Let the Dealer Focus on Sales

Vytex develops strong regional niche by manufacturing and installing, while its customers generate leads and sell windows
By Christina Lewellen
May 1, 2006
FEATURE ARTICLE | Close-Ups

Vytex Windows wants its dealers to focus on what they do best—selling windows. That’s why the Laurel, MD-based vinyl window manufacturer installs and services just about every window it makes.

“We make it easier for them to make their money,” says COO Chuck Scalzott. “We are their factory, in essence.”

Vytex’s installation crews tackle as many as 25 jobs per day in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. corridor. For 18 years, the company has been installing the majority of its windows, enabling the dealers that sell Vytex windows to move on and focus on completing the next sale. “Our dealers are really in the market of generating leads,” CEO Andy Weinrub notes. “We tell our dealers, ‘You do what you do best. Go out and sell windows.’”

As a regional player, Vytex found that taking on the challenges of installation allowed them to stand apart from national window manufacturers in a ripe metropolitan housing market. The company has experienced solid growth since its inception in 1988—the company posted about $20 million in sales last year—and officials are aiming to double its size in the next three years. The plan is relatively simple, Weinrub and Scalzott say. They’ll attract new dealers in a wider geographic footprint with their installation program, and use cutting-edge technology to make quality products. “At the size we are, we have to offer these things, otherwise we couldn’t compete,” Weinrub says.

“We try to make it easy to buy from Vytex,” Scalzott adds.

USING TECHNOLOGY TO STAND APART
A Polish immigrant, Weinrub spent time as a young man learning to install and frame windows at his brother’s side. He also earned money as an employee in a window manufacturing facility. These early experiences with attention to detail and quality assurance resulted in the core foundation of Vytex, when he and his partners started the company. “I want to be proud of what I do,” he says. “It’s how I grew up. Every window that leaves the factory, I want it to be like I made it.”

To help facilitate the corporate approach to quality, Weinrub and his team set up a spacious 160,000-square-foot plant and will add another 60,000 square feet to the floor at the end of the year. The employees, some of whom are Polish immigrants as well, work with automated equipment and computers to ensure consistent quality across all products.

Admittedly a “gadget guy,” Weinrub says Vytex is pretty technologically savvy, considering its size. “We probably have more technology than what we need,” he says.

But the technology equals consistency, Scalzott adds. There are about 120 computers in the production area of the factory alone, and a bar code system tracks the progress of every order on the floor. Much of the equipment is automated, but company officials are particularly proud of its new Besten T.A.P.E. line for IG production, new four-point welders, its tape line for applying 3M’s Accentrim product to glass and coating booths for making colored vinyl extrusions using Royal’s SpectraCoat colorizing system.

Weinrub also built a test lab on the floor so Vytex can test for air, water and, soon, structural requirements placed on a window. At any time, managers can pull a window off the line and test its quality immediately. “My interest in a test lab was not for marketing,” Weinrub explains. “I want to make sure we’re making a good window. It’s not about going out and testing one window at a certified lab. I want to test any of our windows at any time for quality.”

Admittedly not a desk guy, the amicable Weinrub knows his employees by first name and often spends most of his day on the floor. “There’s not a single piece of equipment I can’t operate,” he playfully brags.

Weinrub makes it a priority to treat his employees well (he built them a deck last year for outdoor breaks and there’s a foosball table and television on the wall in the lunchroom) and he treats his suppliers as partners in the Vytex operation. “Just because somebody offers me something for 10 cents less doesn’t mean I’m going to do it,” he says. “While price is important, it’s not the most important thing. We want quality and relationships with our suppliers.”

FOLLOWING THROUGH
Making a quality vinyl replacement window is how Vytex keeps its customers loyal, but it often attracts dealers in the first place with its measure and install services. “We grew by offering something the dealers wanted,” Weinrub says.

Plenty of manufacturers can piece together automated equipment and dedicated employees to make a good product, Weinrub explains, but taking on installation requires a true commitment to service. “I think of the manufacturing end as a hobby,” he says, “because it’s more of a controlled environment. Installation is a whole different ball game. Every house is different and every customer has different expectations.”

“Our installation people have to make sure homeowners are happy,” Scalzott says. “At the end of the day, that’s how we help our dealers and that’s how we get paid.”

To serve its dealers’ marketing efforts, Vytex crews wear shirts with the dealers’ logos and carry lawn signs to the site so the neighborhood knows what dealer sold the job. A significant portion of the office staff at the Vytex facility exists solely to handle the logistics of installation by setting appointments with homeowners and answering any questions or concerns they might have about the project. “We make sure our people serve our dealers’ customers well,” Scalzott says.

After a dealer’s salesperson presents a contract for a sale, Vytex’s team interacts with the homeowner to schedule a time to re-measure the job to ensure accuracy of the products’ sizing. Company representatives keep the buyer posted on the products’ status and, once they roll off the line, schedule a time for the installation team to replace the windows. If there are callbacks or questions after the installation, Vytex handles those for the dealer as well.

“Why don’t all manufacturers do this? Because installation is a headache,” Weinrub says. It’s an approach that works for Vytex, however, and its dealers. “They love it,” he notes. “We’re really great for somebody who has a lead generation and marketing approach to selling windows.”