Ridgefield Glass etches a fresh chapter with relocation
By Bill Fallon
June 25, 2015
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Now in his 10th year owning Ridgefield Glass, which dates to 1974 and which cut the ribbon on a new showroom this month, John Petchonka dodged the shuttering effects of the recession through adaptation and managed to expand. He figures 66 percent to 75 percent of company business is with contractors. The remaining business is with private homeowners.
The 2,000-square-foot showroom at 159 Danbury Road, Ridgefield, this month began displaying new products, including glass showers that effectively double the size of smaller, second bathrooms by replacing shower curtains with walls of glass. Formerly, most frameless glass shower doors swung open, making them unsuitable for small bathrooms. Ridgefield Glass now sells a “frameless slider” that, per its name, does not swing out. Petchonka said displaying it is, “One of the reasons for the move.”
Petchonka was three years into ownership in 2008 when, as he recently put it, “All hell hit and there was a market drop in Ridgefield.”
Born in New York City, Petchonka, 60 and a scientist by education and trade, reacted to the downturn by expanding his catchment area. He turned his gaze south.
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Petchonka is a Manhattan College-trained chemical engineer who in his former business life designed and built the NutraSweet plant in Athens, Ga., and worked on developing Viagra for Pfizer, originally as a heart aid – the beating, pumping heart, not the Valentine/twin-bathtub variety. A half-hour conversation — mainly to speak about his relocation — addressed the properties of glass — “basically a solid, but you can enhance its properties with rapid heating and quenching: — and Viagra “It was a failed heart drug, but the patients kept coming back asking for more. I was not astute enough to buy stock in Pfizer.” (The drug is still used to treat some forms of hypertension.)
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