Date: 2 February 2023
“Maggie gives us outstanding flexibility to temper 3 to 19 mm glass. Louie gives us purpose – to temper the best heat-strengthened and heavy commercial insulated glass,” says Michelle Magyar, President of Mid-American Glass.
Not many tempering furnaces are fortunate to be christened with human names. But then, not many have an owner who treats them as family, just as she does her team of talented personnel. Together, they have helped Mid-American Glass (MAG) grow and expand with additional factory space and a brand new Glaston tempering furnace – the RC Series. Recently, it joined the company’s first Glaston tempering furnace, the third FC line at the time in North America.
Back in 2013, Michelle was taking the helm of her family-owned business and transitioning from a glass supplier to producing tempered glass. She had studied hard to learn all about the process and existing technologies.
When MAG finally invested in a Glaston FC tempering line, Michelle immediately named it Maggie to encompass the company’s boldest dreams as they embarked on a completely new business venture. Michelle worked meticulously with contractors then to ensure that every detail was perfect.
Fast forward. Business was growing nicely, and Maggie was happily turning out high-quality tempering glass.
Then COVID-19 hit. “We were preparing for a loss of about 30–50%,” Michelle said. “But then the exact opposite happened. At the same time, the property next door went up for sale. Although we worried what business would be like on the other side of the pandemic, we saw this as a big opportunity.”
Michelle contacted Glaston at the end of August 2020. Jim Hartley came to talk about ways Glaston could help Michelle get more out of Maggie. But Michelle had another idea. “I want to buy the Glaston RC Series furnace,” she insisted. “When can I get the paperwork?”
Once again, Michelle had been doing her homework. She had collected opinions from others in the field and heard lots of positive comments about Glaston’s RC 350 Series.
“LOUIE EATS UP GLASS”
MAG’s customers were evolving. Michelle needed to go where her customers were taking the business – toward heat-strengthened and heavy commercial insulated glass.
“Louie Noodles, as we call the RC Series line, was my grandmother’s nickname for my father,” Michelle explains. “It fits them both perfectly – a strong workhorse that knows exactly what it needs to do. As my operators say: ‘Louie eats up glass.’” Louie’s 110” x 190” bed provides the company with 60% greater capacity than Maggie.
UNDERSTANDING FROM THE GROUND UP
Michelle turned all RC Series project management over to Weston Grove, who joined MAG about five years ago as Processing and Quality Engineer. Wes supervised the building construction, checked the drawings and oversaw the installation.
“Anna Holmqvist, Project Manager from Glaston, was always quick to respond despite the time difference,” he said. “Seeing the furnace built from the ground up really helped me appreciate the output and efficiency of the lines.”
At the same time, Glaston also worked on providing a control system software update for Maggie. “The new operating system is less glitchy while being better supported and protected. It allows us to work remotely with the IT team in Finland. Now, I can easily download thermal images of our glass,” Wes says.
GIVING THANKS AS A FAMILY Both Michelle and Wes praise Vishal Haswani and Petri Mattila, Glaston’s technicians, for their work. “They were diligent and precise,” Wes says. “It was amazing how they paid attention to details. They wanted everything to be less than 1 mm off – even the squareness of the walls – just to make sure the machine would sit perfectly.” Vishal even made the electricians rewire the furnace, as he said the electrical cables looked like a rat’s nest.
Vishal worked long hours through the US Thanksgiving holiday to get everything ready to roll. When MAG got its first order for heatstrengthened glass, Michelle was worried. Then an operator told her Vishal had already taken care of that by programming the recipe.
On Thanksgiving evening, Vishal joined a gathering of about 8 other MAG employees to enjoy his first traditional US holiday meal. The company wanted him to feel like he was part of the family and to thank him for his star role in the project.
WORKING BEYOND THE SALE
“Vishal constantly told us when our installation was complete, he would not leave us on our own – he wanted to come back and help us make it even better,” Michelle says.
Vishal helped the operators learn how to use the furnace and test the RC Series recipes. Today, roll distortion is nonexistent, and optical glass quality is excellent. He also helped the team learn how to get better performance from Maggie, too.
“I didn’t even look at any other suppliers,” Michelle says. “Ever since we got Maggie, I have been very satisfied with the relationship we have with Glaston and the quality. For me, it’s essential to work with suppliers who stay with you throughout the lifecycle of the equipment – far beyond the point of sale.”