Archer Glass are specializes in glass replacement, repair and installation in residential and business locations. Our office is located in Mt. Gravatt, Brisbane in Australia. It was first established in May 1999 by Gerry Whelan, who initially operated from home and successfully grew the business to what it is today.
Wayne Bucklar: My guest today is Gerry Whelan from Archer Glass Proprietor Limited, a firm in Brisbane, Australia. Gerry welcome to the program and thank you for your time.
Gerry Whelan: Thank you Wayne.
W: Now Gerry, Archer Glass is I guess for one of the better description, a firm of glaziers. Give us a little bit of idea or some of the sorts of work you do.
G: We’re licensed for building glass so we supply and install building glass of all types. Our main work is glass replacement, in that we go out on site and replace broken glass. And on top of that, then we supply and install shower screens, robe doors, some mirrors, all that kinds of household glass, table tops, and then to the businesses as well…
W: Gerry I think you’ve been in the business for a long time, haven’t you?
G: I have. I’ve been in 45 years in the industry.
W: I guess 45 years as a glazier without having got yourself into too much trouble, there’d be stories to tell. Is it dangerous being a glazier or is it something that a home handy man can do?
G: There are dangers obviously as in the nature of the product itself but there are handy men who do some basic glass replacement, bits and pieces of work etc. But by and large, it’s a trade that you serve for your apprenticeship too and then we have all the compliance issues like licensing and then the Australian Glazing Code that we have to adhere to as in safety glass where it’s required for human impact and the…
W: So it’s more complicated than it appears just on the surface. Tell us Gerry a little bit about the compliance issues that you mentioned.
G: It’s a license to trade to begin with.
G: And we have with the glazing code where for human impact, there are areas for safety glass has to be used as in doors and panels beside doors, bathrooms, stairwells. Then you have different types of safety glass requirements in shops and offices as well where it’s more stringent for that kind of view because bigger panels are used as well and then you have the other stuff where … sorry…
W: That’s alright. You were saying that you have to use safety glass for human impact.
G: Yeah, where if someone walks into a panel of glass so like in the old days before this came in, they could go straight through a non-safety glass…
W: Uh huh.
G: And that wasn’t required whereas with safety glass, even if they did go through it like a toughened panel of glass, it shatters into pieces so there is no shards that would harm you badly or laminated glass where you would walk into it but it would stay intact and hold you. You could hurt yourself as if you walked into a wall like that.
G: You would go through and don’t have those terrible cuts that used to be in the past.
W: I see. Now you mentioned Gerry that a lot of your work is replacement so I’m guessing a lot of it is insurance claims.
G: Yeah, that’s right. As in after the recent storm last November, so many homes and businesses had several broken windows so we worked through bit by bit and research and find matching all types of glass which we carry a lot of in-stock but some others we have to search and find to match. And then get it replaced totally and then as close as possible to how it used to look before the storm hit rather have panels that weren’t broken and now you end up with a mismatch.
W: Yes, I can understand that would be a problem. Are there particular requirements for that working for the insurance companies?
G: Only that same glazing requirements where you’ve got to keep it up to code and replaced to match the existing code. Any glass replaced has to be to the new code, you can’t replace it as was in non-safety glass if it’s in a position where now requires it to be safety glass then it must be upgraded.
W: Oh I see. So even if it was old glass that was broken, the replacement glass has to be to the new standard.
G: Correct, which means we got to find it and then it’s got to be of the thickness that can be toughen and into safety glass or laminated into safety glass so that it can go back in to match.
W: So there’s much more to this glazing business than occurred to me when I first started chatting to you. And you keep mentioning the code, what is that code you have to comply with?
G: It’s the AS1288-2006 Australian Glazing Code, as in it sets out where safety glass must be used, what sizes and areas of glass where it becomes a necessity for it to be a safety glass. Like for instance, anything in a bathroom under 2 meters from the floor must be safety glass.
W: Oh I see, so it’s quite specific.
G: It’s quite specific. In a stairwell, anything within 2 meters of the tread you’re standing on must be safety glass – backdoors, sidelights, anything that can be mistaken for a path of travel.
W: And I guess compliance with that code is an advantage to the customer because it means the glass they’re getting fitted is going to suit their needs and it’s going to be safe in their houses.
G: Exactly. And every panel of glass that we replace, we can certify as well so that if you decide to rent out or sell your premises that you know it’s to code and you can satisfy the requirements for selling or renting the premises later.
W: Ah that’s an important perspective, isn’t it? If you’re gonna sell or rent a premises with non-compliant glass, you could in fact bring down a lot of liability on yourself, I suspect.
G: You could, yes. And people must be confident that they’re getting the right thing. That it’s going to be safe.
W: Gerry, now if you’ve been a glazier for over 40 years, I think you said. It sounds like integrity is one of the critical components of your business with compliance with the code. You mentioned earlier compliance with the various statutes, is that one of your core values?
G: Yes. As a package really, all things considered you’ve got to have workplace health and safety, all your insurances, public liability, work cover and then I suppose GST requirements and then as well as customer service and back-up as in something happens down the track or a few days after you replace a panel that you go back on warranty and replace it again, stuff like that. So that people keep coming back because they have the confidence that not only will it be taken care of but that they’ll have what they should have at a fair price. And follow up as well, as in they can come to our shop. People from anywhere in Brisbane can come to our shop and see us or ask to see me as a follow-up as opposed to a foreign or multinational that might do the job and it’s run by a CEO in a high office somewhere in the world … whereas working with a sm all family business like ours you’re always got to back-up. You can always call and see the person if there is a problem.
W: Now Archer Glass Proprietor Limited is based in Brisbane. What’s the address?
G: 1369 Logan Road. Mt Gravatt.
W: 1369 Logan Road in Mt. Gravatt. And that’s the corner of?
G: Corner of Shire Road which is the one that leads up to the Mt. Gravatt lookout.
W: And I think when you say you’re a family business, you mean that quite literally don’t you? I think your wife and your son both working the business with you.
G: They work with us too, we have 9 of us work there all together. And there other 3 of us and then all the other people and we’ve got 6 service vehicles on the road covering all of Brisbane.
W: Gerry it’s been lovely having you with me for chat this morning. We’ve talked a lot about the regulations, the licensing and the standards. I do just want to mention some of the other things that you do just before we finish up, I think you also do things like stained glass, and replacement mirrors and cut the size glass. Are there other things that you do?
G: Yeah, we do the full leadlight repair business where we’d move the leadlight, put temporary glass in place while it’s away for repair. We build the leadlight, come back and swap it over. And then we do like glass table tops, desktops, office partitioning and we’ll reave a shopfront where they might need the door to move to a different position or they might need some new doors or automatic doors which will go out and quote and then come back and replace all of those as well.
W: So pretty much if it’s anything glass, Archer Glass is the way to go.
G: Yeah. And glass in buildings so if it’s in a building, we’ll replace it or we’ll supply it and install it.
W: Gerry, thank you for your time this morning.
G: Thank you very much Wayne. Thank you. Cheers, bye bye.