As Atlantic Canada’s premier custom decorator of glassware, ceramics, growlers and bottles since 1969, Jym Line Glassware has meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Spotlight on Business sits down with Tom Adams, the President of Jym Line Glassware Ltd in Elmsdale, Nova Scotia, to learn more about how they continue to grow the business and that after all these years, he is still amazed and proud when he sees someone pouring something into one of their products knowing that it all started at their facility in Nova Scotia and how he is truly grateful, and thankful for all of their clients over the years.
Initially known as Jym Line Products, the company was created on a brisk November day in 1969, nothing more than husband-wife venture.
By 1972, the couple were out of their living room and into a rented office space in north end Halifax, on the storied Agricola Street.
By the time young Tom Adams began officially working for his parents at 18, they were on Agricola Street.
“I started working here in 1987. It was like a life sentence,” laughs Adams, who has been working with glassware for more than 30 days. “You have your good days, your ups and your downs.”
From the old site of the Agricola liquor store to a production facility in the mid-1970’s and a 1997 relocation to Bedford, Tom has seen it all.
They started printing promotional products, including wearables, glassware crests, pins and t-shirts, and moved to specializing in decorated glassware in the mid-1980’s.
“We bought our decorated glassware from Ontario at first, but the product quality was poor, and delivery was slow,” said Adams.
“So, my dad taught himself how to do it using library books. As markets changed, things became more competitive in the textile and promotional markets, my dad decided to focus on glassware and ceramics.”
When they expanded and moved to Bedford, two more semi-automatic screen printers were bought, and in 2000, Jim and Lynda retired and left Tom in charge, which also came a name change to better reflect the primary product line to Jym Line Glassware Ltd.
“I took over managing things,” he said. “But I’ve been a part of this company since I was a little kid.”
He remembers spending his time after school at the shop from the age of eight and began working there part-time at 13.
“I ended up full-time at 18, and now I’m 49. I’ve been here longer than most people stay at a career in total,” he said.
In 2009 came another expansion to Elmsdale, N.S. led to a custom designed building for the decoration of glassware, an energy-efficient, gas powered Lehr and four new printing machines being acquired. In 2012, more printing equipment was purchased.
As things have grown, Adams has always tried to stand tall and do what’s best for the family business.
“This is a huge structure, and I strive even harder each day to maintain everything here due to my family’s background with the company,” he said.
“I’m proud of what we built. I’ve seen things change and I’ve seen the differences. It formed when I was just a baby, but I remember Agricola St.”
He says things have gone from hand off-loading full truck loads with six people to forklifts unloading shipments and inventory. Daily production is now five times what it used to be in the beginning.
“We currently have 11 employees, and when things started it was just mom and dad,” he said.
He feels a closeness to those he employs at the business and loves going to Jym Line.
“I’m responsible for those employees. It may not be the highest paying job, but there are perks. Employees sometimes get to leave early on Fridays, and have holidays off,” he said.
“We do little things for staff, and the motivation is to be responsible for staff and their families.”
In 2016, a laser machine for nucleating the bottom of glassware was purchased to add value to product. Also, in 2018, a three-colour semi-automatic machine was bought so they could do more intricate work.
“I’ve certainly learned about hard work and determination since I started here. I’ve done every type of job, from sweeping the floor to cleaning toilets and operating equipment,” he said.
“There’s not a job here I can’t do, and that makes me confident. I’m really proud of what I’ve learned from my parents. I do what’s necessary to keep the company going. I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none,” he joked.
Their current major clients are craft breweries, cideries, distillers, wineries, restaurants and bars.
“It’s been really good the last few years with the explosion of the craft breweries. With all the wine, liquor and beer sales in the province, we are having a lot of business,” he said.
“People we deal with, we are supporting local and buying local and when customers deal with us, they’re doing the same. We are the only glassware decorator east of Montreal, and we see the support from all over Atlantic Canada.”
He said he looks forward to the future of Jym Line Glassware and the legacy they’ve built over almost 50 years in business and survival in tough times.
“We want to see steady growth in the local economy, and we want more growth in industries we serve, as well as our own.”
By Jordan Parker