Youngstown Mirror & Glass Celebrates Centenary with Customers

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio – The key to celebrating 100 years in business is having a solid foundation, good employees and loyal customers, said Gary Fitch, owner of Youngstown Mirror & Glass Co.

The company marked the milestone Wednesday with an open house featuring a tour and lunch at its Austintown offices and warehouse.

“It’s to thank our customers,” Fitch said. “This is not so much about Youngstown Mirror & Glass, but more about our customers and the people who’ve gotten us this far.”

Youngstown Mirror & Glass is a residential and commercial glass company that provides customers and contractors in the Mahoning and Shenago valleys with glass products, sales assistance, and replacement and service work.

Among those attending the open house were long time customers, such as Adolph Johnson & Son Co., Mineral Ridge, which has subcontracted work from Youngstown Mirror & Glass since its founding in 1919.

“I believe we’ve been working with Youngstown Mirror & Glass for all those 99 years,” said Paul Johnson Jr., president of Adolph Johnson & Son. “It’s clearly worked out if we’ve worked with them for this long.”

Adolph Johnson & Son is a general contractor and builder based in Mineral Ridge. Youngstown Mirror & Glass provides the firm with glass, glazing products and aluminum.

“They’ve been responsive to our needs,” Johnson recalls. “We’ve always shared a good relationship with them.”

Youngstown Mirror & Glass originally opened at the 600 block of Market St. in 1918. Since then the company has moved two more times as it grew, most recently in 1987 to 3991 Hendricks Road.

Fitch has worked at the company since he was 18, almost 40 years ago, he said. He started sweeping floors while working through his time at Youngstown State University.

The company was started by Phillip Ley, who sold it to his son, Philip A. Ley, and to Fitch’s grandfather, Chester French, sometime during the 1940s or 1950s, Fitch said.

In 1961, Fitch’s father, Jack, bought out his grandfather’s share, while Bob Dyer, Philip A. Ley’s son-in-law, bought the remaining shares. The two worked as business partners until Jack Ley’s retirement in 1999 when Fitch purchased his father’s shares and served as vice president until Bob Dyer’s death in 2006.

Fitch has been the sole owner since 2007.

“If you have a good foundation it’s going to be a lot easier to make things go,” Fitch said. “You have to give credit to the people that have come before you. I’m just a small rudder who steers a bigger ship.”

So far this year, business has been “really busy,” Fitch said.

The company just finished work at Hartville Elementary School and is working on a new school in Lakeview. Among other projects are on a plaza in Lisbon, and a lot of residential work for shower doors.

Youngstown Mirror & Glass employs 20.

“We hang onto our employees,” Fitch said. “We just had two people retire last year, one with 35 years of experience and another with 37.” With the exception of the employees hired to replace them, everyone else has been at the company for at least 15 years.

“We pride ourselves on integrity and quality,” he said. “All those things wrapped together is what sustained us over the years.”

A former customer who attended the open house, Dale Snyder, remembers buying products from Fitch’s father for his store, Glass Gallery, in Cortland. Snyder opened the store in 1977 and owned it until his retirement in 2000. Snyder would purchase glass products weekly from Youngstown Mirror & Glass for 23 years and has remained friends with Ley and Fitch since his retirement.

“Youngstown Mirror was one of the first ones to give us credit and come through for us,” Snyder said. “It’s amazing they hit 100 years. Gary has done a super job.”

Jennie Brewer, executive officer of the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of the Valley, showed support for the 100-year old business and HBA member at the open house.

“I know many of our builders have used Youngstown Mirror & Glass for years,” Brewer said. “Gary and his staff have played an important part in the mirror and glass business in Youngstown.”

Youngstown Mirror & Glass has been a member of the HBA since 1955.

“100 years really speaks volumes for a business,” Brewer said. “Not only for their employees, but certainly for how they treated their customers over that time.”

Pictured: Paul Johnson Jr., president of Adolph Johnson & Son Co. with Gary Fitch, owner of Youngstown Mirror & Glass Co.

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