Elizabeth Fisher, the owner of GlassEco, banks on local relationships
By Ellen Linnemann
GlassEco manufactures recycled glass countertops and other hard surfaces that are elegant, ecofriendly and unique reflections of personal style. Lowcountry residents and businesses have gravitated towards the sustainable material since 2006, but GlassEco’s story dates back to 1992. Chris Fisher, Elizabeth’s husband, became Charleston’s first “ecopreneur” when he founded his humble one-person operation, Fisher Recycling.
After collecting glass from several Charleston restaurants and offices, the recyclable waste began piling up at his North Charleston facility. The Fishers had the creative idea to repurpose the glass in countertop designs, and GlassEco was born. The decorative division of Fisher Recycling is owned by Elizabeth, who handles all aspects of the operation. She loves working with clients and designers, from glass selection to final install, but also enjoys days that she can do some manual labor in the shop.
“We started our decorative division, GlassEco, in 2006, creating countertops that are individually handcrafted and customized, using 100 percent recycled glass and diverting tons of glass from our landfills,” says Elizabeth. “For GlassEco, I see clients in our showroom, develop proposals, work with our Warehouse Manager to monitor countertop production and inventory and am very ‘hands-on’ when I need to be. I call it “Shop Girl” day – I love to get my hands dirty in the warehouse and can even drive a forklift! Who needs CrossFit when you can shovel 500 pounds of oysters into bins for a slab order and walk 10K steps in a day in the warehouse?”
In growing both Fisher Recycling and GlassEco, Elizabeth attributes much of the success of both companies to the fact that “our businesses are the focus of our lives,” further noting that “since that can be a good thing and a not-so-good-thing,” it’s critical to learn how to balance it all (which she notes takes practice.) In addition, she points to the important role that local relationships have had in the growth and success of both companies.
“Local relationships are my focus,” she says. “I try to buy local, shop local and use local contractors whenever I do business. I look to partner with local designers, builders and homeowners to build our business. I also have great women’s groups in Charleston that make me more comfortable in the networking game,” and notes her involvement in a number of local organizations, including Lowcountry Local First, USGBC Lowcountry, Carolina Recycling Association, Hatch Tribe of Charleston, NAWIC of Charleston Palmetto Chapter, Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC), CREW Charleston and the Charleston Homebuilders Association.
“Having someone call and say they saw our countertops in someone’s home or office and want one for themselves continues to be one of my favorite parts of my job,” says Elizabeth. She is looking toward continued growth of both GlassEco and Fisher Recycling and shared what they plan to accomplish as they take both companies into the future.
“We’re looking to expand our countertop business into Bluffton, Beaufort, Hilton Head Island and Savannah while maintaining our presence in the Charleston area,” she notes. “I love helping homeowners, architects and interior designers come up with their own creations to make their space completely unique, and there is truly nothing more unique than a custom-poured countertop made with recycled glass and other items our clients choose to bring into the design” – which makes GlassEco in a class (or rather “glass”) by itself.
1. Go outside of your box. “Going out of my box and being a ‘forced extrovert’ by attending networking events that are specific to my industry was a major factor in the growth of both of our companies,” says Elizabeth. “This shift in networking was huge for me – I gained a lot by focusing on the narrow market I am in and who I would be selling to instead of the broader networks.”
2. Do business locally. “It does make a difference,” she says.
3. Accept that delegating and contracting out tasks is an acceptable way to operate.