Never a  
Dull Moment  
Sharp Glass Carves a Niche in the San Antonio Market  
b y E l l e n R o g e r s  
crap work isn’t exactly a con-  
tract glazier’s dream job. But a  
young company sometimes  
takes what it can get. In 1986 Alan  
Sharp was 27, had $13,000 and started  
his business of the same name, Sharp  
Glass, in San Antonio.  
S
Back then a couple companies dom-  
inated the (San Antonio) market,” re-  
calls Alan Sharp.“So we got the scraps.”  
But not today.“Now,I feel like we’re the  
largest in the area. We’re a midrise, spe-  
cialty contractor.If it has a degree of dif-  
ficulty, we gravitate toward it,” says Alan  
Sharp.“Cookie-cutter work is not for us.”  
From products to projects to people,  
Sharp recognizes the importance of  
flexibility, particularly in the contract  
glazing business.  
“It’s going to change, so you have to  
change with it,” says Alan Sharp.“We’re  
a changing company,and I like change.”  
Kyle Sharp (left) recently transitioned into the role of COO at Sharp Glass,  
the company his father, Alan Sharp (right), started in 1986.  
FiSnhdaripnsgexOpperpieonrcteuinnitthye glass in-  
dustry dates back to the early 1980s  
when he was a contract manager for  
PPG in Little Rock,Ark.  
They were downsizing and elimi-  
nating positions,” says Alan Sharp. “I  
could have stayed on in another role or  
joined another company, but I chose to  
start my own.”  
His time with PPG actually had an  
added benefit.  
“PPG hired me to finish the work  
they had started; then I added some  
mall work. I was taking it slow and try-  
ing to stay in control.”  
As Sharp worked to grow his company,  
he soon hired someone to work on esti-  
mated jobs.This would help them get the  
company name in front of general con-  
tractors they didn’t already know.  
Alan Sharp says his company likes to take on challenging projects. Sharp Glass  
has provided a number of unique metal features for many of its jobs.  
62  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | April 2016  
www.usglassmag.com  
Sharp Glass typically focuses on midrise projects, such as the  
Cancer Therapy & Research Center located in San Antonio.  
For the Robert B. Green Campus – University Health  
System in San Antonio, Sharp Glass worked closely with  
the architect to fabricate more than 5,000 metal  
panels to create a “feather wall” on the side of a  
building. The panels are designed to sway in the wind.  
every year we kept increasing sales,” well as our company.”  
We kept pushing ourselves, and busy and pivotal time in the industry as YoAut tahtimMeowvheenmtheenctonstruction in-  
says Alan Sharp.“We adjusted our mar-  
In 2014 the company had annual rev- dustry as a whole is struggling to bring  
kets based on where work was, and enue of $15 million,and Alan Sharp ex- in new employees, Sharp Glass has  
went where we needed to go. We also pects to exceed that this year.“Market found one way to be successful at it.The  
continued to strengthen our relation- conditions have improved on the size of company is bringing in young people to  
ships with contractors.”  
projects we’re targeting,”he says.“We’ve help ready them for the future.  
landed some opportunities; our big “We have a youth movement going  
FoFocrutsheepdasEt fefigohrttysears Sharp Glass projects are $3 million to $4 million. on. We have a trained youthful group,”  
There are not a lot of $7 million to $8 Alan Sharp says.“I’m bringing in a guy  
has operated in a 48,000-square-foot million projects in San Antonio; we as part of the trainee program, taking  
facility.The company has 75 employees. don’t have a lot of high rises in down- him through aspects of the business; he  
Sharp is the CEO,and his son Kyle is the town. It’s restrictive on glass because of has a good attitude and is part of the  
chief operating officer. Son Clint, re- the historical nature. We don’t have Texas A&M construction program. We  
cently joined the business and is learn- sprawling growth.”  
ing the job in the field. Another son, And that’s fine with him.Alan Sharp where we can invest in and train them.  
