All in the family

Family-owned glass companies keep it casual

Check out the next two issues of e-glass weekly to learn more about family businesses in the glass industry.

From small companies such as the seven-person Gordon & Sons Glass and Mirrors in Philadelphia, to giants such as the 2,400-person Arch Aluminum & Glass Co. of Tamarac, Fla., family businesses make up a huge portion of the U.S. glass industry. Almost 70 percent of respondents to the April 3 e-glass poll said they are part of a family business.

“The glass industry has a ton of family businesses—many larger companies,” says Max Perilstein, vice president of marketing for Arch. “I believe this to be rare, compared to other industries.”

Whether large or small, family businesses enjoy similar benefits, including the casual and comfortable nature of decision making, Perilstein says.

Making decisions at family businesses, “you don’t have to go through levels and levels of management to get things done,” Perilstein says. “At Arch, things are settled over lunch everyday.”

Evan Kind Berman, vice president of operations for Gordon & Sons says the level of trust and comfort between family members allows for the casual, but successful, business style.

“It’s more personal for me to work with my parents, and it makes it easier to make business decisions,” Berman says. “The headaches normal [decision makers] might have can be resolved so much easier at family businesses, because you can talk on a personal level.”

In addition to increased ease in decision making, Thad W. Ziegler, president of Thad Ziegler Glass in San Antonio, says family-owned businesses also benefit from the personal interest family members have in the success of the company.

“You work harder, care more,” Ziegler says. “Our employees care about the company, but a person who has ownership obviously has more interest."

Ziegler say the increased interest and dedication to success has helped the company survive through five generations since it started in 1893.

Read about common challenges family-owned businesses face in the next two issues of e-glass weekly. Send an e-mail if you would like to comment on your experience in a family business.

- By Katy Devlin, e-Newsletter Editor, e-glass weekly