Capital Investments Are Key to One Glass Tempering Company’s Growth
November 10, 2009
The Pittsburgh Business Times recently ranked Santelli Tempered Glass in Monessen, Pa., a suburb of Pittsburgh, number one in the manufacturing/transportation category on its Pittsburgh 100 list. Joseph Santelli, the company’s chief executive officer, launched the business in late 2005 after spending 15 years selling tempering equipment for Tamglass and the 11 years prior selling glass products for Pittsburgh Corning Inc. And while the company is focused entirely on providing tempered glass to the residential market, Santelli says his business has not been hurt by the market’s downturn. In fact, the company reports 782-percent sales growth in the past three years. He says while business has certainly benefited from the 30/30-tax credit, much of the growth is attributed to a keen focus on manufacturing efficiencies.
“[Our growth] has to do with being the low-cost provider of tempered glass, which is huge when times get tough,” says Santelli, who adds he has also had a lot of support from primary glass manufacturers Guardian Industries and PPG who have worked with window companies in need of tempered glass. “Everyone is looking for great service, pricing and quality and my company can provide that because of our automation.”
He explains that one thing that is troubling to everyone right now is the cost of labor. Santelli, however, worked with Lance Porter, owner of All Weather Architectural in Vacaville, Calif., to bring a unique production process that Porter developed to his Pittsburgh operations. “Lance developed a system that totally automates the process … his idea was to be able to deliver within 24 hours [without being labor intensive].”
Through the process, sheets of glass are cut and the edges automatically seamed before they are sent into the tempering furnace; the process can do the manual work of four people and uses an Ashton seamer, Bromer loading equipment and a Tamglass furnace.
“I’ve always felt that there are companies out there that can help make a process faster or more efficient,” says Santelli. “I know if I continue to go to the trade shows [here and in Europe] I can make sure that I have the latest technology to automate my process I will be able to stay competitive with the rest of the industry.”
Santelli’s investment into automation seems to be paying off, too, as he will be opening a second plant in Ocala, Fla., in January 2010. The plant, which will also focus on tempered glass for the residential market, will be located in a 40,000-square-foot facility and will employ 31 people. Santelli expects it will be fully operational by February 1.
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