Belfast Telegraph

Glass etchings help Basil see to the US

By Graham Bardgett

Etching on glass from his base in the hills near Ballymoney has led to a full blown United States manufacturing operation for Basil Haslett.

And the project has arisen thanks to a chance discovery he made about the environmental benefit of glass etching.

Mr Haslett discovered etching on toughened glass transformed its molecular structure, which in turn significantly reduced heat passing through — and if taken to its natural conclusion the outcome would be a reduction in the need for air conditioning and the energy needed to power it.

Research at the University of Ulster supported Mr Haslett's findings that glass etching reduces solar heat transference by up to 45%, reporting that the implications for environmental and economic savings could be enormous.

Mr Haslett expanded his business from the Finvoy Hills near Ballymoney all the way across the Atlantic to Atlanta, Georgia, after participating in a Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry trade mission.

From the townland of Bendooragh, his Glass Craft company is now co-located in Stone Mountain Industrial Park, Dekalb County, Atlanta, Georgia - just 12 miles from midtown Atlanta.

It has all been something of a whirlwind for Mr Haslett, who developed his revolutionary method of etching on glass from a successful tombstone business which he set up in the early 1990s, following a previous career in banking and economics.

Basil said: "I had no planned intention of establishing Glass Craft in the US but then the opportunity of a place on one of the Chamber's trade missions came up in 2005 and I took it out of curiosity.

"The people I met on that first mission, their enthusiasm, support and advice, set me on this path.

"Earlier this year I was granted a US patent for my glass etching method and I established Glass Craft USA in the State of Georgia in 2007.

"I would advise anyone thinking of exploring the US market to go with a Chamber trade mission. It's the best way to go to America because you are chaperoned, with meetings and contacts pre-selected and laid on as well as having the use of modern centrally based offices."

The Chamber's GatewaysUSA trade mission manager Ben McGrane said: " Basil Haslett's story is an example of what can be achieved with determination, enthusiasm and good solid support.

"There are still a myriad of opportunities in the US and the Chamber's contacts and knowledge are there to smooth the path.

"There is a huge tide of goodwill towards businesses from Northern Ireland because of the strong Ulster-Scots ties.

"We have also established close links with the Irish Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta which provides us with a base in state-of-the-art offices in the impressive Bank of America Building in the heart of midtown Atlanta."

The next NI Chamber of Commerce Trade Mission to Atlanta will take place in the autumn. Up to 10 delegates can be accommodated on each mission.

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.