Matt, has taken a different career path prefers to focus on jobs that have a We’re not aging ourselves out of that.”  
and works as a firefighter. unique component. When it comes to He continues,“The field is different,  
I didn’t grow up thinking I would be the projects in which they’re most often but we still have a youthful field group;  
look at other colleges/backgrounds  
a part of the company. I had worked in involved, he says they want to find the the next generation has a template to  
the warehouse over the course of a few ones dollar-wise that put them into cat- work from.We still have a ways to go …  
summers to make money,but never re- egory that eliminates the majority of to have everything in place.”  
ally considered that this could be my competition in the area and doesn’t at-  
career,” says Kyle Sharp. “Alan always tract bigger firms from around the eration is the future of this company,  
wanted my brothers and me to follow state. and the sooner we get them engaged  
our dreams and not feel obligated to “It’s hard to say‘this is the job we go and involved,the better chance of long-  
Kyle Sharp adds,“The younger gen-  
join his.About my senior year of college after.’ If it has a design element or has term success we have … the younger  
I began really searching for a career. I something unique that may not even generation has been very adaptable and  
was finishing up my degree in English be glass related, it’s a competition eager. I think we have done a pretty  
and a minor in business at Texas A&M, eliminator.”  
and found that my most fulfilling He continues, “We want it to have this group of employees and plan to  
courses were on the business side.After something unusual that’s not the norm. continue to do so into the future.”  
a lot of thought,I spoke to Alan and told Even something my company might These efforts help to position the  
good job of attracting and retaining  
him what I was thinking.I think he was not have experience in; we’re willing to company to best market itself.  
a little surprised, but happy that I had do that. We’re willing to tackle those  
decided to join the company at such a challenges. It doesn’t scare us.”  
continued on page 64  
www.usglassmag.com  
April 2016 | USGlass, Metal & Glazing  
63  
Nconetinvueed rfromapaDge u63ll Moment  
One example was the Robert B.Green  
Campus – University Health System  
(UHS) in San Antonio, which the com-  
pany worked on for general contractor  
Bartlett Cocke. Kyle Sharp explains the  
architect on that project had seen a de-  
sign in California of a custom “feather  
wall” on the side of a building. For the  
UHS project, artist Ned Kahn designed  
such a feature and Sharp Glass worked  
to create the exterior system of more  
than 5,000 tilted aluminum vanes that  
sway in the wind.  
Within its 48,000-square-  
foot facility, Sharp Glass  
has capabilities of handling  
challenging curtainwall  
fabrication projects.  
The University Hospital Downtown  
Campus project stands out to be one of  
Sharp Glass’s most challenging projects  
I have been involved with,” adds Jay.  
Sharp Glass pre-fabricated 5000 mov-  
ing flappers which moved with the  
wind that were attached to fins and at-  
tached to vertical mullions of a seven  
construction time,” says Jay.“Their shop story curtainwall window. Sharp  
is state-of-the-art for this area, and in- constructed many mock ups for  
corporates warehousing space,pre-fabri- RTKL/Overland Architects and [Ned  
cation and window testing areas.”  
Kahn] to achieve their goal. Pre fabri-  
cation started four or five months in ad-  
InSdhuarsptGrylasCs mhaayllheanvegaefosund a way vance to meet the project schedule of  
when the construction would be ready  
to address the industry challenge of for the installation.”  
bringing in young employees by reach-  
Speaking of glazing products, these  
ing out to students, but there are still are also advancing. Sharp Glass works  
others the company faces. Some even most often with Kawneer and Oldcas-  
concern employment in general. Re- tle BuildingEnvelope® for its aluminum  
taining a qualified workforce in the products, while glass is supplied  
field,along with developing human tal- through Guardian Industries and PPG.  
It’s all about the presentation. You ent, continues to be a challenge.  
