Get Ready for the City
Canada’s Window City Enters U.S. Market
by Tara Taffera
“I’ve had customers who have wanted to give us all their
business at once. I’ve said, ‘Let’s talk and see how we can work together.’”
This statement, made by Jeff Sadr, president of Window City Industries
in Toronto, exemplifies the company’s “walk-before-we-run” philosophy”—a
philosophy that has served it well—very well. While many companies are
struggling, this Toronto-based company grew by 40 percent in 2009 and
80 percent of that growth came from existing customers.
“Never has Jeff asked for all of a company’s business,” adds Pete Yuhas,
national sales manager. “We’re not over-promising. That’s why we’ve seen
“To watch a world economy go where it went and to see us grow is amazing,”
Fulfilling a Vision
If you’re in Canada, specifically Toronto, you are probably aware of Window
City. As is true of hundreds of window manufacturers in the Toronto area
alone, Window City has spent time and money making their name, and mainly
their products, stand out. But if you’re in the United States you may
not be as familiar with the company. That likely will change as Window
City is about to embark on a plan to expand its distribution in the United
States—and it is armed with a new and unique product that Jeff Sadr says
will gain the interest of select U.S companies in search of something
Jeff Sadr runs the 19-year-old privately held family business along with
his brother, Matthew who serves as vice president. The two have grown
the company to include a highly automated 500,000-square-foot production
plant in Toronto and another 100,000-square-foot facility less than a
mile away. The plant has the capacity to run several thousand windows
per shift. Although they are happy with the current production numbers
“we still have room for additional business” says Yuhas.
“In 1998 he [Jeff] told me about this facility and what he wanted to do
here,” says Yuhas “In 2007 he did it.”
Jeff Sadr says another expansion is likely coming in another five years.
Eighty percent of the company’s business is tied to renovation, a huge
market in Toronto. The company sells custom products to fit any architectural
style and complement any size home and has dealerships set up across Canada.
In fact, Window City recently expanded into Western Canada in 2009 and
Yuhas says there is still “a lot of room to grow in the Canadian market.”
The Toronto facility also has a showroom where a large number of local
builders and contractors in come and order products.
“This helps keep us close to the customer and know what the customer wants,”
Heading into the U.S. with New Products
Jeff Sadr explains that the U.S. expansion was planned years ago as it
required a lot of investment in terms of design, etc. He says, “We needed
to be ready,” and jokes, “We didn’t miss too much in the U.S. market.”
He acknowledges that some companies may find it odd that, at a time, when
many Canadian companies are exiting the U.S. market, Window City is making
“I’m not competing with what’s already there,” he says. “I’m offering
This something different includes a variety of factors, which, in total,
account for much of the company’s success. For one Window City offers
3-mil double strength glass with Cardinal Low E2 coatings as standard
on its windows.
“What we do standard, most people charge as an upgrade,” says Yuhas. “Our
dealers realize it.”
Yuhas explains that with its unique Heritage Maximum casement window series,
the vinyl profile reduces frame obstruction by 40 percent compared to
most standard vinyl profiles.
“That gives us a competitive edge,” he says.
And while the company has focused mainly on windows, it is entering the
U.S market with a new swing door system that has been five years in the
The Lifetime Entry Door System will be available to all Window City customers
and the company will take steps to ensure that those who install it are
trained, and this will include an installation training video.
“There is an amount of training that has to be done on a high-quality
product to keep it a high-quality product,” says Yuhas.
And everything about it is high-quality, he says, including the standard
European-style multi-point hardware supplied by Winkhaus.
He points out that Window City used to buy its sliding patio doors from
another supplier and sold approximately 5,000 per year, then decided to
bring its sliding door production in house. The result has been exponential
sales increases, according to Yuhas.
According to the company, a dealer can purchase a Lifetime Entry Door
System and have the choice of using an all uPVC panel or choose from a
fiberglass and even wood panel option. It will be available in standard
or custom sizes without any extra lead time required.
“We want to fit the need of the dealer who can’t offer customization,”
He knows some may be skeptical, but once they see the product these doubts
will fade. The Ultra Sliding Patio door is
available assembled or in a knock down form for easier handling and offers
transportation and warehousing options.
“A dealer said, ‘I don’t want a knock-down door.’ On a bet I said I could
give the sales pitch and install it in 15 minutes, which I did and he
bought it,” says Yuhas.
Though opportunities abound, Window City still is working out some challenges
such as packing and shipping these products but is working with a large
door manufacturer that has a great deal of expertise in this area.
“Doors are always a challenge,” says Jeff Sadr.
Window City says this new product may be of great interest to some window
manufacturers that may want to offer a door product, but don’t want to
manufacture the doors themselves.
“We’re looking at opening this up to other vinyl manufacturers,” says
Yuhas. “We’re willing to talk with the right partner. We would sell them
a finished product that they can sell. We want to be able to produce 100
to 500 custom doors a day.”
“With one-step distributors
you have an opportunity to develop a relationship with
them and get the right people selling the right products.”
