The son also rises

December 07, 1999|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

As a high school student, Tim Palkovitz always counted on working for his dad's company during summer breaks.

He did whatever needed to be done - carrying paint, stocking shelves, working in the store, cleaning bathrooms.

Then, the summer between freshman and sophomore year of college, there just wasn't a job for him at Hagerstown Paint & Glass Co.

"It shook me," said Palkovitz, 35, who decided then he wouldn't count on working for the family business after college.

In time, though, the opportunity came.

The outside sales and management experience he gained as a result has been an asset in running 75-year-old Hagerstown Paint & Glass Co., said Palkovitz, who took over daily operations from his father, Steve Palkovitz, in 1997.

The company, at 18136 Oak Ridge

Drive, wholesales and retails paint, doors, windows, door and window frames, glass and builders' hardware.

"We're in the position where we can bid on every opening in a set of plans, interior and exterior," said Tim Palkovitz, who is vice president and secretary of the company.


While not related to company founders Leonard G. Mathias and Royston Smith, the Palkovitzes see themselves as carrying on a family business because of the way Mathias, who had no children, groomed the elder Palkovitz to follow him in the business.

Steve Palkovitz said he hoped to do the same with his youngest son but only after he made his way in the world and decided to come back.

"Oh, man. I wouldn't want it to be any other way," said Steve Palkovitz, 65, who co-owns the company with his son and retains the title of president.

The early days

Hagerstown Paint & Glass Co. was founded by Mathias and Smith in 1924.

With only three paint suppliers in Hagerstown at the time - when ready-mixed paints were not yet available - they saw an opportunity in the market, according to the Palkovitzes.

Because painters usually doubled as glaziers in those days, it was a natural to sell glass as well, they said.

The original store was on West Franklin Street. An old paper mill on Security Road was used as warehouse space.

The business had moved across the street to 45 W. Franklin St. by the time Steve Palkovitz joined the company in 1959.

Four years before, the company had branched out by opening Overhead Door Company of Hagerstown.

In 1963, the company became a distributor for Steelcraft hollow metal doors and frames. Only two places in town sold steel doors and frames then, Steve Palkovitz said.

Mathias was always a visionary when it came to business, he said.

"He is a true innovator and always pushing for new avenues for sales," he said of Mathias, 99, who still serves as chairman of the board.

The company opened Overhead Door Company of Cumberland in 1979.

In 1997, a branch of Hagerstown Paint & Glass Co. opened in Martinsburg, W.Va. The company opened Overhead Door Company of Martinsburg the following year.

Like a son

A Washington County native, Steve Palkovitz started with the company as a paint salesman after a downturn at Fairchild Aircraft left him without a job.

In the purchasing department at Fairchild, Palkovitz had bought from Hagerstown Paint & Glass.

He was in the market for a new job when he happened to run into Mathias at the barbershop and learned he was looking for a salesman. Mathias told Palkovitz to drop by his office sometime if he was interested.

As soon as his haircut was finished, Palkovitz took Mathias up on the offer and found more than just another job at Hagerstown Paint & Glass.

He said Mathias took him and co-worker W. Wayne Byrd under his wing and treated them like his sons.

Palkovitz worked his way up in the company. He expanded from paint to other products and started going on the road to sell to contractors.

Palkovitz then went into the commercial estimating end of the business. As a project manager, he'd follow an order through fabrication and installation.

Byrd took over as president after Mathias retired. Steve Palkovitz bought out Byrd when he retired in 1989 and become president.

On his own

After graduating from North Hagerstown High in 1981, Tim Palkovitz majored in management information systems and marketing and minored in economics at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

The day after he graduated from college in 1985, Palkovitz went to work as a marketing representative for Xerox in Richmond.

His career was on the fast track.

Palkovitz was promoted to account representative, then sent to Norfolk, Va., to serve as account manager, then promoted to sales manager in Northern Virginia.

While his son continued talking about coming back to Hagerstown Paint & Glass eventually, Steve Palkovitz admits he was starting to worry that plan might change as his career with Xerox flourished.

Still, the decision to come home to Washington County was easy, Tim Palkovitz said. It offered the right mix of friends and family and was where he wanted to raise his family.

"It was exciting. I had a good career with (Xerox). But my heart was to come back to Hagerstown long-term," he said.

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