ON THE MOVE: “I wanted to leave a legacy for Dad and my family, and this was the right time to make the move. We have the construction project going on at our Spring Street building, and we found this great Alexander Road location.” Robbie Nelson (center), owner of Nelson Glass & Aluminum and daughter of its founder, the late Bob Nelson, is shown with officer manager Joanne McGettigan (left) and longtime former office manager Alice Kent (right).
Your son just threw a baseball through the window; the wind blew the patio table over, and broke the glass top; the king-size mirror fell off the wall — who to call?
Nelson Glass, of course! Since 1949, this has been the place to go, whether for an emergency, a quick fix, or a long-range project.
Nelson Glass & Aluminum is unique in Princeton today. An independent, family-owned and operated business that continues to provide Princeton and the area with knowledgeable, friendly service and quality products. It has a proud history.
In 1949, Bob Nelson returned to his Princeton hometown with an engineering degree from Cornell and a goal of establishing his own business. It didn’t take long to discover that Princeton lacked a glass company, and he set out to fill that need.
After learning the ropes of the glass industry, he set up shop at a Nassau Street location. And, the rest, as they say, is history!
“In those days, the bulk of the business was cutting flat automobile glass,” explains Robbie Nelson, Bob Nelson’s daughter, and the firm’s current owner. “The store evolved into repair — especially broken windows. Dad saw a need, and he was always concerned with being a full-service glass company.”
After 10 years on Nassau Street, the firm moved to 45 Spring Street, where it has remained ever since. It continued to grow and evolve, beginning to provide aluminum storm doors and windows, then mirror work, shower doors, insulated glass, sliding patio doors, and table tops. Work began to be divided between commercial and residential projects.
Nelson Glass has always been known for its attention to detail and painstaking care for each project. As always, the company still does things by hand. The expert staff will custom-cut all mirrors, and make perfectly-fitting glass table tops. They also replace defective (foggy) double-paned insulated glass.
“The big thing now is doubled-paned insulated glass,” says Robbie Nelson. “It can get moisture between the panes though, and then needs to be replaced. Probably our most common job is replacing defective insulated glass.”
That is just one of the many services the company provides. Glass for picture frames, Plexiglas and safety glass, repair of leaded windows, application of solar film to windows to help prevent fading of interior items — the list goes on and on. Fixing rotted wood window frames is another service.
“People often come in and bring a broken storm window,” points out Nelson, “and then they’ll see the showroom display and find something else they want. Maybe they need a new storm door, for example, or a new glass table top.
“When they come in, they can meet the staff. And we do the work here. We create the new storm door for you or make the repairs right here. Then, if there is ever a problem later, the customer can come back and see us. We will be here. We always stand by our work. Our reputation means everything. We always take pride in doing a good job.”
Now, Nelson Glass is embarking on a new adventure. After nearly 60 years on Spring Street, the firm has moved to a new location at 741 Alexander Road, Suite 7/8.
Changing times bring changing needs, and Nelson Glass has always adapted to new markets and directions.
“We started when Princeton was a village,” remarks Nelson, “Spring Street was a good location in the heart of town. But as times have changed, and Princeton has grown, we need more space and more parking.
“The Alexander Road location is just right. We needed a level loading dock, and it offers more space. We’ll go from 3,500 square to 5,000 square feet. It’s still a Princeton address, and there is lots of free parking.
“We’re looking forward to having more room in the shop and in the showroom. I’m also happy to have a bigger office. We will also be adding more staff. Finding the right staff has always been very important to us, and we have always been fortunate to have an excellent staff at Nelson.
“We have a new office manager, Joanne McGettigan, who has 15 years’ experience in the glass industry. She has the same talent for customer service that our longtime office manager Alice Kent has. Customers will be pleased to know that although Alice is semi-retired, she will be on hand at least three days a week in our new location.”
The timing of the move coincides with a building project at the Spring Street location. In the works for two years, the plan includes the addition of six stacked terraced apartments atop the original building. These rental units will include one single-bedroom, three two-bedroom, and two three-bedroom apartments. One affordable unit will be available.
Designed by Princeton architect Joshua Zinder of JZA+D, the project allows for 2,000 square feet of commercial space on the existing first level. The apartments will feature outdoor glass balcony railings, and after completion, the structure will be known as the Nelson Glass House.
“We need more housing in downtown Princeton,” says Nelson, who also owns the house next door at 47 Spring Street, currently divided into two apartments. “With the new addition and the house next door, we feel we are keeping the area as a neighborhood.
“I wanted to do something my dad would be proud of,” she continues. “I wanted to leave a legacy for him and the family. It’s all about family.”
Nelson Glass has had many loyal customers over the past decades, and continues to add new clients from all over the area.
“We want them all to come and see us at the new location, where we will continue to service all their glass needs,” says Nelson. “They can count on us for the cutting and installation. We are a true service operation. We do it all, and we will also help to guide those who want to do it themselves. But for the things that are too big, such as long mirrors or big pieces of glass, they can rely on us.
“Every day is different, with different challenges. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience. We can handle any project — from little jobs to big jobs, whatever the customer needs.”
While looking forward to this new adventure in the annals of Nelson Glass history, Robbie Nelson admits to mixed feelings about leaving Spring Street.
“The move is bittersweet. I will certainly miss coming here. It’s been a big part of my life. I love Princeton, and I’ll miss the downtown very much. But we will not be far away at all. It’s still a Princeton address, and we can’t wait to welcome all our customers to our new home.”
Nelson Glass & Aluminum hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (609) 924-2880. Website: www.nelsonglassprinceton.com.