Original article found on ocregister.com
Photo By Jeff Gritchen, OC Register Staff Photographer
Broadway Glass & Mirror isn’t the biggest glass installer in the area, but it has become one of the larger diversified businesses that divides its revenue between commercial and residential streams.
Owner Ron DeWolf bought Broadway Glass, which has been in business since 1954, from his sister in 2008 after they inherited it 14 years earlier from their grandparents, James and Verta DeWolf.
Since the Great Recession, Ron DeWolf has invested heavily in the tiny glass and mirror shop that his grandparents had made a brand-name fixture for decades on Broadway. He has stepped up bidding on commercial jobs, in addition to keeping true to the bread-and-butter business of cutting glass for walk-in customers for items such as picture frames and windows.
“We aggressively looked for business rather than wait for it to come to us,” DeWolf said.
It’s not uncommon to see Broadway Glass hanging scaffolding outside of some high-rise buildings downtown to replace safety-glass windows. For instance, just a week ago, Broadway added several huge window panels on the 15th floor of 300 Oceangate, where Molina Healthcare Inc. is adding an event hall. The windows extend from floor to ceiling, giving an unobstructed scenic view of roughly two-thirds of the floor to downtown Long Beach and the twin seaports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
Some of its biggest jobs have included installation of windows at a fire station in Hollywood and 550 shower enclosures at the swanky W Hotel in Hollywood.
It also has added windows at the Long Beach Convention Center, Hyatt Regency, Los Alamitos Elementary School, Long Beach Senior Arts Colony on East Anaheim Street and several high-rise residential towers in downtown Long Beach.
At the moment, DeWolf is juggling an expansion of the business to West Long Beach and San Pedro and building up more commercial work simultaneously. He hired a president to help run operations from 2010 to July and free the company to more aggressively expand through acquisitions. DeWolf pulled back the reins on expansion, shedding the president as he cautiously reevaluated the pace of growth.
“It was more than I expected,” said DeWolf, who said he took on more than he could handle.
In 2012, DeWolf acquired the assets of bankrupt-Mac’s Glass & Mirror at 1044 S. Gaffey St. in San Pedro and renamed the business Mac’s Glass Inc.
He also began leasing a 7,500-square-foot warehouse at 2001 W. 16th St. in Long Beach, where he plans to move Broadway’s headquarters as well as keep his fleet of vehicles for hauling plate glass. He already has carved out offices in the building in the industrial neighborhood, where he’ll open the main headquarters in a month or two, he said.
The retail shop on Broadway will remain. There are no plans to move that long-time fixture from Broadway, he said.
DeWolf, like his grandparents before him, lives in the top floor of the glass shop, in the rear. He plans to remodel some of the warehousing behind the store to expand his own personal space.
Since buying the business from his sister, Denise, in 2008, DeWolf is finally hitting his stride in the business.
Before 2013, the best-ever year for revenue was the year in which DeWolf bought the business, mainly because Broadway Glass was still fulfilling commercial orders placed before the economic crash.
The business felt the lingering effects from the recession in 2009 to 2012 but started seeing an upswing in revenue afterward.
“We always felt like since we had been such a local business for so long, it really helped us weather the economic downturn,” DeWolf said.