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Tenured Celebrations

Our employees are our greatest spokespeople for the industry

January marks my five-year anniversary with Window + Door magazine and the National Glass Association. For a Xennial like myself (a microgeneration between Gen Xers and millennials), five years is above-average tenure. For one in the fenestration industry, I’m still a newbie. 

I had the opportunity to attend two anniversary celebrations last year for Pittsburgh-area companies. Veka Inc. celebrated its 40th anniversary in North America with celebrations across its North American plants. The final one was a pig roast at its Fombell, Pennsylvania, headquarters in August, which I attended. It was terrific to talk with employees—many of whom have been with the company for 30 years and beyond—and experience the employee-first culture. 

Llewellyn Williams, who celebrated 30 years with Veka in December, shared about the camaraderie, constant learning, unity, family-like atmosphere and constant evolution. “Life is about changes and updates,” he told me. “The modernization has been awesome. They take ingenuity and put it back in the company to make it better.”

In October, I attended Winchester Industries’ 40th anniversary celebration in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania. President Michael Sugrue shared the following statistics: 50% of companies go out of business after five years and only 5% of businesses survive more than 30 years.

Winchester beat the odds and, as with Veka, showed me first-hand the leadership, camaraderie and dedication of a team environment in fenestration. Sugrue said that although producing an efficient, secure, quality window was important to founders Robert Weis and George Yuhasz, it was equally important to provide jobs with great benefits. The employee tenure is notable: there are 13 active and three retired employees with 37 to 40 years of service, and a combined 713 years of service among all Winchester employees.

This issue contains the robust annual Industry Pulse report. Many respondents and interviewees discussed the labor challenge, both recruitment and retention. High employee turnover during the early days of employment made the average employee tenure only 6 ½ years. But one of the things I noticed through my local visits, conversations with industry leaders and comments on the survey is once employees engage with the company and all it encompasses, they’re often in it for the long haul. It’s not unusual to see many employees with decades of history in one company.

The labor challenge likely will continue for years to come, but I’ve come to realize that once we get people truly invested in this industry and what we do, they’re our greatest spokespeople. 


Laurie Cowin headshot

Laurie Cowin

Laurie Cowin is editor of Window + Door. Contact her at