Quality Above All Else
North Star Windows & Doors
With soaring home heating and cooling costs, taking measures to conserve energy is more important than ever before. For over thirty years, North Star Windows & Doors has provided a wide range of attractive, top-quality products designed, engineered and manufactured for years of use.
The company meets strict ratings under Energy Star® – the recognized international standard for energy-efficient consumer products – and continues to be a recognized and innovative industry leader.
North Star Windows & Doors was founded in London, Ontario in the spring of 1985. The business rapidly expanded and relocated to its present site. Today, the company has almost 400 staff in peak season and a massive 224,000-square-foot facility from which it sells strictly to dealers across Canada and parts of the United States, including Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.
“We started as a sunroom company, and we were looking for windows for our own sunrooms,” says Jesse Dyck, marketing and product innovation manager. Dyck has been with the company since the beginning – apart from a brief hiatus – and has seen North Star Windows & Doors evolve into a well-respected enterprise.
“We started right from scratch. We had one welder, with two people in the plant pushing equipment into place and setting it all up, and here we are thirty years later, at sixty-plus million dollars in annual sales, so it’s kind of cool.”
North Star Windows & Doors acknowledges that there are less-expensive, mass-produced door and window products on the market. At first glance, many appear to be well-made, but closer inspection – and wear and tear – soon reveals the truth behind the old proverb, ‘you get what you pay for.’ This applies to areas such as finishes, glass and even door and window hardware. On even the smallest details, the company refuses to skimp on quality, unlike some others in the market.
“You can cheat a little bit with hardware and things like that, but we have never done that,” says Dyck. “We put in what we think is the best hardware on the market, a lot of it from Amesbury- Truth Hardware — it is a well-known brand in the industry — and we use that. It really is the fit and finish, what the window looks like when it comes out of the factory, the consistency of it and being able to count on it coming out that way every time and on time. And it has created us a network of dealers.”
While it does work with top-notch suppliers, North Star Windows & Doors makes other key items itself including vinyl and injection-moulded hardware. To craft quality products, it invests in machinery and equipment, such as in its new in-house state-of-the-art glass line. The significant purchase has allowed North Star to keep up with production and ensure quality by controlling its processes.
“This is an investment that reaps rewards in productivity and quality, and it gives our employees the resource to produce the highest of quality sealed units,” he says. “It has allowed us to keep up with production, and with every new piece of equipment, the technology increases and gets better, and it allows us a higher output and also better quality and more consistent quality. It is always an upgrade.”
Years of innovation, hard work, dedication to customers and investment continue to pay off for the company, which saw growth of close to fifteen percent in 2015 in an industry experiencing a downturn of eight to ten percent. A diverse product range – including its Signature Collection, Classic Collection and Custom Collection of doors and its many styles of windows – combine with its reputation for quality and consistent, on-time delivery. In fact, one of North Star’s greatest assets is its ability to meet tight deadlines.
“That is probably one of the most important strengths that we have within our company – is to be able to count on our delivery,” comments Dyck. The company has a history of maintaining consistent lead times, listening to its customers and making timeless a priority.
“Not everyone has been able to do that,” he says. “In this day and age, where so much research can be done online, consumers are educated, and they know and understand the difference in quality. We promise ‘Quality Windows and Doors, Great Service and Exceptional Value.’ That’s our tagline and goes with all of our marketing. We say what we do, and we do what we say.”
North Star remains innovative in its design and efficiency, making it an industry leader, never a follower. Through the efforts of experienced, dedicated staff and best-in-class manufacturing technology, all windows and doors regularly exceed industry standards and provide great value for the dollar. Its Energy Star® rated products enable customers to save hundreds of dollars or more in heating and energy costs over conventional doors and windows.
This designation, says Dyck, is another example of the company standing above the competition. “Energy Star® certification validates energy efficient products,” he says. The company’s doors and windows are subjected to a number of tests. “Compliance consists of ER (Energy Rating) computer simulations based on glazing types and gas filling and also physical tests. Our physical tests are with the CSA (Canadian Standards Association) certification process. Random audits by CSA to ensure we’re manufacturing the same window as we tested.”
The company realizes advanced machinery is vital to its continued success, but its workers are also critical to ensuring quality products and on-time delivery. Many of its staff have been with the company for years. “Equipment is essential, but it’s our people that make it happen,” states Dyck. “Our people are long-term dedicated employees that care. I know this sounds cliché, but it’s a fact. Without our quality, dedicated staff, all we have is a nice building with lots of equipment in it. It’s the people that matter.”
Finding new employees can be a challenge in peak season when demand is extremely high, so the company has joined with employment agencies and implemented a successful pilot project with engineering students from local universities. In-depth training at North Star helps make the company an attractive and safe place to work.
From design and materials to fabrication and speedy delivery, North Star Windows & Doors has earned its position in the marketplace. It refuses to skimp on any areas. Metal, glass, hardware, warm edge spacers in sealed units and finishes (colour systems are laminated, not painted) must all be top notch.
North Star welcomes the future, and, as it continues to grow, it is looking for opportunities to expand in the window and door industry. “I think if we can grow at the rate we’ve been growing, that is hugely successful,” says Dyck. “We are in growth mode, and we’re happy to be in growth mode. It’s exciting, and that is something that we think creates excitement about growing a company. It’s exciting, and it’s satisfying, and it’s healthy.”
Much of the company’s success comes from truly knowing the market, respecting customers and having a dedicated staff. Buyers have a choice: pay less now by purchasing energy inefficient, mass-manufactured products, then pay much more in replacement costs, or pay a little more and get warranty-backed, superior-quality products designed for years of use and energy savings.
“We want to be the company that everyone wants to be part of,” says Dyck. “We want our employees to be proud of what they do every day. We want to be known to care about the safety and well-being of each one of our employees. We want to produce the products that people associate with quality service and value.”