Service & Sophistication Frame the Future of Bridger Glassworks
by Stephanie Dennee
Every window is an opportunity to frame a piece of art no one else can own. In Big Sky country, the art might be a majestic, snow-capped mountain range or the simple delight of a child chasing grasshoppers in the backyard. Whatever the view, Bridger Glassworks is determined that the window should add to the art of Montana. They help translate the beauty of the Montana experience into a myriad of glass applications, both indoors and out, pairing their ability to create custom solutions with personal service and expertise.
Nick and Susan Ovens, the owners of Bridger Glassworks, grew up revering the Montana experience. Nick was born in the U.K., the great-great-grandson of Butte sheriff, George Tuckett, and raised on family lore of the Copper City boom and the great American West. After moving stateside as a teen, Nick met his future wife, Susan—who attended Montana State University as a tennis player—in Atlanta, where they worked together to create a successful construction company. Though the young family was based in Atlanta, they longed to make Montana a part of their story. When the opportunity to purchase Bridger Glassworks, formerly Bridger Glass and Windows, presented itself a year ago, a modern tale of manifest destiny was serendipitously written. “We’d searched endlessly for an opportunity in Bozeman, which, for us, meant finding a business in the building industry,” says Nick. “A family friend tipped us off to the sale of Bridger Glass and Windows, and we couldn’t pass it up.” The opportunity became even sweeter when they learned about the wealth of knowledge from the staff with over 60 years of experience, who would stay on the team as they looked to the future.
“We’d searched endlessly for an opportunity in Bozeman, which, for us, meant finding a business in the building industry.”
–Nick Ovens, Owner – Bridger Glassworks
The future Nick envisions for Bridger Glassworks is one of streamlined service and creative collaboration with their clients. “The supply network and logistical expertise that we’ve developed over 20 years in business means that if a person can envision a window or glass application, we can source and install it. We’ve been tasked with creating custom window packages from Austrian suppliers and finding a hinge system from Scandinavia strong enough to hold a 300-pound glass door. If we can make those visions possible for our clients, really anything is possible,” Nick jests on a tour through their Four Corners-area showroom and workshop. In the showroom, two U.S. window lines are on display. Bridger Glassworks distributes the durable vinyl window solutions of Washington-based Cascade Windows and is the sole dealer of Lincoln Windows out of Wisconsin, manufacturers of luxe wood windows and patio doors, customized to fit a variety of architectural applications. Nick says of their Lincoln line of wood-framed windows, “The warmth and timeless character of a quality wood window lends itself to both the traditional and mountain-modern styles in our area.”
Across all material styles, a switch from smaller grid-paned windows to large single-pane glass installations is in demand. Nick says, “Large, custom glass and aluminum solutions, reserved for commercial storefront spaces a decade or two ago, have come into play in a variety of residential projects. Large panes let the view take over, and in a place like Montana, that’s the ultimate goal.”
The same desire to open up a home to the view through windows translates to the inside of the home, using glass to create light-filled, inviting spaces throughout the home’s interior. Nick describes the use of glass to create a unique experience, “A shower is no longer necessarily just a space to get clean. When a beautiful tile installation is coordinated with our glass enclosures, it can be a bright, calming space that enhances a person’s day. We see many clients who want to create spaces that really add to their daily lives.”
“There’s a seamless channel of work here, with one team handling every part of the order, from initial product selection, to site visit and measurements, to installation and quality control.”
–Kellen McMannis, General Manager – Bridger Glassworks
Bridger Glassworks’ General Manager, Kellen McMannis, agrees that their clients are continually looking for unique ways to enhance the design of their interior spaces through glass. Kellen says, “We see so many homeowners and industry professionals who know exactly what they want out of their interior glass, and people ready to use the material in new and bold ways. We have clients who request LED lighting or dimming technology within their glass, and people who use glass as an architectural element in their homes in very artful, sophisticated applications.” From shower enclosures to wine rooms to mirrored bar backs to stair railings, glass provides an opportunity for both the homeowner’s personality and the natural beauty of the setting to take center stage. For a recent Big Sky project, Kellen describes the custom glass railings Bridger Glassworks created for the home’s outdoor living areas. “It was important to the homeowner that the view to Lone Peak be as unobstructed as possible from both the indoor areas and the outdoor living spaces.” The resulting minimally-framed glass railing solution removes any feeling of separation from the mountain.
“Montana is a special place, and each person on the Bridger Glassworks team carries a sense of pride that we can do good work here. Ultimately, that pride in our work is what we bring every day.”
–Nick Ovens, Owner – Bridger Glassworks
An elevated level of product must be met with an elevated level of service and technical skill, especially when working with a fragile building material like glass. The Bridger Glassworks team sees the interconnected work of their showroom with the operations side of their business as the key to that coalition, and something that sets Bridger Glassworks apart from many other window sources. Kellen, who coordinates the multiple moving parts of their production and installation schedule, says, “There’s a seamless channel of work here, with one team handling every part of the order, from initial product selection, to site visit and measurements, to installation and quality control. Both in the shop and out on job sites, the team stays connected through detailed job specifications that can be accessed from anywhere. That level of service ensures that the materials, along with the technical aspects involved with transport and installation, all have a great deal of control.”
Kellen is also quick to point out that while Bridger Glassworks works a great deal with custom residential clients, they are equally committed to helping anyone in need of smaller installations or replacements. “Regardless of the scope of the project, our customers know that we will take care of them. In Montana’s inclement weather, if there’s a broken window, it needs to be addressed quickly. Knowing that, we’re mindful of our clients’ time and deliver them a quality product as fast as possible.”
As Nick reflects on the culmination of events that brought a British kid obsessed with western movies to own a business in Montana, a sense of gratitude and optimism in the future enters the conversation. “Montana is a special place, and each person on the Bridger Glassworks team carries a sense of pride that we can do good work here. Ultimately, that pride in our work is what we bring every day.”