Volume 16, Issue 5 - June/July 2015

 


There They Grow Again...

by Trey Barrineau

DWM
’s third annual Fastest- Growing Dealers feature takes a look at door and window companies across the country that are sporting impressive growth.

This year, we spotlight three
outstanding businesses that
have seen sales soar—and four smaller companies that have
found similar paths to record-
breaking revenue despite
operating in diverse
markets.

Brothers
in Arms


Window Nation,
Glen Burnie, Md.


Brands Sold: Alside, Pella, ThermaTru, Andersen, ProVia, Soft-Lite, Simonton, VyTex, Thermal Industries, VinylMax, Lincoln, Revere, Exterior Portfolio.
2013 Annual Sales: $30.1 million
2014 Annual Sales: $41.7 million
Projected growth in 2015 vs. 2014: 30 percent, to $54 million

With six locations in the Mid-Atlantic region and Ohio, Window Nation has grown quickly into one of the country’s largest—and busiest—dealers of vinyl replacement doors and windows.

Since it opened in July 2006, the company says it has installed more than 200,000 replacement windows.

President Harley Magden, who founded Window Nation with his brother Aaron, says an emphasis on quality installs is one thing that sets the company apart from competitors.

“Our average installer has installed 20,000 windows in his career,” he says. “They only do window installations.” That makes sense—Magden says 90 percent of Window Nation’s business is windows.

The company also excels at sales.

“It starts with our sales methodology and how we go about training our people,” Magden says. “It extends to how we go about finding our sales reps, and how we educate the customer to allow them to make the best decision possible.”

That philosophy definitely helps the bottom line. In August 2014, Window Nation made the Inc. 5,000 list of fast-growing companies.

The company does a lot of advertising, especially on radio. It has endorsements from such well-known on-air talent as Mike & Mike, along with some of the top sports/news talk personalities in Cleveland, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

The public clearly loves what the company is doing, too. In 2014, it won a Best of Houzz award for customer service.

“We lay our expectations out front, and our goal is to always over-deliver on those expectations,” says Magden. “Our customer satisfaction ratings are in the 90 to 97 percent range, that’s based on over 15,000 customer surveys that we do.”



Small, but Quick

Target the higher-end market—but don’t ignore the other segments.

• Provide stellar customer service from first contact to final installation.

• Build a beautiful, memorable showroom.

• Go into business with your family, or people you’ve known a long time.

Those are just a few of the things some smaller door and window dealers across the country are doing to find success.

Martel Windows & Doors of Austin, Texas; Franklin Window and Door of Franklin, Ind., BM Windows of San Diego; and Chattahoochee Windows & Doors of Smyrna, Ga., are in very different markets, but they share similar traits that have sparked strong growth. Let’s take a look.

BM Windows, San Diego

Brands Sold:
Anlin Window Systems, Bay View Windows, Monte Verde Windows
2013 Annual Sales: $800,000
2014 Annual Sales: $1.2 million
Projected growth in 2015 vs. 2014: 46 percent, to $1.75 million


Chattahoochee Windows
& Doors, Smyrna, Ga.

Brands Sold:
Alside, Comfort View, Shwinco, Marvin, Enviroguard
2013 Annual Sales: $215,000
2014 Annual Sales: $368,000
Projected growth in 2015 vs. 2014: 50 percent, to $552,000


Martel Windows & Doors, Austin, Texas

Brands Sold:
Milgard, Fleetwood, Sun, Ram, Masonite, Buffelen, Showcase, Velux, Phantom, Centor
2013 Annual Sales: $1.1 million
2014 Annual Sales: $2.2 million
Projected growth in 2015 vs. 2014: 18 percent to $2.6 million


Franklin Window & Door, Franklin, Ind.

Brands Sold:
Marvin, ProVia, Therma-Tru, Simpson Door, EmTek/Assa Abloy
2013 Annual Sales: $460,000
2014 Annual Sales: $1 million
Projected growth in 2015 vs. 2014: 100 percent to $2 million


It’s a Family Affair
Ryan Windows & Siding, Rochester, Minn.


Brands Sold: Andersen, Pella, Marvin, Larson, Sunrise Windows, Therma-Tru, ProVia, Masonite, Taylor Building Products, Hayfield Window & Door
2013 Annual Sales: $4.25 million
2014 Annual Sales: $5.7 million
Projected growth in 2015 vs. 2014: 15 percent, to $6.6 million

Ryan Windows & Siding started about 30 years ago when founder Bruce Ryan branched out from an earlier exterior remodeling business. Today, it’s one of the top door and window distributors in Rochester, Minn., the home of the Mayo Clinic and its 34,000 highly compensated employees. There’s also a significant high-tech presence with the 3.1 million-square-foot IBM Rochester facility, which employs around 2,000 workers.

