When Wooster Glass Co. had been awarded the Board of Directors Award by the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce, Vice President Pat Neyhart was interviewed by reporter Dan Starcher about the achievement. And, Neyhart later gave Starcher a tour of the store, shop and warehouse area at the 419 South Market Street location. During the interview, Neyhart talked about some of the reasons that were likely a factor in receiving the award, but he also touched on many other topics, including the company’s history and its commitment to its customers and its neighborhood.
Wooster Glass and its community
“Ralph taught us that it’s more than just working for the company, it’s being part of community,” Neyhart said of the late Ralph Jones, who founded the company in 1947. For Jones, there was an expectation that not only would the employee be a good Wooster Glass worker, but also someone who gave back to the community.
That tradition continues to this day. Jones’ daughter, Kathy Long, serves as Wooster Glass Company’s president, and she is also sits on the boards of Main Street Wooster and the Wayne County Humane Society. Neyhart serves on the boards of the Wayne County Public Library, Habitat for Humanity and Main Street Wooster. He, too, has served on the Chamber board and the Humane Society board. Wooster Glass sponsors youth athletic teams, along with other community events.
“Helping the community grow is a key thing to do,” Neyhart said.
Wooster Glass has been very involved in youth baseball and fastpitch softball. Wooster Glass workers have participated, too, with their children. Neyhart and his wife, Patty, have seen firsthand how those connections made at sporting events can build into lasting friendships and business relationships.
Ralph and his wife, Grace, had established a foundation and one of its priorities has been to help the south end of town, the area Wooster Glass calls home. “We hope to rebuild this end of town. Wooster Glass is going to stay here. We feel this is our community on the south end, and we’re going to help keep improving it.”
Long and Neyhart believe Wooster is a great community with a great downtown, which is why they are involved in helping to revitalize the area, whether it is through the foundation or organizations like Main Street Wooster and the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce.
Wooster Glass and its crew
Long and Neyhart want workers who will be around for a while. They strive to take good care of them. The goal is not to hire someone when it is busy then lay them off when it is slow. During the slow times, glass workers might be in the shop painting walls, but they are still getting their hours in.
“We believe in the people who work for us,” Neyhart said.
Wooster Glass and its customers
Jones founded Wooster Glass in 1947, and so much has changed since that time. “We used to go out to job and cut metal and glass at the site,” Neyhart said. Now, architects are calling for high-end aluminums and glass specs. Wooster Glass is a much more complex company than it used to be. We have to stay up on top of it. We have good people working here.”
One of the projects in 2018 was installing a secure entrance at Wooster High School. The high school is a hub of community activity with the Ellen Shapiro Natatorium, the Gault Recreation Center, the Performing Arts Center and the Commons area. However, it became necessary to find an appropriate way to limit access to the educational wings of Wooster High School while still granting the public access to the community areas.
Wooster Glass has been a part of many College of Wooster projects over the years, and in 2018 a couple of the projects included the new Ruth W. Williams Hall of Life Science and the lower section of the Lowry Center. Neyhart said there was more glass on the inside of the Hall of Life Science than on the outside.
The company has also worked on several projects at Wooster Community Hospital. One of the 2018 projects was the hospital’s Comprehensive Cancer Care Center, which is part of the The James Cancer Network at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Wooster Glass also did the glasswork for the new Commercial & Savings Bank banking center in downtown Wooster, which is on the south end of town.
While Wooster Glass has been part of some pretty big projects, not just in 2018, but over the years, it is committed to being a well-rounded company that can take care of nearly all of a person’s (or company’s) glass needs. For example, one customer came in with a busted picture frame. One of the glass workers was able to cut a piece of glass to perfectly fit the frame. The cost to the customer? It was 89 cents. The customer couldn’t believe he got the picture frame fixed for less than a bottle of water at a convenience store.
“We cover the gamut,” Neyhart said. “We do most everything, but we don’t do stained glass work. We also don’t do residential windows. We can repair or replace the broken glass in them, but we don’t install them. There are a lot of companies that do that already.”
But, the work Wooster Glass does, it wants to do well.
When a customer comes in, we want them to feel they got value for the product they received,” Neyhart said. “Ralph taught us: Do it once and do it right. Every pencil made has an eraser on it because we make mistakes. If you make a mistake, go and fix it. You can’t do a lousy job and continue to do work.
“We try to be good to the community.”