“It’s important that suppliers have  
want to be a professional company. That  
Another concern relates to the way confidence in us.We commit to them to  
sets us up for certain-sized contractors. projects are being designed. For one, take care of us, [and in turn] we com-  
We are not the glazier for small contrac- Sharp says,he often sees incomplete ar- mit to them. We feed them as much as  
tors,” says Alan Sharp.“I feel we’ve estab- chitectural drawings.He also cites what we can and pay them promptly,” says  
lished ourselves with several large he refers to as the new project manage- Alan Sharp.  
contractors in town, and they pursue us ment model for jobs.“Design as you go  
His company is constantly chal-  
as much as we pursue them. They are puts a lot of stress on us,” he says. lenged by all the new products that the  
learning they need to surround them- “[Architectural] project managers are industry is developing.  
selves with the most qualified company.” making a multitude of changes that you  
“I think with the advancement of  
One of those contractors is Bartlett have to keep track of.We’re investing in glass, it’s impossible to be an expert at  
Cocke, also located in San Antonino. new software/procedures to try and every product that’s produced,”he says.  
Randall Jay, senior superintendent in keep up with it. Contractors oversell to “There’s always something new,and the  
San Antonio, says his company has the owner and compress the schedule, advancement of glass has challenged  
done many challenging projects with and that’s a huge undertaking.”  
Sharp Glass. Despite some of the challenges,Alan when we’re struggling with qualified  
Alan is the guy to call when a project Sharp says his company has also had people. Architects are stretching the  
the designers and builders at a time  
has a feature out of the ordinary. His success working with architects to help [uses of] glass and want [the project]  
team is always up for a challenge and is them find a solution. This includes, for to have an impactful look.”  
ready to jump in to help architects early instance, creating a unique product for  
in the design phase to minimize cost and the architect.  
In many cases,he says,consultants are  
addressing some of the design issues.  
6
4
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | April 2016  
www.usglassmag.com  
It’s become commonplace, and that’s should pay off as long as we keep adapt- this can be my sole focus. I will be over-  
not a bad thing. On most of the projects ingandlookingforbetterwaystoseparate seeing project management, shop and  
the architectural drawings do not ac- ourselves from our competition,”he says. field operations.” His younger brother is  
curately address issues up front.They are “We always joke that one of the in the process of taking OSHA courses.  
being addressed as the project develops. things Sharp Glass is good at is change,” “His training will allow him to step  
That needs to become part of the stan- he adds.“We are constantly striving to into the role of safety director. We see  
dard details.”  
improve and tweak how we do things this position as an increasingly impor-  
and stay relevant.”As an example, Jan- tant part of our company. In addition,  
ThCehaNngeexhtasSbteeepn a constant driver uary 1, 2016, the company went live on we are in the process of investing in  
a software program designed to reduce new equipment in our warehouse to  
behind the growth and success of Sharp redundancies and improve efficiencies continue to improve on consistency and  
Glass, and it’s a key part of the com- between accounting, project manage- output of our product.”  
pany’s future.Alan Sharp, who plans to ment, and field operations. That was  
retire soon, is making internal changes also when Kyle moved into his position out,“You have to adapt to and embrace  
to position the company for future as COO. this new age of construction. So we’ll  
growth. Part of this involves grooming “This was a role that Alan had as- have to get on our game even more and  
And as Alan Sharp himself points  
Kyle to take over the leadership role, as sumed over the years,which was in addi- never stop changing.” s  
well as working with young industry tion to his role as a project  
members.  
manager and owner. My focus is  
Kyle Sharp sees Sharp Glass contin- to continue to improve our  
uing to be a major player in the San An- processes and really drill down  
tonio market and possibly expanding and focus on many facets of the  
E l l e n R o g e r s is the  
editor of USGlass magazine.  
Follow her on Twitter  
deeper into South and Central Texas.  
company that may not have re-  
@
USGlass and like USGlass on  
“I think we are building a great founda- ceived the attention it deserved.In  
Facebook to receive updates.  
tion with the personnel, processes and order to do this,I am stepping out  
equipment we are investing in and it of project management so that  
www.usglassmag.com  
April 2016 | USGlass, Metal & Glazing  
65