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A Minute With...
John Linder: Calibre Door Closers Inc.
USGlass sat down with John Linder, president and chief executive officer of Calibre Door Closers Inc. in Orange, Calif., to discuss his history in the hardware industry and what he sees in the industry’s future.
Q: Your father became a glazier in 1948 and later founded U.S. Aluminum Corp. Did you get your start in the industry by helping him?
A: I worked at U.S. Aluminum; I probably was getting paid money for working there when I was 14 years old and, later, as I became older and became more responsible and developed more skills, I actually worked summers and holidays there in the door fabrication shop.
Q: What are some of your professional pet peeves?
A: I come to great odds with some of these salespeople and some of these companies that are sales-oriented, in particular when they come out with these “We have a 25-year warranty,” “We have a lifetime warranty” [statements]—it has no meaning in the industry anymore. It’s a sales tool, but when you look at designing something you don’t want to design something that will last forever. It’s an implied value, I grant you that, but people look at it and they say, “I want to go back in two or three years and replace it. I want to maintain that kind of business.” It’s become sort of like a dog chasing its tail.
Q: What words of wisdom or advice can you/do you share with others?
A: I think that the biggest issue, and the thing that we’re really getting back to ourselves, is that you’ve got to stay close to your customer. You have to listen to what your customer is telling you. You have to cater to the customer … We’re finding a lot of people getting into the business now that are coming in from outside the United States, and in the last few years they’ve had a hard time getting established—they were foreigners, they spoke a foreign language and they were hard to communicate with—but they’re very persistent. … The Americans seem to think that we’re the best and we can do no wrong. And it’s not working anymore.
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