Father’s Day Tribute: The Legacy of John McGrory Continues to Inspire
If you ask anyone who worked alongside McGrory Glass Co-founder John McGrory for one of the wise, yet still humorous, phrases he’d say on repeat, one gem is, “Nothing from nothing is still nothing.” John worked hard for his family and clients—and expected the same from everyone at McGrory.
“My parents’ leadership style—and particularly my dad’s, as we reflect for Father’s Day—is a mirror image of his Catholic faith: upfront, fair and just, and certainly benevolent,” says Chuck McGrory, Vice President of Sales. “John was a father figure, to his children, his employees, and to the many people whose lives he intersected with, both personally and professionally.”
Thirty-seven years ago, John and Mary McGrory founded our company, and seven of their 10 children still work here today. “A true tenet from the very first days of McGrory Glass was to treat our coworkers as family,” Chuck says. “Though the workforce here has grown significantly, the concept is just as much baked into our DNA now, as it was then.”
This Father’s Day, we’re taking the opportunity to reflect on John’s legacy, and how his strong influence as an inspiring boss and caring father has remained a constant presence. Join us as we remember the faith, humor and hard work that built John’s very own version of the American dream for his 10 children, and hear from the next generation of “McGrory Dads.” Plus, we spotlight two pairs of “McGrory Dads” who work alongside their children, embodying the McGrorys’ often-repeated welcome, “Everyone here is family.”
“McGrory Glass is one of the most family-oriented companies I’ve ever worked for,” says Jim Gulnick, Vice President and Director of Operations. “The McGrory family shows concern for each team member, and provides time and support for employees to grow into their roles. While they encourage independence and self-management, our managers and co-workers jump in when needed to assist each other through difficult projects.”
Staying True to Our Family Roots
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.
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, while John served as the CFO.
The second generation of McGrorys built on John and Mary’s legacy, and new employees who join the growing team benefit from that strong foundation. “When I reflect on the fact that I help run a company founded by my parents, I’m humbled, honored, and blessed to have been part of it since day one,” Chuck says. “To witness their faith, vision, and dedication that gave birth to this company has always left me in awe.’
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. “John and Mary always treated me like family, and this is still evident today in the business,” says 30-year veteran Jerry Stoneberger, Director of Performance Products, Radiation Shielding.
‘I’ve Found My Home at McGrory’
Another 30-year company vet, Blake Whitcombe, Director of Performance Products + Key Accounts, frequently says this about the McGrory management team, “They’ve got your back. They’re always looking out for your best interests, like a father does for his kids.”
Blake’s son Richard, Technical Director & Senior Project Manager of Fire-Rated + Performance Products, works alongside him, and shares the same view of the McGrory family. “They have demonstrated a history of going above and beyond all reasonable expectations an employee should have of their employer,” he says. “There’s no question that I’ve found my ‘home’ here at McGrory, because the family-owned dynamic is incredibly pertinent to the driving force behind the company’s success and our quality of life.”
Newer team members also echo the same sentiments. “The leadership team at McGrory understands the value of a strong family unit, both work family and personal family,” says Chad Snyder, Senior Regional Sales Manager, who’s been with the company for two years. “As a result, they’re very supportive and understanding when life throws any of us unexpected curveballs.”
“I come from what I consider a ‘manufacturing family’,” says Director of Marketing, Helena Mutak, who has been with the company for three years. “So joining McGrory really did feel like coming home.”
Helena’s father, Dinko Mutak, is a first-generation Croatian immigrant who became the President of Contherm.
“Growing up, I spent so much time with my Dad at his industrial park-based offices that it felt like a second home,” she continues. “He prepped my brother and I for AP math classes in the conference rooms after hours, showed us around the plant, explained what the equipment did (I will never, ever, forget the phrase ‘scraped surface heat exchangers’), and even taught me how to drive in the parking lot on weekends.
While my dad’s inspiring legacy and unflagging support have always had a huge impact on my career it was only after over 16 years of working in different sectors that I found my way ‘home’. I just want to say: ‘Thank you for always setting me up for success, Dad’. The McGrorys share the values I was raised with, and the family-based, highly innovative culture is the best I have ever seen. ”
Bobby Chestnut, Senior Regional Sales Manager, who’s been with McGrory for a year-and-a-half agrees. “The family-focused atmosphere means everything,” he says. “This is truly a family, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.”
John’s Multi-Faceted Legacy Stays Strong
John’s children and coworkers remember him as a man who worked hard and expected the same from everyone around him. However, he was also caring and funny.
“His business acumen was second to none, and he shared that wisdom with everyone he worked with,” Chuck says. “Of course, inspirational and humorous moments were a staple of our father’s character. His faith and his Irish heritage led to a lifetime of memories that inspired and made us laugh daily.”
Jerry recalls that John was fair to everyone. “He expected you to get your job done, even if you were a McGrory sibling,” he says. “He had the same expectations from all employees. He’d say, ‘Just go get the job done.’”
If anyone said “I’ll do it later!”, Chuck remembers John often “motivated” his team by quipping: “It’s later now.”
As mentioned earlier, John often said, “Nothing from nothing is nothing.” “Blake and I have been here for several decades and that’s still our favorite ‘John quote,’” Jerry says. “What he really meant was that you shouldn’t waste your time or efforts on relationships where there was no reciprocity. That idea is what’s led our team to finding new client groups and developing new product lines over the years.”
Like many other McGrory team members, Jerry loves being part of John and Mary’s legacy. “We work hard to keep their dream going – to have the whole ‘family’, all staff included, be successful in this business,” he says.
