Blizzard Wreaks Havoc on Chicago, Glass Industry
February 2, 2011

Much of the Chicago snow fell overnight, according to several industry representatives. (Photo courtesy of Terry Thomas, MTH Industries.)

The Midwest currently is in the midst of a major blizzard that has broken records in some areas, and much of the area—including the glass industry—has been shut down for the day.

"The only reason I'm here is that I spent the night here," says Terry Thomas, operations manager for MTH Industries in Chicago.

Thomas says the company has 5.5-foot snow drifts at its doors. "It's still snowing pretty heavily and we're supposed to get another 4 to 6 inches," he said during an interview this morning. "The city's pretty much shut down."

And the glass breakage started early, he says. "We had an emergency last night at a building downtown—they had a window blow out. We had one guy who was able to go out and board up the window, and when he got there he got stuck in a snow drift," Thomas says.

Mygrant Glass's distribution center in North Lake, Ill., a Chicago suburb, is closed for the day, according to Jim Ricci, market manager for the area. "Nobody's moving," says Ricci. "We have people who live within half a mile of our warehouse who can't get there."

Chuck Bibbiano, regional operations manager for Chicago-based Glass America, lives in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, and has been snowed in since late yesterday afternoon. "The police pretty much have Naperville shut down," he says. "They're using snowmobiles to get around."

Bibbiano hoped to be able to get out later today, but said he also is seeing snow drifts 5 to 6 feet in height.

And, for those who wonder if the storm could create a boon for the auto glass industry, Ricci says it's a bit early to tell. "You get to a point where you get too much snow, and people aren't going to go anywhere today," he says. "If this was a normal storm, say 5 to 7 inches, people would be out driving, but no one's going anywhere."

In the states that neighbor Illinois, the snowfall had not yet been as heavy as what Chicago has seen, but the winter weather still has created some issues for businesses there.

"We've gotten about four inches of snow, and today we got hit with the ice," says Chris Jarosky, manager of Auto Glass Fitters in Cleveland.

So far, drivers in the Cleveland area still are braving the roads. "We're getting a couple more jobs at the body shop[s]," he says. "We're assuming by Friday we'll get a few more windshields that are busted."

Tony Leto, executive vice president of sales and marketing for The Wagner Cos. in Milwaukee, tweeted this morning that the company was having a "snow day." "Due to the storm, Wagner will be closed today," he added.

If you're in the Midwest, how are you handling the snow? Please send thoughts on the storm and photos to And, be sure to visit our Facebook page for more photos from the storm.

Photo courtesy of Jim Ricci, Mygrant Glass. Photo courtesy of Lisa Naugle, associate publisher, AGRR™ magazine/™
Photo courtesy of Terry Thomas, MTH Industries. Photo courtesy of Jim Ricci, Mygrant Glass.
Photo courtesy of Terry Thomas, MTH Industries. Photo courtesy of Jim Ricci, Mygrant Glass.



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