This year, Glacier Glass will be celebrating its 30th anniversary. It’s a big milestone when you consider the company began as a literal Mom-and-Pop shop in 1979.
Peter and Linda Halbgewachs started the operation out of their home and then moved to a small store location. Gradually, the company took over new space to accommodate their growth and success, adding trucks and crews along the way. Today, Glacier Glass is Regina’s biggest independent glass retailer.
“It’s very much a family business,” smiles Jamie Halbgewachs, Vice President and General Manger, as well as Peter and Linda’s son. “My dad has two brothers that still work here and both of my brothers-in-law are here, too. Of course, there are other employees who have been here for a long time, who are like family. We have grown from two people to about 55 people over the years.”
Jamie has been at Glacier for 20 years. When asked about what it’s like to work with family, he admits it can be tough at times, but it’s worth it. “I think we have done a good job managing the family aspect,” Jamie says. “My dad and I have always worked well together—we are good partners. We respect each other and have essentially grown the business together.”
Glacier Glass is more than just a store that sells Regina’s biggest selection of windows, screens and patio-door replacement hardware. The company also has a service side that offers residential, automotive and commercial supply, installation and repair. In addition, Glacier manufactures its own sealed unit line, making double-glaze and triple-glaze Low-E argon sealed units.
“We have a PVC division where we make fences and decks, and then supply them to sub-contractors and our own installation crews,” says Jamie. “We also have two auto bays where we do repairs. There’s a lot on the go!”
The importance of image
When it comes to distinguishing themselves from the competition, Glacier Glass backs up their quality service and expertise with a professional image. It might sound trivial, but it makes perfect sense, especially in the service sector.
“We looked around and some of our competitors have junky trucks and their installers come to a home dressed in ripped jeans and a lumberjack shirt,” Jamie
laughs. “That’s not the image we try to project. We make sure our vehicles are nice and white with a clean logo. Our installers have uniforms with nametags, so when they pull up to a house, the customer feels they are getting friendly, professional service. Of course, with our image comes high-quality workmanship. It’s just that we try to think of what we want in a service professional coming up our driveway!”
“The company’s priority is to provide quality products and service,” Jamie maintains. “It’s all on our logo, which says ‘Glacier glass: our quality and service are clear.’ That’s what we pride ourselves in. No matter what we do, we want to leave that customer feeling like they got a quality job. I think we’re pretty good at that.”
Over the past five or six years, Jamie has noticed a shift in his customers. It seems that they are more in tune with what they need than ever before. “Our customers are more educated,” he says. “They know what they want. It used to be that we did a lot more service work, repairing existing windows and doors. But it’s changing because people are more knowledgeable about energy efficiency, so we’re not necessarily repairing those old windows anymore. Now, we’re replacing them with an upgraded vinyl window with weather stripping and triple low-e argon gas.”
Business has been good since the environment trend kicked off. It’s been even better since the Saskatchewan government began providing incentives and rebate programs for energy-efficient home improvements. “These programs are pushing business along for us,” beams Jamie. “We have a lot of people looking for windows with Energy Star ratings. People are telling us what they need and they just want us there to provide it. We don’t have to do nearly as much convincing these days.”
In case you don’t know what the big deal is about windows, they are one of the most susceptible areas in a home for air leakage and, thus, energy loss. By updating old windows with modern ones, homeowners enjoy the benefits of energy savings, minimized drafts and higher indoor air quality. According to the Glacier Glass website, “modern windows and doors generally have a lower airinfiltration rate than the older products. Also, when new framing is installed, with insulation and full caulking around the perimeter, the house is tighter than in the past has a lower rate of air-change…”
Where do you go when you’re already on top? Jamie says there is always more to do. “Our goals at Glacier Glass are always evolving,” he adds. “We want to improve on everything we do, from our facility to our crews and products. I think in the long term, I would like to see us expand. We’re only in Regina now, and we have dipped our toes a little bit into the Saskatoon market with our fencing division. But I wouldn’t mind seeing a second or third location in the province eventually.”
Glacier Glass has a lot of time to do expand and test the waters in other parts of Saskatchewan. In the meantime, they have an anniversary party to plan!
Here’s to 30 more years.