Meet the New ‘McGrory Dads’
We talked to some of the men at McGrory about what it’s like to work in a family-focused company as a father. New dad Pete Scheneman, Regional Sales Manager, joined McGrory in 2014, and always felt that it was a family-first environment. “Now that I have a baby son, William, I’m grateful for a work culture that promotes growing both as a professional and as a father.”
Pete equates the word mentor with father, and in turn, John’s legacy. “There’s a real sense of mentorship here that goes beyond ‘learning product information,’” he says. “I’ve had the chance to improve my professionalism and problem solving skills, and that’s helped me in my personal life. This all starts with our leadership and is exemplified by so many people within the company.”
Chad appreciates that the family-focused culture at McGrory allows for a great work/life balance. “We’re expected to work hard for the company and our clients, but we’re also encouraged to not lose sight of what’s really important at home,” he says. “The McGrory family was very supportive and understanding when my daughter had ACL surgery earlier this year.”
And Fabrication Engineer Wei Li, who’s been with the company for six years, agrees that McGrory treats employees like family, including his direct supervisor, Jim Gulnick. “I’ve gained so much experience and confidence here,” Wei says. “Jim is very encouraging, and provides me with loads of opportunities to participate in projects, hands-on learning, and mentoring.”
After Wei became a dad to his daughter, he learned how difficult it is to care for another person. “It requires patience, attitude, and focus,” he says. “This is how I feel that McGrory Glass cares about me. We trust each other and know we can rely on each other during difficult times.”
Wei, who’s also the son of first-generation immigrants, appreciates that he has time to care for his parents. “They don’t speak English, so I have a lot of responsibilities around them,” he says. “I never have any trouble balancing my work with my family obligations.”
Father/Son Duo: Blake and Richard Whitcombe
With a lot of feeling, Blake will tell you that McGrory Glass has provided for his family for 30 years. “My son Richard’s life has benefited greatly from me working here,” he says. That’s why Blake advised him to interview for a position at the company. After acing the interview, Richard joined the McGrory team six years ago.
Growing up though, Richard never thought there would be a day when he’d work alongside his father. Of course, he saw that Blake had a great job working with good people. “Dad was ‘the glass guy,’” he laughs. “Now, I’m the one scrutinizing a piece of glass.”
Richard knew that when Blake recommended he interview at McGrory, it was because the McGrory family recognizes and reciprocates commitment. “It’s abundantly clear why my Dad has chosen to work with McGrory for 30 years, and I see myself following in his footsteps,” he says. “I’m so blessed to be professionally mentored by my father here, and the different perspective has given me a deeper appreciation and newfound respect for the work he has done, and continues to do.”
Richard describes his father as a tenacious, intelligent man who truly wants what’s best for others. “You always want your kids to do better than you have,” Blake says. “As a father being proud of a son exceeding his expectations, I’m all there with Richard. I view him as a coworker who I often go to for advice. I put 30 years into my life into McGrory and now Richard can put in the next 30 years.”
Father/Daughter Duo: Jim and Jessica Gulnick
Jim Gulnick also works alongside his daughter, Jessica Gulnick, Senior Multimedia Content Intern. For Jim, the most amazing aspect of it is hearing such positive feedback from McGrory team members and clients about his daughter.
“Seeing Jessica interact with her coworkers, handle tasks, and help get our interns up to speed allows me to witness her evolution in skill development, interpersonal communication, and professionalism,” Jim says. “I wouldn’t have this view of her if we worked in different companies. Having her at McGrory has been a blessing in both of us recognizing her strengths. I’m proud to see her taking on new responsibilities and rising to everyday challenges.”
After Jessica joined McGrory, the meaning of “family-owned” has changed and evolved for her. “At first, I thought I had an ‘in’ because my dad worked here,” she says. “Then I saw that each person’s individual contributions come first, no matter who they are or are related to. I truly recognize the benefits and beauty of working for a family-owned company: the compassion, understanding and kindness we receive.”
Before Jessica joined McGrory Glass, she knew it was a company that cared for its employees, from Jim’s experiences—and she plans to stay for the long term. “I work in an environment that feels safe, collaborative, and efficient,” she says. “Working with my dad has always been something I’ve enjoyed, as our brains work in very similar ways, making it easy and intuitive to work together. Being in a corporate environment adds an interesting twist, but one that’s allowed us to see each other in a new light. I’m grateful every day for the opportunity to work with my dad and for the experiences that have, and will continue, to come from it.”
‘Definitely Your Father’s Company’
John McGrory left a lasting legacy for his children and all McGrory Glass employees, even those who never met him. “John and Mary instilled into their children that this is truly a family-owned business,” Blake says. “John and Mary lived by the Golden Rule, and so do their children. The McGrorys have our back, and we know their doors are always open.” Chuck and his siblings extend John’s legacy by treating their coworkers with the same respect and concern for their well-being that John and Mary did throughout their lives. “Like our father before us, it’s not only that we invest in our coworkers, but they also invest in us,” he says. “That’s our responsibility and honor, and we’re blessed and humbled to be in such a position.”
If you look around the McGrory offices, you’ll see the same optimism and energy that John and Mary showed up with everyday. “These are very exciting times for us as a company—and as a family—to grow,” Bobby says.“
The McGrory family respects their employees, and that’s why we respect them,” adds Wei. “We will always be stronger together.”
Happy Father’s Day, from all of us here at McGrory Glass!
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