Local growth will support glass industry, insiders say

Local growth is hearty enough to feed the contenders in the competitive industry of glass, one player said."Building in the Magic Valley seems to be stable, and with the number of people moving here, I would think that trend would continue," said Ken Simmons, co-owner of Snake River Glass.

"I think there's kind of a stronger trend in commercial growth in the Magic Valley, too -- starting to see more and more businesses come in," he said. "Looking around the valley, you see more businesses popping up."

Existing operations, too, are making improvements or moving into better facilities. And many of them need windows.

Residential remodeling, for greater energy efficiency, accounts for about half of Snake River Glass' business, Simmons said. New-home building accounts for something like 30 percent. The rest is automotive and commercial projects and repair jobs.

It's a seasonal business that slows in winter. Fall 2002 wasn't hot for Snake River Glass, perhaps because of the economy, Simmons said.

"The rest of the year was about average."

Revenue for the year was about level with 2001.

"A little stronger, perhaps, in the new-home sales category," he said.

Simmons hopes a market expansion for the company's custom windows and doors will drive a 20 percent increase in overall sales in 2003. He thinks that's doable.

Snake River Glass manufactures many custom items that it ships to Arizona, Nevada and California. It wants to get its windows and doors into Oregon and Washington and strengthen sales in Colorado and Wyoming, promoting the Idaho product via the Internet, contractor mailings and the like.

If it succeeds, that will mean more jobs in Magic Valley. Snake River Glass now employs 12 people full time, including two who work from a store in Bellevue.

The 37-year-old business has witnessed a "wide variety of economic twists and turns," said Simmons, who has co-owned it for three years. When the Twin Falls economy is down, he said, the Sun Valley area picks up the slack. And vice versa.

"So it's a good chemistry or combination of the two."

600450 Local growth will support glass industry, insiders say glassonweb.com

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