Denison Glass & Mirror Inc.
In March 2017, Denison Glass & Mirror Inc. broke ground on its new 40,000-square-foot fabrication facility in Denison, Texas, a space over three times the size of the company’s current space.
Mark Gampper, president and owner of the glass contracting company, says the additional space will be crucial for Denison to grow its unitized wall capabilities, which involves assembling glass and metal frames in-house and installing them as units instead of doing the assembly in the field.
“We’re basically reversing the process of how it’s normally been done,” Gampper says, embracing a trend that is sweeping the country.
The quality and consistency is better, and the unitized wall systems results in quicker installations—a boon as building owners and developers demand ever-shorter time frames. In Texas, a state with several of the nation’s fastest growing cities—Dallas, Houston and Austin—efficiency is at an even greater premium.
Gampper says he’s confident unitized walls are the future of his industry. His company has already used the method to install exterior and interior glass for corporate headquarters, national hotel chains, healthcare facilities and even airports in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
With a new and larger facility, Denison will not only be able to grow these capabilities, but take on more technical projects.
Stay for the quality
Gampper is in the second generation of his family to run Denison. He bought the business from his father, Fred Gampper, in 1995, and in the past decade the company has grown from 10 to 100 employees.
“I built the business just on word of mouth, because we got the job done on time,” Gampper says. “Those are big words in this business. You’ve got to be on deadline every time, and we’re the ones that try to beat it.”
“They found out how good we were, and that’s what keeps them coming back to us.”
In 2010, Denison completed its biggest project to date, installing all of the interior and exterior glass for the Dallas Love Field airport. Denison was originally considered for the five-year project to fulfill the city of Dallas’ minority contractor requirements as Gampper is Native American and a member of the Potawatomi Tribe.
“But then they found out how good we were, and that’s what keeps them coming back to us,” Gampper says.
After the Dallas Love Field airport was finished in 2015, Denison installed the exterior glass for the administration buildings of the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, and is installing 30 percent of the glass for Toyota’s new 2 million-square-foot headquarters in Plano, Texas.
Denison is also installing glass for several projects with Lucy Billingsley, owner of the Billingsley Company, a real estate developer in Dallas. One of the projects Denison worked on, a four-story building called 9001, was even published in Architectural Record, a national architecture and interior magazine.
Gampper says he enjoys knowing that thousands of people walk through these buildings and look through his glass every day.
After working on such large projects, Gampper knows the best way to stick to a tight schedule is to ensure proper installation.
On every job, Denison Glass & Mirror tests all its unitized wall installations for air and water penetration using air barrier testing, and the company boasts a leak rate of 0.01 percent, meaning the chance of a leak is minimal.
Gampper says the new fabrication facility in Dallas will be instrumental in maintaining this quality, but it also offers new opportunities, such as expanding “smart glass” capabilities.
Denison is Dallas’ primary installer for Sage Glass, one the world’s largest manufacturers of electrochromic glass, a glass that changes opacity on demand by running an electrical current through it. When darkened, the glass absorbs sunlight and unwanted heat, and becomes clear to maximize natural light and solar gain.
The manufacturer first approached Denison in 2013, when electrochromic glass was a new technology, “and [Sage] didn’t want to work with anyone else because they had to know that it was going to be installed correctly,” Gampper says.
Gampper was fascinated by the technology’s potential in his market and agreed to take on the challenge of being the first glass contractor in Dallas to install Sage Glass. Denison learned to work closely with the general contractors and electricians because electrochromic glass uses low-voltage wiring to activate the color change.
“It was a challenge because none of us had ever worked with it before, but no problem is too big that we can’t fix,” Gampper says.
Today, Denison Mirror and Glass is planning on installing Sage Glass in its new fabrication facility, and is currently working on its third project with electrochromic glass, a 30,000-square-feet exterior installation for the Dallas office of Corgan and Associates, one of the largest architecture firms in the United States.
But for all the technology and progress, Gampper says a hands-on approach is crucial for success. Whether it’s a single apartment building or a multi-billion dollar complex, Gampper makes sure he is on the job site at least once a week.
“I can’t sleep at night if I can’t see what’s going on. Really that’s what drives me,” he explains. “Plus, I like seeing our work and watching these buildings go up.”
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