Steady Approach—With a Helping of Creativity—Drives Florida Glazier
By Nick St. Denis
Donill Kenney started Palm Beach Glass Specialties (PBGS) in the late 1980s. In those days, his advertising was mobile—he drove up and down the local roads, stopping in at nearby businesses to let them know who he was. The Florida glazier did a half-million dollars in sales that first year and hasn’t looked back.
Three decades later, the PBGS vice president runs the business alongside his wife, company president Jodie Kenney. The two have grown it into a highly respected contract glazier in the West Palm Beach area, with now 40 to 60 employees depending on the time of year.
PBGS made USGlass magazine’s Top 50 Glaziers list in each of the past five years. It was exactly one spot away from making the list for a sixth consecutive time, ranking No. 51 this year.
Then to Now
Donill founded PBGS in 1987, and Jodie joined the business soon after. “He was kind of a one-man shop, so as soon as I started, I created the office atmosphere and put systems in place,” she says. Early on, she went through the necessary testing to become a licensed glazing contractor in Florida.
Jodie says she’s primarily focused on the day-to-day operations of the business, while Donill takes a more long-term approach to things. “I think about today,” she says. “He’s always looking forward.”
While the company has grown steadily over the years, Donill stresses the importance of “being prepared to grow” in the long term rather than al-ways taking on as many jobs as possible.
PBGS still stays plenty busy, working on 600 to 800 jobs annually. “We like small jobs, but we prefer to have at least one big job going at all times,” says Donill.
Approximately 70 percent of its current work is commercial, and the other 30 per-cent residential.
Like many other contractors in construction, Palm Beach Glass Specialties has put a lot of effort into maintaining a skilled workforce.
“Finding quality workers is a challenge, but maybe the bigger question is, ‘How do you keep your own?’ says Donill. He says his company tries to keep a positive atmosphere among employees, whether it is in regard to compensation, opportunity and extra-curricular activities.
PBGS takes a similar approach to other businesses it works with. The company hosts an annual end-of-the-year event, inviting its top suppliers, architects, general contractors and others. “About 200 people come here, and it’s a lot of fun,” says Donill.
Jodie refers to Donill as a “glass guru,” as he often comes up with creative ways to work with glass and fields daily calls from architects.
Creativity is a term the Kenneys often use when discussing their business. “We try to be creative not only on the projects we create, but creative in how we get the job done,” says Donill.
One example is when the company-was completing the skyboxes project for the Miami football stadium. “The job was 1½ to 3 hours each way,” says Donill. “So I rented a house, put our guys in the house, and then hired union.”
Aside from creativity, quality and professionalism are a big focus for PBGS. “We don’t want to just be the best glass guys,” says Donill. “We want to be the best tradesmen on the whole job.”
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