|From Arch to Rick
Stewart family business hasnít changed much Ė be it the locale or the high standards that have kept it thriving for 50 years in Cotati
When Rick Stewart was 8 years old, he pushed a broom across the floor of his father’s shop, Arch’s Glass, the same building he sits behind the desk of in its 50th year. He’s always worked with his hands, and that’s how he wants the business to continue: hands-on and down-to-earth.
“Give me a hammer and chisel, and I’ll be fine,” he says, preferring old-fashion service to anything. “We strive to provide the customer with a good quality product and good response times, good installation. Basically it’s word-of-mouth and repeat business.”
Arch gets his start
Stewart’s father, Arch, was born in Cotati in 1928 and his mother’s family moved down from Fort Bragg around 1945. After returning from Korea, in addition to working for the Highway Patrol, Stewart’s father started doing part-time glasswork, or “glazing,” for the San Francisco Glass Co., which had one of their seven satellite companies on Old Redwood where Harmony Garage stands today. Bill Appleton, a member of an old-time Cotati family, owned the shop.
In 1964, Stewart decided to open a glass shop of his own and named it Arch’s Glass.
“I don’t know if he ever thought it would make it to 50 years or not, but I think he’d be pretty proud that it has,” Rick said.
His father, who passed away on July 28, 2011, left behind one of Cotati’s oldest businesses in the capable hands of his family. Rick works alongside his two brothers, Ken and Tim, who are his lead installers, and his mother, Joanne, who works in the office.
“We like doing business in Cotati because it is an old-town rural community,” Stewart says of his lifelong residency. “I like that slow-paced atmosphere.”
Dealing with economic downturn
Lasting half a decade, though, does not come without experiencing struggles. During the economic downturn, Arch’s Glass had to let go of a few employees, leaving only the four of them to do most of the daily work.
“You have to tighten the belt straps and do whatever you can to maintain the business,” he says of that time.
Now, he has four glazers in addition to his family, and although his two daughters, Catlin and Kelsey, have pursued other interests, he hopes to pass the business on someday; his nephew Colby has shown some interest.
Their work is mostly residential, ranging from full window replacements, repairs and screen doors, but they do some light commercial work as well.
They previously did some repair on Q-Zar and the Bass Pro Shop windows and will often do repair jobs on other local storefront windows.
Just treating them right
Stewart speaks of a give-and-take between a business, its employees and its customers, believing that if you give honest, quality work, and treat your workers fairly, then your employees will give back the effort you put into them and your customers will give you repeat trade.
He is also an involved community member, helping set up the Farmer’s Market signs in Cotati, providing floats for the annual Kids Day Parade and being a member of the Chamber of Commerce.
Although Stewart speaks briefly about what he believes are avoidable city-instituted restrictions on small businesses, it seems overall that he is content, like many other locals, with living and working in Cotati.
By keeping his father’s vision alive, the Stewarts mark on Cotati history will remain indelible.