SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS -- Robert Jayson, owner and president of S.A. Bendheim Ltd., was presented with the SGAA Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual awards reception and banquet, held June 4 to close out the 2019 summer conference in San Antonio, Texas.
Also honored were Megan McElfresh, Tony Glander, and Ellen Mandelbaum.
The oldest of three brothers raised in the generational glass company, Jayson has continued to build the company and bring innovation to tradition in glass manufacturing.
“I was truly born and raised in the glass business,” Jayson said in his remarks. “My maternal grandparents, Sem and Margaret Bendheim founded S.A. Bendheim in New York City in 1927. Their life was filled with friendships made through stained glass and they loved to entertain. Their home was always filled with the artists and studio owners they befriended. Today I live in this home, and their tradition continues.
“From an early age I knew that I wanted to be in this business. So later, it was no surprise when I became disenchanted with college and decided to take a ‘sabbatical’ before returning to complete. I failed in my attempts to get a job on the Alaska pipeline and my chances of being a tuna fisherman in the Caribbean were slim to none.
“It was at this time that my dad suggested I try to get a job at the Lamberts glass factory in Germany. The job would be hard, which appealed to me, and I would be the only American to have worked in the Glashütte Lamberts, one of the world leaders in mouthblown sheet glass. I’d come back a better person and bring additional knowledge to the business when I joined. I thought this was a great idea and it ended up becoming the single most valuable experience in my life. I spent almost six months there, working as a walzentráger, or cylinder carrier, running the hot cylinders from the blowers to the annealing lehr. I experienced the bond born of men working as a team through skill, strength, and sweat, to create these fragile cylinders of glass art. I came back a better person.
“In 1976 I joined the business full time (that’s 43 years ago!) and in the early 80’s I had ‘my one good idea’ according to my brothers. At the time I realized Lamberts had a glass that closely resembled true old window glass and recognized the need for such a glass in the traditional building market. I worked with Lamberts, refining it to become the perfect historic reproduction glass. Following the success of Restoration Glass®, my brothers and I soon realized architects and designers were the perfect audience for all the specialty glasses we carried. Restoration Glass® became the inspiration and bridge to our transformation into one of the nation’s leaders in the specialty architectural glass industry.”
Roberts brothers, Donald and Steven Jayson flew out to San Antonio to join us at the Awards Banquet and support their brothers “one good idea.”
SGAA Presient David Judson presented Megan McElfresh with the Distinguished Service Award for her dedication as the SGAA’s executive administrator. “Megan told me she’d kill me if I ever gave this to her, so I told her I’d only do it once!” he said.
This is the dream job I didn’t even know was my dream job," McElfresh said.
Tony Glander, president of the American Glass Guild, was presented with the President’s Award from Judson for his instrumental help in creating a joint conference with both organizations.
SM Ann Therese Kelly honored Ellen Mandelbaum with the Stained Glass School Excellence in Education Award.
“Ellen Mandelbaum is an artist who came to stained glass bringing her unique, gestural expression and boundless enthusiasm with her, and who has now spent decades inspiring us all," Kelly said. "Just recently, Ellen worked to collect and donate the archives of The International Women’s Glass Workshop to the The Juliette K. and Leonard S. Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass. This is such a notable achievement - it ensures that the gatherings and special exhibitions of these incredible women will be available for the inspiration of future generations! Well done, Ellen!”