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Thankful for 35 Years of Memories at McGrory Glass & Looking to the Future

As 2019 comes to a close at McGrory Glass, we’re celebrating 35 years of being a family owned and operated company. There’s no better time to express our heartfelt gratitude to our clients, partners, and vendors for three-and-a-half decades of growth.

We’re also thankful to our founders, John and Mary McGrory, and to our staff, many of whom have grown up with the company. In fact, seven of John and Mary’s children work at McGrory Glass today. We love to say, “Everyone here is family!”

Back in 2001, John told USGlass magazine that McGrory Glass owed its success to “an extremely loyal customer base.” He also said that our biggest achievement was “offering services that result in the success of our customers.” When asked what McGrory’s next milestone would be, John replied: “Keep doing the little things right; the milestones will take care of themselves.”

Today, our 150+ employees in three facilities are still focused on “doing the little things right.” The spirit of customer service and innovation introduced by John and Mary remains strong.

Join us for a short retrospective on where it all started, and where we see ourselves journeying — together with you.

A Love Story

John McGrory and Mary Rita Harley grew up in Philadelphia. They met as teenagers while he attended West Catholic High School for Boys and she attended West Catholic High School for Girls. What became McGrory Glass really began with their marriage in 1956. John and Mary went on to share 10 children and 25 grandchildren.

1 Our Story Founders Mary and John McGrory
McGrory Glass founders John and Mary McGrory.

In the early 1980s, Mary worked as an executive assistant for General Electric, while John was general manager at a glass company. But in 1984, it was time for a change: the couple established McGrory Glass in Chester, PA, with fewer than 10 employees (many of them direct family members).

The McGrorys, who still had children living at home, took a risk in starting a business from scratch — but believed strongly in the company and each other. Mary ran office operations as President of McGrory Glass, while John served as the CFO.

The warehouse facility began with friends who brought family of their own.

“My father, Joe Senior, worked with John McGrory at their previous company,” recalls Joe Yeager, Vice President & Director of Fabrication. “When it closed, he and three colleagues joined John to run warehouse operations for the new business.” Joe would later join his father’s team. “It was perfect timing for me,” he says. “Everything he ever told me about working there was good.”

Two of the original crew were another father-son team: Al Lee and his dad, Al Lee Senior. 35 years later, Joe and Al are still working side by side, with a production team that has grown to almost 90 strong.

Back in the office, the staff was also increasing.

“In 1989, I was technically the first office employee John and Mary hired, outside of family members,” says Jerry Stoneberger, Director of Radiation Shielding. “They had faith that I could bring new ideas into the fold.”

Blake Whitcombe, Director of Performance Products and Key Accounts, joined McGrory Glass in February 1990. He recalls that the first facility left a lot to be desired – like heating in the warehouse—but the warmth of spirit made up for it.

“We were in cramped working quarters, almost on top of each other, but we were also a close family,” Blake reminisces.

John and Mary were invested in the lives of their employees both in and outside work, recalls Jerry. “Mary shared a birthday with my daughter, and would always ask about her and my family,” he says. “They were just wonderful people who cared about everybody.”

A Growing Family

In 1996, the expanding company needed more space and made the move to a new location in Pennsylvania.

“Our office in Aston was still really small,” says Mike Hunkin, Regional Sales Manager at McGrory Glass, who’s been with the company for 13 years. “You could basically yell across it to talk to anyone on the team. Everybody on the admin side and the sales side was very supportive right from the word ‘go,’ and still continue to be, though the company’s size has increased exponentially.”

Blake joined the McGrory Glass team because he had worked for John directly in the past.

“John was a man of integrity who took care of his people,” he says. “I knew it was a no-brainer for me to make the switch.”

Blake Whitcombe and Children at McGrory Glass Aston PA Location
Blake Whitcombe with his three sons at the McGrory Glass Aston, PA location in the late ’90s. Richard Whitcombe, bottom right, now works alongside his dad as McGrory’s Senior Project Manager, Performance Product Sales.

In the early ’90s, Blake and Jerry were among the small McGrory Glass team making inroads to show what the company could offer. “At a tradeshow at the Javits Center in New York City, someone told us they had never heard of us! ‘Why should we call you instead of one of your huge competitors?’” Blake remembers. “I looked him straight in the eye and answered, ‘We’ll return your call.’” From there, Blake says, doors started opening in major cities along the East Coast—because the staff knew what they were talking about and responded quickly.

Less than a decade later, in 2008, with more than 50 employees and new in-house production capabilities, McGrory Glass brought its headquarters to a combination warehouse and office facility in Paulsboro, NJ.

“Our facility today is four times the size of the early days in Chester and Aston,” Jerry says. “It’s mind-boggling.”

Then, in 2012, the company installed 2,782 American-made solar panels on the roof of its 108,000-square-foot plant, hitting net-zero energy-consumption. Innovation has always been one of the strongest McGrory traditions.

Emily on the McGrory Glass Solar Panel Roof
Emily, a McGrory grandchild, stands in the midst of the newly installed solar panel roof at McGrory’s Paulsboro facility.

