BY TOM BUSSELBERG
CENTERVILLE — O’Brien Glass Products is now middle-aged.
The long-time business in downtown Centerville at 55 E. 400 South is celebrating 40 years of operation by Gary and Lois O’Brien and family.
It started in 1972 in part of what was an old Shamrock gas station on Main Street where Cutler’s Cookies is now, Gary O’Brien said.
With a $500 loan from his dad, he ran the station,. He has kept it open later than any other in Centerville.
That brought a lot of late-night business, mixed with a deal on gas and glass.
“We sold gas for 35 cents a gallon in those days. We’d offer 10 gallons of gas free if a customer had us install a $50 windshield,” Gary O’Brien said.
“We did a tremendous business. We were one of the biggest windshield shops in the area for a number of years,” he said.
Sale of the gas station forced the O’Briens to move to their current spot, where they initially built a 40 foot by 60 foot building. It has since been expanded five times.
“We paid for things as we went along,” he said, and the company always stayed out of debt.
Adapting to the times, the firm left windshield work behind and turned to window and mirror specialization tied to new home construction.
Its clients have included construction giant Ivory Homes and relative newcomers Woodside and Brighton homes.
The firm grew to 60 employees at one time but has downsized, in part due to the recent recession, and now has 18.
Business is looking up, though. The firm has received glass and mirror contracts for such Davis County construction projects as the 300-unit Park Lane Apartments in Farmington and the Legacy Village senior citizen community in Layton, along with other assisted living facilities from Spanish Fork to Brigham City.
Gary O’Brien has been active in state and national homebuilders’ associations for years, where he has held leadership positions. He was also instrumental in organizing the first Davis County home shows. In addition, he served as president of the old South Davis Chamber of Commerce and the Oakridge Country Club.
Gary O’Brien could have easily followed in his dad’s footsteps as a mechanic but as fate would have it, the old Intermountain Glass in downtown Bountiful offered him 50 cents an hour as a junior high student, quite a raise from the 35 cents an hour that France Auto, which shared the building, could pay.
“Big enough to do the job, small enough to care” is the motto Gary and Lois O’Brien have followed in their business dealings over the years.
Gary and Lois have seven children, 30 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.
They were thinking of retiring, but have put that off, at least for now. However, the couple bought a home in Casa Grande, Ariz., where they plan to spend at least a couple of weeks this winter.
But it’s more likely than not, you’ll find them at the store.