One of the key reasons for its success, its current managers say, is an emphasis on customer service. They have maintained the New Bedford business through strong relationships and referrals from happy customers.
"We have lasted so long because we realized the importance of a customer and how hard it is to gain a customer and how hard it is to keep a customer," said Jeff Glaser, the grandson of the founder and an assistant manager.
The business, which started in 1921 and is currently located at 1265 Purchase St., repairs and replaces automobile, residential and marine glass. It also does custom stained glass work.
The family business tries to meet all types of needs. For example, it keeps a large inventory of windshields, for both domestic and foreign cars, and they receive regular deliveries each week so they have what they need to do a job quickly. And they try to spend time with the customers and treat them with respect.
"Of course, we want to keep our customers, so we try to give them a good product, good service, and a quick turnaround time," Glaser said. "I think that is what has helped us to get through some of the tough economic times and also the good times."
The founder, Morris Glaser, was an Austrian immigrant who came to the United States by boat, arriving at Ellis Island. He started working with his older brother, Sigmund, at a glass company in Brockton, and, after a short while, opened his own shop there called Morris Glaser Glass Co.
He later moved the business to New Bedford, initially to 304 Acushnet Ave. He then moved to a different location on Purchase Street, near the current site, before setting up shop in mid-1950s on the present location.
Glaser's two children, Alvin and Doris, got involved in the business when they were young. Over time, Alvin Glaser took on more responsibilities until he was running the business, and he was seen as an entrepreneur who helped expand the family business. Since his death in 1996, his children, Jeff Glaser and Iris Wallace, continue the family tradition, running the business with Michael McLean, the auto glass manager, and the rest of the staff. Their mother, Rosalyn, is the owner.
Glaser has 22 employees, 19 at their New Bedford location and three more at a Fall River branch. The family doesn't place much emphasis on titles, and everyone helps out in different ways.
Wallace handles a lot of the financial and insurance work, and she oversees buying for the flat glass division, which includes table tops. She said the anniversary is exciting, and keeping her late father's business going is rewarding.
"It's nice to see that we have continued in his tradition," Wallace said.
Besides being a local business with a reputation for customer service, McLean said the business also has to keep updating machinery and training staff to remain competitive.
"You have to meet competition and always do better than the competition," he said. "You have to continually grow and stay up to date with technologies."
Auto glass has always been a major part of the business — over the years, Glaser Glass has expanded the building it occupies, and currently has seven bays to replace auto glass on the premises.
McLean noted that auto glass has changed over the years, starting as plate glass no different from table top glass. Since then, auto glass has become an integral part of a vehicle's safety features, designed to keep the occupants inside.
"Glass has changed, so we have to understand that," he said.
Difficult economic times forces businesses to be more efficient, and Glaser Glass is a lean company, McLean added.
"We are an extremely efficient company right now," he said. "We're lean but we work well."