News & Trends

dillmeier-hero-1.jpg

Perfection on Display

Design, Security & Dillmeier Glass With iCON Architecture + Fabrication Partner Jake Schopp
Published February 06, 2020
Perfection-on-Display---Text-GraphicJewelry stores exist atop the pinnacle of retail store design, blending two elements often at odds: luxury and security. Creating such spaces requires the ability to make customers comfortable when admiring high-end wares, while keeping criminals who’d like to snatch these products at bay.

Longtime Dillmeier Glass Company partner iCON Architecture + Fabrication—a Kansas City-based, full-service architectural firm specializing in retail, entertainment and hospitality—boasts more than 90 such high-end jewelry store designs in the last 10
years.
JS-2019

JAKE SCHOPP - DILLMEIER GLASS PARTNER

Its path to becoming a national name for luxury store architecture and fabrication began shortly after the company’s creation in 2006. At the time, architect, iCON partner and co-founder Jake Schopp brought one client from a previous employer, and worked with a small team on the firm’s first project—a high-end shop for eyeglasses and other optical components.

“Our first client owned a luxury eyewear store called Optical Shop of Aspen,” explains Schopp. “There were four or five stores at that time and we designed them all. Then he sold his company to Oakley, and that facilitated his growth and ours. We ended up working through about 15 stores with him.”

 

iCON Experiences Growing Pains

Those first projects soon led to more, and iCON started building a reputation as a quality company with a keen eye for design. Success didn’t arrive without growing pains, however, as a series of subcontractors who were hired to help fabricate cases and other components repeatedly dropped the ball and delivered subpar work, causing delays and client unrest. Eventually, Schopp and his partners decided to fix the problem permanently, with an in-house fabrication shop. There, they created cases and other fixtures, but often ran into trouble when working with one specific material: glass.

“And we ended up with Dillmeier in our lap. They’ve got the equipment, the shop, and the clean room set up to do the job, and they’re probably the best in the country. It’s worked out to be a fantastic relationship.”

“We tried to do the glasswork ourselves,” says Schopp, “And we didn’t fail, but the end result was never what we wanted.”

Part of their fabrication experience involved learning to UV bond glass—a process during which two panes are glued together and cured using ultraviolet rays—to create frameless displays. Unfortunately, their fabrication shop wasn’t the ideal setting for the gluing process, because as Schopp states: “UV bonding and sawdust don’t mix very well.” 

At this point, Bohle America—a glass industry supplier providing iCON with UV-bonding materials—recommended they get in touch with experts.

“Bohle said, ‘Why don’t you just have some professionals do it?’” says Schopp. “And we ended up with Dillmeier in our lap. They’ve got the equipment, the shop, and the clean room set up to do the job, and they’re probably the best in the country. It’s worked out to be a fantastic relationship.”

 

Dillmeier & iCON Combat Criminals

By this time, iCON had grown even more, and started to create a specialization and reputation within the jewelry industry. This included working with high-end brands on a regular basis, which they soon introduced to Dillmeier Glass Company whenever a glass fabricator was required.

Soon, both companies were the go-to service providers for select luxury brands across the country, and Dillmeier and iCON found themselves working together to tackle a persistent issue in the jewelry and high-end watch industry: smash and grab crime.

Richter_Phillips_025“We were providing glass that was optically clear, and beautifully joined,” says Schopp. “But somebody could come in with a hammer, smash it, grab all the watches, and run out the door.”

So, based on input from iCON, Dillmeier developed a process to make the glass more secure. Their first attempts were met with some success, but burglars eventually found ways to break in, and the crimes continued. Eventually, a pane was developed that could thwart even the most determined criminals, but it came at a price.

“The new line resulted in a double or triple cost increase to the end user,” explains Schopp. “But guys who wanted to get in the case could beat on it for a minute and a half, and still not get through it.

The new line was well received by clients despite the price increase, though setbacks occurred during the fabrication and installation process. One of the first problems was breakage, as it became clear that major swings in temperature didn’t bode well for pane longevity.

Each pane and case were secured by a special process that made it difficult to smash through, but also made it brittle and more susceptible to cracking in cold weather. When each shipment left a warm warehouse, the temperature would rapidly decrease in the back of delivery vehicles, causing the glass to crack.

The Dillmeier team came up with an ingenious solution to keep temperatures steady: After the glass went into a crate, it was covered with hot packs—small, liquid or mineral-filled packets similar to those used in gloves during the winter—to keep the product warm.

“That glass would get here, and everything would be toasty warm,” says Schopp.

 

A Winning Partnership

This was just one example of Dillmeier going above and beyond while working for iCON. Schopp also recalls a time when Cody, Dillmeier’s plant manager, hand delivered glass to meet a project deadline.

“That’s the nice part about having a great business relationship with somebody you rely on time and time again,” continues Schopp. “They’re willing to figure it out and go above and beyond.”

“I don’t remember the circumstances, but we were missing a handful of pieces for a shipment that was going out on Monday,” explains Schopp. “So Cody jumped in a car and drove five hours to Kansas City and delivered it and drove back. That’s a really dedicated guy.

“That’s the nice part about having a great business relationship with somebody you rely on time and time again,” continues Schopp. “They’re willing to figure it out and go above and beyond.”

Looking forward, iCON is working on another interesting project with a late 2019 completion date that circles back to their first client—now 80 years old and working on a one-off passion project. The assignment: Create a retail environment featuring an exotic car dealership, high-end watches, and designer eyewear, which will be displayed prominently in cases made with glass supplied by Dillmeier.

For Schopp, this project is another opportunity to practice his favorite part of his craft—listening to clients and creating drawings that delight.

“It’s great hearing clients express how excited they are about a project,” he says. “They’ll say things like, ‘Wow, I didn’t realize it was going to look that great,’ when they see the first mockups. That’s really satisfying.”

There’s no doubt these moments make Schopp’s work enjoyable, but also contribute in a significant way to his success. After all, when clients are excited, they’re more likely to return again and again—as in iCON’s case—even nearly 15 years later.

CONTACT JAKE: jschopp@icon-architecture.com

Was this article helpful to you?Subscribe to our newsletter for free industry news and trends.

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts