Thursday, January 31, 2019

100 years ago this week

What was going on 100 years ago this week? CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer of February 1, 1919. The link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service.

Highways, Hospitals and Society Highlights...

Click on the sample images below to see larger version.

Lee Lane Shops 1983

On this 1983 poster, the shops on Lee Lane from 36 years ago were identified. Click on the images to make them larger. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Slidell Flag Plaza

In the fall of 2000, Slidell officials dedicated the "Flag Plaza and Monuments" which told the story of the history of Slidell and its founder and namesake. 

The plaza is located near the Train Depot on Front Street.

According to the dedication plaque, Mayor Salvatore A. Caruso, CAO Reinhard Dearing, and Council members Alvin D. Singletary, Dudley D. Smith, Lionel Washington, Jerry Binder, L. Landon Cusimano, Kevin Kingston, Marti Livaudais, Jack Cerny and Pearl Williams were serving the city at that time.

Other credits for the Flag Plaza included Architect NY & Associates, McDonald Construction Inc. and Sculptor Bill Binnings.

Here are some of the plaques surrounded by the flags that flew over Slidell. Click on the images to make them larger.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

More Covington Businesses in 1919

This is a collection of articles about businesses in Covington published a hundred years ago on January 11, 1919. 

Monday, January 28, 2019

Slidell Businesses in 1919

These Slidell business articles were published in the January 11, 1919, St. Tammany Farmer as part of its community progress issue:

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Downtown Covington Study - 1997

Some 22 years ago, in the mid-1990's, Nancy Bowen-Ellzey of Bowen and Associates conducted a statistical study of the Covington downtown business area, determining its strengths and weaknesses and proposing directions in which it could improve.

In 1997 she agreed to an interview about the findings from her study. 

CLICK HERE to hear the first part of her remarks. 

Just looking over the past two decades, downtown Covington has made great strides in the areas mentioned in her study, particularly in becoming a more defined "focal point" for commercial shopping, professional services, social gathering places and artistic expression. 

Part two of the interview mentions these and other attributes of downtown Covington's growth.

 CLICK HERE to hear the second part of the interview.

Looking back at the 1990's, we can see Covington's most recent achievements, a new city hall, the Tammany Trace trailhead and museum, the new Southern Hotel, art galleries galore, coffee houses, and best of all, people flocking the streets, friends meeting friends, and business people doing business.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Dependable Glass History

Anyone walking down Columbia Street in Covington will pass along in front of Dependable Glass Works, look in the windows and see some pretty interesting items made of glass. Vases, dishes, coffee table tops and shower doors all populate the front showroom. 

Over in the custom-order section can be found hundreds of samples of glass for those personal home decor projects. And, of course, the large variety of framed mirrors.

Click on the images to make them larger. 

The showroom display is impressive, but it only represents a small percentage of what Dependable Glass does, because it is not only a retail storefront, not only a custom-order glass products supplier, but also a fabricator of unique glass applications, from walls to floors to countertops, big items, small intricate items, and all the numerous ways in which glass can be used to protect investments, like hurricane-resistant windows, insulated windows to reduce temperature transfers and sound, as well as laminated glass for special needs.

Round glass table tops

In the front showcase are a variety of sizes of circular coffee table tops, but back in production, the workmen are actually cutting the glass in circles for those coffee table tops and polishing the edges for smoothness. 

Circles are relatively easy, but the company also has a computerized glass cutter that can handle cutting extremely intricate shapes, say like the State of Louisiana. 

Big Louisiana

Small Louisiana

Business Began 52 Years Ago

Norman Foxworth started the business back in 1967, and almost immediately it tripled in size, having to take out sidewalls to expand. Originally the other businesses that were occupying those other storefronts were Covington Air Conditioning and Sherwin Williams. 

These company photos were taken in 1979, forty years ago

Dependable Glass Works in 2019
It is believed that back during World War II, Higgins boat manufacturers used the building to assemble parts for landing craft. Foxworth found some evidence of that in the old original electric wiring.

While he doesn't do car windshield replacement any longer, there are a wide variety of markets for his business. Often he will be visited by local and area architects looking for a particular glass design effect that they know Dependable Glass can handle. Architects will experiment with how two different textured glass pieces interact when placed together, producing a dramatically unique effect. Today's house designs include lots of glass to let all that Southern sunshine in.

Currently Foxworth has six people on his sales staff, and they deal with people from all over the United States. His delivery trucks serve St. Tammany, Louisiana, and the Gulf South with specially manufactured glass orders, but he also ships finished products via UPS. There was so much shipping going on, he put in his own crate-building operation to make it possible to crate up the bigger glass items for shipment. UPS even set up a shipping station on site to make it easy for him to get items ready for their trucks to pick up. 

It's very important to pack glass properly for shipment, Foxworth said, and they had been using special packing materials for the job, materials that were purchased from a company in the Carolinas. However, one day a salesman  from Crown Zellerbach in Bogalusa came by, saw the packing material and said, "Well, we could make that." And they did, and Dependable Glass was then able to purchase their considerable amount of packing material from a Louisiana vendor right up the road.

 As his business developed, Foxworth found that there was a need for a fabricating shop doing special orders and providing quality glass items that the large-volume mass-produced glass suppliers couldn't offer. "We go to trade shows," he said, "and we are often surrounded by representatives from the large glass companies wanting to see what we are doing now." Smaller companies such as his are sometimes able to be more "innovative", he said.

