Gray Glass - History

GrayGlass History

The History of GrayGlass : 1946 - Today

During its six decade history, GrayGlass has grown to become an internationally renown supplier of precision fabricated glass products, and one of the country's premier suppliers of specialty architectural glass and decorative glass products.

Beginning in 1946, Frank J. Gray and his partner George Baltic began a business to distribute Corning Glass Works' technical, high temperature, filter, lighting and architectural glass. Frank Gray incorporated under the name F. J. Gray & Company and opened shop at 350 Atlantic Avenue, near downtown Brooklyn. Primary products were bent glass lighting lenses for subway and commercial lighting applications. Frank began his company knowing that there was a need for a supplier that could bend these lenses, as well as machine and fabricate finished O.E.M. glass products. The company quickly developed specialty fabricating capabilities including sizing, grinding, polishing, drilling, coating, gluing, sagging, tempering, bending and decorating. Business proved successful and growth required a second move to nearby S. Portland Ave in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn.

1950's - 1970's

However, in the mid-1950's plastics began to take over the bent lens market. Frank adapted by shifting his efforts to the technical glass and filter markets. The changes required eliminating most of the bending equipment and changing over to concentrate on flat glass machining and fabrication.

In 1969, F. J. Gray & Company moved for the third time to a larger building at 139-24 Queens Blvd, Jamaica, Queens. Earlier In the 1960's, AFG industries had taken over the lighting and architectural glass product lines from Corning, and F. J. Gray became an authorized distributor for both Corning and AFG. At the same time, Frank Gray hired William J. O'Bryan, a long time business acquaintance who had been working for Corning Glass as a sales manager. Years later, Bill O'Bryan said of Frank Gray, "I have never known Frank Gray to turn his back on a job, whether it be for one piece or one hundred thousand pieces. He enjoys being able to do things with glass that is unique to the business." After Bill was hired, he and Frank formed a separate partnership, establishing Gray Glass Company, which was devoted to sell the lighting glassware portion of the business. Frank Gray owned 75% of the venture and Bill O'Bryan owned the balance.

1980's - 2000's

From 1982-1986, Bill O'Bryan's son, William J. O'Bryan, Jr., began working in the plant during summers off from college, and in 1984, company founder Frank Gray. That December, Bill Sr. hired his son-in-law, Christopher A. Viggiano, to assist with the company and become a partner. At that time, Chris was a CPA with Arthur Andersen & Co., doing corporate accounting, mergers and acquisition work. On May 15th 1985, Bill O'Bryan, Sr. and Chris Viggiano bought the F. J. Gray and the GrayGlass Company names and assets from Frank Gray's estate and formed O'Bryan Glass Corp. Not long after, and immediately after graduating college, Bill O'Bryan Jr., came to work in the growing business.

In 1991, O'Bryan Glass Corp. purchased Precision-Bache, a 125 year old company formed from Precision Glass and Seaman-Bache. A specialty supplier of architectural and commodity flat glass products, that company was originally located on the fifth floor of a building in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan. The Precision-Bache owners, interested in converting their building to condominiums, originally sold their business to three employees including Steve Agastino, Dominic Valente and a third financial officer. The employees financed their buyout with an SBA loan and relocated the business to Brooklyn. But their business fell upon hard times in the economic slow down of the late 1980's and O'Bryan Glass Corp. bought the assets and the trading name Precision-Bache. After the purchase, Dominic Valente and Steve Agastino came to work at F. J. Gray; Dominic as plant manager and Steve in sales.

Chris Viggiano succeeded Bill O'Bryan as President upon Bill's retirement in 1992. Bill O'Bryan Sr. passed away not long after in 1994. Bill O'Bryan Jr. became Chris' partner and Vice-President.

During the late 1980's, in part due to the acquisition of Precision-Bache, the company began to service architectural and glazing customers who used some of the same patterned glass that the company was distributing and fabricating for lighting. By the early 1990's, F. J. Gray expanded its service by offering liquid laminating patterned safety glass. In March of 2000, further growth and the need for higher ceilings prompted a fourth move to the present Queens Village plant. This move allowed for handling the largest sheet glass sizes and enabled the company to increase its architectural capabilities significantly. In 2001 the company added water jet cutting capabilities to its many CNC machining techniques and precision machining has grown to become a distinctive hallmark of the company's expertise in glass fabrication. Also in 2001, O'Bryan Glass Corp. bought Devon Theatrical Lighting, a focused company producing colored glass theatrical filters. In 2005, the company introduced the single trade name GrayGlass to encompass its entire broad range of products and services.

Present Day

In 2007, a new clean room was completed with a precision Coordinate Measuring Machine and a laser marking system added for testing and packing of quality-intensive filter products. Now in its seventh decade, GrayGlass continues its tradition of leading in the fabrication of industrial, architectural and lighting glass products.

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