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Hamptons Life

Jul 22, 2019 12:39 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Westhampton Architectural Glass Fashions Custom, Upmarket Products In New Speonk Space

Westhampton Architectural Glass owners Paul Siller and Bob Busking in the showroom. ANISAH ABDULLAH
Jul 22, 2019 1:16 PM

Tucked away on Speonk Riverhead Road, along a vegetative yet industrial strip, Westhampton Architectural Glass has spent the last year turning sheets of glass into luxury doors and windows seen in some of the largest residences on the East End. The company opened its showroom late last month in the entrance of its 36,000-square-foot building, greeting visitors with models of bronze pivot doors, 19-foot-tall sliding doors with glass weighing more than 2 tons and folding knee louvers that activate with the flip of a switch. Visitors will have to take a few steps back to view the products’ full grandeur.

Owners Paul Siller and Bob Busking opened the new Speonk space in March 2018 as a means of consolidating their three former locations in East Hampton, Westhampton and Flanders that they operated different departments out of since 2008.

They unveiled the showroom with a grand opening and open houses throughout the last week of June, giving a tour of their new facility to over 100 builders, contractors and architects who attended. For some, that was their first time learning about the company’s services.

“It was very well received,” Mr. Siller said of the grand opening. “People were surprised at the opportunities and the levels of what we do.”

In the new space, past the polished showroom, is the open manufacturing space where large, automated machinery and workers convert raw materials into custom-made products ready for installation in clients’ homes. Shiny brass shavings cover the floor while reflections in the glass show metal shop fabricators focused on their oftentimes precise tasks.

Upstairs is the office space, where bid estimates are calculated and computer-aided designs are drafted. A 3D printer develops prototypes in one room while engineering interns manually assemble prototypes in another. Blueprints are everywhere one turns, either rolled up in storage compartments lining the walls or opened on drafting tables.

In between the roughly 60 projects that Westhampton Architectural Glass has contracted at any moment, the company also sponsors the Westhampton Beach and Center Moriches school robotics teams and invites them to tour the space, Mr. Siller said. On May 31, company executives gave a tour to the Center Moriches High School robotics team and answered any questions they had. The students also visited in January, prior to the start of their 2019 season.

The two owners agreed that the most challenging part of running the company is finding qualified, local workers to fill technical and labor positions. Mr. Siller, a former shop teacher, pointed out that the robotics team students are “ideal candidates” for the type of talent they are seeking. Their team has 44 employees, but the owners said that they could use a larger staff.

“On the East End, the workforce is so minimal to begin with, and it’s difficult to find very skilled labor,” Mr. Siller said.

They typically look for someone with a good work ethic and then train them on-site for the job they need to fill. They said they are also exploring the idea of starting an apprenticeship program to teach others the trade and hopefully add them to the workforce.

The glass company began in 2008 as a partnership between Mr. Siller and Mr. Busking, the latter of whom also owns Westhampton Glass and Metal on Old Riverhead Road in Westhampton Beach, a full-service glass shop that they refer to as their “sister company.” Westhampton Glass and Metal has been at that location for 50 years, since Mr. Busking’s family opened the business in 1969.

Mr. Busking’s son, Blake, does administrative work part-time at the architectural glass company, becoming the third generation in the business.

At Westhampton Architectural Glass, projects range from installing interior railings and shower doors to full sets of hurricane-resistant windows. Replacing a broken window is probably their quickest project, taking only a few hours, but larger-scale projects could take up to six months, the owners explained.

“There’s always coordination involved. You work closely with the architects to try and figure out the details, what the interaction is with other portions of the building,” Mr. Busking said.

“We try and take a beautiful design and make it work,” Mr. Siller added. “Because a lot of times, a design is somebody’s creation and now we have to try and see how we’re going to make it work to withstand storms and hurricanes.”

They primarily conduct high-end residential work, but they also do occasional commercial properties, like the John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor and the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton.

Over the summer, the company had four interns, two from college and two from high school, to give them experience in their prospective career path. Alex Jaquin, an intern who is studying mechanical engineering at SUNY New Paltz, was working on a prototype for a sliding glass door seal at his desk. He was experimenting with magnets to create a tighter seal for when the door is closed.

Mr. Jaquin said he was offered other summer internship opportunities but was happy with his decision.

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They've built a great company and deserve the recognition. They have a world -class operation there in Speonk. Congratulations Bob & Paul!
By housedoc1 (12), Southampton on Jul 26, 19 9:42 AM