SUISUN CITY — Through the ups and downs, Vince Guisande is thankful that his company, Tri-City Glass, has made it through three decades.
Not bad for starting out with a pickup truck and $600.
“It was a goal a few years ago, ‘Let’s make it to 30,’ ” Guisande said. “I’ve learned so much.”
Even with the recent recession, Tri-City Glass has managed to hang on, although the business is a bit smaller.
“It’s like a team sport. You’re part of a team,” Guisande said of being in business. “With the downturn of the economy, we lost a few good team players. It makes a huge difference not to have those folks here. It really hurt.”
Part of hanging around as long as Tri-City has is being adaptable.
“You just have to reinvent yourself,” Guisande said.
Even so, running a business for that long can get exhausting.
“I can’t say I didn’t suffer from burnout. I did when I hired a manager 15 years ago,” he said. “Now, with both kids in the business, Vincent Jr. and Angelina, I’m sort of remotivated and reinvigorated.”
Still, the recession took its toll.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever be back to the days when we had 28 employees,” Guisande said. “We’ve got to kind of a comfortable spot. We’re not doing the huge commercial projects.”
The bigger jobs are a bit much for a small business.
“That’s a tough animal to manage when you’re doing both and trying to keep a small mom-and-pop feeling of business,” he said.
That’s been part of the key to keeping Tri-City Glass around for 30 years, that and a little bucking of convention.
“I’ve never been one to analyze the numbers. I always thought bean-counters killed businesses,” Guisande said. “I always thought that if you give a good product and a good service (you’ll be successful).”
Guisande is also quick to point out that no business, big or small, is going to be anything without its customers. For Tri-City Glass, it’s become multigenerational endeavor.
“We still appreciate those customers we’ve had for years,” Guisande said. “Now we’re fixing windows for their grandkids.”
Being in business for as long as he has, Guisande said he’s seen a lot of changes.
“Over the years, business has changed dramatically,” he said. “Supplier-wise, you don’t have the personal contacts that you used to. Now it’s all digital. You don’t even have to talk to people. I kind of miss that because I’m a people person.”
But efficiency is crucial these days.
“You have to be really on top of your game to squeak out a living,” Guisande said.
There have been moments when Guisande thought about calling it a career, but not recently.
“Back in the early 1990s when there was a slowdown, (was) the last time we had a conversation,” he said. “In the early ’90s Linda (his wife of 29 years) and I both talked about it. We ended up sticking it out. I’m glad we did. Now we’re just too darned old, we have no choice.”
Besides that, after being the boss for so long, Guisande isn’t sure about working for someone else.
“I think I’d just be a horrible employee,” he said.
That said, while running his business, Guisande has made it a point not to neglect the rest of his life.
“It’s real important that you keep the other stuff in your life going,” he said. “You don’t want to miss out just because of business.”
Guisande mentioned a friend who spent most of his time on real estate business, missing his children’s ballgames and other events, and lost it all in the crash.
“One of the proudest things is, I never missed a ballgame, a practice,” he said. “My kids were involved in sports and racing. The only time my wife or I ever missed a ballgame is if both of the kids were playing at the same time.”
In the end, though, it all comes back to the customers.
“For sure, it’s a small town and it boggles my mind when you see people operate without integrity in such a small area,” Guisande said.
There are some other small businesses he’s been trading business with for years and it’s those that Guisande remembers.
“When we were doing the commercial stuff, I don’t remember any of those,” he said.
Moving forward, the business is a family affair now more than ever. Linda Guisande came to work for the business about 25 years ago. She’s also a fitness instructor at the Kroc Center, Guisande said. It’s something she enjoys doing as a part of being involved in the community.
“That’s another thing, if my kids do take this company to another level, my proudest thing is that they would realize the blessings of giving to the community,” he said.
That community involvement is crucial for a local business like Tri-City Glass.
“I’m a board member with the Matt Garcia Foundation,” he said. “I sat on boards for Bobby Sox and Babe Ruth. You don’t just live in the community, but you are a part of it.”
The shop has a whole wall of the different sponsorships it’s granted over the years.
Even though he’s moved the business a few times, things haven’t really changed that much for Guisande. That’s just fine with him.
“You have to have passion and it’s got to be in your heart to keep at it,” he said. “This is all I know. I better stick with it.”
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.