Volume 33, Number 5, May 1998


Still Kickin'

The Perilstein Family Celebrates a Century in Glass

by Max Perilstein

The H. Perilstein Glass Truck fleet as it appeared in 1948. Harris Perilstein entered the glass business in 1898 with a capital investment of $34.

In the past century, there have been many monumental advances and events in the glass business. One constant through this period has been the Perilstein family. Since 1898, when Harris Perilstein started H. Perilstein Glass in Philadelphia, PA, with a capital investment of just $34, the Perilstein family has been an active force in the glass and metal industry.

Harris and his wife Fagie Mollie built their business quickly, treating customers and suppliers with respect and care. They were doing then what their descendants are doing now: whatever it takes to get the job done right.

"The original company was built by treating people with consideration and today that's our goal as well," commented Steven Perilstein, a fourth-generation family member and president/CEO of Perilstein Distribut-ing Corp. in Pittsburgh, PA. "I think I can speak for all of the family members when I say that what my great grandfather preached, we all continue to practice."

Nine Children Strong

Harris Perilstein's nine children followed him into the burgeoning business, building it quickly at many different locations. They continued to do whatever it took, whether it was delivering glass by horse-drawn wagon, or entertaining customers with homemade cookies. The Perilstein clan was determined to make their business a success.

The second generation was pushed to the forefront when, in 1925, Harris Perilstein passed away. The next generation coalesced and the business thrived despite tough times in the nation. In fact, in 1930, H. Perilstein expanded operations to Pittsburgh and entered into the metal distribution business with Extrudite Metal Works. Soon it was supplying material to Fort Dix and other Naval installations.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the third generation of Perilstein descendants took their turn at learning the craft. This group forged ahead by expanding the business throughout the country with the capability to fabricate, distribute and install their works.

The Tough '60s

Late in the 1960s, the H. Perilstein group fell on tough times and was sold to outside interests. Despite the dissolution of the original business, the glass industry remained in the Perilstein clan's blood. Some family members continued on in the industry, using their rich background to start their own glass businesses. Operations such as Perilstein Distributing, Arch Aluminum & Glass, Pdc Glass of Michigan and Arch Mirror and Laminated were developed and nurtured to the point of obtaining market coverage in 12 states with 20 plants.

Young, dynamic leadership, along with a willingness to do whatever it takes to satisfy the customer, is a mantra of the current generation. As Steven Perilstein noted, it was inevitable that the family would be back in this industry full boar. "It's in all of our souls, mine, my parents, brother, sister, and cousins. We all know deep down that this is our calling and we have to follow it through."

New Companies Arise

The new companies promote one-stop shopping where you can get all of your glass and metal needs at one place with an easy call or fax. Arch Aluminum & Glass features one of the largest tempering ovens in the country, along with one of the most reliable and recognized metal lines available today. Perilstein Distributing and Pdc Glass of Michigan work hard to service portions of seven states with high-quality tempered, insulating and spandrel products. The Arch Mirror and Laminated plants complete the package by offering some of the other necessities that glass and metal customers need.

Today the Perilstein family, now in its fourth generation, gathers again to honor the past, celebrate the present and look confidently into the future. On May 9, 1998, with a party organized by Steven Perilstein, the Perilstein family and their relatives and friends celebrated 100 years of the glass and metal business. At that time, members of the third generation were honored for their achievements in the industry. Harris Perilstein (grandson of the founder), Robert Silverstein, William Perilstein, and Edward Goldberg were presented with awards commemorating their service to the family and their business.

So, 100 years later, the Perilstein family has probably seen it all, but now its members are looking forward to doing what has been done in the past—passing the business along. Steve Perilstein summed it up best: "Many times I've thought about getting out, but I want to have the opportunity to have my children and the rest of the fifth generation involved in this business. It may not be glamorous, but its in our blood, its what we do."

USG Max Perilstein, a fourth-generation member of the family, is vice president and general manager of Pdc Glass of Michigan, Inc. in Plymouth, MI.

Copyright 1998 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.