- Written by: Tom Faunce
- Produced by: Ian Nichols
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Starting as a small glass glazing company in Meridian, Mississippi, Glass Inc. has grown into one of the top commercial glass and glazing contractors in the Southeast. Established in 1999 by Robert Smith, Glass Inc. is comprised of a team of more than 80 experienced professionals that specialize in commercial and residential services. With two additional locations in Foley, Alabama, and Gulfport, Mississippi, the company completes projects from Florida to Texas.
The longevity of the Glass Inc. team is a factor that helps the company to stand out from the competition. “We’ve just got great, skilled people who have been doing this type of work for a long time,” says Smith. “I’m 58 years old and have been doing this type of work for 36 years.”
The experience and expertise of the Glass Inc. team has earned the company recognition in the form of numerous Excellence in Construction awards from the Associated Builders & Contractors. In 2007, Glass Inc. earned the State of Mississippi’s Governor’s Cup Award as well as the Mississippi Business Journal Fast 40 Award for fast-growing companies in 2005 and 2008.
Innovation and experimentation are the driving forces behind Glass Inc. The company has become well-known in the industry as a firm that utilizes state-of-the-art technology. Glass Inc. has installed a new product line of glass at the CenturyLink world headquarters in Monroe, Louisiana. The product is called View Dynamic Glass (VDG) and uses photochromic lenses to control tinting of windows according to the amount of sunlight.
“The best way I can describe it is that it’s just like self-tinting eyewear,” explains Smith. “The CenturyLink building’s exterior is almost entirely made up of glass. The VDG darkens during the day when there’s a lot of sunlight and clears up as night falls and it really helps to control heating and cooling. The building becomes very energy efficient and it saves money on mechanical costs. It’s a relatively new technology and the CenturyLink job will be the largest project that has ever been done with this kind of glass.”
When it comes to high-tech, complex projects, Smith says that he enjoys a challenge and tends to seek out jobs that require cutting-edge technology. As of June 2016, Glass Inc. has been involved in a job with Singing River Hospital, located along the Mississippi coast. “We’re basically going in and replacing every window, glass door and the glass aspects of the façade,” says Smith. “Most of the glass has been there for 25 to 30 years.”
In replacing such a large amount of glass on a single project, Smith says the biggest challenge is that the hospital has remained in full operation. The company has worked irregular hours and around the clock in order to accommodate patients and hospital staff. Glass Inc. has become familiar with numerous methods of working around operating rooms and intensive care units that prevent it from being disruptive. When replacing 30-year-old windows, Glass Inc. also finds issues in wall systems such as mold or leaks that require fixing before the new glass can be installed.
With strong markets in Alabama and Florida, Glass Inc. has been awarded two condominium projects. “One of them is a 22-story facility, where we have glazed all of the glass on the first 10 floors,” shares Smith. “The other one is in Florida and is a real high-profile project. It’s being built on a pristine site next to a national park.”
Strength in expertise
Starting Glass Inc. from scratch, Smith began with two trucks, four installers and an office manager. Now one of the biggest glass companies in the Southeast, Smith takes great pride in seeing how far his company has come and how much it has grown. Not only surviving the recession but thriving through it as well was a major testament to the company’s ability to weather tough economic times.
Glass Inc. continues to employ its workers through ups and downs in the economic cycle. “Even if I have to have them sweep the floor, I’m keeping them because I need them when we’re really busy,” adds Smith.
When it comes to carrying on through the recession, Smith credits his team of experts with the ability to keep the company afloat. “One of the most important things for us is to retain the quality people that we have,” he shares. Over the years, the company has maintained strong employee retention, with many associates making careers out of their positions with the company. “We often hire young people at the age of 18,” Smith adds. “As long as they have a positive attitude and a great work ethic, we will train them in new areas and present them with opportunities to move up in the company.”
Smith is optimistic about the future of Glass Inc. as well as the construction industry in general. “The jobs we’ve been getting are getting bigger and more technical,” explains Smith. “The industry has certainly gained momentum this past year and I really see things getting better.”
As the industry improves, Glass Inc. will continue to work with state-of-the-art technology to complete some of the most complex jobs. Although the company often works with high-tech projects, Glass Inc. will continue with the philosophy that no job is too big or too small.
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