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May - June 2003

Ten Manufacturers to Watch
    Discover the Trend Setters and Innovators in 2003 and Beyond
by Alan Goldberg

From left: Gorell Enterprises Inc.; MW Industries; Simonton Windows.

While growth for window and door manufacturers in 2003 will no doubt be affected by the strength of the economy, the construction market and consumer spending, annual goals and objectives will vary from company to company. 

From left: Loewen Windows; Weather Shield Windows & Doors; Republic Windows and Doors; Sunrise Windows Ltd.

At DWM magazine we talked to various individuals within the industry (including all the members of our magazine’s editorial advisory board), to find out which manufacturers are worth keeping a close eye on in the next year. The manufacturers on our list are worth following for any number of reasons—a strong focus on product innovation, attention to quality standards, new product introductions or plans for acquisitions (to name a few).

From Left:  Jeld-Wen; Sierra Pacific Industries, Windows Division and Pella Corp.

The ten companies featured are located throughout North America, from Rocky Mount, Va., to Klamath Falls, Ore., and from Steinbach, Manitoba, to London, Ontario. In terms of size, they range from small, family- owned companies to large corporations. But each has made its mark as a leading manufacturer and is one to watch as the year unfolds. 

Gorell Enterprises Inc.
Indiana, Pa.
Private company; $35 million in annual sales; 400 employees; one plant; eight product lines. 

Gorell has one plant that produces eight product lines. Gorell window and door products, described by the company as “expertly engineered and manufactured,” have enabled the company to establish a network of dealers that enjoys high referrals and virtually no costly callbacks. 

“Our success with dealers has created a loyalty which, combined with our company’s dedication to customer service and an extensive multifaceted marketing support program, has been responsible for our growth,” said Wayne Gorell, president and chief executive officer. 

A recent expansion into Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas gives Gorell sales coverage east of the Rocky Mountains. At the same time, the company is expanding its product line, offering new options and product enhancements early this year. 

Founded in 1947 by the Gorell family, the company changed the market by its innovations. According to company history, Gorell pioneered the concept of the replacement window by producing custom-made windows as replacements for less efficient units and with minimal structural changes to existing openings. Thirty years ago, the company says it introduced the first quality vinyl window to be designed and manufactured in the United States. 

The company’s custom vinyl windows and doors are manufactured for new and retrofit applications. Styles for windows include single- and double-hung, sliding, casement, bow and bay, garden, basement and awning. Styles of doors include sliding and patio, and a full line of aluminum storm windows and doors is also available. 

Many options give the consumer choices. For example, there are seven high-performance glass systems, which enable Gorell to provide products that qualify for the Department of Energy’s Energy Star™ label. 

Klamath Falls, Ore.

Private company; more than $1 billion in annual sales; approximately 20,000 employees worldwide; 150 plants; ten product lines.

Jeld-Wen’s Contour is just one of its ten product lines. The uniqueness of Jeld-Wen is summarized in one simple statement: “We offer the broadest line of window and door products in the world,” said Barry Homrighaus, senior vice president of window operations. “This positions us to deliver on the two top priorities of the trade and consumers—reliability and excellent value.” 

Jeld-Wen started as a small millwork plant in Oregon in 1960. It has since grown from a company with a staff of 15 to an operation with more than 150 divisions that employ more than 20,000 people worldwide. A world-leading manufacturer of hundreds of millions of windows and doors, the billion-dollar company has united 27 individual brands under a single name so it can enhance better recognition of its expertise and increase the value of its relationship with distributors and builders. As part of the consolidation, the company recently created a unified website covering all products and a consistent warranty for all products within a product class.
Manufacturing facilities are located throughout the West and Midwest, in Nogales, Mexico, and in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, and Quebec. 

Jeld-Wen manufactures wood, vinyl and aluminum windows and patio doors; wood, steel and composite entry doors and interior doors; and it produces many types of millwork products. It is one of the largest steel and wood door manufacturers in the United States. 

