GREENVILLE — It’s clear why Builder’s Glass has for the past 50 years remained one of the area’s most recognized businesses — clear as glass, one might say.
Established in 1963 by Bill Longest, the glass installation, repair and service business is now in its third generation. According to Guy Longest — son of Bill and current owner of the business — his own son, Matt, will likely take over the business somewhere down the road.
It is that family tradition, as well as a tradition of providing excellent service, that has resulted in the company’s continued success, even during economically trying times.
“My father was working as a glazier in Lansing back in ’63,” Longest said. “But he had a cottage on Maston Lake, and he saw an opportunity to purchase a business in Lansing with a partner and also have a location here. Long story short, the partnership fizzled and he took over the Greenville location. It was at this point that it became Builder’s Glass of Greenville.”
In the years since, Longest has built the business steadily until it has become a familiar name both to area contractors and residential customers. These days, Builder’s Glass works closely with contractors, such as Newhoff Construction Company in Caledonia. Through Newhoff, Longest tends to the new glass and repair needs of most West and Central Michigan McDonald’s restaurants.
Local contractors, such as Griffith Builders in Lakeview, Gust Construction of Cedar Springs and Tissue Construction in Greenville frequently turn to Builder’s Glass for their glazing jobs, as well.
According to Longest’s wife, Nancy, who staffs the retail shop, these relationships help keep the company’s installers and repair people busy year-around.
“They’ve all been so good to us,” Nancy said. “Wintertime is kind of slow and we only have five employees on, but we’ve had as many as eight.”
The commercial contracting jobs are just one facet of the business, however. Builder’s Glass also handles smaller jobs; everything from car windshields to picture frame glass to mirrors to bathroom and shower installations.
“We pretty much do anything that has anything to do with glass,” Nancy said.
The company works mostly within the area, though some jobs take installers as far as Coloma, Benton Harbor and locations in Grand Rapids.
Currently, Builder’s Glass glaziers have been keeping busy with automotive dealership showrooms. In Greenville, the Longests’ crews recently completed a fairly large job at Blake
Hollenbeck Auto Sales in Greenville and are working on several Chevrolet dealerships in the Grand Rapids area.
Longest is confident about the business’ continued success as it moves into the future.
“I took over the business from my dad in 1977,” Longest said. “Eventually, my son, Matt, will buy it out from us. Things were not too great four years ago with the economy like it was, but the past couple years things have been picking up. It’s good to see us moving into that third generation.”
Builder’s Glass is at 1121 W. Washington in Greenville. Hours for the retail showroom are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.