Celebrating a Milestone – USGlass Magazine & USGNN Headline News
From Sam to David to Steven and now Matt.
Generation after generation, Skyline Windows, once a small New York company and now a company serving many states, celebrates a milestone.
Founder Sam Kraus came to the US from Hungary as a man with skills in metalworking and engineering. In 1921, he started the business as a roofing and waterproofing company – a one-man show.
His son, David, worked in the business whenever he could as a teenager. After serving in World War II, he returned to Skyline and started working full time. In the mid-20th century, under his leadership, Skyline began replacing windows and began to change the scope of the business.
“He was interested in doing more work and wasn’t that interested in doing the work with his own hands, even though he was very capable of doing it,” said Steven Kraus, current CEO of Skyline, of his father. “He started more extensive maintenance work on the building, including the metalwork, the roofing, the waterproofing, even did the occasional general contract … Sometime in the 1970s, as part of the exterior maintenance work he was doing , he occasionally became involved in replacing old windows – buildings from the 1920s. “
Shortly afterwards, Steven followed the family passion and worked with his father in the late 1970s. This brought the third generation of Kraus men to the leadership of Skyline, and the company as it is known today began to take shape.
“Our main focus was not on windows. But my dad and I decided to split the business in terms of responsibility. And by the early 1980s, I was running around selling windows while he was doing … the roofing and waterproofing. “
With the increased influence of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, Skyline began to shift focus. The buildings in the city were outdated, and instead of replacing all windows with modern fixtures, the company offered solutions that allowed historic structures to maintain their aesthetics and last as they were intended. Skyline had to manufacture windows to achieve this vision. So in the late 1980s, the first factory was opened in a Brooklyn basement.
Today, the company employs about 350 people in various locations in the Northeast. Matt Kraus, a great-grandson of founder Sam Kraus, is the president of Skyline Windows and works with his father.
When we think about the transformation that is making 100 years, the youngest Kraus says that the difference is ‘day and night’.
The company started out as a one-man business focused on minor repairs, Matt Kraus said. Today, Skyline has grown into a major construction contractor. Projects range from replacement, renovation, historic, and even buildings emerging from the ground. “We really blossomed then,” he said.
From those minor repairs came a project that both Matt and Steven love to talk about: Rockefeller Center.
The Grade II listed building is one that, like so many other structures in the Concrete Jungle, has a tremendous history… and old windows. Skyline is committed to the ongoing project of the past 15 years, involving renovation and replacement of the windows while preserving the building’s charm and classic look.
“Our design capability to make a window look exactly like the old existing window, but with all the new modern technology today,” said Matt Kraus. “When tenants leave their office or their space, we come in and change the windows, you know, so we do 1,000 or 2,000 a year … it’s just a really interesting operation.” Kraus thinks about the story of having a window developed that has come through
landmark review on an employee level, but showing no differences between old and new, really says something about the capabilities of his company.
In terms of ensuring its mark on the industry, those leading the operation hope to strengthen their commitment to meeting expectations.
“We are increasingly becoming a price and raw materials industry, where it is becoming more and more challenging to go that extra mile. But we are determined to go that extra mile, ”says Steven Kraus. “Once we have sold a job, we no longer look at the numbers; we just look at ‘how do we do the best we can’. And our dedication to our team, I mean … we stopped everyone at COVID … We are very committed to the Skyline family. “
For a century, the company that once focused on minor repairs is now continuously expanding and working on important projects, treating the team like a family – even those who don’t share the Kraus surname.