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