RANCHO CUCAMONGA - The story that ended with Moderustic co-founder Edgar Jaunzemis receiving a patent for his company's decorative fireplace glass is one of "triumph and tragedy," the man said.
Moderustic, based in Rancho Cucamonga, achieved the triumph of receiving the patent in July, after an experience that Jaunzemis described as an extremely delayed bureaucratic process.
The "tragedy" happened in April, when Jaunzemis' wife and Moderustic co-founder, Claudia, died after an Astro Van rolled over onto her at a parking lot in Rancho Cucamonga.
"We did everything together," Jaunzemis said.
Several months removed from the moments of tragedy and triumph that took place, Jaunzemis is still hard at work building Moderustic into whatever the company will become.
A product that Jaunzemis calls "Aquatic Glassel" glass is at the basis of Moderustic's business. The company sells tumbled and polished pieces of glass in virtually any color that are designed for use in propane or natural gas fireplaces.
Moderustic's new patent protects the process the Jaunzemises developed to smooth and heat-treat the glass.
Inside Moderustic's store and workshop, countless pieces of Aquatic Glassel glass are arranged in displays that resemble what one would find in a candy store.
Customers can buy glass in pebble-shaped pieces colored in a lapis lazuli-like blue, deep oranges or "uranium" green, along with dozens of other shades.
Moderustic also sells "diamonds" of clear glass that look as if they are melting when fireplace light reflects off the pieces' interior walls.
The quick-talking Jaunzemis could probably convince a customer that the glass diamond is indeed melting, only to suddenly solidify as soon as it is removed from direct flame.
Customers can also find his sense of humor on the company's website. Online, Moderustic gives customers the option of paying $1,800 - or more - for a "cyclonic" decorative fireplace ball made with a "3-D animation activated laser precision cutting tool," or $48 for a similar product.
Actually, it's the same product. The $1,800 price for one is a joke, but Jaunzemis said a few people have asked if they can buy the more expensive version.
Moderustic's product line has grown from fireplace glass to include Vortex Fires that burn an alcohol flame inside of a glass box. The product is appropriate for restaurants or event planners, Jaunzemis said.
Jaunzemis, who also restores old cars, said Moderustic can build just about any kind of fire-themed decoration that a customer wants.
"They're handing me money," he said, "and how can I say no," he asked.
Aside from working with his lawyers to enforce patent claims, Jaunzemis also plans to spend the coming months finding a larger facility for Moderustic. He wants to set up shop in a 100,000-square-foot plant and to stay in or close to Rancho Cucamonga.
Moderustic's Aquatic Glassel products are colored offshore, but the company employs 18 people who work at the company's current Rancho Cucamonga workshop.
"I'd like to see the company employee- owned," he said. "If anything happens to me, I'd like them to know we're in this together."
Reach Andrew via email, call him at 909-483-8550, or find him on Twitter@InlandBizz.
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