The origin of G.James began in 1913 when an enterprising George James arrived in Australia after migrating from England. After working for various building related companies in Brisbane, George decided to use his skills as a glazier, along with his knowledge of sales and purchasing, to establish G.James Glass Merchants at West End (Brisbane) in 1917.
Initially the business was based on buying cases of glass from Australian and overseas sources and then selling it cut-to-size to timber joiners. George commanded a large market covering Queensland and New South Wales from the northern border to as far south as Taree.
G.James' premises were at 31 Bridge St, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane in 1940
Other than introducing some basic cutting and processing services, the business remained the same until George's death in 1958 where upon his son-in-law Joseph (Joe) Saragossi, AO, together with his wife Pearle and sister-in-law Gertie Baratin, founded a private company in 1959 (10 staff).
Previously Joe had served in the American Armed Forces as a Radio Officer in the South West Pacific theatre and after the war established an electrical contracting business.
In a few short years after the formation of the company, aluminium joinery was introduced and a new housing and construction industry emerged, all of which demanded a change in direction. By the mid-1960’s, the glass business had expanded into wholesale and contracting operations while the manufacture of aluminium joinery commenced with the procurement of custom extrusions from US and then later Australian producers.
As the product range expanded, a small network of branches was established and fabrication facilities were increased. However, with the limited availability of safety glass from within Australia and the constant reliance on local extruders for aluminium profiles, Joe recognised the need to become more autonomous. So began what would become a perpetual program of capital acquisitions and strategically located manufacturing facilities.
In 1972, G.James moved its headquarters from Fortitude Valley to larger premises in Montague Rd, West End. The G.James business was now expanding with regional branches servicing Toowoomba, Ipswich, the Gold Coast and Bundaberg.
G.James Safety Glass Pty Ltd was established in Sydney in 1977, followed by Brisbane in 1986 and Melbourne in 1989. In 1979, the decision was made to commission G.James Extrusion Co Pty Ltd in Brisbane to operate extrusion and surface finishing facilities to service not only G.James’ own internal requirements but also offer extrusions to the general market place.
With the issue of raw materials addressed, G.James Glass & Aluminium (Qld) Pty Ltd, incorporating the network of regional branches, began to spread throughout Queensland and, to a lesser extent New South Wales.
Rising from the building boom of the early 1980’s, G.James made the transition to contracting for high-rise projects in city central business districts. The establishment of G.James Glass & Aluminium Pty Ltd, had the responsibility for commercial fabrication and contracting. The first major curtain wall project was for the blue AMP building in Brisbane.
In 1992 G.James moved into new premises on Kingsford Smith Drive, Eagle Farm. The 1990’s was perhaps the most significant decade of growth in terms of infrastructure and expansion. The G.James Glass & Aluminium Regional Network comprised 18 branches by the end of 1993.
Further manufacturing expansion began in 1994 with a glass laminating factory in Johor, Malaysia, continuing with the opening of a sales office in Auckland, New Zealand in 1995; installation of an IGU line and reflective coating (off-line) plant at Eagle Farm in 1998; commissioning of an IGU line in Melbourne in 1999, glass toughening furnace & extrusion press began operations in Sydney in 1999; and glass toughening furnace at the Johor factory in 1999. Acquisitions during this time included Cheras Industries (Aluminium Castings) in 1997 and Contract Glass (Melbourne Commercial Contracting) in 1999.
In June 1998, Joe Saragossi was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia for "Service to the Glass and Aluminium Industry".
With both of Joe’s sons now well entrenched in the daily operation of the business, Barry as Director and Corporate Treasurer, and Lewis as Managing Director, tragedy hit the family in 2001 when Barry suddenly passed away.
Perth came into the fold, opening an extrusion warehouse and processing facility in 2001, while the branch network extended further into New South Wales with a branch opening in Port Macquarie (2005).
By the mid 2000's G.James had established operations in 50 locations employing 2650 staff.
Having worked on growing and guiding the success of G.James Glass & Aluminium for over 46 years, Joe was now well into his eighties and still maintaining a regular presence around his many plants and offices. After being diagnosed with cancer and despite a brave battle, it would eventually claim his life in October 2005.
In the years prior to his death Joe had undertaken significant capital projects to ensure his legacy was complete – all of which have now come to fruition. Such projects of note were the Schneider Road Glass Operation in 2004, new powder coating plant in 2004 & anodising plant in 2006 and the state-of-the-art extrusion high-rack storage facility in 2008.
Continuing the family dynasty, Lewis assumed the role of Chairman of Directors in 2006 while his daughter Rachel became a Director. In 2010 Lewis' second daughter Sarah also became a Director.
In 2009, Joe Saragossi was inducted into the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame which celebrates, records and retells the past and present stories of outstanding Queensland business leaders, leading business, and their contributions to Queensland. This short video tells Joe's story.
2010 - Today
Most recently the company ventured into two other states for the first time with branches opening in Darwin in 2009 and Adelaide in 2010.
Still today G.James Glass & Aluminium continues to be involved in the manufacture, fabrication, processing and installation of a diverse range of products and services. 2012 welcomes G.James into its 95th year of operations and industry experience.