—Jeff Sadr, president
Committed to Automation/ Controlling the Process
“Part of the long-term vision [of Window City] is [that] quality begins
with commitment,” says Yuhas. “If you’re not committed, you have a 50-50
chance of surviving. It comes down to your mindset and you’re willingness
Window City has invested in all this automation because the company believes
in controlling all aspects of the window manufacturing process without
having to rely on outside sources. It makes its own extrusions, screens
and laminated glass just to name a few.
As far as making its own compound, Yuhas says, “This is unheard of for
a window company of our size.”
The compound is automatically fed to the extruders, which Yuhas describes
as one giant Play-Doh machine, and the co-extruded cap stock color material
is bonded to the profile.
“The extrusion process is very unique to our product, we introduced this
process to Canada 15 years ago and it has been extremely successful for
us” adds Yuhas.
The company relies on Edgetech to supply its Super Spacer product, which
is standard on all its products. The spacer is applied using an automated
process, which results in less error than if it were applied on a table,
according to the company.
The machine used to apply the spacer, as well as a myriad of other steps
in the window process, is one of the two Lisec fully automated glass lines
found in the plant. (Window City is in the process of considering a third
to manufacture quad units with an R-value of 13 or 14).
This extremely automated machine also fills the argon or krypton gas content
right on the line and prints the content on spacer, and Yuhas says Window
City is the only company in North America that can make that statement.
The reason they do it is simple. “We want to make sure the consumer gets
what the dealer sold them,” says Yuhas.
Some manufacturers krypton-fill to meet advanced energy efficiency requirements.
Some do it in lieu of triple glazing and some combine the two. Sixty to
seventy percent of Window City’s products are triple-glazed as the company
strives to exceed Canada’s Energy Star® standards, which are becoming
more stringent than U.S. standards. In June 2010, for example, Canada’s
Energy Star program is putting new guidelines in place making their guidelines
more stringent than the United States.
“In the prairies, double-pane is pretty much eliminated,” says Yuhas.
While many window companies in the United States are reluctant to move
toward triples, that’s not the case at Window City where even quad units
are manufactured on the Lisec lines.
But the company cautions other manufacturers to not just take an existing
design and put heavier glass in it.
“We’ve designed windows to carry it [due to reinforcements put in the
windows],” says Yuhas. “Some companies put in heavier glass, but the window
wasn’t designed to carry it and the windows will fail over time.”
In addition to glass production, other automated machines found in the
plant include a series of welders to operate multiple profiles from suppliers
such as Sturtz and Urban. The machines weld the sash and frame in a stack
situation. In fact, the company has a Sturtz machine dedicated to welding
Window City’s Heritage line of products.
Again, Yuhas points out how these automated machines makes the company’s
products stand out.
“You don’t see a lot of contours in the vinyl window industry because
you can’t do it by hand,” he says. “The machine has already calculated
how much “squeeze out” there will be, etc., and it accounts for that.”
Screen production is another challenging part of the window manufacturing
“You can get a lot of callbacks on screens,” says Yuhas, who says Window
City brought this process in-house about a year ago to again control the
The company uses a Winpro roll-forming machine, then the roll-formed screen
is cut to length.
With Window City so highly automated it would only make sense that the
company’s software is as well. The company uses the Cantor software from
Albat and Wirsam and all software components in the plant were created
directly for them.
“Because of a scanner we can track the whole process,” says Jeff Sadr.
“There is no guesswork.”
Selling through the Supply Chain
When it comes to selling their products, Window City works with dealers
who realize the quality of their products and processes.
“We have focused on capital investments and our dealers know that,” says
Jeff Sadr. “People aren’t coming to us for the lowest price.”
The company is also very focused on working with the “right dealers” to
sell their products.
“With one-step distributors you have an opportunity to develop a relationship
with them and get the right people selling the right products,” says Jeff
This allows the company to then sell a customized set of solutions to
the end consumer. For example, Window City has a program called Solar
Solutions where the dealer can customize the solutions for a home. For
example, a residence can have four different glass options in a house
to account for different exposures, and other issues, such as sound abatement,
This is a win-win for Window City and the dealer. The dealer also has
the option of ordering window size or brick mould size.
“Dealers have said their success is due to their affiliation with us,”
says Jeff Sadr. “We have grown with our established customers. This will
allow us to grow more in 2010 in Canada and the United States.”
The company even ships a lot of products internationally, such as Trinidad
Not Finished Yet
With such a high degree of plant automation and commitment to producing
products that exceed energy standards, it may seem that there’s not much
more for Window City to conquer. But the company still has big plans and
the patience to achieve them.
Jeff Sadr says investing millions in door production is the company’s
“We know we have to do this to go to the next level,” he says.
But Yuhas says company management realizes that sometimes patience is
“Success takes time and you have to do a lot of things right,” says Yuhas.
“Patience has proven to be successful.”
“I’m setting the table,” says Jeff Sadr. “If they like it, they will come
Tara Taffera is the editor/publisher of DWM magazine.
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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.