One of its newest products is a line of exterior steel doors, which was developed to offer style and aesthetics, without sacrificing durability and low maintenance, but with cost in mind, according to the company. 

Loewen Windows
Steinbach, Manitoba

Private company; more than $100 million CND; 1,200-1,300 employees; one plant; 11 product lines. 

Loewen specializes in high-quality wood windows and doors for custom homes. What has given Loewen Windows extraordinary growth in North America—70 percent over the last three years—is a reputation for consistently supplying high-quality wood windows and doors to the custom home market. A strong dealer network in targeted areas (the West, Midwest and Canada), which extends to 15 other countries, provides the exposure. But it is the story behind this privately owned, third-generation company which uniquely blends old-world crafts with modern technology that makes it a company to track. 

“We are old made new,” said Bob MacDonald, vice president of marketing and business development.

The indicators for a year of growth can be found in its projections: an increase in employees from 1,200 to 1,300 by the end of 2003; a volume of more than $100 million (Canadian) and the introduction of 11 new products. Additionally, the company will be implementing some new management concepts referred to as Continuous Quality Improvement, Lean Manufacturing and Total Productive Maintenance. 

The increase in business will require a larger production area. The current manufacturing facility of 567,000 square feet will accommodate the projected demand for its windows and doors. 

The driving force to reach its position in the marketplace, according to Mitch Toews, advertising and corporate communications manager, “is [its] attention to quality, a desire to create beauty, reinforced by nearly one hundred years of production and underscored by a culture that sees craftsmanship as an imperative.”

MW Industries Inc.
Rocky Mount, Va.

Private company; $230 million in annual sales; 2,000 employees; four plants; eight product lines.

One of MW’s many products is its Freedom casement. MW’s focus on product innovation is best described by James Rapoza, vice president of sales and marketing. 

“We will continue to roll out new products to give our customers the best selection of window and door products. We will grow organically and geographically,” he said.

Citing timing as the key factor in any expansion, Rapoza added that “expansion is always a consideration but it needs to be done with the right products, the right location and at the right time.”

One of MW’s many products is its Freedom double-hung windows. The company attributes its performance and growth to its professional workforce and its dedication to providing quality products and service. 

“The work ethic, dedication and long-term industry history have been the cornerstone of this company for many years,” said Rapoza. “Coupled with exceeding expectations on deliveries is a philosophy of multiple points of contact with customers referred to as ‘our Circle of Service.’”
The company believes this type of contact fosters relationships, creates strong partnerships and leads to growth. 

MW Industries, founded in 1939, says it was one of the first window companies in the country to build a window and frame together as a single unit for installation into a rough opening. It has become a leading manufacturer of window and door products in the residential construction market. In 1999, the company expanded its window and patio door product line with the acquisitions of Lineal Technologies (Fayetteville, N.C.), a vinyl extrusion manufacturer and Patriot Manufacturing Co. (Hammonton, N.J.), a regional vinyl window manufacturer. The company also has operations in Rocky Mount and Roanoke, Va., and Tupelo, Miss. 

Investcorp, a global investment group, recently purchased MW Manufacturers from Fenway Partners Inc., a private equity investment firm (see story, "What's News"). An MW spokesperson said the company had no comment on the sale. 

Pella Corp.
Pella, Iowa

Private company; company will not release annual sales; 6,900 employees; nine plants; four product lines. 

Pella offers a full line of residential and commercial products. Recognized in the window and door industry for technology and innovation, Pella Corp. has been awarded more than 60 U.S. product and patent designs. Its technology can be traced back to 1925 when it was founded as the Rolscreen Co. and within years became known for its disappearing Rolscreen. 

Continuous improvement is a way of life at Pella. According to its “Fast Facts,” employees (or team members) participated in more than 4,500 continuous improvement events since 1993. 
“At Pella Corp., we know that our people are our greatest asset, and we’re proud of the accomplishments of our 6,900 team members, who are known for their focus and dedication to excellence in satisfying our customers,” said Mel Haught, president and chief executive officer.

