E & E Glass and Gift sold on Feb 15, marking the end of an era of ownership by the Krug family dating back to 1969, when they purchased the E & E Pittsburg Glass and Paint Company, which had been founded in 1945. Throughout the past 46 years, the Krug family built E & E into one of the most recognized local businesses for quality glass work and windshield replacement, while at the same time developing an outstanding gift store, which offers an impressive collection of gifts, china, glassware, and unique furniture pieces.
The story of E & E Glass and Gift is a great example of the entrepreneurial spirit found throughout America, as local family owned businesses become the very foundation communities are built upon.
Listening to longtime store owner Marlies Krug, as she recounts the memories of a lifetime spent building E & E, causes a sense of appreciation for the effort, determination, and time the Krug family spent creating a business, which has played a vital role in the community for so long. Here is her remarkable story. ...
Ed and Helen Krug were entrepreneurs; they had owned a restaurant and a drive-in theater in Wichita and even managed rental properties. In 1969, Ed was working as a real estate agent in Great Bend. When the E & E Pittsburg Paint and Glass Company came up for sale, he and Helen purchased the business. Their son Gerald had just returned from serving four years overseas in the Air Force. They encouraged him, along with his wife Marlies, to move to Great Bend to help run the new family business.
Soon the Krug Family was growing the business by adding a siding company, an oil lease company, and a frame shop. In 1974, the Krugs built a new building, which is the current location of E & E at 1117 Williams. They expanded their space to 15,000 square feet of showroom, office, and shop area. At that time, they closed the paint store operation and opened E & E Gifts. The new venture was a credit to the innovative talent of Marlies. Growing up in Trier, Germany, she was filled with ideas and creativity with a European flair. It was in Germany where Marlies and Gerald met, while he was stationed at Spangdahlem Air Force Base. Having lunch with her friends Marlies spotted the American Airman, who looked “pretty spiffy.” They communicated through a German translation dictionary. Gerald knew just enough German to ask Marlies on a date, she knew just enough English to say yes.
Just seven years after their chance encounter, Marlies was setting out to run her new gift shop. Shopping internationally at major markets, Marlies began offering unique items, developing a high-end designer store known for one-of-a-kind items.
At the same time in 1974, the glass company, now with more space available, began manufacturing high quality windows and storm doors for the local market. Business hummed along in all facets for a time, but the 1980s brought hard business decisions for the Krugs. Experiencing the negative effect from the crash of the oil boom, they chose to close the siding company and focus on their glass business.
With the combination of their glass business delivering top quality service, the frame shop providing elegant hand-selected framing options, and the designer gift store with its unique offerings, their three-pronged business model became a recipe for success, which allowed the Krug family to proudly serve the community.
Listening to Marlies speak about her time with E & E Glass, it becomes clear the family business was not just a livelihood, it was their life. E & E was like a second home where they worked the long hours necessary to make it a successful business while delivering top quality service. It was a life they lived with pride. Carrying the responsibility that comes from owning a business for nearly half a century, the Krugs made many sacrifices. Not only did they invest personal finances, but also poured their hearts into a business that was able to support their family and become a dependable, deep-rooted presence within our community.
Along the way, life provided its share of hurdles and hardships for the Krug family. Ed passed away from cancer in 1995. After many years in business, Helen closed the doors on her picture frame shop and retired. Then in 2010, Gerald at age 68, died after suffering a sudden heart attack while on a job-site.
Nearly five years after her husband’s death, Marlies looked up from the contract signing and whispered in her thick German accent, “Just like that, with the stroke of a pen, 46 years of your life is over.” You could feel the passing-on of the hopes and dreams the Krug family had,” at that moment, putting a dollar value on the business seemed so insignificant...
Without doubt, it is the dedication and life investment of a family like the Krugs that is the very fabric required to build a strong community that is worth carrying forward.
Hats off to you, Marlies, Helen, and all of those who have been a part of E & E over the decades. We salute all of you with sincere gratitude for a job well done!
You will be missed… Tammy Hammond
“We lived a lot of life, and made a lot of memories. Good thing about memories–they remain long after the deed is signed... We wish to convey our heartfelt thanks to customers, neighbors and friends for 47 years of support,” ~ Marlies, and the Krug Family
This story stirs an important thought... What is the real value of a locally owned family business?
Is the value found merely on a spreadsheet, or an appraisal form? Or is there a much more valuable piece, a presence that is felt within our community, but seldom appreciated or recognized? How do we calculate the value of property taxes paid by business owners that help maintain our schools, streets, and parks year after year? How do we measure the impact from jobs that are created, giving families a reason to stay in our community? How can we quantify the value of those families who attend local schools and churches, and purchase from other local businesses?
Because of small businesses such as E & E Glass, decades of payrolls have been put back into the local economy; payrolls that stimulated the need for more business, which then create local sales tax dollars as those paychecks are spent.
One should also consider the importance of generous donations which are given annually by businesses to local charities and organizations. These businesses support local causes to help our community prosper, while improving the quality of life for those in need.
Sufficient to say, small family owned businesses are a critical component of - and a major contributor to - the strength of our local economy and the sturdy building blocks of employment opportunities that brings growth and innovation to our community.