BY SUSAN BESZE WALLACE
They know of burls and butt joints and bev- eled edges; the intricacies of dormers and rip caps and diffusing glass. Members of the Window & Door Manufacturers Association deal in the currency of craftsmanship and architectural nuance.
But new entries are being added to the group’s glossary. “Chatter” isn’t just the unseemly lines across a
poorly sanded door; it’s what one has to do to have an
impact on ENERGY STAR requirements. A “quarrel”
isn’t just a diamond, or square-shaped piece of glass
set diagonally; it’s what can happen when environmental groups and industry clash over policy. “
Hit-and-miss” isn’t just a kind of window; it’s what can happen
if you show up unannounced to a legislator’s office.
In 2009, WDMA launched an effort that unites its
members’ voices in hopes of influencing lawmakers and
policies to change the way they do business. The One
Voice™ Advocacy Program was born out of necessity as
an increasing federal regulatory environment brushed up
against the harshest economic climate in decades.
“There’s an old saying in advocacy that if you
Windows to the Past
don’t have a seat at the table, you’re going to be on
the menu,” says WDMA President and CEO Michael
O’Brien, CAE. “That’s what was happening. Others were
deciding how windows, doors and skylights were going
to be built.”
The association and the OneVoice Advocacy effort
have grown during challenging times, proving “impact”
no longer refers just to how much force a pane of glass
or plank of wood can take, but what an industry of
competitors can create with shared goals and the right
Read the histories of many window and door companies
and you’ll practically be able to feel the wind fluttering flags on Main Street. Many entrepreneurs in the
early 1900s created businesses or products that would
sustain their small towns, keep people employed and
pay homage to the hard-working patriarchs who had laid
their foundations. In this era of corporate giants, many
— if not most — window and door companies still are
privately held with family involvement.
For example, Loewen, founded by the son of Russian
immigrants, made humble products like beekeeping
equipment and church pews in the early 1900s before
becoming preeminent in the luxury wood door and window market.
Andersen Windows and Doors’ roots were planted in
1903 when Danish immigrant Hans Andersen set up
shop in Hudson, Wis., where logs arrived via the St.
Croix River. During the Great Depression when a factory
was temporarily shuttered, Andersen kept employees
working by having them plant trees. Today, Andersen
Corp. employs more than 9,000 people at 20-plus
locations that manufacture more than 6 million wood
windows and doors each year.
Marvin Lumber and Cedar manufactured butter
boxes and ammunition during World War II. After the
war, William Marvin focused on producing windows as
a way to keep returning servicemen in Warroad, Minn.
Profit-sharing first came in bags of silver dollars, and
two major factory fires didn’t prevent Marvin Windows
and Doors from becoming the largest made-to-order
wood window and door manufacturer in the world.
“This industry started as a handcrafted product