Today, April 15, 2021 marks 50 years All-West Glass (AWG) has been in business in the Bulkley Valley. It has been quite an adventure for the Young family.
Dan Young and wife Carol, along with children Mike and Laura, started out all those years ago, not knowing the profound impact they would make, not only in the glass industry, but in the community as well.
The Young’s set out in 1971 to build a successful glass business they called Bulkley Valley Glass. The original site was on Victoria Street, where Babine Trucking is now located.
It took five years of hard work, six days a week, Carol in the office, with the kids in tow everyday, and Dan in the field. Being the only qualified and certified glazier between Terrace and Prince George, he was a very busy man.
It set the framework for what would expand to be known as All-West Glass, and ultimately AWG Northern Industries Inc.
In 1976, they built the current Smithers location had just purchased shops in Terrace and Burns Lake, which was when Dan made the executive decision that if he was going to keep expanding, Bulkley Valley Glass wasn’t going to be the appropriate name in further markets, so All-West Glass it became.
Now you can find the stores, distinctive with their green and white colour scheme, in over 35 towns and cities. They also have a distribution company, a pre-hung manufacturing company, a wholesale distribution company and a manufacturer of energy-efficient PVC windows.
The Young’s companies have a presence from Haida Gwaii right through to Alberta and beyond.
Daughter Laura (Stanton) joined her dad in the business in 1997 and in 2003, Dan and Laura opened Independent Glass Distributors in Prince George. It was the first of eight locations across Canada.
That branch of the company supplies 1,200 retail glass stores between Vancouver and Toronto with after-market automotive glass and associated products making them one of the largest glass distributors in Canada.
Now, the company employs well over 350 people, which just astounds Dan some days.
“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “I never dreamed we’d have this many people working for us. I don’t know how that happened, but it seemed easy. If you’re having fun, it’s never hard work.”
Having the company based in Smithers, allowed both Dan and Carol to be active members in the community, which was important to them.
Carol served as a town councillor for 12 years, and was Smithers’ first female Mayor. She was a school board trustee for many years, a founding member of the Bulkley Valley Community Foundation, and gave of her time to serve first her family and second, the community she loved.
Besides travelling to new company sites and working, Dan was a member of the Kinsmen Club for more than 20 years and has been recognized as a lifetime member for his service.
Dan, Carol and the All West Glass family have supported many, many sports teams, food banks, shelters, individuals, schools and charitable foundations in this community and every community they have offices in. Dan has been an extraordinary benefactor for many people and causes he will never take credit for.
“It’s giving back to those that have helped us along the way,” he said.
“As a company, we spend about half our advertising budget on sponsorships and hundreds of things in every community, especially kids.
“We have a soft spot for kids. Many of our employees are parents too, so we want to help the children in our communities however we can.”
That spirit of giving took a huge step forward in 2008, when the company made a 10-year pledge of $10,000 per year to both the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation in northern Alberta. They renewed that commitment this year.
Those bonds to the communities the Young family take seriously and encourage each office and every staff member they have to volunteer and give back to the places they live, work and play in.
With the growth and expansion over the years, the idea of moving the company to Prince George came up once, Dan said, but the company has always been based in Smithers and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“With the technical age, it doesn’t matter where you are,” he said.
There have been challenges and changes over the years. Carol passed away several years ago, the kids have grown, but with Laura stepping into the president’s shoes in 2015, it’s allowing Dan to pass the torch and take a step back with pride.
“It’s all been interesting, I wouldn’t even hesitate to do it all over again,” he exclaimed.
Fifty years may seem like a long time, but for someone who loved his job he can’t see why he’d choose to do something other than what he loved. Young said it was a career choice that was always clear to him.
“It was one of my first jobs as a teenager.”
He never looked back.