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Volume 6   Issue 6                July  2005


Manufacturer Believes in Fiscal Conservancy, Taking Care of
Employees and Providing a Speedy Delivery

by Samantha Carpenter

When many people think of the Salt Lake City area, they think of snow skiing or other outdoor sports. But Salt Lake City is also home to a number of corporations, including Wells Fargo, Tandem Labs, Sport Court Inc. and vinyl window manufacturer AMSCO Windows.

WWII veteran Phillip Rasmussen founded AMSCO in 1949. And after the war he returned and started the company with the $2,500 he saved while in the service. It wasn’t named AMSCO originally; he called it Cool Breeze, and the company made aluminum shade awnings for homes. Rasmussen realized that aluminum windows were going to be something big, so he moved into the aluminum window market and later into vinyl windows.

Rasmussen still owns the company today and remains active in its operations. He is the company’s chairperson, and when he is in town, he is in the office every day.

A Company with Values

According to company co-chief executive officers Bart Naylor and Tracey Shaver, Rasmussen has always operated the company with a number of core values.

One is to take care of employees. A number of employees, such as Shaver, have been there 20-plus years.

“People have been here a long time, which gives us a lot of industry knowledge. That’s how Mr. Rasmussen believes you are successful—by finding and retaining those good people and then allowing them to do their job,” Naylor said.

The company is also fiscally conservative.

“We finance everything through the cash flows of the company, so we aren’t beholden to anybody, which gives us the flexibility to do the things we want to do,” Naylor explained.

Shaver, whose pet name for the company is the “Golden Goose,” tells of a story of when the company was faced with hard times financially but still took care of its employees.

“Back when we were doing aluminum, we didn’t want to lay anybody off. We’ve never had a layoff before, but since we believe in hard work, we said, ‘OK. We have enough work for seven hours. We are going to pay our employees for eight hours, but they are going to work for seven and go home for that last hour,” Shaver said. “We had to get all our work done, but that type of philosophy builds trust that retains employees.”

The company also offers its 561 employees a 401K and a profit sharing plan, low-cost insurance and a competitive wage.

Vinyl Window Offerings

AMSCO built its first vinyl windows in 1988, but didn’t make a big push with the product until two years later. Currently, the company offers three vinyl window lines: the Traditional, Legacy and Heritage series.

The company also launched two new vinyl composite series recently —the Renaissance™ and Renaissance Masters. (Please see related article in DWM, November/December 2004, page 72). All windows are built in both custom and stock sizes.

“These series are really something that we believe will be influential in the window industry as we see vinyl composites becoming as big a force in the coming years as vinyl windows are now,” Naylor said. “It offers you all of the benefits and beauty of wood without the bad side effects.”

A Speedy Delivery

According to Steve Sullivan, marketing manager, another core value of the company is quick delivery.

“The stocking of windows does two things: one, it allows our company to balance out the workforce when times are a little slower, and two, it allows us to deliver quickly,” Sullivan explained. “We might be able to send 50 or 60 percent of our daily deliveries out of here by just pulling them off a shelf. From when an order comes in to when it is shipped on a truck takes five days. That’s something we are able to do with the Renaissance and custom sizing, too. We can do custom sizing on all our product lines. We’ll build them to a quarter of an inch and sometimes to an eight of an inch, and those windows come out in that same five-day period. That’s allowed us to dominate the new construction market.”

Shaver clarifies that the five-day delivery means a full delivery.

“If the order is 22 windows, then it’s 22 windows,” he said.

The company uses its own fleet of trucks to deliver.

“We built window racks into the sides of the trucks. We use pads, a little bit of cardboard and rope. A lot of people come in and look at our packaging and say, ‘Man, don’t you have a ton of damage.’ But we don’t,” Shaver said.

“We haul about a 500-mile radius around Salt Lake City. There are some products that we package a little more, like the painted product [we’ll do some shrink wrap and cardboard corners on those],” he added.

Redundancy, Redundancy, Redundancy

To help meet its five-day delivery period, the company relies on its software and machinery. The company uses an employee-written proprietary software system in its manufacturing operations. AMSCO’s dealers use the Paradigm Navigator software—which communicates with AMSCO’s software system—to order windows.

The company’s machinery consists of Wegoma, Sturtz, GED and Billco.

“One of the things we’ve also built into our product systems is redundancy. I run two Intercept® lines, and one is usually free. If one goes down, then I move to the other one, which as far as our production schedule has kept our lead times consistent,” Shaver said.

He also explained that the company produces its windows a little differently than most companies.

“If I’m putting 2,000 custom windows into the shop, I will put 2,000 in one big batch. I don’t break it down to this house package going in each time,” Shaver said. “We’ve also developed some other systems where we build ‘group custom.’ That means that if I have three windows that are going to Denver and have low-E grids in the deadlite only and three that are going to Boise and three that are going to Reno, I will build all nine of those windows in a group together instead building each three at different points. It’s definitely helped production.”

Shaver admits that the company occasionally has had problems with machinery. “One of the things we’ve done is tear down our equipment yearly and clean it up … The employees and the lead people are expected to know that equipment, so that it’s not just running, running, running until it breaks down,” Shaver said. “We believe in preventative maintenance.”

Employee Responsibility

As far as what quality-control measures AMSCO has in place, Shaver said the company teaches each employee to be responsible.

“We tag and label our windows so we can follow it right back to the individual. We make sure up front that quality is their responsibility. We don’t have a quality control manager; I have 561 of them is what I believe,” Shaver said. “I believe that’s the most important way to do it. We just try to teach it from day one that they are responsible for quality. It’s part of what they are reviewed on. Quality, safety and products—those three things go hand in hand.”

Distributing through Dealers

AMSCO doesn’t sell direct to builders or contractors; it only sells through its dealer network.

“Our philosophy is the only thing you are extracting from the food chain is a dealer’s profit because everything that a dealer has to do—still has to be done, such as [the windows] have to be installed, the windows have to be serviced … and you have to show the product to the consumer. If you are shortchanging any part of that, you probably aren’t getting it done,” Sullivan explained. “Our feeling is the dealer will do a much better job than we’ll ever do … we feel we will lose in the long run if we compete with our dealers.”

Currently, the company distributes its windows in 11 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. As far as going nationwide, “We’ve certainly had a lot of inquiries from all over the country. We will make it available as we are able to service the customer,” Naylor said.

“To stay with our five-day delivery is vitally important,” Shaver added. “We’ll grow as we can grow, but as Tracey said, “We aren’t going to kill the Golden Goose.”

Samantha Carpenter is a contributing editor for DWM. 

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