February 10, 2013

I Saw the Past and the Future This Week

By Paul Bieber

What a week!  Twenty years ago, Chuck Kaplanek, the owner of Floral Glass, the glass fabricator I managed, and I decided to take week vacation and travel down historic Route 66.  Life happens, priorities got juggled, and finally, last week we took our trip.  We met in Oklahoma City at noon on Monday and headed west.

We saw old gas stations and diners, lots of abandoned cars and farm equipment and total ghost towns.  We stayed true to the original Route 66, built in the 1930’s, getting on the newer highway only when we had no choice.  That was okay; that is what we wanted, we wanted to see the history.  

So, where does the future come in?  It started when we crossed the border into Texas.  There they were on the crests of the rolling hills, hundreds of them…huge, 300 foot-tall, beautifully graceful wind generators.  I googled them later and found out that Texas leads the country with over 10,000 wind mills, generating enough electricity for over three and a half million homes.  No smokestacks, no piles of coal; just clean energy.  It’s not free, due to the costs of building the towers and the underground power lines, but in doing my research, it is a lot cheaper than most other sources of electricity.

I don’t understand the folks who campaign against the towers.  Yes, you can see them for miles, but they represent energy independence, no pollution and jobs in our country.

Which leads us to the future and us in the glass industry.  It is all about energy.  Glass is beautiful, practical and an everyday part of our lives.  But to those of us looking to earn livings in the future, it is all about either reducing energy usage or making energy.  Learn more everyday about photovoltaic (PV) glass, the various low e products and how your product can help your customers energy bills.  That is the future.  If you don’t, Chuck and I will see your shop abandoned on the highway.

Next week I’ll give you a list of websites to visit to start your education.