Empirehouse History: 1950 to present
The origins of Empirehouse started in 1950 with John and Betty Griffith creating a business to meet their post-war independent spirits. Initially starting with demonstrating and selling weaving looms via mail order catalogs and state fair exhibitions, their interest quickly changed to the window industry.
Working from their home, the first units sold were through door-to-door sales of combination windows and jalousie porch windows and doors. Eventually the business outgrew their home office, and they moved to the Minneapolis warehouse district. Sharing the building with Bolger Printing, they started fabrication of their storm windows and jalousie windows, becoming one of the largest fabricators and distributors of jalousie windows in Minnesota.
In the late 1960’s, John and Betty Griffith started designing commercial aluminum entry door. With the housing boom, the increasing large number of apartment buildings demanded a high quality and durable aluminum door. Patterned after the narrow stile that was popular back then, they designed a narrow stile heavy wall extrusion, using solid aluminum push and pull handles. Because they controlled all aspects of the manufacturing, fabrication and installation, Empirehouse was able to produce a high quality, but competitive entrance unit for commercial use. Many of these doors are still in use today, 50 years later.
Growing out of the facility on Washington Avenue, in the early 1970’s, John and Betty purchased a building formerly owned by the Griffith family where they originally produced and packaged lutefisk, an old Scandinavian traditional dish. The building was transformed from a food producing plant to a metal and glass fabrication shop. For over thirty years, Empirehouse produced thousands of commercial aluminum windows and doors from this facility.
During the 1980’s, Empirehouse began to change the work scope of the company—from small retail and apartment projects to larger commercial and multi-family complexes. Venturing deeper into fabricating and installing products for more complex and challenging work, Empirehouse focused on projects that included public work, HUD hi-rise, and industrial buildings. The products for these jobs were less commodity aimed and more custom oriented.
In addition to windows, entries and storefront products, Empirehouse began to fabricate and install more curtainwall, glass handrails, and specialty art glass. With these changes, our customer base expanded to include the premier contractors in the upper Midwest. The addition of sophisticated plant equipment allowed Empirehouse greater fabrication capacity, along with increased staff in estimating and project management. Growth had pushed us to make the next step.
In 1991, Empirehouse was approved by the State of Minnesota as a Certified DBE Women-Owned Business, in addition to being certified to participate in similar state-funded programs at the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Transportation, and several Metropolitan agencies.
In 1999, John Griffith, Sr. suddenly passed away and was not able to see us enter the next millennium and a new generation of Empirehouse expansion. John’s wife Betty and other family, embraced the challenge and moved Empirehouse into the 21st century.
In 2001, Empirehouse moved from downtown Minneapolis to a newer facility which expanded the fabrication plant by three times. The additional space allowed for Empirehouse to take larger contracts, with more complex and engineered products. Our scope included large pressure wall projects with challenging schedule demands.
More changes ahead. In 2007 Empirehouse began its next move to a facility with more flexibility, and conveniently located near major thoroughfares. In January 2008, we moved to 5200 Quincy Street, in Mounds View, MN. The location, the plant and its proximity to Minneapolis and St. Paul made this new home a perfect fit for Empirehouse and its employees.
During the economic downturn, Empirehouse forged new relationships with customers and suppliers to meet the needs of the challenging marketplace. Working with new materials, challenging conditions, and a flexible Empirehouse team, we took on exciting projects. We also added new equipment including CNC machines which provided more speed and quality assurance to our fabrication process.
Making strategic moves, Empirehouse added Goldray Industries and H Window to our represented and distributed products and became more automated in our sales, estimating, and production departments. In addition, we expanded our customer and project radius and began installation in North and South Dakota.
While Empirehouse has been in the glass and glazing industry since 1950, this three-generation, family-owned glazing contractor has safely taken on some of the largest Twin City specialty glazing projects performed on small job sites with challenging logistics and aggressive schedules. Among our recent specialty glazing projects completed on small job sites are the Mall of America expansion, Target Center renovation, Treasure Island Center/TRIA Rink, Portland Towers Luxury Condominiums, Minnesota Orchestra Hall, American Swedish Institute: Nelson Cultural Center, and The Mother Baby Center at Abbott Northwestern.
Not only that, but Empirehouse holds the gold standard in safety. In 2016 Empirehouse became the first Certified NACC Glazing Contractor in the Midwest as a result and from that we’ve developed a “Proven Process” of Quality.
We look forward to the opportunities ahead. Empirehouse is equipped with an excellent facility, state-of-the-art equipment, and an innovative team who go above and beyond to meet your architectural glass and metal needs.
Want to know more about how Empirehouse can meet your Architectural Glass and Glazing needs? Call Empirehouse at 763-535-1150 or contact us.