Charles Talks Retirement with USGNN
Jim Charles, the former director of sales and marketing for Vitro
America in Memphis, Tenn., was eager to share his plans to buy a
small boat when he spoke with USGNN.com today about his recent
to his retirement, Charles was responsible for sales and marketing
for Vitro America's subsidiaries. An active member of the National
Association of Mirror Manufacturers (NAMM) and the Glass Association
of North America (GANA), Charles is now staying active with fishing
and golf. With a view of a nearby golf course, Charles answered
questions from USGNN.com about some of the changes he has seen over
nearly 40 years in the glass industry.
USGNN: How'd you get started in the industry?
JC: My brother-in-law was in the glass business--he worked
for Ford--and he introduced me to Carolina Mirror, the president
of Carolina Mirror, in North Wilkesboro, N.C.
USGNN: What would you say has been the most significant
change to the industry during your career?
JC: There are a lot of changes. I think probably one big
change is the greater influence [of] imports in the United States
in the glass business. They've always had a presence here, but I
think especially over the last four or five years with China it's
been rather severe. I don't know what the outcome is going to be
Another thing I think that has changed over the last five or ten
years, probably maybe even ten years more than anything, is ownership
of your bigger distribution [companies]. There are not that many
privately-held companies that have big influences
got ACI, you know, that's got foreign ownership and is outside the
country, and a big outfit. AFG's the same way. And there's fewer
of the family-owned [companies] that are still a significant factor--you
can just about name them over one hand or two hands, really.
And, overall in all of the glass industry, I think there's a lack
of relationships. Prices become too big a factor
to have a world of people you could call. There [was] always someone
at PPG that you could call and get a lot of good information, and
factual information. They went out and did a lot of market surveys.
They used to come through to all the mirror people and talk to everybody
every year looking for: "What's the potential for next year?
What do you see in the warranty? What are things that important
to you?" They'd interview every customer. LOF used to spend
a lot of time with their customer base. Take customers on trips
to sit and have conferences with and promote their business.
You just don't see a lot of that anymore.
USGNN: What will you miss the most about the industry, after
JC: The relationships that I've developed over the years.
There's a lot of friends that I've got out there. I miss seeing
those people-people I worked with and the people that I called on
for years. To me that's the business, that's where you get business,
by having good relationships with people. You don't have to fall
in love with everybody. You've got to respect people, and you've
got to see people and be seen. And that's the thing I think is lacking
a lot of times, by [corporations]: a lack of involvement.
USGNN: What's next?
JC: Golf, fishing, and just enjoying the things I haven't
had time to do over the last few years.
HERE to read the announcement of Charles' retirement.