Apogee Enterprises, then known as Harmon Glass, focused on automotive windshield replacements at the start. Photo: Apogee.

Apogee Enterprises Inc. was founded by Harold Burrows on July 12, 1949, in Minneapolis. The company, then known as Harmon Glass, focused on automotive windshield replacements. Since then, it has grown from a single shop at 1112 Harmon Place in Minneapolis to 15 facilities throughout the United States with 4,400 employees and moved far beyond its automotive roots.

Company officials say that much of Apogee’s early success rests at the feet of its first CEO, Russ Baumgardner. Photo: Apogee.

“For more than 50 years, Apogee’s core business was automotive glass,” says CEO Ty Silberhorn. “By the late 1990s, Apogee operated more than 300 auto glass replacement shops across the U.S. before focusing on glazing products for architectural markets, picture framing and other applications. Our company has reinvented itself several times by innovating our business model and offerings to adapt to the changing market.”

Silberhorn was named CEO in January 2021. He joined Apogee following 20 years at 3M, most recently as the senior vice president of transformation, technologies and services.

Company officials say that much of Apogee’s early success rests at the feet of its first CEO, Russ Baumgardner. He led Apogee for 34 years before stepping down as CEO in 1986 and then serving as board chairperson until 1988. He started at the company as an investor in 1950 before becoming president of Harmon in 1952.

Don Goldfus became the second CEO in 1986 before retiring in 1998. Goldfus was followed by Russ Huffer, who joined Apogee in 1986 as vice president and general manager of Viracon. He was elected president and CEO in January 1998. He retired in 2011 and was replaced by Joe Puishys, who retired in 2021.

Harmon entered the commercial glass business in 1955, when it began offering contract glass installation for buildings. After expanding into several businesses, Harmon morphed into Apogee Enterprises in 1968 as it sought to coordinate the activities of its subsidiaries. Harmon remains an Apogee brand. It earned the No. 1 spot in USGlass magazine’s 2024 list of largest contract glaziers.

Also in 1968, Apogee acquired a manufacturer of aluminum-framed windows in Wausau, Wisconsin, which became the foundation for its Architectural Framing Systems business. In 1969, it started a glass fabrication business, Viracon.

Apogee became a publicly traded company in 1971. It grew throughout the 1970s, reaching annual sales of $85 million and 1,500 employees by the decade’s end. By 1974, the company celebrated its 25th anniversary and achieved sales of over $25 million. In 1975, it acquired a non-glare glass company in Chicago that became Tru Vue. In 1983, Apogee launched Linetec.

To read more about Apogee’s evolution throughout the glass industry, be sure to read the August issue of USGlass magazine. The full article can be found here.

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