-—Gazette photo by Ashleigh Ruhl
Original article found on gazettes.com
Reflecting on their family’s longevity in the industry, brother-sister duo Ron DeWolf and Denise DeWolf are celebrating the 60th anniversary of Broadway Glass & Mirror Inc.
Their grandparents — Verta and James DeWolf — purchased the business in 1955, living in a bungalow behind the shop for many years before eventually tearing their home down to make more retail space. They believe the story goes that a cousin, Walt Paddleford, originally started the company in a garage across the street about a decade before that, but the DeWolfs were the ones who really grew the family legacy.
Ron DeWolf said his grandparents initially offered simple glass replacement for residences as well as auto glass repair and replacement. Although the glass and mirror business hasn’t changed dramatically through the years, they eventually stopped doing auto glass and instead ventured into the commercial arena in the late 1980s. The company still offers a range of services, from installation of glass shower doors in new apartment complexes to cutting glass for an individual picture frame.
“We never say no,” Denise DeWolf said. “We come and look at it, and we figure out a way to do what our customers need.”
About 20 employees work for the company between original retail shop on Broadway near Lindero Avenue and a warehouse/dispatch center on the west side of town. Also, the family owns Mac’s Glass & Mirror Inc. in San Pedro.
“We’re a $3 million to $4 million company at this point, and we have a versatile range of services that help keep up busy even in tough times,” Ron DeWolf said. “Our largest project to date was a $1.5 million commercial project that needed custom interior shower doors.”
Ron DeWolf, who grew up sweeping the floor there, said his family needed his help right after he graduated high school because his grandfather got sick and couldn’t keep working. So, the teenager dropped his plans to become a police officer and started running the family business.
Denise DeWolf, who is a certified public accountant, was an equal partner with her brother for many years before stepping back a little bit. But she said she couldn’t stay away, and loves working with her little brother.
Nowadays, she manages the retail side of the business, guiding customers through a showroom of windows, mirrors large enough to fill an entire wall and shower displays — some of the popular sellers.
“We make a great team,” Ron DeWolf said. “Denise really maintains our local presence and remembers our customers. When our regulars pull up their car here, we see them and have already asked someone to have the material ready to take to their car.”
They said they have a unique, small town-style relationship on the retail side of things with their Long Beach customers that has kept them competitive even though big box stores sometimes offer similar services. And, their growth into the commercial side of the business is something Ron DeWolf has focused on, with hopes to grow that side even more.
Ron DeWolf noted that there were once about 58 different glass shops in Long Beach, but there aren’t half that many now. He said just a handful have survived as long as Broadway Glass & Mirror.
The brother and sister team said they know their grandparents are smiling down on them as they work together each day. They both said they love their jobs.
“Seeing us here together, I know it would have done their hearts good,” Denise DeWolf said about their grandparents.
Broadway Glass & Mirror Inc. is located at 2523 E. Broadway. For details about the business, visit www.broadwayglass.com or call (562) 434 8405.