By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Looking back thru a half century of glass sales success
Don Monaco – the founder of Don’s Mobile Glass – sits in the 1919 Ford Model-T that he and wife Gloria use to haul a popcorn machine to Modesto’s “Movies in the Park” in the summertime. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
MODESTO – Don Monaco never wanted to be the owner of a successful business.

He just wanted a way to make money for his family and to live his life as honestly and fully as possible.

When he lost his job at a local glass company during a recession in 1960, the laid-back Monaco – who had children at home – started going to used car lots asking if they needed any glass jobs done as a way to pocket some cash while he looked for a job.

He’d take the money to Acme Glass and purchase the piece he needed to install. He eventually had himself a pretty decent enterprise. After he accumulated a little bit of cash, he purchased an old UPS truck, outfitted it with some tools and racks, and was soon driving the first Don’s Mobile Glass vehicle to service his customers.

That was 50 years ago.

“I spent five years in that truck, and eventually I rented a little building and hired an employee,” Monaco said. “At the time I was 27 and I was having the time of my life – I couldn’t even have imagined that I would have built this company that is still standing after 50 years.”

What started as a rented building eventually became a purchased headquarters where he would run his trucks to customers throughout the Central Valley – servicing places like Modesto, Lodi, Turlock, Manteca, and Merced.

His first major acquisition was buying out Acme Glass in 1977– the company who had supplied him when he was an independent contractor – which would spark a chain of events that including buyouts of other competitors and other businesses to accentuate the overall business.

Fifteen years ago, Monaco had the chance to purchase WBS – Wardrobe Bath Specialties – that added a whole new dimension of glass to his already successful business. The outfit manufactures mirrored wardrobe and shower doors as well as ornate housing fixtures that caters to a high-end clientele.

As wholesalers of the WBS line, Don’s Mobile Glass sends on average three trucks a week to places like Redding, Phoenix, Nevada, and the Bay Area – teaming up drivers for 12-hour shifts to make sure that all of the drops get made at the right place and at the right time.

While he once had over 200 employees under his watchful eye, Monaco now has just over 100 after the recent economic crisis affected both the auto glass industry and the high-end mirrored glass that had been doing so well.

But ups and downs are part of the game, and it isn’t something that an established businessman is going to dwell on.

Recession: ‘The show must go on
“We’re seeing a little bit of an upturn in our business, but that crash seriously hurt us on all fronts,” Monaco said. “When you’ve been at this as long as I have, you can kind of see these things coming, and we braced for it the best we could. But the show must go on, and hopefully we’ll be able to bring those employees back.”

It’s taking care of those employees, he says, that is the prime reason that the business has expanded as quickly as it has and gained a reputation for quality and customer service.

“I can’t say enough about the people who work here and make this place what it is,” Monaco said. “I’m not the company, and I’m not the building – it’s the employees and their dedication that make Don’s Mobile Glass. I’m fortunate to have a group of people like this working for me.”

Over the course of the last 25 years, Monaco has been selling small pieces of the business to Bill Manual and Steve Mort. The duo eventually bought the company outright five years ago, and both men have sons that are college graduates that work in the business and could end up carrying it into a new era.

While he’s getting up there in age, Monaco is early to rise every morning to join his friends down at his favorite coffee shop for some java and gossip before heading into the corporate offices at 1424 H Street in downtown Modesto.

How much longer he’s going to be making the daily trek down to his office is unknown. But Monaco has learned in his 50 years that happiness isn’t necessarily connected to money.

“I just love to see the sun come up each morning. That’s truly a blessing to me,” He said. “What makes me happy is going to work and seeing this company grow. I never had a goal when it came to this endeavor – I just got up as early in the morning as possible and tried to do the best that I could. If it worked out then I was happy.

“I was never a goal person, I just tried to do the best that I could at everything that I did.”

Don’s Mobile Glass has six locations in the Central Valley, including one at 151 S. Main Street in Manteca. The company specializes in both auto and residential glass, and offers a full-selection of high-end mirrors and household accessories. For more information, call 823-7685.