2009-12-25 / Family

It’s clearly a family business

By Jeffrey Dransfeldt jdransfeldt@theacorn.com

FAMILY OWNED—The Brueckner family of Camarillo, from left, Luke, 10, Wayne, Brenda, Tyler, 20, Traci, 17, and Melissa, 15, own and operate Callender’s House of Glass. FAMILY OWNED—The Brueckner family of Camarillo, from left, Luke, 10, Wayne, Brenda, Tyler, 20, Traci, 17, and Melissa, 15, own and operate Callender’s House of Glass. For most, their early 20s usually mark the start of a career.

For Wayne Brueckner back in 1989, he was not only starting a career before his 25th birthday, he was taking over a business.

“It was absolutely overwhelming, and, honestly, sometimes it still is,” Brueckner said.

His determination has paid off with the success of Callender’s House of Glass. The company, originally based in Santa Barbara, has since expanded, with an office in Camarillo.

Brueckner prides himself on being able to meet his customers’ needs, big or small.

“People tend to be loyal because we’ll come out and fix their little problem with their sliding glass door or whatever it is,” Brueckner said. “We’ll go ahead and do that. We won’t try to up-sell them into a more expensive item or (say), ‘I’m sorry . . . you can’t repair this. You need a new one.’

“I think that kind of willingness to do whatever needs to be done has helped us because I think that makes for a loyal customer base.”

It’s a customer base that has grown from its initial start in 1960 on State Street in Santa Barbara and its expansion to a glass and screen company when it moved within the city to its current location, 2928 De La Vina St., in 1966.

The Brueckner family, which has always lived in Camarillo, added a Camarillo location four years ago that’s now at 1221 Avenida Acaso, Unit J.

The company has a diverse list of products and services, including mirrors, windows, shower doors, screens, glass counters, commercial storefront, handrails, glass canopies and glass doors.

“I tend to be a guy who says yes to stuff,” Brueckner said. “I tend to go, ‘Yeah, we’ll figure that out.’ Over the years what that’s turned into is some tough days where it’s like, ‘Oh, boy, we’ve got to figure this out,’ but it allows us to do more things.”

Brueckner began working for the previous owners in 1986 as summer help and steadily advanced within the company to become the lead installer within three years. In 1989, the owners, already thinking about retiring to Big Bear, offered to sell the company, and the Brueckners agreed to buy it with a partner.

Within three years, the Brueckners bought out the partner and became sole owners.

The husband-wife tag-team had met in high school at what is now Cornerstone Christian School.

“That (first job) has turned into a 24-year summer at this point,” Brueckner said laughing.

Brenda Brueckner made her presence felt behind the scenes, helping run the household and also tackling the bookkeeping. Her bookkeeping duties have been eased with the company hiring someone to take a daily look at the books.

Brenda Brueckner said much of their business has always come from residential. Wayne Brueckner says he’s at his best working with the everyday customer.

“I love it,” he said. “I come up with creative ideas to try to take care of whatever their problem (is) or . . . I try to turn (their idea) into something that will actually work or something that’s feasible.”

Business began to slow with the recession, so the Brueckner family began looking at other avenues to continue getting the company name out there. The website came online within the last year, and they have begun more advertising locally with newspaper ads.

A family photo has been included with an ad to help potential customers relate the family to the company name.

When the Brueckners bought the business in ’89, they kept the business name intact. Most of the attention the business receives comes from word of mouth.

The family has established roots in Camarillo, and with four active kids there’s always something happening. Their children are Tyler, 20, Traci, 17, Melissa, 15, and Luke, 10.

Brueckner has found a way to balance work with being there for his children’s activities, even if it means flying into the house in the afternoon, tossing sports equipment in the truck and heading back out to practice or taking a client’s call via cellphone on the playing field.

“He’s always made it work,” Brenda Brueckner said.

Wayne Brueckner said he’s coached more than 50 youth sports teams over the past 20 years, including basketball, baseball, soccer and football. Owning his business has allowed him the flexibility a 9to-5 job might not.

“I love to work with kids that want to get better, that want to learn,” he said.

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