“We’re serving a pretty well-educated population,” says sales manager Austin Ryan, who is Bruce’s son. “The per capita income is pretty high.”

That means lots of luxury remodeling jobs and spec houses, though that segment isn’t the only one the company caters to.

“What we’re doing really ranges,” says Ryan. “The products and services we offer are basically value based.”

And they seem to be doing it pretty well—more than 62 percent of Ryan Windows & Siding’s business is repeats and referrals, the company says.

“The biggest thing we do is we offer a quality product and high-quality installation,” Ryan says. “Basically, our whole credo behind what we do is offering the best possible solution to our customers’ problems while keeping in mind the sustainability of what we’re doing to their house. And keeping value in mind as well. What they’re paying and what they’re actually getting is important to us as well.”

Teamwork is another big contributor to Ryan Windows & Siding’s solid growth.

“I think the biggest thing that sets our business apart or makes our organization successful is the cohesive team effort that we have going on,” Ryan says. “Everybody on our team really has a personal interest in seeing our customers benefit from what we’re doing for them, and they’re all invested in making our business better.”





1 — Target the
Higher-End Market


One thread running through all four companies is a focus on custom-built homes or high-end replacement projects. Do good work in that market, and it leads to word-of-mouth referrals and lots of lucrative business.

“We do a lot of installed sales directly to the homeowner, which has just been an advent of referrals,” says Sean Miller of Martel in Austin, Texas, whose company’s name is a combination of the names of his grandmothers – Margaret and Estelle.

The husband-and-wife team of Scott and Cori Brown of Franklin Window & Door in Franklin, Ind., easily transitioned into that market when they started their business in March 2012.

“I had a high-end remodeling business, and Cori wanted to get out of her career and start her own business, and we kind of saw a need in our market for a boutique window and door dealer,” Scott Brown says of the company, which serves Indianapolis and the surrounding area. “Customization is one of the major things that sets us apart.”

But don’t forget your customers with smaller budgets.

“We work on everything from multimillion-dollar projects to rental homes,” says Michal Bohm of BM Windows in San Diego. “We can reach all these customers.”

The same goes for Maurice Duvic of Chattahoochee Windows, who also does some work with a pricey niche product.

“I do rental housing all the way up to million-dollar-plus homes,” he says of his growing company in the metro Atlanta area. “I also sell a fair amount of acoustical windows. People are worried about sound and not just about energy efficiency anymore.”

2 — Provide Stellar
Customer Service

This is a no-brainer for any business, but it’s even more important when you work with customers spending large sums to renovate their homes. It also goes beyond salesmanship to include in-depth knowledge – not only about products, but also about building codes, such as those from the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA).

“All of our installers are AAMA certified,” says Martel’s Miller. “I’m an AAMA-certified InstallationMaster. After our salesmen have been with us for a couple of years, they all get AAMA certified. We’re constantly going to industry events to stay up on the newest codes. Those things really set us apart from the guys who are just order takers.”

A kinder, gentler sales method also works for these companies.

“It really seems like we have two options in our market — the big box stores or those high-pressure, we-come-out-and-sell-you-the-first-night businesses,” says Franklin’s Cori Brown. “We are neither of those. We have the most knowledgeable staff in the market for windows and doors. Our sales process usually takes about a month because they (customers) think they know what they want, but by the time we’re done, they may have completely changed.”

It can be especially effective in saturated markets such as Southern California.

“We try to offer our customers a new angle,” says BM’s Bohm. “We go to the customer’s house, present the product, and advise on what would be the best product for the home. I listen to the homeowner and educate them on the product and then offer our services. If the customer is happy, we go from there. If not, we wish them good luck and we move on. So far, it’s been working for us. Over 60 percent of our customers come from referrals.”

And perhaps most importantly, it’s good to get to the point.

“We don’t waste anybody’s time,” says Chattahoochee’s Duvic. “We don’t put on the two-hour dog-and-pony show.”

3 — Build a Beautiful, Memorable Showroom

A great place to show off your products is always a good idea, and Franklin Window & Door’s showroom is an example of an outstanding one.

In March 2012, Scott and Cori Brown bought a historic commercial building in downtown Franklin, Ind., and turned it into an inviting showcase for their company’s products.

