Case Studies

Glass Inc.

Glazing glass for the future

Founded in 1999, Robert Smith Glass Inc. began as small glass glazing company in Meridian, Mississippi. Sixteen years later the company has grown to become one of the top commercial glass and glazing contractors in the Southeast.

Headquartered in Meridian, Mississippi, Glass Inc. has two satellite offices: one in Foley, Alabama, and another office in Gulfport, Mississippi. With more than 80 full-time employees, founder and president Robert Smith credits the company’s growth and success to the people who work for him.

“We’ve just got great, skilled people who have been doing this a long time,” says Smith. “I’m 57 years old and I’ve been doing this type of work for 35 years.” Though Glass Inc. is 16 years old, many of the employees have been working together since long before the company began. “We’ve essentially been a team for more than 30 years,” Smith details.

The longevity of the team at Glass Inc. is one factor that separates the company from the pack. While the business is recognized as a large commercial glass glazing contractor, Glass Inc. also provides residential services. “At all of our locations we do have a residential division that will go out and replace glass at a house,” explains Smith. “We do projects of all sizes, from shopping centers to high-rise buildings.” Glass Inc.’s target market is the entire Southeastern United States.

State of the art

Smith says that he enjoys high-tech, complex projects and tends to seek out jobs which involve cutting-edge technology. The company is currently involved in a very innovative project with Gulfport Memorial Hospital.  The challenge involves a unitized glazing system over an existing hospital built out of brick veneer.

“It’s really the first time anything like this has been done,” says Smith. “We’re completely covering the entire exterior of this building with this glass system.” The project also includes the addition of three new-construction floors to the top of the hospital. “This is really a unique project because of the system that is being used. It’s designed to withstand 180 mph winds.”

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 it 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 job that has ever been done with this kind of glass.”

The installation process of VDG is very similar to that of standard glass windows. The modification includes an electrical system connected to a main source which adjusts the amount of tint. “We pitched this product to the CenturyLink design team knowing that they are a high-tech company,” explains Smith. “They researched it and decided it was a good fit so they altered the original design of the building to include the VDG.”

Staying strong

 As the economic recession of ’08 and ’09 hit the construction industry, thousands of companies suffered the devastating effects. “It was the worst economic downturn I’ve ever witnessed in my career,” says Smith. The bottom line for Glass Inc. was affected almost overnight. “When your volume gets cut in half it’s quite a challenge to reel it back in.”

Despite the recession, Glass Inc. has remained strong. “Since we’ve been in business we’ve had one session of layoffs,” says Smith. “The good thing is that we have gotten most of those people back and we’re going strong again.”

Typically, 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.

Glass Inc. has rebounded well from the recession. The company is looking to expand into new markets and has even opened a distribution center. “We started Glass Inc. because we saw a market that needed to be filled in glass distribution,” explains Smith. “We also saw it as a way to grow our business in a different direction.”

A bright Future

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, Robert Smith Glass Inc. will continue with the philosophy that no job is too big or too small. 

Published on: September 16, 2015

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