Week after week. Month after month. Season after season. For 160 years, through sweltering heat and bone-chilling cold, they brought it.
Through drought and deluge, fire and flood, Civil wars and world wars, depressions and recoveries, pennant races and losing streaks, they brought it.
For 160 years, the men and women of the Mathews Brothers family brought it every day: their pride, their hearts, their hands. Skilled hands, experienced hands, with knowledge that can only be gained through time, through patience and through guidance.
Generation after generation after generation, skills were passed on. From father to son, from mother to daughter, sister to brother, uncle to niece, husband to wife. Old hands to young hands.
It’s a simple product, really. A basic combination of glass, white pine and putty. Born from a marriage of machines doing what they do best, and skilled hands doing the rest.
Since 1854, when the factory was lit by coal gas lanterns, the saws were powered by steam engines, and the windows were delivered on wagons drawn by horses, it was the skilled hands that crafted the wood.
As technology advanced with the introduction of electric saws, incandescent bulbs and internal combustion engines, It was still the skill of the hands that made the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
As the machines got faster, the technology got better, and the distribution spread wider. Still it was the hands, with the skills passed down through time.
The hands that turned rough lumber and raw glass into windows. Beautiful windows. Honest windows. Mathews Brothers windows. Windows that were as much at home in barns as they were in banks, in camps as in castles. Simple, honest windows. Putty glazed, with pride, by hand, pane by pane by pane. Generation after generation.
But as it’s written: to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to keep, a time to cast away. And just as the telegraph, the typewriter and buggy whip had their moments in time before fading into our memory, so it is with this iconic Mathews Brothers product. It had its moment in the sun… 160 years’ worth, but its time has now passed.
Henry ford supposedly said, “If I asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” which was his way of saying that while it’s important to listen to your customers, it’s more important to pay attention to the market place.
And as it was with automobiles, so it is with windows. Our job as a window manufacturer is not to be known as the company that used to make high quality putty glazed wood windows. No, our job, our responsibility, is to be here tomorrow, next week, next year, next generation. Creating windows, wicked awesome windows, made by wicked awesome people.
So, sad as we are to watch the final batch of putty glazed wood windows work their way across the production floor, we take comfort in knowing that it’s never been the material that defined us as a company. It’s always been our tradition of quality, workmanship and pride in a job well done.
So, whether we choose to make our windows from wood, vinyl, composites or some material as yet undeveloped, we know that the men and women of Mathews Brothers will continue to carry on the tradition that is their legacy: of bringing their pride, their hearts… and the skill that lives in their hands.
(For the video version of this Blog entry, please click here: Hearts and Hands)