Mitchell Glass – a fourth-generation family business based in Galashiels – was founded by Robert Mitchell in 1875. Today, the business has evolved and offers windows, doors and living spaces in aluminium, timber and PVCu to satisfied customers throughout the Borders and Lothians.
Robert Mitchell served his time as a glazier in Edinburgh but later moved to the Scottish Borders and initially set up business in Hawick.
When he died in 1928, his son Alexander Mitchell – who was born in Galashiels – continued to develop the business. Alongside his board of directors, he ensured it remained at the forefront of the industry until his own death in 1946 when it was inherited by Dr Robert Mitchell, the grandson of the founder.
With Dr Mitchell in service during the war, James Fisher, a member of staff at Mitchell Glass, stepped up to become a stakeholder and managed the business, eventually taking control of the firm when it became a limited company in 1947.
Fisher’s successful leadership resulted in continued growth and his son Bill joined as an apprentice glazier at 14-years-old.
Bill Fisher’s eventual role in expanding the business was significant.
He chose to open premises in Gala Lane, Galashiels which he felt would be of benefit to the company due to its central Borders location, and he travelled daily by steam train from Hawick until the family relocated to the town in 1960.
The business later moved to Market Street, Galashiels (the Quin’s building) and converted the premises with a modern shop front system. It now sold ‘fancy goods and mirrors’ and – as recalled by Fisher’s widow Carrie – was considered ‘the place to visit if looking for a wedding present.’
Through Mitchell’s connections with Plyglass (bought by Pilkington in 1996), double glazing was introduced to the Borders in the early 1970s and soon after, the company started to manufacture aluminium windows incorporating the new Thermopane double glazing. It became clear that the business had outgrown its Market Street premises, a location no longer suitable for the large delivery lorries it required, and it moved to its current home – a purpose-built factory just off Currie Road on the location of the old railway turntable – securing its future at the heart of the town.
Fisher, who eventually owned the company, formed R Mitchell (Glass) Ltd in 1976.
With great confidence in the potential of the business, he asked his son-in-law Peter Roden – who had served his apprenticeship as a carding engineer and attended Scottish College of Textiles for Woollen Manufacture and Borders College for Engineering – to join the team as its first dedicated salesman in 1984.
Following Fisher’s retirement, Roden became Managing Director in 1993 and purchased a majority shareholding in the company, while his wife Susan (Bill’s daughter) – who had started her Mitchell’s career as a ‘Saturday girl’ at the Market Street shop while still at school – worked as Company Secretary. They ran the company together for another quarter of a century.
A modern business with traditional values, Mitchell Glass, the longest established glazing company in Scotland, is now run by Lewis Roden, son of Peter and Susan, grandson of Bill Fisher and great grandson of James Fisher.
Roden (Lewis) is a time-served joiner who shadowed his parents at work for over 21 years, learning every element of the business, before stepping into the position of Managing Director in February 2019.
Future-focused and committed to the continued growth and development of the business, he has implemented changes, including investment in technology to deliver even greater customer experiences, which have highlighted his vision and ambition for the next chapter of Mitchell Glass.
Robert Mitchell would be proud to know that his business has continued to flourish, while upholding his values, after almost 150 years.
For more about Mitchell Glass: www.mitchellglass.co.uk