The company is considered one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium-quality windows, entry-door systems, storm and patio doors. Early in its history, Pella built a dedicated national sales and service organization that now serves customers in every major city in the United States and stretches internationally. Entering the national retail market in 1992, Pella’s windows and doors are available through the nation’s top building-material retail stores throughout North America. 
The company’s full range of residential and commercial products are manufactured at one of five facilities in Iowa. 

Additionally, a new line of windows and doors introduced in 2002 are manufactured at the company’s newest facility in Murray, Ky. Pella will begin manufacturing windows and doors in Gettysburg, Pa., sometime this year. 

Republic Windows and Doors

Private company; $80.1 million in annual sales; 750 employees; one plant; nine product lines. 

A Republic employee assembles a tin-plated  u-shaped steel spacer into one of its IG products. Republic’s steady growth can be attributed to many factors, but the driving force is innovation in the way people are motivated throughout the organization (see related article in March-April DWM, page 40). A dramatic change in the corporate culture coincided with the move to a new facility on Chicago’s historic Goose Island. The 375,000-square-foot building is on 16 acres and was designed with ergonomic, environmental and human issues in mind. 

At the heart of the change is empowerment that takes place at every level, with financial incentives to reward productivity, safety and training. 

Republic has been making quality windows and doors since 1965. The family-owned company has grown into a highly sophisticated operation, having become a major supplier to Chicago’s new construction and window replacement market. Its state-of-the art plant includes nine production lines. High-tech additions to the operation, which have provided flexibility and helped shorten lead times, include a glass tempering operation, a “Stay Clean” glass machine and a warm-edge production line. 

As part of its quality control program, units are pulled off the line randomly to be tested rigorously to AAMA specifications in an in-house laboratory. Tests for air infiltration, water resistance and uniform structural load help determine the performance of a unit.

The company has created a zero-accident culture, developing a comprehensive safety program that reflects a philosophy of teamwork and 100-percent responsibility of every employee from manufacturing to top management. The results clearly show the benefits of the program—a 65-percent decrease in accidents over a two-year period while sales increased by nearly 40 percent.

Sierra Pacific Industries, 
Windows Division

Red Bluff, Calif.

Private company; company will not release annual sales; 3,900 employees: 500 in the window division; one plant in the window division; nine product lines in the window division. 

Sierra Pacific offers a variety of products to those in the Western United States. One of the nation’s leading manufacturers of lumber and millwork products, Sierra Pacific Industries attributes its success in the window and door market in the Western United States to vertical integration. 

“We own the forestlands, we sustainably grow the trees, we mill the parts, we build the windows and we ship these windows on our trucks. Everyone who touches the product from the time the tree is planted to the time the window is delivered to the job site is a Sierra Pacific employee,” said Rod Preston, general sales manager. 

In fact, the company is the largest private industrial forestland owner in the country, with more than 1.5 million acres in California.

A third-generation, privately owned, family business, Sierra Pacific started in the 1920s with saw mills in California and Oregon. Today, there are 13 sawmills, two millwork facilities and a distribution center. 

Of the 3,900 employees, 500 are part of the window and door operation. Its highly trained sales force and architectural specialists provide extensive support to builders and homeowners, working closely every step of the way, from the conceptual phase of a project through design and construction, according to the company. 

Simonton Windows
Parkersburg, W.Va.

Private company; company will not release annual sales; company will not release number of employees; seven plants; five product lines.

A Simonton employee oversees one of its seven plants. For 56 years, Simonton has invested in its employees and committed from its humble beginnings to manufacture only high-quality vinyl windows and patio doors. 

“Our people are the root of our success,” said Chris Monroe, vice president of marketing. “They are very skilled, loyal and dedicated to producing a quality product on time and delivering it as needed. In fact, Simonton is known throughout the industry for its year-round seven-day delivery service. In an industry where customers can wait several weeks for an order, our ability to deliver a complete window order in a week gives us quite a competitive edge.” 

