Looking Ahead After Reaching a Milestone Anniversary

Architectural Glass & Metal Company
Written by Nate Hendley

Architectural Glass & Metal Company, Inc., (AGM) of Indianapolis, Indiana, celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. It’s quite the accomplishment for a company of humble origins that specializes in designing, fabricating, installing, and servicing glazed curtain walls, windows, and entryways—a crucial but sometimes overlooked trade.

Asked how AGM has managed to survive and thrive over the decades, President Greg Young cites three factors: workforce, vendors, and clients.

“The team we have is obviously our strength,” he says. “And then also our vendors—we find them to be equally important. And we want to work for good clients, we want to use quality products… our relationship with all three of those is very, very important and has contributed to the longevity and growth of the company,” states Young.

Specific services rendered by the firm include contract glazing, installation and repair, and remedial repair.

“Remedial repair is basically looking at leaking buildings, sick buildings, and determining what’s going on and then remediating it. A lot of times it’s something as simple as caulking or replacing flashing or something along those lines,” explains Young.

Markets served include automotive, pharmaceutical, banking, education, office, healthcare, interior, museums, mixed use, and religious institutions. “We pretty much do anything non-residential,” Young explains. “Sometimes we will [do residential] if it’s helping out a client, but for the most part, we stick to commercial projects. We’re doing quite a bit of work for universities here in Indiana—Purdue University, Indiana University, Butler, Marian. So, between healthcare and education, that keeps us pretty busy.”

In addition to its Indianapolis headquarters, the company has branches in Cincinnati, Ohio and Nashville, Tennessee. Each branch maintains separately managed contract and service departments. The former handles most installations while the latter takes care of maintenance, repairs, and small installations. AGM also offers a 24/7 emergency response service for property management companies.

While primarily serving clients in the Midwest and Mid-South, AGM has traveled as far afield as St. Martin, an island in the Caribbean, for installation work. One such project was completed at the behest of a Cincinnati-based client. “We will venture out… If it works for our client and it works for us, we will do it,” says Young, citing assignments in Florida and the Research Triangle—an area renowned for universities and R&D facilities in North Carolina.

On design-build work or remodeling projects, AGM may be hired directly by the client or owner, but the firm is typically brought into projects by a general contractor. For most construction jobs, AGM works as part of a team of tradespeople.

Sometimes, due to schedule requirements, AGM may subcontract items such as caulking, but otherwise nearly all work is done in-house; “for the most part, we self-perform. We buy the material, we fabricate it, we install it,” states Young.

Founded in 1984 by Greg Menefee and partners, the firm “started small” and was initially based in a “dilapidated building,” recalls Young. The company grew and became a major success story, adding a Cincinnati office in 2004. That same year, Young became a minority owner in the firm. A Nashville branch was launched in 2008, and Young became sole owner on October 31, 2017.

There have been a few bumps along the way. The opening of the Nashville office coincided with the 2008 – 2009 economic recession, says Young. Then, in early 2020, the COVID virus went pandemic, unleashing global economic turmoil. “We were fortunate to be considered essential workers, so we were able to work,” says Young.

The firm applied Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines regarding masking and social distancing. Of course, AGM also had to cope with COVID-related supply chain disruptions, including longer lead times for receiving products and price hikes.

Employment at the firm fluctuated from a pre-COVID high of over 140 to around 120 people today, and now that COVID has subsided, AGM is on the rebound. When considering job applicants, the company looks for certain traits. “Reliability is huge, dependability is huge, and trainability… I tell [people], if you show up here and you want to learn, I will hire anyone. We will give anyone an opportunity,” says Young.

He strongly encourages a “team environment” in the workplace: “Everyone has a role to play here, and we value each of these roles… But we’re all willing to help each other be successful. That’s something that also sets us apart,” he states.

Young served in the U.S. Navy and as such, AGM is a certified veteran-owned business. The firm hosts golf outings and other fundraisers, many of which are organized to benefit veteran organizations. For example, AGM once hosted a golf outing to raise money for Indy Honor Flight, a charity that flies veterans of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars to Washington, DC to visit military monuments.

“This year, we’re supporting a program called Pets Healing Vets, through the Humane Society. They supply trained emotional support animals to veterans that have PTSD or traumatic brain injuries at no cost. They cover the cost for the pet for the rest of their life,” says Madeline Young, Greg’s daughter, an Indiana University graduate, and AGM’s first Marketing Coordinator.

In addition to its community involvement, doing high-quality work on high-profile projects is another way AGM stands out. Greg Young points to an assignment involving the IU Health Neuroscience Center in downtown Indianapolis. A striking building with a primarily glass façade resembling an ocean wave, the facility is operated under the auspices of IU Health and the Indiana University School of Medicine.

“It was a very challenging job both in the design and then having our fabrication manager [fabricate it], and then getting it installed in the field… It was successful, for all the complexity to it. That’s one we like to showcase,” says Young.

Other key projects include the Indianapolis Museum of Art and Indianapolis Children’s Museum; the Forum Credit Union headquarters in Fishers, Indiana; National City Bank in Cincinnati; and CapStar Bank in Nashville. The company’s automotive projects feature glasswork for Porsche, Mini Cooper, and Lexus dealerships, all in Nashville.

Given that AGM works with glass, it’s no surprise that safety is paramount at the firm. AGM has two full-time safety workers—a Safety Director who handles administrative tasks, and a Safety Officer who goes out in the field to assist with safety efforts. Each branch maintains a safety leader who liaises with the head office in Indianapolis.

“All of our management, project managers, and field foremen are OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) 30-hour certified. Every other AGM team member in the company, regardless of their role, does the 10-hour OSHA course. That’s kind of unique; even the receptionist does the 10-hour course,” adds Young.

Representatives of each branch convene on a quarterly basis with the Safety Director and Safety Officer to discuss safety issues. Participants at these meetings “talk about any situations that might have happened—near misses, anything like that,” explains Young. Each branch is a drug-free certified workplace and staff also receive training in First Aid and CPR.

Young cites labor and recruiting new workers as the biggest challenge facing AGM at present, an issue that reflects a broader, industry-wide trend in which existing workers in skilled trades are approaching retirement age and insufficient numbers of young people are stepping up to replace them. AGM’s woes are compounded by the fact that many people are unclear about the work the company performs. “Our trade is not necessarily well-known. If you go into a high school and ask, ‘What does a plumber do?’ they know. You ask, ‘What does a glazier do?’ and they just look at you,” notes Young.

To get the word out, AGM runs an apprentice program and raises awareness about glasswork and the firm’s services by reaching out to high schools and attending trade shows. Madeline Young is also spearheading an effort to enhance the company’s social media presence.

“We have Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn,” she explains. “LinkedIn is probably one of our most popular. We have started doing more lunch and learns—going to general contractors and other clients of ours and providing lunch for them while presenting our capabilities and how we’d like to be trade partners. We’ve really grown our reach and presence within the last year.”

Going forward, AGM is looking to introduce some new products but is keeping the details under wraps at present. Greg Young is more forthcoming when it comes to demonstrating his pride in the company he leads and the people who work for AGM. After reaching its 40th anniversary, Architectural Glass & Metal Company changed its logo to mark this milestone achievement.

As for the future, “I would like to see us back up on our growth trajectory that we were on before COVID. Looking at other markets is important… I think with things we’ve learned and done over the years, another market would help us with that growth plan, make us more diverse.” We look forward to seeing how the next 40 years play out for this longstanding and dynamic company.

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