The new headquarters gave Joe a chance to improve working conditions for his team. “McGrory has always given us freedom to work and make changes,” Joe says. The warehouse space was filling up rapidly with the additional equipment needed to keep pace with demand, and things were heating up – in more ways then one.

“The environment was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, so we installed central air,” Joe says. “The safety of the staff has always been our number one concern.”

The new heating and cooling system also had an immediate impact on other aspects of operation, like equipment and materials.

“It’s still uncommon for warehouse facilities to install climate control. It’s seen as optional, when it shouldn’t be,” Joe continues. “McGrory is in a great place to do more, and do it better, because we keep our priorities straight. We invest in our people.”

While remaining true to its roots culturally, McGrory has continued to evolve and meet the changing needs of clients.

“Our leadership isn’t afraid to branch into products and markets that are cutting edge and relevant to our customers,” Blake says. “Anyone can sell or resell glass. Our team invests in research and development so we can provide new solutions.”

In just the last two years, McGrory acquired a global leader in graphic and decorative film production, located in Willoughby, Ohio. In 2018, its patented wall mounting system, CaptiveHook®, was rated AAMA 501.6 compliant in seismic testing—an industry first.

A About McGrory Glass Solar Powered
An aerial view of McGrory’s Paulsboro headquarters shows the 2,782 American-made solar panels installed in 2012.

The McGrory Legacy

When Mike’s previous company restructured, he called Chris McGrory (now company CEO and President), whom he’d known for close to 20 years from the glass industry. “Chris phoned me back and said, ‘Would you fancy changing sides from purchasing and going into sales?’” Mike recalls. “I replied with a resounding ‘yes.’”

Originally from London, England, Mike says that when he’s had to fly back to Europe for a family emergency, he’s always felt supported.

“They expect us to give it our all when we’re working, but they also understand that family is just as important,” he says. “That philosophy is one of the many reasons I’ve stayed for over a decade.”

The company’s core values, from John and Mary to their children, have remained consistent, say Mike and other long-time team members. Jerry recalls that John and Mary’s values were simple and straightforward.

“Work hard,” Jerry says. “Just come in every day and do your job. They were like clockwork. We’re all working toward the same thing. I consider John and Mary’s dream for the company my dream.”

The McGrorys are all about building relationships, Mike notes.

“From John and Mary to the McGrory leadership today, the culture has always been one of cooperation,” he says. “Our workplace environment has always been supportive and very friendly. They’re also about continual improvement and innovation. They invest in people, processes, and equipment. We don’t sit back and rest on our laurels.”

The way the McGrory team works is people first. Customer service is foremost.

“I’ve been part of this family for 30 years, and we have a lot of repeat and loyal clients,” Jerry says. “That speaks volumes for what this company represents.”

In 2011, when John McGrory was battling cancer, Blake and Jerry visited him in the hospital and asked a question: “John, did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine that McGrory Glass would transform into the company that it has become?”

They have never forgotten the answer.

“John said, ‘I just wanted to build something that would provide for my family.’ And he did,” Blake continues. “McGrory Glass has provided for John and Mary’s family, my family, and lots of other families, for over 30 years now.”

The Next Generation

The second generation of McGrorys have built on John and Mary’s legacy, and new employees who join the growing team benefit from that strong foundation.

Dan Laporte, Director of Laminating Services, who joined McGrory in January 2017, compares McGrory’s culture to playing on sports teams growing up.

“I could feel the family vibe from the first day I walked into the plant,” he says. “I thought, ‘This is where I want to be.’ Everybody just goes out every day and does their absolute most to make the company better.”

Bridget Lira, Regional Sales Manager, who came on board in May 2016, believes that the management team makes everyone feel like they’re an integral part of the company.

“Here at McGrory, you know that your work and effort is valued and appreciated,” she says. “This makes traveling easier since you know that you have a great team supporting you every step of the way. They appreciate every bit of effort, so what we do never goes unnoticed. No matter what’s happening in your life, whether it’s personal or not, you know your team’s behind you.”

“McGrory truly treats their employees like family,” Dan says. “I admire that seven siblings can work together so well to keep their parents’ legacy alive and growing.”

Bridget strongly echoes this sentiment. “I love working for McGrory Glass because they have an incredible way of making you feel at home,” she says. “The management genuinely cares about us, and the level of mentorship we each receive individually is exceptional.”

Looking to the Future

The McGrory Glass team experiences gratitude every day, recalling John and Mary’s inspiring legacy of hard work, family, and the opportunity to build their very own version of the American dream.

Without our clients, partners, and vendors, none of this would be possible. We look forward to many more decades of growing together. Thank you.

From our family to yours, we wish you a healthy, safe and very Happy Thanksgiving!

Written By  Helena Mutak

Innovation. Experience. Grit.

Family-owned for over 35 years, McGrory Glass is a national fabricator and distributor of security, fire-rated, and architectural, glass products. We offer comprehensive solutions across sectors.

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