At a product development center in Pennsboro, W.Va., existing products are enhanced or refined while innovative designs are created; and through its vinyl extrusion facility in St. Mary’s, W.Va., the company is able to maintain a high level of quality control over the vinyl that is used in 

In the early 1990s, the company established itself as a national manufacturer. With facilities located throughout the country—the Midwest, Southwest, West Coast, West Virginia and McAlester, Okla. (the newest facility opened in the summer of 2002), Simonton has been able to apply the same seven-day delivery policy from coast to coast. This has allowed the company to grow into one of the largest and most respected window companies in the United States.

A variety of styles for its standard vinyl replacement and new construction windows include single-hung, double-hung, casement, picture, bay, bow, awning, hopper, slider and geometrics. 

Sunrise Windows Ltd.
Temperance, Mich.

Private company; low $30 million in annual sales; 175 employees; one plant; one product line. 

Sunrise’s one plant is known for its production of custom vinyl replacement windows and doors. “Our commitment to consistently introducing innovative products and listening to our customers to improve those products is a major contributor to our success,” said company president Gary Delman. “The double-coved contour on our mainframe is our own patented design and our coved, mitered glazing bead and our recessed lock have helped create a graceful, narrow-line product unique to vinyl windows. Our high-performance, energy-efficient, Ultra-U Plus insulating glass has also taken us up a level,” he added. 

The company, which employs 175 people, manufactures high-quality custom vinyl replacement windows and patio doors in an ultra-modern facility in Temperance, Mich. A recent expansion added another 36,000 square feet to the facility. 

The recent introduction of its sliding patio door is one of many new products and options that Sunrise will be announcing by July 2003. Additionally, mini-blinds sealed between the lites, initially available with patio doors, will be offered with custom casement, picture, bay and bow windows. 

To supplement its customer service effort, the company introduced the Sunrise Windows Automated Technology (SWAT) program last fall. The automated service enables customers to log in to a secure section of the company’s website and check the status of orders and perform other functions. Based on customer enthusiasm, the SWAT program will be expanded in the near future. 

“We’ve been hearing over and over how user-friendly SWAT is. In fact, many customers have not needed the user manual we created. It has been a great tool for us,” said Delman.

Although the company attributes its success to developing innovative products in response to customers, many marketing and sales tools have also been the result of ongoing sales training with customers. 

Weather Shield Windows & Doors

Private company; company will not release annual sales; 2,700 employees; four plants; four product lines. 

Weather Shield’s focus on serving its customers’ specific needs by offering more products and product options than its competitors comes right from the family. 
Weather Shield’s tilt windows is just one of the many products in its four lines.
“We make windows to order, each one a different size, shape and finish,” said Mark Schield, vice president. “Our standards of quality are based on our experience in building hundreds of thousands of windows and doors every year for the residential and commercial building industries of North America and abroad, and it is done through more than 2,000 dealers around the world.”

“We combine the two essential elements that help make quality windows and doors: the art of understanding the needs of the marketplace and the science of manufacturing and technology,” added Kevin Schield, vice president.

Weather Shield was founded in 1955 in a 12- by 24-foot garage in Medford, according to Bob Eckert, director of marketing and communications. 

Expansion has been evident in many ways. The recent acquisitions of SNE Enterprises and Peachtree will expand Weather Shield’s exposure, although both are operated as separate companies presently, each making vinyl- and metal-clad products from facilities in Mosinee,Wis., and Gainesville, Ga. A new 70,000-square-foot facility in Ladysmith, Wis., (where the company has one of its plants) will manufacture accessory components for the other plants. The Greenwood, Wis., facility, which makes vinyl windows and doors, will also see an expansion—more than 100,000 square feet. 

Alan Goldberg is a contributing writer for DWM. He has more than 30 years of 
experience in the insulating glass market. 

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