It’s difficult to imagine a world without glass. Resourceful humans have been creating, manipulating and innovating with this miraculous substance for thousands of years. Today, it’s a ubiquitous part of every home, and without it our indoor lives would be cast in darkness and sorely missing those coveted East End views. If not for the windows, who needs an oceanfront manse?
Brothers and Sag Harbor natives Brian and Pat O’Sullivan have spent most of their lives delivering light and beauty to South Fork homes with their family business, Hampton Glass & Mirror. What their father started in 1986 as a modest glass shop offering putty-set window repairs and reframing has slowly evolved into a substantial operation with multiple departments, fabrication capability and 26 employees doing everything from major architectural installations to fixing cracked picture frames.
“It’s been in my life since I was a kid,” Brian, the younger O’Sullivan brother says, noting that he and Pat spent their childhoods plying their trade in the Hampton Glass repair room and worked their way up, learning everything they could before taking over the business seven years ago. “As the company grew and as we took on more work, we started doing shower doors, and mirrors became a bigger thing in the ’80s and ’90s,” he explains. “Then we got more into the architectural style, where we’re doing windows and doors and glass handrails…anything that the architects and designers can dream up that’s glass–and it’s quite a bit–whether it be glass walkways or bridges or curtainwall applications in residential homes. At this point, we’re doing it all.”
Even before their father retired, O’Sullivan and brother Pat had a clear vision of how the company could grow, and it began with fabricating thick glass in-house for shower doors and anything else that needed it. “That is not a typical thing your average glazier takes on,” O’Sullivan says, describing the bold move that would instantly set them apart from most competitors who were stuck ordering glass. “We are cutting, drilling, polishing the glass from a sheet,” he continues, explaining that Hampton Glass buys enormous quantities of unfinished glass in 4,000-pound packs, which they will then prepare for whatever the current job requires. “We will drill and mill accordingly into what’s necessary for different hardware, different hinges, different handles,” O’Sullivan says, espousing the value of cutting out the middleman.
“We took on that responsibility so that we could better accommodate our customers,” he adds. “We know how badly they need something quickly, and when you’re at the mercy of these large fabricators, you can’t jump the line, so to speak, or push something to the front,” O’Sullivan says. “We’re able to really just produce things in a much more timely fashion, and with the tolerances necessary to meet East End standards, because they are different than everywhere else.” On a more personal note, he points out, “Sometimes in these larger factories, they just don’t have the love for fabrication.”
With their fabrication department in place, the brothers moved ahead with their plan to begin installing architectural glass in the beautiful luxury homes that were popping up all over the Hamptons. “We took on that department while [our father] was still the owner and built it from scratch,” O’Sullivan says, recalling that Hampton Glass still mostly handled window repair, mirrors and shower doors before they began working with aluminum and structurally significant glass.
Today, with all facets of the business in place and working well, Hampton Glass & Mirror boasts an impressive portfolio of work. Along with creating crystal clear handrails, floor-to-ceiling insulated windows, sliding doors, frameless shower stalls, wine rooms and weighty, antique-style mirrors, beveled-edge tabletops, O’Sullivan says he and his team can do just about anything imaginable with glass.
They’ve installed glass floors–each of which demands an engineer’s report and very careful workmanship to ensure their safety–and regularly work with restoration glass to replicate the beautifully bowed and rippled antique windowpanes found in historic homes around the Hamptons. “We have a team of guys, I’d say probably four or five guys, who can do those repairs and do them well,” O’Sullivan–who is one of those guys–says. Hampton Glass is also one of only two local companies approved to carry and install the ultra-luxury Arcadia line of windows and doors, and they’ve created their own proprietary software to manage and organize their massive workload.
Recently, O’Sullivan says he’s received daily calls for pandemic partitions to help area businesses protect employees and customers. “It’s a bit outside the box and I’m trying to bring it inside the box to provide a quality product,” he says, describing a lot of the partitions he’s seen as nothing more than plexiglass hanging from the ceiling. “They’re not done correctly. But they’re serving the purpose, and I get it,” O’Sullivan adds, noting that he’s tried to create custom standalone partitions made solely of Lexan, which look nice without being permanent, since they’ll eventually need to be removed.
O’Sullivan’s partition concept is just another example of how Hampton Glass & Mirror has continued to innovate, solve problems and meet needs over the past three decades. Looking back, and to the future, he says, “I’m certainly proud of what we’ve established. They were dreams at one point. They were ideas in our heads…To sit back now and to watch it all happen and see the workflow come in and go through the systems and operations we’ve created is rewarding.”