Special Memorial Day Feature: Veterans in the Glass Industry
May 25, 2012

by Erica Terrini, eterrini@glass.com

In anticipation of Memorial Day weekend, USGlass magazine would like to take this opportunity to showcase some veterans currently working in the glass industry.

Alan Freeman is an independent sales representative for several companies including General Glass International (GGI) and Solar Seal. He says he has been in the glass industry for an amazing 68 years and currently resides in Stanford, Conn. He served in the United States Army from 1951 to 1956.

"I've been in the business since I was 10 years old and the only time out was during my active army time," Freeman says. "I have worked in a retail shop, warehouse, a millwork and glass distribution business. I managed warehouses, was a general manager, a vice president - I have had the chance to do lots of things in the glass industry and did just about everything."

Freeman says he appreciates his time spent working in the glass industry.

"The truth is, I'm still learning, and I love that the industry keeps moving and I'm fortunate to keep moving with it," he says. "I'm lucky enough to have a memory and history with people who continue to ask me questions about the business and often ask me for advice. There were only three different kinds of glass when I started and that was it - so for me the changes and the progress in the types of products we sell is amazing and keep me going."

Charlie Bosworth, account manager for Guardian Industries, served in the United States Army from 1974 to 1977 and was in active reserves until 1980.

"I think the single biggest thing I learned was the ability to adapt," Bosworth says. "Back then when you went to NCO school they taught you it was my mission, my men and then myself. You have to learn to adapt to meet those goals. I think it translates very well into civilian life."

Bosworth adds, "I spent over two years in Japan and my perspective was that the world is a very big place, but fundamentally at our core we are human beings with basic needs and desires. It made me look at people in a different way. We have so much more in common than we do different. I think it's important to reflect on those that served before and sacrificed."

He says his father was heavily decorated in the Korean War and that "reflecting is the single biggest thing."

Of the glass industry, Bosworth says, "I have been here for 22 years and it has been a great ride. It has always been more good than bad. There are a lot of opportunities in our business-I felt that way 22 years ago and I still feel that way."

Mike Hayward is a manager for Enterprise Systems. He served with the United States Navy from 1969 to 1973. Currently he resides in Woodstock, Ga., with his wife of 36 years and has three sons. As an information technology professional, he says his career focus has been in manufacturing and distributing companies.

Hayward says he began employment with AGC Glass Company in 1997, originally with the Fabrication subsidiary AFGD, Inc. as the information technology director. He says he now works in AGC North America Information Technology group as the project manager for Enterprise Systems initiatives for the building products - fabrication division.

"I derive significant professional satisfaction from the never-ending challenges the glass industry and AGC faces on a daily basis," he says. "The opportunities for improving the business and the systems supporting it are on-going. The commitment to continuous improvement is highly satisfying."

Duf Hudson, U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1968

Duf Hudson is the executive vice president for Accura Systems Inc. He served with the United States Marine Corps from 1966 to 1968 and is a proud member of the "Ripley's Raiders," Lima 3/3. He says he currently resides in Talty, Texas, has been married 42 years and has two grown children, and three grandsons.

Hudson says he has worked for 35 years in the glass industry. He adds that he started with a small Midwestern glass shop, which then evolved into unitized curtainwall and blast systems.

"We have a couple of vets in our project management area, one marine and one army. We got an engineering guy or two that were in the gulf war," he says. "We believe in our Veterans. They are generally well trained, disciplined and know how to follow orders. Most also have a great sense of humor it takes it to survive in the military and in the glass industry."

Paul Sanza is the owner of Glass Doctor of Naperville, Ill., where he currently resides with his wife and daughter. He served in the United States Army from January of 1971 to 1973.

Paul Sanza, U.S. Army, 1971-1973

"In my time in army, I was a field radio repairman," Sanza says. "I have an engineering degree from [the University of Virginia], then did work as antenna design engineer on government and military projects and had secret clearance. I then moved into technical sales and then sales management and then to global sales management."

Sanza says he enjoys outdoor activities including: biking, camping, hiking, backpacking, sailing, scuba diving and golfing. He says he also enjoys home improvement and does his own house renovations.

"This is my first introduction to the glass industry but I come from the service industry from a manufacturing industry perspective," he says. "I was in technical sales, I was selling products - microwave-related products. I wanted to be in the service industry, based on my knowledge of housing and home improvement."

Christopher Robert Schmoe, U.S. Navy, 1983-2003

Christopher Robert Schmoe is the maintenance, purchasing, accounts payable for Guardian Industries, located in Dewitt, Iowa. He served in the United States Navy from 1983 to 2003. Currently he resides in Donahue, Iowa, where he enjoys online gaming, gardening and playing with his dogs.

"I served on three different submarines as a 'Navy Nuke,' " Schmoe says. "I was an electronics technician and my department was responsible for the safe operation of the reactor. I enjoy challenges and being able to perform analysis and make decisions on those analyses."

Schmoe says he was living in Idaho when a Guardian Industries recruiter saw his resume online and after a couple interviews, he began working for the company as a maintenance supervisor in February 2004.

He says he then spent several years working shiftwork on one of four crews until his current position became available. He now manages the parts crib, conducts suppliers sourcing and contracts, pays invoices, and creates preventative maintenance procedures.

Kevin Tennant, U.S. Air Force, 1984-2004

Kevin C. Tennant is the president of Glass Doctor of the Interior. He served with the United States Air Force and Alaska Air National Guard from 1984 to 2004. He says he joined the Alaska Air National Guard in 1989 so he could remain in Alaska and still finish his military career.

"I knew the day I landed here in 1986 that I was staying," Tennant says. "I love the outdoors and this place has a lot of that."

Larry E. Vonada, who says he currently serves as regional sales representative for Vitro Western, served with the United States Air Force from July 1969 to February 1973. He currently lives in Portland, Ore., with his wife Kathy, son Greg, daughter Kristy, and granddaughters, Gabriella and Petra. He says he and his wife most enjoy spending his time with family as well as drinking coffee on the porch, walking, hiking, scuba diving and running.

Vonada says he started working when he was 11 years old at a small glass distribution company that his father managed. He says he then held a series of part-time jobs throughout high school and college and was then drafted immediately upon graduation. After his years of service he returned to receive his master's of science and considered a different career, but says the "glass industry is difficult to leave."

He says he has worked at "ACI/Vitro America/Vitro" since 1987 and his job entails branch management, sales, and tech services on glass products. He adds he enjoys "the progress made in the variety of products; [and the] challenges producing, fabricating, selling, servicing those products; solving problems regarding the products means no two days are alike and each very unique."

"Being a very blessed old guy I feel a responsibility (and it's enjoyable to do so) to encourage the younger following my generation in any way I can - personally, professionally, or in family dynamics - that living a meaningful life is a marathon and not a sprint and contrary to popular belief "the one with the most toys wins" may not be true after all," he says

Special thanks to all of our contributors and on behalf of USGlass magazine, have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.

This story is an original story by USGlass magazine/USGNN™. Subscribe to USGlass magazine.
Subscribe to receive the free e-newsletter.