It took a whopping four days after earning his contractor’s license for Jonathan Schuyler to land his first project. Since then, he hasn’t looked back.
The 34-year-old Schuyler, who co-founded the Las Vegas-based contract glazing company Clear Solutions Group (CSG) earlier this year following a 12-year stint with Giroux Glass, got his biggest CSG contract offer to date within the first week of officially opening for business.
Drai’s, a new Las Vegas nightclub that’s slated to open this spring, immediately put CSG to work at the beginning of March with a plethora of handrail and glass door work, which the company is set to finish next week.
“As a startup, it was such a blessing to get Drai’s,” says Schuyler.
Drai’s, however, wasn’t the only client to set off CSG’s phones early on, as the company landed three more contracts within the first two weeks. Not bad for such a newbie, though there’s really more at play than just a rookie company being in the right place at the right time.
As Schuyler worked his way up the ranks at Giroux, he felt an increased drive to jump out and start his own company. It all came to a head last December – with a little help from a close friend.
Larry Hamer was the president of Giroux when Schuyler arrived in 2002, though Hamer parted ways with the company within three years of Schuyler joining. Schuyler developed a close relationship with Hamer during their time working together and went on to keep in regular contact with Hamer, who he considers his biggest mentor.
“Through all the dialogue that we had and what I was doing over that time, he started urging me to do my own thing,” says Schuyler. Then came the ultimatum. “What it boiled down to is this: He said, ‘Let’s do this together.’”
And that was all the convincing Schuyler needed.
Schuyler left Giroux at the end of last year and embarked on the new journey, which has thus far been a fruitful one. Hamer serves as the company’s president and oversees the business. “He’s my backbone,” says Schuyler.
Meanwhile, Schuyler’s younger cousin, Ryan Strimboulis, is the company’s project manager, and four glaziers and an accountant round out the current CSG team. The company’s goal isn’t to take on as many jobs as possible, but rather to establish close relationships with a select group of people in order to build a foundation that will parlay into steady work.
CSG doesn’t do high rise exterior glazing, but instead focuses mostly on “a lot of handrail and decorative sort of stuff,” which serves it quite well in the aesthetically focused town of Las Vegas.
“That’s what really drew me to Las Vegas,” Schuyler says. “When you look at some of the things that have been done in the U.S., in Las Vegas, from a decorative perspective, whenever anybody builds anything really good, you’ve got competitors swarming to draw clientele into their space.
“Because of the aesthetics involved in glass and decorative metal, sort of making things pop, we’re front and center in that arena.”
The bright lights of the Vegas strip weren’t always Schuyler’s forte, though. Schuyler grew up in Michigan, graduated from Grand Rapids Community College and worked in multiple capacities for Commercial Glass & Glazing, a Grand Rapids-based company that has since closed its doors.
Schuyler says he was fortunate, however, to make what he considers “extended family” at Giroux – which made it all the more difficult to part ways after a dozen years, especially considering the fact that he would instantly become a competitor.
“When this was legitimate and I had to kind of figure out how best to share it with them, that was really difficult,” he says. “[Giroux owner/CEO] Anne-Merelie Murrell and [vice president/GM] Stephanie Lamb were like moms to me, to be quite honest … It was really, really difficult to do what I did.”
As of now, CSG’s license limit is $500,000 per job, which is enough to keep the company plenty busy until it builds the capital and decides to tackle bigger projects. For the time being, Schuyler is more than content with simply maintaining a few close working relationships. In fact, he prefers it.