A new oven is already reaping big business for Niskayuna Glass, a glass-fabrication company on Schenectady’s north side that just completed a nearly $1 million expansion.
The company’s primary work has been in commercial glazing. Its facility on Maxon Road Extension had some glass-processing equipment and a showroom. But over the past decade, the rising demand for tempered glass — a much stronger and safer glass that crumbles into small chunks instead of jagged shards when broken — made the prospect of owning glass-tempering equipment a goal worth pursuing. In fact, half of Niskayuna Glass sales last year were for tempered glass or insulating glass.
“When we get those orders, we have to buy from suppliers in Connecticut,” said company CEO Mark Maslanka. “The glass has to go into an oven, a big heating chamber that brings the temperature up to 1,300 degrees. It comes out of the oven on rollers and very, very quickly a blast of cold air goes over the glass, and then it cools. From here, the closest oven was Syracuse. Then to the south in the Bronx, to the east in Boston and down to Connecticut.”
So Niskayuna Glass embarked on a seven-month, $900,000 expansion project that added 3,000 square feet — room enough for its own glass-tempering oven. The project is nearly complete and the oven has been running for two weeks.
“Our orders have already doubled,” said Maslanka.
Uses for tempered glass are growing by the day. It’s used in car windshields, shower doors, outdoor tables and many public places such as malls, where shattered glass could quickly become a safety hazard.
Now that it has the oven, Niskayuna Glass has cut its lead time on orders from seven to 10 business days to just one to three days.
To combat a much higher electricity bill, Niskayuna Glass has partnered with Monolith Solar Associates of Rensselaer to install solar panels on the roof of its facility at 2166 Maxon Road Ext.
To help increase the facility’s electricity capacity, National Grid is providing $50,000 and the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority is providing $25,000 to the company.
“Our Capital Investment Incentive Program is designed to help growing companies like Niskayuna Glass to manage the capital cost of infrastructure when seeking to increase production,” said Art Hamlin, director of economic development and corporate citizenship at National Grid.
Niskayuna Glass opened in 1998 on the site it’s at now, but its facility burned down in 2002. Business suffered when the company had to temporarily relocate to a less-visible garage on nearby Hudson Street. Still, then-owner Corey Gold vowed to rebuild at his old spot and he did. The new facility went up in 2005.
“When we had the downturn in the economy, I wanted to get out of the commercial glazing work because it just wasn’t profitable anymore,” Maslanka said. “I would rather make my margins, make my profit by supplying to other glass shops. I didn’t want to keep fighting against other glass installers for jobs that you could barely make a profit on.”
Now that he’s in the glass-tempering business, that shouldn’t be a problem. The expected increase in business has the company planning to hire at least five more people by the end of 2015 and another 10 to 15 over the next three years. It currently has 16 full-time employees.