Volume 34, Number 9,  September 1999

 

A Connecticut Yankee 
in the Glass Industry’s Court

Stanley Wiesen Inducted into This Year’s 
Glass and Metal Hall of Fame™

by Debra Levy

If the Connecticut glass industry had a grandfather, Stanley Wiesen would be it. It seems the 79-year old founder of Stanley Wiesen Inc. (SWI) in Hartford, CT, is loved unconditionally and admired universally for his commitment, caring, wit and common sense. “Stanley is revered and respected by all of us throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for his sense of humor as well as the continued dedication of his time to the industry,” says John Stigliano, president of the Connecticut Glass Dealers Association (CGDA). It was the CGDA as a whole that nominated Wiesen for induction into the Glass and Metal Hall of Fame. And on Friday evening, October 22, association members will be on hand to see Wiesen and two others (see box page 57) enter the Hall of Fame.

While Wiesen’s career mirrors many others in the glass industry, it is his dedication to it over time that has distinguished him among others. He began in 1950 as a salesman selling glass for a variety of distributors in a job that kept him on the road through eastern Massachusetts and Connecticut. In 1961, the road warrior was ready to lay down his sword and decided to open a business in West Hartford.

“My initial investment was $35,” chuckles Wiesen. “That’s how much it cost to have my company name painted on the grocery store, which was vacant at the time.” In a mere 380 square feet of space, Wiesen began fabricating and selling aluminum, with a staff of three—Wiesen; his wife, Lorraine; and an assistant—and Stanley Wiesen Inc. was born.

Six years later the company nearly tripled in size by moving to a 1,100 square-foot building that had been a Chinese restaurant. Today, the company occupies more than 18,000 square feet of space. Over the years SWI has come to be a major factor in the Connecticut market. The company is not only a leader in prime and replacement windows but also in curtainwalls, storefronts, skylights, interior glazing, mirrors, heavy glass shower doors and architectural aluminum products. SWI still provides unprecedented service to major industries, hospitals, schools, management companies and contractors throughout the state. This diversity has allowed SWI to grow to the strong company it is today. Stanley’s sales kit is legendary and weighs more than three pounds.

Wiesen’s dedication to the industry is well-known. He has served on the board of directors of the CGDA for 28 years and on the executive committee for its regional Glass Show for more than 25 years. Committee members point to him as both a sage and jokester at the same time. Wiesen is credited with having both a historical perspective and a willingness to try new things.

He was the CGDA Man of the Year in 1975 and was named Glass Show Man of the Year in both 1986 and 1994. “Stanley even writes occasionally for our newsletter,” says Stigliano. “He can relate to the problems of the small glass dealers and mom-and-pop companies.”

“Stanley is the only person I know who sold his business so he could work less hours and now works as many hours as he ever did. He never stops selling,” says Bill Jordan, SWI president. “Last year he had to go in the hospital for immediate surgery that turned out to be relatively minor. At the time it appeared to be major and had all of us in the office quite concerned. The following day I called to see how he was doing and before he told me about his health he told me two nurses in the recovery room needed shower doors.”

Not limited to the glass industry, Wiesen’s activities extend far into the greater Hartford area as well. He has been instrumental in the growth and development of the Jewish Community Center (JCC) there. “I am truly amazed at how Stan splits himself into so many parts in order to serve the center and other organizations with dignity, insight and a sense of humor,” says Will Slitt of the JCC. “If the truth be known, there was, and is, a quiet and ever-present influence guiding him in all his endeavors ... ”

An avid athlete, Wiesen served as chair of the JCC athletics committee for 22 years. He still accepts special assignments when asked, and today he serves on the board as an Honorary Life Officer.

“Stanley leads by example and action, he leads with intelligence and most of all, he will take us to task when warranted,” says Stigliano. “But mostly, he leads with a great sense of humor.”

Just like a good grandfather.
Note: This is the first in a series of three articles highlighting the 1999 inductees into the Glass and Metal Hall of Fame.   

Debra Levy is the publisher of USGlass magazine.


USG

Copyright 1999 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.