The glass business is like a magnet for Tina and Ken Shepherd, owners of Champion Glass of Payson.
Shepherd started working in the auto repair business, opening a shop in Tucson. His father-in-law owned and operated the largest family owned auto glass company west of the Mississippi, J.C.'s Glass, which he started from scratch in Mesa.
In 1984, he went to work at J.C.'s Glass. Then in 1987, he and Tina moved to Payson and opened their own glass business, Shepherd's Glass, which they operated for 10 years, before selling it to Tom Titus, after an injury sidelined Ken.
"I thought I was through with the glass business," Ken said, and he was for about five years due to the injury. But then a couple of years ago, the Shepherds were drawn back to the business, and started Champion Glass.
Champion Glass does both auto and "flat" glass -- residential and commercial.
Of the two, Shepherd said most changes have been in the auto glass business.
"When I started doing it, the glass in vehicles was put in with rubber gaskets or butyl tape," he said. "Now vehicle glass is glued in with high-tensile strength urethane adhesive."
The way the glass is made, along with the way it is held in place, makes it strong enough to withstand 700 pounds of pressure per square inch, Shepherd said.
"Glass is now part of the structural strength of a vehicle," he said.
With the changes in vehicle glass and its installation, the process to take out a windshield and replace it does not take as many steps as it used to, but it takes more specialized tools, he said.
While the installation end of the "flat glass" side of the business has not changed much, there is a difference in the glass.
The windows put in new construction often use glass that has been treated to reduce the ultraviolet rays of the sun, he said. But because of the elevation of the area, the filtering built into the glass is often not enough, so Champion Glass provides a window tinting service -- for vehicles as well as structures.
As the temperatures rise, so does the activity for Champion Glass, Ken said.
"We can be doing around 10 autos a week," he said. "That may not sound like much, when bigger shops in Phoenix are easily doing 10 a day. But being a smaller shop, we provide more personalized service and higher quality."
Champion Glass is at 1505 W. Red Baron Road. The shop is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., by appointment, Monday through Friday.
In addition to doing auto and structural glass installation and window tinting, Champion Glass also does shower doors, mirrors, chip repairs and provides mobile service, bringing the work to the customer.
For information, call (928) 472-6363.