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Q+A with Apogee | Celebrating 75 Years in Glass

CEO Ty Silberhorn Eyes Growth, Innovation and Evolution for the Building Products Leader 

50 Fifty building exterior

Above: The 50 Fifty building in Denver features curtain wall designed, manufactured and installed by Harmon, and high-performance glass from Viracon.

ApoggeApogee was founded as Harmon Glass Co. in July 1949, as an auto glass replacement shop in Minneapolis. Today, it is a leading provider of high-performance glass, and architectural building enclosure products and services. It is a publicly traded company with over 4,000 employees and several leading brands, including glass fabricator Viracon; framing systems brands EFCO, Linetec, Tubelite and Alumicor; and, of course Harmon, which is no longer in the auto glass replacement industry, but is a leading North American contract glazier. 

This year, Apogee, which posted full year net sales topping $1.42 billion in its 2024 fiscal year, celebrates 75 years in business. In late April, I sat down with CEO Ty Silberhorn to discuss the company’s long history, its people, and Apogee’s next chapter. Silberhorn joined Apogee in January 2021 following more than 20 years at 3M, serving most recently as senior vice president of transformation, technologies and services.  

As you reflect on Apogee’s 75th anniversary, what stands out to you about the company’s history?

Apogee started in the auto replacement glass business, from a small shop in downtown Minneapolis. I love that story, because it points to the fact that over our 75 years this company has transformed itself a number of times. It reinvented itself. Throughout our history, company leaders have known what Apogee’s strengths and weaknesses are. They have been able to adapt to shifts in the marketplace, while still finding ways to create value for our customers and thrive in business. 

What were some major moments of change that helped make Apogee what it is today?

An important point in the company’s history was when leadership recognized that we weren’t going to deliver the best value to customers and get decent returns for shareholders in the auto replacement glass business. So, they began leveraging our capabilities into other markets, starting with glass fabrication. They started to develop and innovate new coatings to apply to that glass with the Viracon brand, which led us into architectural glass. It was a completely different market segment, but it allowed us to leverage process knowhow, capabilities, and understanding of glass and substrates to move into totally different markets. 

We probably wouldn’t be celebrating 75 years if leaders hadn’t decided to move away from auto glass and double down on the architectural glass business, really broadening from an architectural products standpoint, both organically and through acquisitions. 

What do you see for Apogee’s next chapter in the coming three to five years?

When you look at what we’ve done in the last few years, we’ve really strengthened our foundation. We’ve worked to get back on solid financial footing. Our focus is not just to be a more profitable company so we can invest back into the business, but also to understand creating value for the customer. We are committed to continuing to drive value for our customers. 

Even with some softness in the market-place, now it’s time to focus on driving growth. And the way we are going to grow is by bringing value to the customer. If we do that, the customer is going to allow us to keep some of that value, and we’ll be able to invest that back in the company and in our people.

We are making investments in the business. Last year, we invested in facilities and equipment to improve service capabilities, quality levels, and productivity so we can stay competitive in the market. 

Over our 75-year history, we’ve transformed the company with acquisitions. And acquisitions will be a lever that we will pull to really accelerate and provide a catalyst to our growth story. 

What are your customers focused on now and how are you helping them address their challenges?

The industry as a whole has had to deal with higher material costs, higher labor cost, and labor constraints. And then interest rates, which are increasing the cost of investment to do larger development projects. 

Our focus has to be on how we can address these challenges. We’re bringing solutions that help customers either deliver a better total cost, or that allow them to deliver a bigger value impact. For example, there is a lot more discussion about energy efficiency and discussion about the longevity of these projects over time—and wanting to have more quality materials going into the building. Customers can’t afford to work with partners who can’t supply the right product at the right time. There is a flight to quality. The cheapest, lowest price isn’t going to work all the time. Customers want to make sure they’re getting the best value for what they’re able to pay to make a project move forward. 

Throughout its history, Apogee has benefitted from talented employees and leaders. How are you thinking about developing the next generation of talent?

If you read some of the history of the company, there was belief in investing in employees going all the way back to our beginning. That’s something that still resonates with our company today. We have over 4,000 employees, and the majority are on the production floor or on jobsites installing curtainwall. Our ability to attract and retain those employees is vital. If you have significant turnover, especially in a tight labor market, that creates challenges for us. 

Part of our employee attraction and retention is to demonstrate that we are going to invest in our employees and help them be successful in their careers. And while we are a large company with $1.4 billion in revenue, we’re also small because of how we structure the company. There is still an entrepreneurial spirit and feel in our brands. 

As I talk to employees, I say that we are a larger company, with the resources made available by being part of a larger organization. But you can really get the small company feel. If you want an up and rising career trajectory, we can make that happen for you. If you’re looking for the right spot and right fit in the right place, we can make that work for you as well. 

After joining Apogee from outside the glass and glazing industry, what has surprised you about the industry?

I knew a little bit about nonresidential construction from my 3M days. And as I looked at this industry and had conversations with people, there was a sense that the construction industry is stuck in old ways. But, I found that not to be true. Since the pandemic, it seems the industry really opened up with how it looks at itself. It started to adopt technologies and other ways of doing things.

I see more innovation in the industry. More ways to look at and experiment with innovation. There are a ton of opportunities for our industry as whole to get more efficient. Additionally, I think there is a lot of collaboration that occurs, whether from the architect, developer, glazier, material supplier. Obviously, there can be tension points. But we really have that collective group saying: ‘Let’s not only get the project greenlighted, but I want to build this green building. I want to build something we can be proud of.’ There’s that determination and committed spirit to create something that’s going to stand the test of time. 


Katy Devlin

Katy Devlin

Katy Devlin is content director for the National Glass Association and editor in chief of Glass Magazine. E-mail Katy at