BY LUIS GRONDA
George and Maria Rodriguez are a classic example of realizing the American Dream.
Migrating to the United States from their native Argentina, George and Maria have established one of the premier designer glass companies in New York City.
They have owned and operated GMD Industries since it opened in 1982, offering service in the etching industry for glass, mirror, stone, plastic and metal.
The couple operated a similar company in their homeland before moving to the U.S. in 1975, and used that experience to start their own business.
George said that they worked in another company during their first days in the States to learn how things work in this country compared to Argentina.
“When we came here, we wanted to be acquainted to how the country operates so we can run the business here,” he said.
George said the big difference between the two countries is that the volume at which they sell their product is much higher in the United States because more people are interested in buying the designer glass that they make at their College Point-based factory.
GMD Industries has shown tremendous growth in the years since it was founded, George said. When it first started, the company consisted of himself and Maria and they rented a warehouse where they could do their work. Now, the company consists of 10 employees and they own the 15,000-square-foot building it calls its headquarters.
Because they had already owned a similar glass company in Argentina, it was not too difficult to operate the company in a new country.
“All we had to do is implement what we knew. We offered our items to everybody: architects, interior designers, general contractors and so on,” George said. “They had interest in what we did and orders started coming in.”
They were able to garner customer’s interests by distributing free samples to companies. Glass etching was a popular item to buy back when they first started, so that also helped to draw interest, George said.
GMD used to do more work for residential houses in their earlier days, but now, according to George, about 80 percent of the designs they make are for commercial buildings and business.
The reason for the increase, he said, is the housing market has declined in New York over the years and creating designs for commercial properties is where the money is at right now.
“The times made residential a little more quiet for the simple reason that the work is not out there. People don’t have the same standard of living as they used to,” he said.
One project they are working on right now is designing for jewelry giant Tiffany & Co. George could not get into the specifics of the project, but he did say they are doing designs for their stores worldwide.
George said that much of their competition in their field have gone out of business in recent years while GMD has stayed afloat. The reason for their survival is because of the familiarity their customers have with their work.
“From 1982 we are in business, so everybody and their mother knows us,” he said. “If they need something, instead of going to somebody new, they will go to somebody they know.”
George said he and his wife are still very hands-on with their company, answering customer inquiries themselves and delivering the product as well if it is necessary.
GMD Industries is located at 129-20 18th Ave. in College Point. Their phone number is (718) 445-8779. They can also be found online at gmdindustries.com.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.