Area company wins award for recycled creation
By A.J. Panian
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Prior to the start of the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market in early July, Glassautomatic Inc./Rolf Glass designer Paula Sansone-Johnson headed south to repaint the company's permanent booth there in preparation for displaying the company's newest products, including the Glacier Glass.
Soon after her arrival, Sansone-Johnson was approached by Kristi Forbes, the leasing agent for the company located at the Mt. Pleasant Glass Center, who offered her congratulations to her and Rolf Poeting, the company's founder.
“Kristi said how excited she was that we won ... and she asked if Rolf had his speech ready,” said Sansone-Johnson, a resident of Scottdale.
What the local company won was an ICON Honor 2013 for the Glacier Glass — a popular re-design of recycled wine bottles into glassware.
As soon as she got word of the win, Sansone-Johnson said she called Poeting to deliver the good news, even though the idea of having to deliver an acceptance speech caught him slightly off guard.
“It was a surprise and quite an honor,” Poeting said. “I was not initially even aware of the magnitude of this whole event.”
In May, Poeting and Sansone-Johnson were told that their creation led the company to be a finalist for ICON HONORS 2013 — an annual competition recognizing achievement in the home and gift industry — in the category related to product innovations/redesigned products.
Gretchen Sandzimier, the company's marketing assistant, previously cited the Glacier Glass in an application she submitted for ICON HONORS 2013.
During the recent ICON HONORS Program — sponsored exclusively by the Gift & Home Trade Association and Sandow Media — a filmed documentary of Glassautomatic Inc./Rolf Glass was screened.
Then Poeting was presented with the award, after which he gave an acceptance speech to a ballroom filled with roughly 1,200 attendees.
“We're still like a tiny niche player in the industry, so everything like this helps to make us more valid as a source for glass products,” he said.
The production was filmed in May at the company by a group led by Jeffrey L. Portman Sr., president and chief operating officer of Atlanta-based AmericasMart.
Portman — whose company founded ICON HONORS — and his colleagues filmed the production of the Glacier Glass at the local facility to capture the vision and inspiration behind the product.
In 2011, Poeting and Sanson-Johnson met Ray DelMuro at a Chicago home and housewares show.
DelMuro, founder and owner of Refresh Glass LLC in Phoenix, told them of his company's practice of collecting used wine bottles to “repurpose” them for continued use while simultaneously helping to improve the environment by saving them from landfills.
The following year, Poeting and Sansone-Johnson reached an agreement with DelMuro to produce the Glacier Glass, which comes from wine bottles cut by DelMuro and his staff at Refresh Glass. Available in three sizes, the glasses are encircled with a wavy, opaque design accomplished via Rolf Glass's diamond-wheel engraving technology at the hands of Sansone-Johnson, she said.
“I think that, with this product, we were able to take Ray's story, buy into it, and create a product that goes back into the market the second time around,” Sansone-Johnson said. “So we added to his story, and we're also giving back.”
Glassautomatic Inc./Rolf Glass is donating 2 percent of all Glacier Glass sales to GTECH — Growth Through Energy + Community Health — a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit.
The product's packaging, provided by PSI Packaging of Connellsville, is 100 percent biodegradable, Poeting said.
Sansone-Johnson has periodically taught courses in print technology, graphic design and product development at Westmoreland County Community College near Youngwood. She said she always stresses to her students to consider the long-term impacts of their creations.
“I would tell them, ‘Don't just think about the objects you're designing, think about the practicality of it, think about its environmental impact, and think about its friendliness in the marketplace,” Sansone-Johnson said.
With the creation of the Glacier Glass, the impact it has had, and the recognition the product has received, Sansone-Johnson said she and her colleagues possess a concrete example of such a perspective.
DelMuro, whose company's mission is to eventually recover 10 million bottles for reuse, was pleased to hear news of Glass Automatic Inc./Rolf Glass having been honored in such a way.
“We're really proud of their accomplishment and the part they play in our 10 million bottle rescue mission,” DelMuro said. “The fact that they've used their creative prowess to take it up a notch and win an award, adds to our innovative offerings in the process of saving these glass items from the landfill.”
Cassandra Vivian, president of the Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum's board of directors, in January asked for and received 20 Glacier Glasses from Poeting and Sansone-Johnson inscribed with the museum's name.
“We have made that glass our souvenir glass for 2013,” Vivian said.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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