Starting the Fire: Appalachia Glass Finds Success in 40 States

Mar 4, 2019 | Entrepreneurs, Positively West Virginia

Todd Turner, a third generation glass blower at Appalachian Glass, located in Weston, West Virginia, talked with Jim Matuga, host of The Positively West Virginia Podcast, about how he got started with glass blowing and his advice to young entrepreneurs.

Back in 1982, Todd’s father, Chip Turner, found his passion for glass during a vocational glass blowing course at Lewis County High School. After graduation, he began working at the West Virginia Glass Specialty Company and eventually worked his way up to becoming the furnace and facilities manager at Princess House Manufacturing. The experience Todd’s father got led him to start his own glass business in 2001. Now Todd has taken up the glass blowing calling.

How did you get started?

“If I am being honest, growing up I didn’t want anything to do with any of this stuff,” Turner said. “I thought that I knew the way that was best for me.”

“I will say that I do believe the Lord has a greater plan for us than we will ever have for ourselves. It took a lot of time of me being humbled and it always felt like it Appalachian Glassdirected me back to the shop.”

“Early on, the first few years, my father had got me into cutting logos into the glass. Not only for ourselves but there were several large manufacturers in our area like Princess House and Masterpiece Crystal whom we did a lot of commission work for. That is kind of how I really got started.”

What geographic market do you serve?

“We’ve been strong regionally. We’re carrying 26 or 27 of our West Virginia state parks, 16 of the Virginia state parks and a few in Florida and Tennessee. Geographically, we have one store in at least 40 states that are buying from us.”

“Some of those places are mom and pop shops, and others are large facilities, but I think it’s neat to have something that myself, my father and my grandfather made to have a chance of really being here for 3500 years or longer.”

“Glass, if we take care of it, will not perish.”

What is one piece of advice you would give a young entrepreneur?

“I would be cautious of the trap for needing extra capital,” Turner advised. “A lot of business professionals would take that as bad advice but I think the age of grants and loans can get you in a situation where when that alternate funding is coming through all is well and good, but what happens to your business plan when that funding is not there?”

“I think when we get into starting a business, some folks tend to think more about what they want than what they really need to just get started.”

Turner was a guest on The Positively West Virginia Podcast. Listen to his full podcast here.


    • PIECE OF ADVICE: “I would be cautious of the trap for needing extra capital,” Turner advised.
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