150 Years Strong: Binswanger Glass Celebrates a Milestone Anniversary

In 1872 Samuel Binswanger opened a small glass store in Richmond, Va. One hundred and fifty years later, Binswanger Glass is now a national retail and commercial glazing firm with a workforce of about 800 in 55 locations across 12 states. Its growth has kept pace with history.

“[The company] made it through all the major wars and everything else that happened early on in the early 1900s,” says Jennifer Brereton, director of marketing for the company. “So [Samuel Binswanger] was broke—he started it with the last dime he had and took a chance. Today, it’s the largest full-service retailer and installer of glass and glass products.”

The company, which also offers sliding glass doors and screened-in porches and window screens, thrived during the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War and began installing auto glass as cars replaced the horse and carriage. The early 1900s were a time of growth, and Samuel Binswanger brought in his sons to help expand the business. The first expansions were to Memphis, Tenn., in 1906 and then Houston in 1923.

The business faced more hardship than expected, especially regarding its finances and familial relations. In the early 20th century, the company dealt with the repercussions of World War I, the death of three Binswanger brothers and, ultimately, the Great Depression. Resiliency and luck joined forces in 1947.

“The Binswanger family stretched all their finances to build the Binswanger Mirror plant in Grenada, Miss.,” says Rich Porayko, a consultant for the company. “And the day before the plant was set to open, it was destroyed by fire. Mickey Binswanger remembered, at the last minute, to insure the building. He pulled into the insurance store on the way home, before this building was about to be [destroyed]. And sure enough, that night, [it was destroyed by the fire].”

It was rebuilt by the insurance proceeds; Mickey Binswanger later was quoted as saying that the family and the whole business would have been devastated had the plant not been insured. “This story would have ended in 1947,” he says.

In 1982, one of the divisions of Binswanger/Glasscraft was awarded the opportunity to inscribe 57,000 names on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington. The project underwent numerous inspections and took several months to ensure all was correct.

In February 2022, USGlass magazine ranked Binswanger Glass as North America’s largest contract glazier by most locations, largest contract glazier by the number of employees, and the ninth-largest contract glazier by sales.

New Facility, New Goals for Western Window Systems

Western Window Systems expanded its Phoenix operations with an additional facility spanning more than 78,000 square feet. Production in the new building could begin as soon as July 2022.

The acquisition, located in the back half of the current facility, expands the company’s current 170,000 square feet.

The new space will allow for not only continued growth but also increased efficiency, says Mark Yeandle, vice president of operations.

“Growth has been going on for the past year and a half,” he says. “We’ve had continuous growth for many years, but the growth we’re experiencing today has been for about a year and a half or longer.”

Western Window Systems moved window production to the new facility, but kept door production in the original facility.

“Basically, we’re going to have a window plant and a door plant. We’ll split window manufacturing into two lines instead of the current one, and be able to increase our output to meet the customer demand,” Yeandle says. “From a customer standpoint, it’s going to allow us to provide a higher level of customer service, which shortens lead times. For suppliers, more business for us means more business for them. We have a really good relationship with suppliers, and an even better relationship with customers. It allows us to continue to be the preferred supplier in the market.”

The new space will include nearly 11,000 square feet of office space, as well as amenities such as a gym and on-site clinic.

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