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Applewood Glass – movin’ & shakin’


September 3, 2009
By Frank Fulton

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When my dad and I started Applewood Glass and Mirror Inc. in 1979, I used to fabricate and install windows and entrances by day and look after the books and try to drum up business by night,” recounts company president Tony Menecola. This year the company is celebrating 30 years in business and a move to a newly self-renovated 40,000-square-foot facility in Mississauga, Ont.

When my dad and I started Applewood Glass and Mirror Inc. in 1979, I used to fabricate and install windows and entrances by day and look after the books and try to drum up business by night,” recounts company president Tony Menecola. This year the company is celebrating 30 years in business and a move to a newly self-renovated 40,000-square-foot facility in Mississauga, Ont.

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Applewood Glass and Mirror moves into a new facility as the company celebrates its 30th anniversary.

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Menecola’s father, Lorenzo, immigrated to Canada from Italy in the 1950s and was a blacksmith by trade in the old country. Not finding many opportunities for his skills in his new home he found employment in the steel window business. Lorenzo worked in and managed the production end of the business for a number of companies over the years until the company he was with bought him out a year before going out of business during the recession in the late 1970s. It was that turn of fate that led to the beginning of his partnership with Menecola and the origins of Applewood.

Menecola wasn’t exactly new to the business at the time. He had spent summers and weekends from the age of 12 helping out in the shop at the companies his father had worked for. Lorenzo retired from the business 10 years ago and Menecola has continued to manage the business in what he calls a “somewhat conservative yet cautiously optimistic and innovative manner” since.

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Company president Tony Menecola, left, inspects a backpan sealing.


 

In the early years, Applewood’s main source of business was supplying windows and entrances for industrial buildings and school projects in and around the Toronto area. Coincidentally, Applewood was one of Fulton Windows’ first customers, a fine company I was closely involved with for many years. Thanks to its focus on quality and conscientious service, the company continues to do business with a number of its original customers today, or at least the ones who pay their bills.

As is the case with many successful companies, Applewood found a niche in the market and became very good at fabricating and installing shop-glazed, unitized curtainwall for small and mid-sized buildings. Previously the exclusive domain of large curtainwall specialists focusing on large projects, Applewood cut its teeth in this market in the early 1990s on a project in Burlington, Ont., involving triple glazed frames that were 130 square feet each weighing about 15 hundred pounds each. “You have to start somewhere and this happened to be where we got our chance,” recalls Menecola. “It would have been nice to start with something a bit smaller, but sometimes you have to take what you’ve been given. We certainly learned a lot from our first experience.”

Menecola says the learning process is an ongoing, neverending exercise. He continues daily to work on methods and processes to improve production efficiency and handling methods while ensuring that the product they install at the site is of the highest quality. The main objective of the move to the new shop is to utilize the larger space to get better output by improving product flow. He doesn’t hesitate to invest in equipment to reach this goal.

Applewood Glass and Mirror employs 30 staff, half involved in production and half installing in the field. “I’m happy with the size we’re at today. We’ve had chances to grow larger, but we have to be cautious about biting off more than we can chew. If the right opportunity comes up in the future to grow we’d certainly look at it, but for now we’re focusing on getting the new shop up and running like a clock.”

For Menecola the biggest change to his business during his 30 years has been his evolution into the curtainwall market. Today that accounts for about 80 per cent of Applewood’s volume. “Unitized curtainwall is what we like to do best but we need to remain diversified to look after all of our customers’ needs,” he says.

Thirty years may seem like a long time to spend in one place but as Menecola says, “I’ve never even thought of retiring yet or doing anything else. I still enjoy what I’m doing and look forward to the challenges we face here every day.”


Frank Fulton is president of Fultech Fenestration Consulting, offering technical and improvement project assistance to the glass and metal industry. You can reach him at fultech.fc@gmail.com.


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