Spotlight: Doug Frates Glass Creates Custom Art – By Veterans





doug frates glass

Home décor can be basic and drab. Or it can be vibrant and unique. Doug Frates Glass is a small business that aims to provide the latter. The company creates hand-blown, one-of-a-kind glass accents for homes, from colorful bowls to intricate floral wall mounts.

Doug Frates started the business after serving overseas in the Marine Corps, and his company is made up of veteran workers. The entire team works hard to ensure that all of the pieces are unique and of the highest quality. Read more about this creative business in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does:

Creates custom hand-blown glass products.

The company works with designers, architects and firms to create made-to-order wholesale pieces. These include items like vases, wall mounts, and bowls. The small, Ohio-based team makes all of the glass items by hand, and each is completely one-of-a-kind.

Business Niche:

Quality and customization.

Each item is completely customized to the needs of the client. And they’re all handmade and checked for quality by Frates himself.

oyster-bowls

Employees:

The small team of five is made up of veterans. Having served himself, Frates wanted to extend an opportunity to fellow veterans like him at his company. He also says that having a veteran owned and run business has led to great quality products because of his employees’ strong work ethic. Frates says:

“We are veterans and that adds a certain level of trust that the product will arrive in a timely manner and the quality check is done directly by me.”

How the Business Got Started:

With Frates’ own study of fine art glass making.

Frates first got into the glass business after returning from a tour of duty in Iraq. He began studying the art form and creating fine art glass pieces. It wasn’t until after some market research that Frates decided to shift into creating custom pieces for designers and architects.

vessels

Biggest Win:

Keeping all products American made.

While lots of companies are turning to manufacturing overseas to cut costs, Doug Frates Glass has maintained its original strategy of making items by hand in its American studio. Frates says that providing American made products is something that both he and his clients value.

Biggest Risk:

Moving from the high-end art field to made-to-order products.

As the company did some market research into various markets, Frates found that creating custom pieces for designers and architects was a better strategy. Now the company has a more specific target demographic that the team can focus on at events like trade shows. Frates says:

“We started as a smaller company that found its way up to the market we are in today. By doing trade shows and working direct with the buyer, we are able to devote our time to a direct customer service angle that really benefits both sides.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000:

Marketing.

sworlds

Business Motto:

“Surround yourself with creativity.”

Favorite Team Lunch:

Wings from Buckeye Sports Lodge in Springfield, Ohio.

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Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program.

Images: Doug Frates Glass

8 Comments ▼

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found on her personal blog Wattlebird, and exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

8 Reactions
  1. Really beautiful pieces. Particularly like the pieces in the last image. The more I stare at the middle one though, the more I think I prefer that one.

    And the business motto: I’m feeling that.

  2. I am always amazed with creative businesses. This is because these businesses don’t focus so much on selling but on perfecting their products.

  3. Great spotlight! Have you heard about the glass-maker tradition in Scandinavia?

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