It may have a new name and a new image but
The firm believes in this image-conscious society, changing its name has helped to upgrade clients’ perceptions of who and what the business is all about.
“The business was started 30 years ago as a glass and glazing business. Now we are one of the leading glass processing companies,” said Mr Stephenson.
“Peterlee Glass sounded like a local company and we have been dealing nationally for the last 10 years. It takes the local image away.
“We know that by the hits on the website and people will say when they call up or email us ‘and where are you?’
“However, we can’t forget the local market, it is more than 50% of our business.”
Business is growing – Mr Stephenson estimates there has been a “near enough” sales growth of 25% in the last year.
Its national and international business - PLG Glass has won contracts in Japan and the Middle East – is also expanding as clients view the company as a big player.
Currently employing 27, the number of staff at the firm is continuing to grow too.
“We’ve grown our employees by 10% in the last 12 months and we anticipate another 10% growth in employees in the next 12 months,” said Mr Stephenson.
A spiral glass staircase produced for the Hilton Hotel in Paddington and the glass balustrade fitting in the landmark Ilva store in Gateshead are certainly a long way from PLG Glass’ roots as a Peterlee glazing company.
The business also makes fittings – such as glass floors, screens and canopies – for shops, commercial customers and private clients at its North West Industrial Estate factory in Peterlee.
The firm’s website shows a gallery of modern designs made by PLG Glass and offers downloadable slideshows and brochures showcasing some of its leading projects.
Staff at the plant, which has been extended three times since PLG Glass took up residence in 1981, work closely with architects, artists and designers to put together the glass creations they require. In 1994, the company added its own design studio to the factory to keep pace with the varied demands of its clients.
Indeed, demand from architects for glass products is growing and the way glass is used by designers is constantly evolving. In a competitive industry, the firm has to invest in new equipment and employ skilled people to stay abreast of its rivals and give clients what they want.
Although still a family business, PLG Glass can be viewed as a very different proposition to the entity that David Hawes opened as Peterlee Glass.
“Glass is now more recognisable as a construction product.” Mr Stephenson said. “Whereas 30 years ago it was used for windows, it is now used for building walls both internally and externally. It’s used more as a structural product than a visual one. Thirty years ago, a guy would have been standing in a pair of wellies edging a piece of glass, now we have a machine. The technology has moved on.”