Gary Stevenson (left) and Richard Harmon founded Arizona Glass Specialists in 2004.

With 15 years’ experience in the commercial glazing industry, the owners at Arizona Glass Specialists know what is most important to a company’s success: its employees. According to Jeffrey Yazwa, pre-construction director for the Chandler, Ariz.-based company, finding solid field and office employees has been one of its biggest obstacles over the past 15 years. That is why owners Gary Stevenson and Richard Harmon emphasize good training practices.

Yazwa says that new employees go through a 90-day evaluation period where they are trained in safety and best practices.

“One of the things that we pride ourselves on is that we hire with the assumption that they’re staying here for good. We don’t hire anyone temporarily,” says Yazwa.

After the evaluation period, employees have opportunities to earn salary increases. Every six months the company does informal evaluations to prepare for the annual review, which provides employees with another chance to increase their salary.

“It’s important for everyone here to be recognized every year and to make sure that if they deserve an increase in pay that they get it,” says Yazwa. “We have things for them to look at and see where they can be in five years if they do what they’re supposed to be doing and continue to rise. The sky’s the limit.”

Yazwa believes this training program improves employee retention.

Another major challenge the company has faced in its 15-year history was the Great Recession in 2008. The company maintained its revenue stream by taking on government work in Arizona and neighboring states, and in 2012 began gaining momentum. According to Yazwa, the company’s biggest accomplishments have been topping $10 million in one year and getting its foot in the door with general contractors that wouldn’t work with the company when it first started.

Going forward, Yazwa says the company plans to continue growing through its aluminum composite metal business, which has seen more demand from architects in the region, and to switch to doing fully unitized curtainwall. Currently, the company does unitized curtainwall work if the project is right, but often fabricates the frames in shop and installs the glass at the jobsite.

“We’re going toward doing more unitized for efficiency and the desire for growth,” says Yazwa.

The company also plans to start branching out to neighboring states.