The History of Schaaf
George Schaaf founded Schaaf Window Company with his father, Fred, in June of 1959 and it was originally called Schaaf Glass Company. They started the company with just $1,000 each and a $10,000 loan from George’s aunt, who mortgaged her house to get them the money. George started working with a couple of employees in three garages behind his father’s home. They soon began working in a fourth garage down the ally, but people complained about the semis that were constantly coming through. Their work consisted of cutting glass for windows and mirrors, glazing windows on the jobsite, and regalzing windows. They ran their business out of George’s father’s home, with his mother answering their phone calls. Their official business address was 928 W 71st St, but this was just used to make their business official with the union.
After they had been in business for a year, they decided it was time to move to a real office and warehouse because their business was growing so much. They rented a building at 7807 S Western Ave. from a used car dealer. They made a deal with him that they could use the building and the dealer could use the lot next to it with his cars, only taking a small office in the corner of the building. At this time, they began doing glass jobs for storefronts on top of their glazing business. They continued to grow and after two years in this building they needed to move again.
By now they’ve been in business for about 3 years, and the year is 1963. This time George decided to build his own building, now in Evergreen Park at 3524 W 95th St. His father advised against constructing a brand new building, as he was very safe with his money, but he told George that if he could obtain the loan, then he could go forward and build the new building. George was able to obtain the loan, and the new building was quickly constructed. During this time the company did a large chunk of its business selling framed mirrors and medicine cabinets, and also began selling patio doors. The business continued to grow and George had to find more room for his company. He convinced the lady that lived in a house next to the building to sell to him and he then constructed a new building on that land to keep up with demand. While at this location George bought out his father, who was a 50/50 partner and decided to retire, making him the sole owner of Schaaf Glass. In 1969, George began renting a building on 93rd & Kedzie for the metal division of the company.
The company stayed at the Evergreen Park location for 10 years, but then grew too large for the capacity of the space they were in. In 1972, George bought land at 7212 W 90th St. just off of Harlem Ave. to build a new location for Schaaf Glass. This building was much larger and able to keep up with the demand that the company was generating, although over the next 8 years they would add three additions to give the company more space as it continued to grow. Because they were selling a lot of patio doors, Schaaf Glass also began fabricating steel doors to go along with them at this location in 1972. The business really took off in 1974 when they began assembling their own windows. George recognized that there was a problem in the construction industry. Builders were displeased with the long amount of time it took to get their windows from manufacturers, taking sometimes up to eight weeks. George saw this as an opportunity, and he made an agreement with Northern Sash & Door, later called NORCO, to sell their windows. He inventoried all the parts for the windows and then constructed them in his shop. This allowed him to have windows for home builders in just 48 hours, giving him a huge advantage over other window dealers. This caused the company to grow exponentially, leading to the separation of the glass and window sections of this business. George’s son, George Jr, began working at the company at this location in 1977 working on the window side of the company. In 1981 George officially created Schaaf Window Company as a separate company from Schaaf Glass Company.
In 1981, George turned an old stadium he had built into offices and a shop. He had helped build the stadium that was going to be used for a local semi-pro baseball team and women’s league, but he was never paid by the builder. He then bought the land the stadium was on and decided to turn it into a new location for Schaaf Glass, and he formed a new company, Schaaf Window, to take over the old building. He took the old concession stand and turned it into an office space and a small warehouse. This building was located at 9934 S 76th Ave in Bridgeview. At first, Schaaf Glass moved to this location while Schaaf Window and Schaaf Metal stayed at the location on 90th St. Because of an economic slowdown at the time, Schaaf Window and Schaaf Metal could share the same location, but when the economy began to pick up again, Schaaf Window grew with it. In 1985 Schaaf Window moved to the location on 76th Ave and Schaaf Glass moved back to the 90th St location.
George was then building additions onto this location every couple of years as the window company continued to grow. He had to just make small additions each time because he didn’t have the money to build an entire new building. He was already putting all of his money back into his business, and didn’t leave himself or his family much to live off of. Eventually George saved up enough money to build an entire new building next to the existing one. At first, he rented out most of the space, but slowly took over the entire building and added two more additions onto it as the company kept growing. Overall there were seven combined additions to the buildings that were made over the years. The company also began selling many new products at this location such as millwork and interior doors.
In 1980 George had separated the metal division of Schaaf Glass into a new company, Schaaf Metal Company, this time with a partner, Pete Leonardi. This company assembled storefront metal and sold to commercial glass companies. George had a location built just outside of St. Louis in Merryville, IL for the company to run out of. It serviced much of the Midwest, but when the economy tanked in the late 1980’s, the company fell on hard times and in 1990 it moved back to Bridgeview and was dissolved back into Schaaf Glass Company.
As both companies continued to grow, George’s children also became more involved. His daughter Barb began working at Schaaf Window in 1986 and his son Bob began working there full-time in 1996. With all his children working at the window company and not familiar with the glass business, George made the decision to sell Schaaf Glass Company. Both had become very large and running them was a challenge as he aged. He sold Schaaf Glass to John Skirnik in 2000, and afterwards focused solely on Schaaf Window.
Schaaf Window grew steadily in the ‘80s and ‘90s until it had outgrown its Bridgeview location’s capacity. In 2003 Schaaf Window moved to its current location in Tinley Park at 18445 Thompson Ct. With the boom of the early 2000s, Schaaf Window grew to become the largest independent window company in Illinois. When the recession hit in 2008, even though he was largely not a part of day to day operations anymore, George used his own money to keep the business funded. After the recession ended, Schaaf Window bounced back and has now flourished again under the management of George’s children, George Jr., Barb, and Bob. In 2010 Schaaf Window acquired Oakley Millwork and Chicago Millwork, expanding its capabilities in the millwork business.
In February of 2018, Schaaf Window acquired Area Glass out of St. John, IN. This second location has allowed us to expand our capabilities and reach whole new set of customers and is the first separate location of Schaaf Window. In June of 2018, George Jr. retired and was bought out by his siblings, Bob and Barb, leaving the two of them to manage the operations of the business. In 2022 we became the largest dealer of Weather Shield windows in the nation as our successful relationship with them as our primary window manufacturer has continued to grow.