Case Studies

Giroux Glass Inc.

L.A.'s clear solution for glass and glazing turns to employee ownership

Los Angeles-based Giroux Glass Inc. started as a small, 10-person storefront and high-rise window service and repair contractor. Over the course of nearly 70 years, the woman-owned company has taken off; it is the company’s goal to be 100 percent employee-owned by 2021.

The Giroux Glass team excels in meeting the most complex glass, glazing and architectural metals contracting needs in the commercial, retail and residential design sectors.

Giroux Glass now ranks among the country’s top glazing contractors, having a hand in many of L.A.’s most prestigious landmarks and record engineering feats such as the Skywalk at the Grand Canyon.

The company resides as an industry leader in the contract glazing industry and has completed countless notable projects, including the Staples Center, the Pacific Design Center, the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, as well as the Cain Library addition at California State University campus to the Los Angeles Unified Central Learning Center, The Getty Center Museum and many more.

A new direction

Although Giroux Glass now has operations spanning well beyond L.A., including San Bernardino, Las Vegas and Fresno, the company is the result of humble beginnings and employee dedication. Founded in 1946, by Louis Giroux, the firm originally operated as a family-owned business, catering to the glass needs of greater L.A.

“The original service division of Giroux Glass was just a 10-person firm in 1991, when the company was purchased by Anne-Merelie Murrell, CEO of 24 years and now chairman of the board of Giroux Glass,” tells Barbara Kotsos, director of marketing for Giroux Glass. “As strictly a service company, Giroux Glass performed repairs on some of L.A.’s tallest high-rise buildings and storefronts, but within the first 10 years of the purchase, Murrell grew the company in new directions -bidding on new projects and adding a commercial division and high-end residential design. She essentially grew the company by 300 percent in a decade.”

Murrell, a loyal USC alumna; class of 1948, got to know the neighborhood around the school from her own years as a student there, and then while her children attended.

Giroux Glass Inc.Reviving and rebuilding around USC

The area of L.A. surrounding the USC campus was in need of revival. Years of neglect left historic buildings crumbling and the lack of attention and development made way for a high crime rate; an obviously unattractive factor considering the proximity to USC. “In an effort to restore the area near her beloved school, Murrell started investing in local real estate,” tells Kotsos. “In doing so, she came across a cluster of buildings in 1991, one of them containing a glass company with 10 employees. The purchase agreement with the seller included a contract that Murrell maintain the company and its employees and run it for at least a year.”

“That’s what lit the spark behind what Giroux Glass really is today,” adds Kotsos, who joined the company ranks as its first-ever marketing professional in February 2014. “We’ve really ramped up in terms of solidifying our branding and strategy. Strategic marketing is just one part of how we hope to become a $100 million company.”

And Giroux Glass is certainly on track for ambitious growth, now with four locations and contracts up and down the West Coast. “In 2000, we opened our Las Vegas location and we also have people based in Fresno and San Bernardino,” says Kotsos.

Vested employee ownership

Around 2007, Giroux Glass also became an employee-owned company, adopting an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), enabling its tenured employees to purchases shares and ultimately become personally vested in the success and growth of the company. “The average employee tenure at Giroux Glass is 12 years,” reveals Kotsos.

Kotsos, who spent many years in the corporate sphere, says working for Giroux Glass is like a breath of fresh air with its family-like team. “We’re very much like family,” she says. “Murrell treats her employees as such and if something bad were to happen to them, she would take it personally. That’s why everyone here is so dedicated; no one wants to let her down. She’s the spark that lit the fire here.”

Transition time

At 86 years old, Murrell is still very involved in Giroux Glass, but after nearly 24 years in the industry, she’s turning the reins over to Nataline Lomedico, former chief financial officer. “Lomedico studied finance and business accounting,” shares Kotsos. “She started working part time for a general contractor in the accounting department and in no time, she became their controller while she was still an undergrad. Lomedico has been nominated by the L.A. Business Journal as one of L.A.’s best CFOs.” The company has also been listed as one of the best places to work in L.A. by the L.A. Business Journal many times since 2009.

With new leadership, Giroux Glass continues to work toward its growth goals and complete employee ownership, guided by an expert team on a newly formed board of directors. “The company board of directors was established in the summer of 2014, so it’s a relatively new concept for us,” tells Kotsos.

Setting the bar high

Amid record geographical and market growth, Giroux Glass continues to design and install some of the glass and glazing industry’s most demanding commercial projects, complex retail storefronts, curtain walls, custom designed residential windows, doors, skylights and even historic renovations. The company’s high-end design team has completed projects featuring some of the most architecturally significant homes, hotels, stores and tenant improvements in southern California and beyond.

This exceptional High-End Design team includes leading engineers and a core group of qualified union glaziers. “We provide engineering capabilities that support complicated designs through comprehensive shop drawings, renderings and 3-D modeling,” explains Kotsos. “Expert team members use the latest energy-efficient doors, windows, glass and glazing systems, and have been recognized by our industry for projects which incorporate work with channel glass.”

The company’s commercial division has also earned a distinguished reputation for designing and installing unique and awe-inspiring projects, from the glass bridge Skywalk at the Grand Canyon to high-rise structures, impressive retail storefronts and glass walls.

This award-winning commercial group is also comprised of a core team of union glaziers skilled in custom curtain walls and windows, building envelope composite panel systems, structural glass, glass stair rails, hand rails and stair treads. From City Center in Las Vegas to major casino projects, to the glass encompassed gift shop at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Giroux Glass has made its mark in major west coast cities.

Ranked among the top 50 glaziers in the nation by Glass Magazine, and the top 20 firms in glazing and curtain wall by ENR Magazine, as well as numerous other accolades, Giroux Glass, Inc. continues to build its reputation as the clear solution to complex glass and glazing contracting.

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