Volume 44, Issue 2 - February 2009

Hardware and the Contract Glazier

A Tribute to the Small Guy ... 
Let Us Not Forget Our Roots
by John Linder

One of the many reasons I usually look forward to reading USGlass magazine is for its great editorial content. I know we all appreciate the important need of the technical articles and the information presented to keep us all up on the newest trends and latest industry innovations, but I also think Dez Farnady, Max Perilstein and Paul Bieber bring a lot to the table with their articles on real life issues and the situations we all encounter in our businesses. Even that guy Lyle R. Hill does an okay job every now and then. 


I well remember in the October 2003 issue of USGlass magazine a glowing tribute was given to the Fuldners (then current owners of EFCO) that reflected upon the past 50 years with EFCO (see October 2003 USGlass, page 46). 

There have been previous tributes to our industry giants over the years, but it is seldom I ever see mention of the many s m a l l e r glass and glazing contractors who constitute the very backbone of our industry. In our company, the glass and glazing storefront business accounts for nearly 75 percent of our total business sales. This figure includes both the many small and large glazing contractors, and many aluminum storefront OEMs. The reason for this is because our company’s roots come from the storefront industry. My father came out of the Marine Corps in 1948 and became a glazier with the old Republic Glass and, later, at Downey Glass with the Penske brothers. He later founded U.S. Aluminum Corp. and I have many memories of working several long, hot summers as I learned to fabricate and assemble storefront doors. 


Our company’s new distribution facility in Orange, Calif., is in a great location. We have many glazing contractors in the greater L.A. area who come to call on us for product. These are glaziers who possess great mechanical skills, honed by decades of a hard work ethic and experience. These hardworking businessmen have ridden the many ups and downs of the industry and economy, and have persevered. These are the small guys who purchase and install the aluminum and the glass produced b y EFCO, Vistawall, Kawneer and many others, thus allowing the industry giants to flourish and enjoy their success. Without these many small glazing contractors the business would be sorely lacking, both in survivability and in its very character. These people are the real giants of our industry. 

Our storefront business is quite different from our builder’s hardware business and in most instances we are able to communicate directly with the business owner and able to feel a part of our customers’ businesses. This is one of the few industries where a man’s word is still credible and has real meaning. It really can be “taken to the bank at the end of the day.” 


We spend a lot of time talking with, and learning from, our many old storefront customers at our company. We value their input and we go to great lengths to work with them. This should be true for any successful business: always take the time to listen to your customers and then react accordingly.” The ongoing success of Calibre, as well as of many other companies, can be attributed directly to the many small, medium and large glazing contractors throughout the United States. If we are going to be paying tributes, then please let us not forget the small guy.  


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