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Photo by Deborah Bethel
A Wood River Glass Co. sign adorns the building at 243 S. Sixth St. in Wood River. This year, the company is celebrating its 60th anniversary.
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Photo by Deborah Bethel
Employee Billy Parker sits in the warehouse.
Occupying the same building for the last 59 years, Wood River Glass Co. is celebrating its 60th anniversary.
Owner Verl Traub and his partner at the time, Gene Piggot, opened their business’ doors June 6, 1956, and never looked back.
Before the business occupied its current building at 243 S. Sixth St. in Wood River, it was down the same street during its first year. Although the type of business and location have stayed the same, the ways the team works have changed over time.
Traub and his son Melvin reminisced about driving to St. Louis to buy 2,000 pounds of putty for jobs.
“We used to putty everything, and you had to fasten every piece of glass because putty didn’t have any adherence value,” Traub said. “And today, we use silicon to caulk everything, and it’s a great adhesive. I can remember going to St. Louis to buy 2,000 pounds of putty, and now we go to Lowe’s and get a small container of putty.”
An interesting job that required a ton of putty was setting the windows of Roxana School District buildings years ago.
Another big difference is how they handle materials.
“We used to get truckloads of window glass and the boxes would be full of different-sized glass that we would use,” Traub said. “And now they send big sheets and we cut it ourselves.”
As a full-service operation, Wood River Glass Co. does storm windows, storm doors, residential and automotive work, and big trucks. Throughout the years, Traub has been assisted by his three sons, Melvin, Larry and Randy, and workers Billy Parker and Rhonda Mott. While the team might be small, the company does work 250 miles in any direction from Wood River. They even have landed jobs farther away — in Las Vegas and Seattle; Albany and Buffalo in New York; the Florida cities of Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa; and Las Cruces, N.M.
With such a small staff, some of these distant locations seem almost impossible to do, but as Melvin explained, “We’re a part of the Glazing Union of St. Louis, which helps around the area. When we go out of state and do jobs that require six to seven workers, one of us will go to the job and hire the local workers from the union.”
“Sometimes we bring our own materials, and sometimes we buy the glass from the local supplier, whichever is more convenient for the job,” Traub said.
Along with their mobility and ability to work with other unions, Traub gives most of the credit for their success to his sons and the staff that have worked with the company for almost as long as it’s been running.
“The absolute quality of the employees has helped the business so much,” he said. “Rhonda’s mom was secretary for 50 years, and Rhonda took over and has been doing that for the past 15 years. Billy has been working here 57 years, and past employees had worked here for 40, 25 and 20 years. The great employees are what really makes this company; there’s more than that to probably anything — people we can rely on.
“Along with that, I have really good boys. They’ve all been part of the business,” he said.
The anniversary celebration was Sunday, June 5, at Jack’s Pawn & Jewelry in Wood River. Festivities included a flea market, yard sale and music by Shattered Weekend.
Traub said he continues to be proud of the company he and Gene made, continuing to keep the business prospering with hopes of a stable future.
For information, call (618) 254-1438.