When Jody Rogers was in the process of designing her family’s new home on Folly Beach, she didn’t want to go the traditional granite route for the countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms.
After seeing North Charleston-based Fisher Recycling’s Glasseco products, which feature custom-made hard surfaces using recycled glass and other items, at a local home show, Rogers realized she had an opportunity to have some “beachy” countertops in her home.
Rogers met with Elizabeth Fisher, vice president at Fisher Recycling, about finding a combination of glass and oyster shells to fit the color scheme. Fisher came up with the idea to add some of the shark teeth Rogers has found on Folly's shores.
‘We couldn't be more thrilled with our island and breakfast bar countertops,” says Rogers. “The island is the centerpiece of our room and is always a conversation piece when people see it for the first time.”
Fisher Recycling handles a lot of recycled glass for the Charleston area, about 50 to 75 tons a month, and most of that goes back into making more bottles.
But more than a decade ago, Chris and Elizabeth Fisher decided to diversify their glass recycling business, which they started in 1992 with a used pick-up truck and one custome r, TBonz Gill & Grill.
They brought in a machine to pulverize glass into seven different products, including glass “sand” for sandblasting, golf course sand traps, roadways and even gardening “mulches.” Then came the idea for slabs, the prototype of which they made for a new home.
“It’s come a long way since then,” says Chris, adding that Glasseco has grown to become 30 percent of their business and that they hope will eventually be 60 to 70 percent of it.
Elizabeth adds that Glasseco also has become the most fun part of their business.
“It’s the sexy part of recycling,” she says.
Keeping it glassy
All of Fisher’s Glasseco are custom-poured. The color of the epoxy, glass sizes and colors, and other options are nearly infinite.
The Fishers say some items that customers have combined with recycled glass over the years includes musket balls from the Civil War, pieces of the World Trade Center, and sea glass collected by generations of a family with a beach house. The Fisher’s favorite, however, was when someone included sewing bones the customer got in Alaska. These special items can be carefully inlaid in countertops.
The epoxy slabs are chemically benign with no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) or off-gassing once cured, but they are recommended for indoor or covered outdoor uses only because the sun’s ultraviolet rays will discolor the material. Also, the Fishers recommend not using harsh cleansers, such as bleach, nor abrasive tools.
The cost is about $100 a square foot, installed, though the Fishers don’t install. They have recommended contractors for that work.
Exterior Glasseco products are made out of concrete and offer the same flexibility for creativity and design.
Most of the customers for Glasseco products came from the Fishers' delivery area, Wilmington, North Carolina, to Savannah, and inland to Columbia. They ship beyond those borders, but because the slabs are heavy, it can get expensive.
With plans to expand the business, they hope to work with distributors to spread the product down to southern Florida.
Among their customers outside of the Lowcountry is Allison Dean Love of Columbia, who describes her house as “Seabrook Island style.”
“The search for new countertops for our kitchen renovation was a lengthy one,” recalls Love, noting that they wanted to bring the “coastal feel” to their home.
She checked out a similar manufacturer, Vetrostone in Yemassee, but it was the Fishers’ presentations on the Houzz app and samples Love received while in Charleston for a Citadel Board of Visitors meeting that tipped the scale.
“As a fan of green, glass and oyster shells, plus trying to have a coastal flair, I was impressed to find that Fisher had completed a countertop similar to what we wanted with another customer with oyster shells and a green glass,” says Love, adding that she liked that she could create her own, personalized product.
Love says the Fishers started referring to their design as “True Love,” due to the Loves’ last name. The Fishers surprised them with a few, smaller heart-shaped green and brown pieces that the Loves discovered after installation.
“We absolutely love our countertops from Fisher and know we were likely the first in the Columbia area to use this type of product, plus we are extremely proud to know we have a one-of-a-kind, unique piece,” says Love. She says that they plan to add Glasseco countertops in one or more bathroom renovations in the future.
Contact David Quick at 843-937-5516. Follow him on Twitter @DavidQuick.