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Glass company boss reflects on good times and bad

Post Time:Feb 11,2009Classify:Company NewsView:244

The Albion Glass and Mirror Company has been in Andrew Barnard's family for four generations and has the experience to ride out an economic crisis, he says.

General Manager Mr Barnard said his great-grandfather Joseph Barnard started the business in 1932 from his Albion flat, and would ride the tram around Brisbane looking for work at building sites.

"With putty in his pockets he used to carry a bag full of glass cuts around town on the tram line, and knocked on people's doors," Mr Barnard said.

He said even though Joseph was 65 years old when he came to Australia from the outskirts of London, he was forced to work as people who hadn't paid taxes were not entitled to a pension.

He said a lot had changed since then, with the advent of computerised cutting machines and large-scale skyscraper glass.

"In those days glass was in small panels, not like the big sheets on skyscrapers today, and it was more expensive back then," Mr Barnard said.

He said performance glass was becoming more important these days, as people became increasingly environmentally cautious.

"For instance, you want glass that will keep the heat out in skyscrapers, so that not as much money is being spent on airconditioning and electricity," he said.

He said the company had very successful times during the post-war housing boom, as well as in the 1980s.

"The '80s were a time of high inflation and the price of glass was going up 15 per cent a year, so if you had the raw materials you could make 15 per cent on them," he said.

Mr Barnard said this was followed by tough times in the 1990s, but the rapid growth in southeast Queensland has helped a lot in recent years.

"While there has been a marginal slowing with the economic crisis, the local economy is excellent, to be honest," he said.

"And the inner city of Brisbane is still very strong for us.

"We have noticed unemployment is rising though, with a lot more people applying for jobs, so we've put a few more people on this year."

Mr Barnard said Joseph's father was also involved with glass back in England.

"Not many people have been in the same business for five generations, so we certainly have enough experience to know what we're doing," he said.

Source: news.com.auAuthor: shangyi

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