Since JPI Glass founders Jim and Sherri Plunkett retired in August 2019, the company has been on an ambitious path. New CEO Chuck Mowrey joined the company May 21, 2019 with the goal of transforming JPI Glass from being a local player to a regional one. He joined with an extensive background in the glass and glazing industry, which includes eight years as CEO of Harmon Inc.
Mowrey says that despite all of his experience, the Kansas City, Mo., area is not one in which he had worked before. While the area is new for him geographically, he says it hasn’t presented any challenges. The main difference in taking on this roll is that JPI is a non-union company.
“It’s one of the reasons I took the role,” he says, adding that he has the opportunity to create a better retirement and benefits package [for employees].
JPI’s new eight-point vision includes goals such as building a safety culture and improving the communities in which the company works. However, the two most important points to Mowrey are the company’s focus on providing employees and their families with “best-in-class benefits” and being transparent and honest with all employees, vendors and customers. According to Mowrey, the focus on benefits has already creating recruiting success for JPI, which has hired ten new employees in the past three months.
“It’s more meaningful for millennials and the next generation of the workforce to have good benefits and vacation time than their base salary,” he says.
Another of JPI’s recruitment strategies is its in-house apprenticeship program.
“We have to recruit and train our own people. We can’t rely on the unions,” says Mowrey. “We’re going to team up with Associated Builders and Contractors so they can handle the administrative aspect and help train our trainers. We’ll still control the curriculum and actual training but they can help with classroom space. We want to grow one of the best apprenticeship programs in the country.”
Recruitment will be important for JPI in the years to come as Mowrey and his team focus on expanding the company’s reach and scope. Currently the company has around 100 employees. Mowrey is planning for the company to double in size in the next three years. This growth will include a shift from stick-built to unitized curtainwall systems. This will change the ratio of in-shop mechanics to field installers, with the number of in-shop mechanics increasing to accommodate the shift toward unitization and larger-scale projects. Mowrey says that with his experience and the experience of COO Jake Wagner, previously with Steel Encounters, he’s not afraid of the transition.
JPI’s growth plan also includes an expanded scope outside of just glass, such as a metal panels, as well as a geographic expansion. The company will need a larger facility in order to fabricate unitized curtainwall. But that’s not all.
“The private equity company that hired me has big plans and financial backing,” says Mowrey, who adds that these plans include a national roll-up, or acquisitions, of firms. “Our plan is to offer the same quality as leading national union firms but by tackling the hiring and recruiting problem another way through high school and technical school recruiting, best-in-class training and safe and secure 401K plans and benefits packages.”