Saturday, January 23, 2010

11. and boom again

Sunbank, Orlando FL

I guess the picture from my last chapter really belongs with this installment.  Of all that work we did out of town and out of state (of which you will read about below), this is the only one of those jobs that we have pictures of and only because we drove to Orlando to see it and then we took our kids to Disneyworld.

re the glass wallpaper...Nice to look at, but oh, such drudgery.  Not to mention having to deal with contractors who didn't know and didn't care that it was a handmade product, not something stored in a warehouse somewhere.  They had their schedules!  Not that we were late but that didn't stop them from calling nearly every damn day and being assholes.

Remember, if you haven’t read the story from the beginning, go here and as usual read from the bottom up for chronological order.


After the bottom fell out of Houston in the mid-80s, my nurtured relationships with the design staffs at the big architectural firms started to pay off.  As mentioned before, these contacts moved to the east and west coasts in the latter half of the 80s when their regional offices closed.  We started getting detailed in the plans and I had to learn how to read blueprints.  Once we were specified in the plans, contractors remembered us when other jobs that specified etched glass came in.  We did over 1,000 identical 3’ x 3’ panels that made up an interior wall system for Sunbank in Florida, we did conference room walls on seven floors of a building in Atlanta (another bank I think), we did law offices on the east coast, medical facilities in Houston, an office building and a college in NY, retail work on the west coast and Las Vegas.  We were so busy, we couldn’t get it all done.  We were getting $50,000  to $100,000 jobs and the big money got our attention.  We pissed off more than one local designer by being late with their one or two panels.  

What we needed to do was to get a small business loan, get a bigger place and hire more people.  We were poised to be able to become a big business.  We had the know how and the contacts.  Except that we didn’t really want to be a big business.  We had already put on two more employees so now we had three.  It was becoming less about the work and more about keeping them busy.  Plus the money.  The art had been lost long ago, I wasn’t doing any of the designing and we had become a fabrication shop.  We made a pretty good living during those years.  We paid off both mortgages, bought a new car and a new truck, put some money away in investments (which we eventually lost in the various stock market crashes), took actual real vacations but we worked hard.  After the day shift went home and we got the kids homeworked, fed and in bed, Marc and I would put in another 3 or 4 hours.


  1. Wow! I am tired out just reading about it. Amazing isn't it? When you look back and the hell? Beautiful wall

  2. ellen - the "wallpaper" is very beautiful to look at. i wish i could see one panel face on . . . . my family had a business and we stood on the edge of massive growth at one point. literally hours from a signed contract that would have changed all of our lives in every way good and bad. we anodized aluminum. almost all custom work for r and d people at xerox, ibm, nasa, various fibre-optic companies and a few artists. the change - we would have become a production facility for a major auto-maker who has managed to mess up fairly big time recently!! the three of us agreed that we preferred the alchemy of our procedures, the craft of our craft, and the hard-earned paycheque over the bazillions that would have rolled in. some might think it's a crazy decision. i think you know better!!! steven

  3. You captured a life of work, and raising kids, surviving boons and busts, and keeping hope alive.

  4. I still love that wall, and even though there might have been drudgery on your part, the results are beautiful. It's amazing too how your business really seemed to grow at that time through your nurtured contacts. I guess that's what they mean by "networking!"

  5. Sorry it was a drudge, because that "wallpaper" is exquisite.

    Love this installment! What a life!

  6. I'm with slommer - it's exhausting just to read about it. I'm enjoying the story though - I'll just have to take it easy after each installment LOL.

  7. phew, I need a lie-down!!

  8. My "elders"used to be fond of saying that hard work "never killed nobody". This always confused the hell out of me..... For sure hard work that reaps a benefit is satisfying...
    Your work, by the way, is exquisite.


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