Hellenbrand Glass LLC
In 1992, brothers Trent and Todd Hellenbrand, who were experienced glaziers, started Hellenbrand Glass LLC with the goal of providing architects, builders and homeowners a premier resource for glass and glass-related products
In the beginning, they ran the business out of an old cheese factory. After experiencing growing pains for the first few years, the company started to achieve success and began to expand. “We just kept adding employees every year,” says Trent. “We average between 35 and 40 employees right now.”
Eventually the brothers needed to expand their space, so in 2003, Trent and Todd began construction of a new 20,000 square foot facility in the Waunakee Industrial Park. In 2007 they added on to the building almost doubling its size. Trent says, “All of the expansions and growth through the years has been made easier because of the strong banking relationship Hellenbrand Glass has developed with Bank Mutual.”
A step above the rest
A major factor in the solid team that the company currently employs is that during the recent recession, Hellenbrand did not lay off a single employee. “It was a tough time, but we actually managed to continue growing through that period,” says Trent. “We cut costs and expenses that weren’t completely necessary. I even put some people to work changing the windows in my house. They were really appreciative of that. It’s a good thing we did that, because now that the economy has picked back up, other companies are trying to recruit experienced glaziers.”
What distinguishes Hellenbrand as a unique company is that it performs completely custom work. Hellenbrand Glass employs Dean Endres, an artist who designs and installs decorative films as well as safety film. Kent Rosenthal, Leader of the Residential and interior commercial division for Hellenbrand, explains, “What we’re doing is customized commercial projects that are very high-end, where budget is still a concern but not necessarily the overriding factor. We specialize in European hardware like EKU & Hawa. “Currently, we’re working with a company that is reproducing the Harry Potter train station that involves unique custom angles and curves, and we designed and created everything here in our shop.”
A talented team
Hellenbrand optimizes the specialty skills of its talented workers. “Dean Endres, our in-house artist really gives us a lot of great ideas on the bigger and unique jobs,” says Trent. “We have a lot of really talented people here who help with the design and layout of everything. Strictly going after the easy jobs isn’t always a good idea because there are so many other glazing contractors that are bidding on those types of jobs, so we have better luck with the more difficult jobs that involve angles and curves and are on the artistic and decorative side.”
While headquartered in Wisconsin, Hellenbrand performs custom work for clients all over the country. Due to a strong reputation as a high-end glass company, the company has established relationships with manufacturers and developers who work exclusively with the company regardless of the project location. “We’ve done work for clients in Alaska, California, Montana, Hawaii and New York,” says Steve Johnson, head of the commercial glazing division. “We completed a job last year where the project was located in Colorado. We made everything, packed it up, numbered and labeled everything and then put it on a truck and sent it off to Colorado.” The company that received the shipment used the instructions included by Hellenbrand and assembled it on-site.
Aside from all the interesting jobs that keep the Hellenbrand team engaged in their work, the fact that the employees of the company are able to share in the profits at the end of the year is what gives Trent the biggest sense of pride. “We match our employees 401(k) at 100 percent up to 6 percent so when we have a successful year it’s nice to be able to add an additional 3 or 4 percent more to that at year end,” says Trent. “It’s great to have your employees support you and be able to show support back to them.”
As the company has progressed over the years, Hellenbrand has maintained a slow-but-steady approach to company growth. When the business started, the company would gradually increase the size or difficulty of each job and with each accomplishment, Hellenbrand would add employees to the team. “We definitely want to continue to grow the company,” says Trent. “We don’t want to grow so fast that we can’t keep up though. We’ll continue to take on tougher jobs and continue to add employees. We’re content with the pace that is happening right now.”
With solid business practices, talented employees, managed growth, and employee involvement, its clear Hellenbrand Glass LLC continues to strive to be a leader in the high-end glass industry in the Midwest.
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