He serves the small-order custom market, but by "small" we mean in number and not by size. Some of his orders call for fairly large pieces of glass, so much so that he had to install a heavy duty crane in his facility. 

 Over the years, he has installed computerized glass cutting equipment. Much of the work is done by hand, however, whenever possible. Workdays sometimes start at 5 a.m. and closes down around 3:30 p.m.

 "Everyone here is cross-trained in all the work, so we can all come together and get a big work order out when we need to," he explained. His work force is all local people especially  trained for their positions. When needed he brings in experts from out-of-state to train his folks in a new endeavor, such as when they started handling "heavy glass," that being 3/4 of an inch thick.

The glass business has changed somewhat in the United States, particularly in the time it takes have big pieces delivered to the shop for use in fabrication. "Use to take a few days to get glass in for an order," he said. "Now it takes two or three weeks because the manufacturers themselves don't keep much inventory on hand."

For that reason, processing the orders and getting the work done as efficiently as possible is a goal every day. The company's reputation is growing as local St. Tammany residents tell their out-of-state friends and business associates about the capabilities of the firm.

The heartbeat of the operation is the beveler, Foxworth stated. It is the machine that produces beveled edges, from a choice of several styles. Beveled glass edges are what makes a lot of glass products especially attractive. There is a separate bevelling machine for straight-edged glass, and another for curved glasses edges. One of the two employees who specialize in the bevelling process has been with the company for 45 years. 

Cutting and fabricating glass pieces requires a variety of large specialized equipment, many of which take up a lot of floor space especially when handling large panes of glass. 

Getting the edges smooth and clear calls for not only the right equipment but for the workers to use extreme skill and precision. There are even machines for polishing the glass, though the polishing is hand-done in some cases. A recent polishing job involved re-conditioning a large piece of extremely strong and multi-layered laminated glass, something that is going back to a zoo for keeping lions contained, but still visible by the zoo visitors. 

Foxworth looks over some oval pieces about to be polished.

The company also does a lot of countertops, some for rather well-known famous people and companies, and there are also custom-made glass tops for desks.

One recent order called for "antique glass" which was popular back in the 1950's and 1960's. Dependable found it, brought it in, and it will be processed and sent to a hotel in Atlanta. It looks like regular mirror glass, except it has golden flecks embedded in it for the "antique" look.

 When Foxworth decided to get into the laminated glass part of the business in 1996, he had to expand his production facilities, so he found an available building just in the next block and set up production facilities for sandwiching two pieces (or more) of glass together using a special resin. Depending on how many layers in the lamination, you can go from hurricane-resistant glass all the way up to bullet-proof glass.

The new glass product was so strong, it went beyond what was known as "safety glass," so Foxworth trademarked the phrase "Safety Plus" glass. It caught on instantly, as the demand for stronger glass grew. Glass floors are also a big market for the new stronger glass, he said.

"When the glass industry started back in the 1800's, they did not have a way to make glass with the clarity we have today. There would be waves in the glass and some imperfections," Foxworth said. "Then they came out with a thing called 'float process' and that really made it possible to improve the quality of glass. When the patent on that process expired, everybody got into it and glass became smooth and clear of imperfections. Now people pay extra for glass that looks like it was made 100 years ago."

 In the area of "insulated glass" Foxworth first considered entering that market back in 1976, but it wasn't yet the right time. Insulated glass is two pieces of glass separated by an "air gap" that halts heat or cold transfer across the glass, and also reduces sound transmission. 

Nowadays, the big glass manufacturers produce insulated glass in mass quantities using automated equipment so they can sell it at lower prices. Eleven years ago, in 2008, Foxworth re-entered the insulated glass business, and this time it clicked, because he was able to produce better quality glass than the large companies, and he could handle the smaller orders for replacement panels.

This machine was purchased in 1976 for bending frames at the proper radius.

Insulated glass panels also can be offered in a variety of  textured glass combinations. It's a big market, and Foxworth didn't even realize how big the market was when he got into it. He's proud of the product volume and resulting employee payroll that is, through his sales efforts throughout the Gulf Coast, bringing a lot of money into the Covington area. 

His delivery trucks make two runs a week to Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Mobile, Hattiesburg, Laurel, Jackson, stoppingat points along the way as well

An array of textured glass waiting for orders

Most of the textured glass comes from Europe or Asia, Foxworth said, and it is popular in bathrooms and door applications. 

 Over the years Dependable Glass has become well-known across the United States with specialty installations and made-to-order glass fabrications. Their name and work are respected within the glass industry itself. 

 According to Foxworth, the company serves a national and international clientele in addition to its design studio showroom in Covington. "In our industry, we are known as innovators who bring new products and techniques to our customers. We work with them, tailoring solutions exactly to their needs. In consultation with architects and other design professionals, we can develop the glass specifications for both large and small projects.

"Not only that, but we are engaged in research, design, production and sales. We cut, laminate, temper and bevel glass for custom applications. We develop new products, devise new uses, and work with our clients to explore the potential in glass products."

 The 1967 glass company has grown into a multitude of special services, meeting the needs of a wide variety of personal, architectural and commercial applications. And yet, it is still a quaint Columbia Street retail shop as well. 

Here are some photographs of the neat things on display in the front showroom.

Hunk of glass, green