Pella Windows and Doors

Seeing through to the final product: how Pella Windows and Doors remain on top

Pella Corporation, one of the global window and door manufacturing leaders, corporately expanded into the Ontario market in 2001, bringing with it a full range or residential and commercial products backed by a network of sales and service representatives in all major North American cities.

The main headquarters of the company is in Pella, Iowa, population 10,000, where about 30 per cent of the city’s citizens work at the main manufacturing facility. When it comes to buying windows and doors, the Pella brand stands out amongst the cluster of other providers and customers have come to rely on the trusted brand name for quality.

Jon Buchanan is General Manager of Pella Doors and Windows for Ontario. He spoke to CBJ about his company’s path to becoming the preferred choice for contractors and home-owners alike. Buchanan explains that segmentation of the business has been a very successful management strategy for the company, providing a “real advantage” by having sales professionals trained and experts in their specific sector, with the ultimate goal of getting Pella products to the end-user who is going to be living with the products in their home.

One segment of the Pella Windows company is business-to-business sales. The team dedicated to this side of the company are prospecting and pursuing customers who are custom home builders, contractors, renovators, etc., and for relationships with key influencers like architects and designers.

Another division market is retail replacement sales. For this, the company has a team of specialists who meet in the home with the homeowners for their window and door replacement needs. That situation would be someone who is currently living with old, drafty windows and who is looking for a company who can take care of everything involved, with respect to replacing windows and doors in their home. Behind the scenes, Pella Windows and Doors does a lot of work co-ordinating a seamless supply and install of windows for these customers, including have order verifiers, measurers co-ordinating installation, up to pre-finishing the products on the interior for that client.

“Business is doing well in terms of the replacement market; it is up significantly over last year. More and more people are looking for window companies that are brands they recognize, with an element of trust, with an expectation that will follow through. Pella has unique options that help us achieve EnergyStar compliance, whether it is triple glaze windows, or higher performance glass options, in helping our customers meet those requirements,” says Buchanan.

Next year, Pella is venturing into a new vinyl product, a bit of a shift for Pella because the company is best known for its wood windows and interiors. The vinyl product will have some of the same great features that it has with its wood window lines, releasing in early in 2011.

The third area of the company’s market is the commercial sector which includes golf courses, opera houses, libraries, universities, etc and encompasses multi-family projects like townhouse, highrises and apartments.

Making good, better

Be it trade, retail replacement or commercial, it is Pella’s commitment to quality and innovation that has led to the company’s exemplary longevity in the marketplace. Pella is also committed to continually raising the bar. “We have more patents than any other window company, so the perception that the customer forms about the brand gives us a tremendous advantage, so we recognize and respect that very much,” says Buchanan. “At least 95 per cent of the time, people know exactly who we are and what our product stands for.

Although they are primarily manufacturers and distributors of high-quality windows and doors, Pella is still a human institution that values its team members for their work and their overall commitment.

“We use something called the Total Competitiveness System, which really outlines our company values and the leadership takes ownership of those values in creating our vision, mission and the customer-focused processes that we execute on every day,” explains Buchanan.

The positive and progressive company culture at Pella did not form by chance. Rather, Pella has fostered it by embracing the Kaizen philosophy, based on a Japanese term meaning to change for the better.

“We challenge our team members several times a year where we lead Kaizen events, from deliveries, to service, from anything in our day-to-day business life that we feel could have been done better,” says Buchanan.

“We move forward”

By creating a sturdy foundation within their company first, Pella Windows and Doors are positioned to created products that will be the foundation of our homes. “We pick a team of eight to 10 people and put them in the boardroom for the week and ask them how we are doing on a particular process,” he says. “They will go through the process, map it, measure each step, and look for the ways to limit redundancies and ultimately streamline, improve and better the process. The best part of Kaizen is whatever that team came up with, our commitment is we will embrace and execute it the next day, going live with it. That is a really big deal because the team members involved in the event are excited because they are empowered and their creation is engaged. We take the viewpoint of, ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen?’ If we do not see the expected improvements, we can go back to the way we did things, but that is almost never the case. We move forward.”

By adopting a culture of continuous improvement, Pella Windows and Doors has created a healthy working environment, the manifestation of which is products that are constantly exceeding expectations. As the company continues to expand in the Ontario market, more customers are trusting Pella with their greatest asset: their homes.