In 2010, Block Island native Jason Leone took a leap across Rhode Island Sound when he saw a business opportunity on Martha’s Vineyard. With his wife, Erin, Mr. Leone, 43, opened Martha’s Vineyard Glass. The couple now live in Vineyard Haven with a young son and a child due in March, two employees, three trucks, and plenty of work.
The glass installation and repair business is booming, Mr. Leone told The Times. About half of his work is replacing automobile glass, the other half is commercial and residential glass work, installing and replacing custom showers, mirrors, and windows. He also replaces marine and construction equipment glass.
“This type of weather is really good for my business,” he said. “I replace more than 20 windshields a week some weeks during the winter because of pitting and cracks caused by sand and gravel thrown out on the road when it snows. We got 17 calls in one day last week.”
He has installed new glass on about every type of car made in the last 30 years, he said. Run-ins with deer and falling branches are among the more frequent causes of damaged auto glass on the Island. Unfastened hoods blown back into windshields and drivers backing into dumpsters, which he said seem to be almost always at just the right height, also contribute to the success of his business.
More than 80 percent of his auto work is paid for by insurance, Mr. Leone said. Massachusetts has a zero deductible option that requires insurance companies to offer windshield replacement insurance with no deductible as long as you have comprehensive insurance on your vehicle, even if there is a deductible with the comprehensive insurance, according to the state office of consumer affairs.
Mr. Leone prefers to do the windshield replacements in his shop located on Lagoon Pond Road behind Island Color Center across from the Vineyard Haven post office, particularly when the weather is bad, but he does make house calls.
His busiest time of the year is spring when the auto glass work is still heavy and people want their glass showers installed or repaired before summer. He hires two or three more people during the busy months.
Mr. Leone credits his business success to his reliability. “What I say is what I’m going to do,” he said. “I learned that from my family. We are all work-a-holics. If you can’t make good on a promise, at the least make a phone call. You don’t want to be seen at the bar.”
He picked up business experience working in his family’s restaurant and moped businesses on Block Island where his parents still live. He learned the glass business from his grandfather, who he started helping when he was 13.
“Living on the Vineyard is not like living on an island for me after growing up on Block Island,” Mr. Leone said. Block Island is one tenth the size of the Vineyard with less than one twentieth of the population. The annual Groundhog Day census on Block Island last month recorded 975 winter residents, according to a clerk at the New Shoreham town hall, the only town on the Island.
Mr. Leone is proud of the education he received on his home island. “I graduated tenth in my high school graduating class,” he said pausing for effect, “of eight.” The Block Island School has about 125 students in grades K through 12.
Mr. Leone met his wife on Block Island where she summered for years. They have a five-year-old son and are expecting another child in May. He has three older children from another marriage. One is a freshman in college.
Ms. Leone handles the billing, the phones, and the office work, while Mr. Leone is very much a hands-on owner.
In his spare time, of which he said he has very little, he likes to fish, usually from his boat, and enters the Martha’s Vineyard Bass and Bluefish Derby from time to time. “I was too busy to fish the Derby this year, but last year I came in last place,” he declared. “I still don’t know how to fish the Vineyard waters as well as I know Rhode Island.” He has a habit of referring to Block Island as Rhode Island. “I would do much better in the Derby if I took my boat to Rhode Island.”