On the Road with USGlass, USGlass

An Old-Fashioned Sound

It was a weird feeling. I was sitting in the waiting room of a major West Coast fabricator and something just did not feel right. Though I hadn’t yet figured it out, I knew something was wrong and very different from the fabricators I’d been visiting these last 18 months. I just couldn’t get a handle on what it was. Then it came to me.

What was different about Glasswerks? The plant stayed busy throughout my visit.

What was different? These guys were busy – crazy busy. In the course of about 20 minutes in the waiting room, I saw two receptionists trying to keep up with the incoming calls. Sometimes, both of them had two people each on hold. Add to that a constant stream of walk-ins and non-stop activity and I saw a nonstop stream of business action. “Man,”  I thought, “this feels like the old days. It’s like we we are back in 2008.”

 You’d never know we are just beginning to burrow out of a major recession if you spent some time at Glasswerks. This growing, vibrant company just blew me away for a number of reasons, not the least of which was how busy it was.

It’s also got a unique management structure – a group of four men, Ed Rosengrant, Randy Steinberg, Ruben Huerta and Dennis Jasmer – who have been together for decades, and two of whom have been friends since childhood. I spent most of my time with Ed Rosengrant, the vice president of sales and marketing. Ed moves so fast and so much that he stands at his desk – he doesn’t even have a chair (actually there are lots of studies about how this is really better for you. Ed swears by it).

Ed Rosengrant moves so fast and so much that he stands at his desk - he doesn’t even have a chair.

“I’m lucky I have partners who like new toys,” he said as he took me on a tour of the 180,000-square-foot plant in Los Angeles, designed for total efficiency. “They like to try new things and they are good bargain hunters. That how we ended up with our tempering and laminating lines.” In fact, Randy was on the road “shopping” the day I was there.

Glasswerks also has some breathtaking decorative products and I felt privileged to get to see them made. With seven plants around the country, the certified fabricator is poised for even more growth in the future.  Adding to all the business hub-bub and Ed’s hospitality was lunch at an outstanding Mexican restaurant. It was a very nice day that reminded me what’s coming as businesses begin to grow again.

A Sad Problem

My heart went out this week to the employees of Arizona Shower Door in Phoenix upon the arrest of its founder, Fred Knadler,  for alleged involvement in a conspiracy to commit murder. I learned a long time ago that the closer you get to any story, the more the human toll of it comes into focus … and in this case the toll is being taken on the management team, made up of Knadler’s sons, Peter and Paul. More than 130 employees work at Arizona Shower Door (ASD) and they are guilty of nothing other than trying to make a living by providing a quality product. So before competitors go off in glee spreading doom, remember the sins of the father are not the fault of the company.

Tom Sulock, a veteran shower door industry executive, put it well in a note he sent to me after our second story appeared:  “Just a note to thank you for your story on ASD. Pete and Paul are first class guys who have worked very hard to build a respectable company with great products. They’re facing unimaginable pressure and grief over their Dad’s situation and our support as a glass community means a lot to them and says much about the industry that we are. I hope their customers remember what’s important (good guys, good products) … they deserve that.”

Well said, Tom.

A Final Dilemma

As you may know, I grew up on Long Island (by the way if you ever hear someone say they grew up IN Long Island you can be pretty certain that was not the case), and, ON Long Island, the Giants and Jets rule. But I spent five years at college and working  in Upstate New York and grad school in New Hampshire. There, the Patriots are king. So in many ways, this is the best of Super Bowls for me as I can be happy if either team wins. Uh …. but go Giants!

Have a good week.