Meet Your 2015 Dealers of the Year

Sponsored by the Window and Door Dealers Alliance
Introduction by Emily Kay Thompson; winner profiles by Stacey Freed
October 28, 2015
FEATURE ARTICLE | Strategies & Practices

EXCELLENCE IN INSTALLATION

Window Factory

www.bayareawindowfactory.com, Larkspur, Calif.

Window Factory’s installer team (left to right): Cibory Santos, Jose Be, Ramon Munoz and Marcello Artigas.

Visit Yelp to find out about Window Factory and you’ll see that many reviews mention the company’s installers:

  • “Very courteous and very professional. I would gladly recommend [WF] to anyone.”
  • “[They] came out 10 years after I had the windows and sliders installed and went above and beyond to take care of some things related to aging and the original installation.”
  • “The crew that came out on the day of installation was short two men, but they managed to have everything done by the end of the day.”

Quick Stats

Leadership
Rachel Blum, Jaclyn Blum-Guelfi, co-owners

2014 Sales volume
$1.9 million

Employees
16

When Rachel Blum and her sister Jaclyn Blum-Guelfi took over their father’s window business five years ago, after he passed away, they knew they were lucky to have many long-term employees who stuck with the company. But the sisters also put in place measures to make sure the business would grow and those employees would remain.

By the Book

“A window is only as good as the way it’s installed,” Blum says. “If you have a wonderful window that’s not installed right, you’re going to have problems down the line.” This is why they turn their focus to bringing in people that are open to the company’s techniques and who will learn and grow with them, she says.

The crew has worked together for so long, they operate as an efficient team.

Almost like an apprenticeship, installers train in-house under the tutelage of one of the foremen—all of whom have risen from the ranks of installers. Depending on an employee’s ability level, he may get a “buddy in the field” when learning installation techniques. And, all installation training follows AAMA guidelines. Once a week, the co-owners visit jobsites to make sure proper installation techniques were followed.

“What makes our installation crew special,” Blum says, “is not just how they install windows, but how they operate on the jobsite.” The crew has worked together for so long, they operate as an efficient team. “People are blown away at the lack of noise and disruption,” she continues. “No radios, no personal chit-chat, and they clean up so well you’d never know they installed windows that day.”

Secrets to Success

  • Consider an apprenticeship for new employees.
  • Don’t start an opening you can’t finish in the same day.
  • Keep well-trained employees happy with a competitive wage, health benefits and vacation time.

New hires are first taught how to keep a jobsite clean, how to clean a window and how to be safe. Employees are not allowed to install until they know Window Factory’s way to stage and keep a jobsite. Company policy is to “clean as they go,” with one person responsible for that task on each jobsite. If a job lasts several days, the crew doesn’t start an opening it can’t finish in one day. “A homeowner shouldn’t walk in mid-install to see a house that looks as if it’s under construction," according to Blum.

Happy Installers. Happy Customers.

In recent years, WF has not had to bring on new foremen, as the current foremen have been with the company for more than a decade. The foreman is the single point of contact for clients. They “have to have a lot of patience and people skills and make sure the customer is happy,” Blum says.

“A window is only as good as the way it’s installed,” says Rachel Blum. Window Factory takes the time to ensure its installers are thoroughly trained. (All images courtesy of Window Factory.)

Foremen attend manufacturer training, stay up on codes and methods and, in turn, pass the information along to the installers. “We see the foremen as partners,” explains Blum. They hold monthly meetings with installers. “We have a lot of steps for quality control, and we congratulate everyone when we make it through those steps,” she continues. If WF hits its yearly goals, installers can get bonuses. The company pays more than the industry average, and installers get full health benefits and paid vacations and major holidays.