Unique Glassware Manufacturer Attracts Angel Investor

by RaeAnne Marsh

RefreshGlassA business that began as a hobby and grew based on friends’ interest in the product is on track to quadruple its current output and nearly triple its work force in the next 12 months. Refresh Glass, a Tempe-based company that creates functional wine bottle art from discards it “rescues” from landfills, recently received funding from MAC6, a local incubator that focuses on the “conscious capitalism” niche.

Refresh Glass founder and CEO Ray DelMuro, who calls himself a “typical garage entrepreneur,” says the investment from MAC6 has enabled him to hire a salesperson and promote one of his internal production people to operations manager, “so I’m working on the business and training employees.”  And his allotted 6,000 square feet of MAC6’s commercial space “has ample capacity and will allow us to go from transforming an average of 1,000 bottles per day to 4,000 per day” — with the current goal of rescuing 10 million bottles before they hit landfills.

MAC6 co-founder Kyle McIntosh says the incubator focuses on businesses that take a long-term approach, making decisions based on what’s best for several decades for both the business and the communities that are affected as opposed to solely looking at quarterly profits. The recently launched Tempe incubator has 10,000 square feet of office space and 38,000 square feet of manufacturing space and provides sales, marketing and general business consulting. “We’re industry-agnostic,” he says, explaining the six “C’s” in the name “MAC6” reference four principles of incubation — creativity, collaboration, community and change — as well as the term “conscious capitalism.” Refresh Glass is among its first run of incubees.

DelMuro launched Refresh Glass in 2008 as a purpose-driven business that collects used wine bottles and turns them into functional art as products that include drinking glasses and vases. Hospitality clients include the local FnB and Pig & Pickle and national entities Wolfgang Puck and Four Seasons, and the glassware is also sold to consumers through major retailers Dillard’s and Amazon. “Before, we were just taking hot leads; now, we’re proactively going for markets,” DelMuro says. An engineer, DelMuro left Toyota because he wanted to “make something I was passionate about, that would combine my love for art and engineering [and] elicit an emotional response.”

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