Mt. Pleasant Township business is named a finalist for innovation award
As neighboring vendors at a home and housewares show in Chicago in 2011, it did not take long for Rolf Poeting to start talking glass with Ray DelMuro.
Poeting — founder and owner of Glassautomatic Inc./Rolf Glass at the Mt. Pleasant Glass Center in Mt. Pleasant Township — took immediate interest in details of an initiative started by DelMuro, founder and owner of Refresh Glass LLC in Phoenix.
As Poeting and Rolf Glass designer Paula Sansone-Johnson listened, DelMuro detailed his company's practice of collecting used wine bottles to “repurpose” them for continued use while simultaneously helping to improve the environment by saving them from landfills.
A former manufacturing engineer for an aerospace company in Southern California, DelMuro in 2008 ordered a small bottle cutting kit by mail.
From that initial foray into the craft, he began selling cut bottles at farmer's markets and craft shows before eventually establishing Refresh Glass — which transforms bottles collected by businesses and individuals in the Phoenix area.
“We have truly been embraced,” DelMuro said.
So much so that, in 2010, the business was selected as the Recycling Small Business of the Year by Arizona's Recycling Coalition.
To follow that up, DelMuro set a goal of collecting and repurposing 1 million bottles annually.
“We were intrigued by his story, and his idea,” said Poeting, who founded his glass etching and polishing company in 1981 after emigrating from Germany.
So when they met again at the International Housewares Association's 2012 show, Poeting and Sansone-Johnson had a proposal for DelMuro.
“(Rolf) mentioned he was looking for me, that they wanted to start this (product) line,” DelMuro said. “So we exchanged some prototypes and started working together on a larger scale.”
What has resulted is the Glacier Glass, Poeting's newest product.
Each of the glasses — which come in three sizes — are wine bottles cut by DelMuro and his staff at Refresh Glass. They are then encircled with a wavy, opaque design accomplished via Rolf Glass's diamond-wheel engraving technology at the hands of Sansone-Johnson.
“I think the (Glacier) glass looks amazing; I just saw it the other day,” DelMuro said. “We make glass and vases from the bottles, planters, so (the more) variations on what we do that can gain people's attention and add to the aesthetic of our product, the better.”
In the past few days, Refresh Glass increased its goal of bottles repurposed annually from 1 million to 10 million, DelMuro said. The company is currently at more than 320,000 bottles collected and repurposed this year.
“It's a far more ambitious goal,” he said.
In what could be described as a reflection of DelMuro's drive, Glassautomatic Inc./Rolf Glass marketing assistant Gretchen Sandzimier recently cited the Glacier Glass in an application she submitted for ICON HONORS 2013 — an annual competition recognizing achievement in the home and gift industry.
The company was recently informed that it has been named a finalist in the competition's category related to product innovations/redesigned products.
In addition, Glassautomatic Inc./Rolf Glass is donating two percent of all Glacier Glass sales to GTECH — Growth Through Energy + Community Health — a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit.
As a result of being nominated for ICON HONORS 2013, Poeting and his staff recently hosted a videography group led by Jeffrey L. Portman Sr., president and chief operating officer of Atlanta-based AmericasMart.
Portman's company founded ICON HONORS, which is sponsored exclusively by the Gift & Home Trade Association and Sandow Media.
Portman and his colleagues filmed the production of the Glacier Glass at the local facility to capture the vision and inspiration behind the product.
“Rolf's company was chosen (for this recognition) by an independent panel of judges made up of designers, along with gift and home furnishing experts, for what he's doing as it relates to the recycling of glass and wine bottles and the betterment of the environment,” Portman said.
The 2013 ICON HONORS celebration, the signature event of the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, will be held July 11.
DelMuro said he is proud of where Poeting, Sansone-Johnson and the company's staff have taken the wine bottles cut by Refresh Glass.
“I think it's just fantastic,” DelMuro said.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.