Through seven decades, Walker Glass has grown, evolved and constantly adapted to an ever-changing business environment. Here are but a few of the events that have marked Walker’s colourful history and brought the company to the position of market leadership it enjoys today.
1920 - Reginald Harrison is sent to sell glass in Canada by Pilkington Brothers of St. Helens, England. He subsequently goes to work with the firm of his customer, J.P O’Shea, where he is joined by his son Gerald after WW2.
1942 - Walker Glass is founded by Arthur Walker in Rosemont (Montreal). The company produces mirrors by a manual silvering process. Employing skilled artisans, mirrors are hand-crafted with bevels and wheel cut designs for sale to local retailers.
1951 - Pursuant to Arthur Walker’s sudden passing, his widow, Lorette Gauthier seeks a buyer for the company. She is introduced to the Harrisons by mutual friend and supplier, Robert Pootmans of l’Union des Glaceries Belges. The Harrisons team up with Walker employee Frank Horvath and purchase the company.
1953 - Combining the Harrisons’ knowledge of glass and Horvath’s Czechoslovakian mirror-making know-how, they design and build a semi-automatic silvering conveyor, giving them a strong competitive edge in the local market.
1960 - Reginald retires and Gerald and Frank, financed by their Belgian trading partners, build a brand new 22,000 square foot factory in Anjou, Quebec. The factory is equipped with state-of-the-art Sommer & Maca silvering and bevelling machinery.
1971 - The company undergoes its first expansion of the new building, nearly doubling its size, and begins manufacturing moulded polyester mirror frames to expand its offering to the retail market. By now, Walker has become the number one vendor of decorative mirror products to the major Canadian retailers.
1974 - Walker Glass purchases the assets of Universal Glass and begins manufacturing stock sheet mirrors in Toronto. This operation, managed by Gerald’s son Lee, would be merged two years later with Atlantic Glass and ultimately sold to Guardian Industries in 1991.
1976 - The building in Anjou is doubled once again in size as the company becomes an increasingly significant player in the stock sheet glass and mirror business. Competing with the silvering conveyors of Pilkington and PPG in Canada, Walker is the only independent stock sheet mirror maker in the country.
1981 - Lee acquires the business from his father and Frank Horvath, who retire shortly thereafter.
1982 - Walker acquires the assets of mirror manufacturer Star Glass and consolidates all under one roof, thus expanding its market and increasing its manufacturing capacity.
1984 - The company introduces boomed-off stoce mirror shipments to the Northeast US market and rapidly gains market share, particularly in the greater New York City market.
1986 - The Sommer and Maca silvering line is replaced by a German-built Klöpper conveyor and Walker introduces double-coated mirror to the market. To accommodate the large new conveyor, the building is further expanded, bringing it to over 100,000 square feet.
1987 - Ross Christie joins the firm as Lee’s partner and takes on responsibility for all of the company’s sales and marketing activities.
1998 - Walker obtains quality certification ISO-9002 from the International Standards Organisation. This certification is subsequently upgraded to ISO 9001:2008.
1999 - The acquisition of a neighbouring building coupled with an expansion to join the two structures, brings the total area of Walker’s Anjou facilities to 200,000 square feet.
2000 - In the face of growing competition from China in the decorative mirror market, PT Walker International is formed and begins manufacturing framed mirrors in Semarang, Indonesia.
2002 - Fluorosat Glass Etching Ltd is formed as a joint venture between Walker Glass and Vince and Ted Grippo’s Les Verres Grimont, to manufacture full-size stock sheet etched glass. Walker launches the largest research and development project in its history to bring the artisanal glass etching know-how of the Grippos to a high-volume manufacturing scale. The Textures Satin and Textures Opaque brands of acid-etched glass are born.
2005 - Relentless competition from China makes framed mirror manufacturing unviable. After 60 years, Walker is forced to cease its framed mirror manufacturing operations and sell the framed mirror division.
2007 - Glass etching capacity is quadrupled with the introduction of a new fully automated production process, while adding the Textures Velour finish to the product range.
2008 - With the addition of high-volume printing and masking equipment, the Textures product offering is expanded to include the Nuance line of patterns and partial-sheet etching.
2010 - Ercole Sammarco, Walker’s longest-standing employee, celebrates his 53rd year with the company.
2011 - Fluorosat Glass Etching is merged into Walker Glass