“It’s just a completely different experience,” says Cori Brown. “We have full-size facades. Homeowners off the street walk in, and it’s really lovely. And then they trust you with their home.”

“It draws a lot of foot traffic,” says Scott Brown. “Interior designers and remodelers love to bring their clients there.”
Franklin Window is about to open a second showroom in Carmel, Ind.

Martel is another company that uses its showroom to full advantage.

“We’ve built full vignettes in our showroom that show windows and folding doors, so we have the full-scale samples trimmed out differently,” says Miller. “It really gives people the opportunity to see how the products are going to look in their house.”

Miller says the current 1,700-square-foot space will double by the end of September.

4 — Go Into Business With People You Know Well

There’s no shortage of successful family-run businesses in the door and window industry, and while you usually know the “who,” you don’t often hear about the “why.”

For Franklin Window & Door’s Cori and Scott Brown, it’s a constant flow of energy and ideas from someone you live—and work—with.

“As a husband-and-wife-owned team, we never stop,” says Scott Brown. “We come home and we brainstorm and kick stuff off each other all the time. It would be a lot more of a challenge for someone who had to go home and shut it off and start back over the next day and not have anyone there to feed off of.”

Miller of Martel works with his sister, who brings a different set of experiences to the job.

“She’s the sales manager, and she’s got an industrial design background,” he says of Christie, who previously worked as the lead designer for a custom cabinet company that specializes in space-saving storage solutions.

“We’ve known each other for a long time,” says BM Windows’ Bohm of his team. “We are like a close family. We treat the customer like family. So if somebody chooses us, we’re staying with the customer from the beginning of the process.”

“I got my daughter on board, and my installers have been with me for 15 years,” says Chattahoochee’s Duvic, a 35-year veteran of the fenestration industry.


Location, Location, Location
Associated Building Supply Inc., Oxnard, Calif.


Brands Sold: JELD-WEN, LaCantina, AG Millwork, Pacific Architectural Millwork, Arcadia Custom, Euroline Steel Windows, Western Window Systems, All Weather, IWC, Milgard, Value Windows, Velux.
2013 Annual Sales: $15.2 million
2014 Annual Sales: $22.3 million
Projected growth in 2015 vs. 2014: 22 percent, to $27 million

If you’re building or remodeling a high-end residence anywhere in California, you’ll probably end up across the table from an Associated Building Supply Inc. (ABSi) salesperson at some point.

The company, founded in Oxnard 1993, is recognized as a leader in supplying luxury doors and windows to every corner of a state that has no shortage of spectacular, expensive homes.

“That’s kind of our niche,” says vice president Scott A. Thurber. “We’ve had a lot of success.”
Indeed they have.

The company has seen 40 percent sales growth each year for the past three years, Thurber says. In 2014, ABSi was Western Window Systems’ largest volume specialty dealer in the U.S., Euroline Steel’s top volume dealer in the U.S. and JELD-WEN’s largest volume specialty dealer in California.

So how do they do it? By setting up shop all over California, investing in high-tech tools and sticking to an overriding philosophy the company calls the Fairness Doctrine.

“We’re a statewide entity, which is unique in our industry in that we can follow our builder base anywhere in the state of California because we have 10 different showroom locations,” Thurber says. “Our salespeople have access to all showrooms via an entry code. That’s one of the things that makes us kind of unique.”

Eight years ago, Associated Building Supply invested heavily in a cloud-based sales-management system, NetSuite, that Thurber says is designed to liberate the salesforce.

“It’s something we invested in because we knew what direction we wanted to go — and we wanted no limitations,” he says.

But perhaps an even bigger factor than location and technology is the company’s dedication to its Fairness Doctrine, which states “We must treat our customers with respect and consideration and they must in turn, reciprocate; we must treat our employees with respect and consideration and they must in turn, reciprocate; we must treat our suppliers with respect and consideration and they must in turn, reciprocate.”

“It’s not just a buzzword; it’s really how we conduct business,” Thurber says. “We live by that. “

Put it all together, and you’ve got a business that’s clearly taking customer service to the next level.

“We’re basically a dealer of windows and doors,” Thurber says. “There are hundreds, if not thousands, of dealers, and they all sell product. What we try to do is train our guys to not sell window and door product, but to sell window and door solutions. Window and door guys are a dime a dozen. They’re knocking on everybody’s door, and we don’t want to be one of those guys.”




Trey Barrineau is the editor of DWM Magazine


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