George Petzen

After 40 years in the skylight business George Petzen is retiring and moving out West. Before his retirement on Tuesday Petzen was an estimator for Linel Architectural Glass and Metal Solutions, based in Mooresville, Ind., where he worked for 16 years.

Forty years ago, Petzen was involved in antique furniture reproductions and wanted to make more money. He was told to go across the street to Gammans Industries, a maker of glass enclosures, and he was hired on the spot.

“I was estimating from day one,” says Petzen, who adds that his role over the years also has included field supervision and calling architects and contractors as a factory rep. “I’ve done an awful lot. I’ve had a lot of success and have enjoyed educating architects on the specialized niche of skylights and sloped glazing systems.”

He was involved in the Construction Specifications Institute for 25 years in addition to his involvement with the Building Envelope Contractors Conference. His work has included historic museum renovations, which he says are near and dear to his heart. He’s also been involved in project specific system designs, hurricane systems and blast-rated projects. He’s worked on the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C., as well as projects for the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Petzen says one of his greatest achievements was breaking into the New York City market, which required proving to architects that his company could do custom systems rather than having them settle for the standard product line.

“That’s opened up possibilities and we’ve capitalized on that over the years,” he says.

One of the challenges Petzen has faced is always keeping up with the latest, cutting edge specifications from design teams.

“In doing project specific system design you have to be able to translate the architect’s vision into a general contractor’s rational installation process,” he says. “Just because something is drawn doesn’t mean it’s easy to manufacture. That is certainly going to get more complicated as technologies and design tools advance.”

His advice for those just entering the glass industry is to keep an open mind when it comes to new products and technologies.

“They should also listen to those who have come before them because experience is a great teacher. They should always try to learn something every day,” says Petzen. “This is a great business to be in. In the 40 years I’ve been in the industry I’ve come home every day happy and excited to do what I do. I could do it another five years but at some point I figured it’s time to retire.”

Petzen and his family are moving to Portland, Ore., which he says is a big change from the Midwest.

“There are park trails to walk, beaches to visit, whale watching and fishing. We plan to get involved in our community and civic work to improve our new community,” says Petzen, adding that he will miss the friends he’s made in the industry. “They say if you do something you enjoy you’ll never work another day in your life. I’m happy to say that applies to me.”

5 Comments

  1. George, Congratulations! It has been a pleasure working with you and you will be missed at Linel and in the industry!

  2. George,
    It was always productive and entertaining speaking with you over the years.
    Best of luck, enjoy your retirement!
    Rob Nickerson

  3. George, we have known each other for many years going back to your Skytech days and it was always a pleasure to deal with you. I hope you enjoy your retirement and the Portland area. As you know I had done several Skylight projects all over the states and when I left Naturalite, the Portland Airport was a project I was just starting but had to hand it off to one of my counterparts due to me leaving for the Dlubak Corporation. I hope you get to play some beer pong (remember that night) in your retirement I think we lost to those youngsters that night so you could use some practice as could I. Best Regards, Mark Kearns

  4. George, it has truly been a please to work with you over the years. It has been fun to figure out some real testing challenges on some extremely large projects. Have fun and enjoy!

  5. Hey George, well earned! Reach me at SEBREE, would love to catch up! Mark

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