The news about the closing of J.E. Berkowitz’s (JEB) location in Pedricktown, N.J., shocked the glass industry. Many are left wondering what’s next for its parent company, Consolidated Glass Holdings (CGH) and the rest of its architectural and security businesses: Columbia Commercial Building Products, Solar Seal, Global Security Glazing and Dlubak Specialty Glass.
While it’s unclear what led to the closure, many businesses have been impacted by the pandemic-related recession. CGH also underwent a change in ownership last year, in addition to several CEO changes since its acquisition of JEB in 2016.
JEB was founded by Jacob E. Berkowitz in 1920 as a glass silvering company, producing mirrors for the Philadelphia metro area. Soon after Jacob’s son Edwin Berkowitz joined the company in 1950, it transitioned away from beveling and silvering into mirror products distribution. In the 1970s, the company began distributing flat glass to glass shops and glazing contractors.
Arthur Berkowitz joined JEB in 1976, at which time the company shifted from distribution to fabrication. Arthur assumed the role of president in the mid-1980s.
CGH acquired JEB in 2016. At the time, the combined CGH-JEB consisted of 1,000 employees at eight manufacturing locations occupying 900,000 square feet of plant space.
“CGH and Grey Mountain were the correct fit for me and my employees,” Berkowitz said in a statement released at the time about the move. “As part of my succession planning, this step permitted me to keep an ownership position and retain the real estate. I will remain energized and committed to managing the operations at JEB for years to come.”
On January 1, 2018, Arthur Berkowitz stepped down from his role as executive vice president and moved into a senior advisory role for the company.
“I’m reducing my hours and day-to-day responsibilities at JEB. It’s been a little over a year [since JEB became part of Consolidated Glass Holdings] and in that year I’ve been involved in the integration process,” he told USGNN™ in December 2017 when discussing the transition. “I’ve been on their board for a year and I’ve observed how CGH does business. And I’ve had an opportunity to give my key managers the opportunity to grow and promote themselves within the organization, so I felt the time was right and that’s why I decided to reduce my role at JEB.”
In June 2018, Berkowitz handed over his operational management responsibilities as he planned to focus instead on his separate retrofit window system business, Renovate by Berkowitz. At the time, he remained a minority owner of JEB/CGH and a member of its board of directors.
Changes at CGH
CGH has had several CEOs since its acquisition of JEB in November 2016. Paul Cody was president and CEO of the company at the time of the acquisition, having held the role since 2013. He was replaced by Norm Plotkin, a former CEO of Binswanger Glass, in February 2017. Only four months later, CGH named Jeremy Davis its CEO while Plotkin continued in the role of chairperson of the board of directors. Bill Varner served as CEO from August 2018 until his retirement in November 2019, when current president and CEO Robert Cummings took on the role.
In June 2020, CGH announced that the company and its affiliates had been acquired by new owners, including the CGH senior management team and minority investor Czech Asset Management, based in Old Greenwich, Conn. CGH previously had been owned by Grey Mountain Partners.
“This new partnership will allow all CGH facilities to continue to operate within the normal course of business. We look forward to expanding our company with great people while focusing on innovation, profitable growth, as well as enhancing our long-standing relationships with both our vendors and customers,” said CGH president and CEO Robert Cummings in a statement at the time.