A 1978 research project concluded that in Europe approximately 65% of all replacement windows were manufactured from polyvinylchloride (PVC) extrusions. At that time the American market for windows made of PVC was less than 3%.
Recognizing this opportunity, a five-person team launched a venture in 1981 to manufacture vinyl replacement windows out of a small warehouse in downtown Toledo, Ohio. Initially Great Lakes’ product line consisted of a double hung, a slider and a picture window, all of which were mechanically fastened and available only in white.
An Innovative Legacy Begins
Throughout the next five years, Great Lakes Window grew its capabilities and product line offerings with the addition of casement, bow and bay windows, and began using an innovative new manufacturing process in the industry known as pinch fusion welding. This technique creates a solid, one-piece unit that maintains its strength over the years and ensures that frame and sash corners won’t come apart over time. Unlike competitors’ vinyl windows, Great Lakes products do not contain staples, glue, or nails. This provides customers with better performing, and longer lasting, windows.
The company has set industry standards with a number of firsts including:
A Growing Company
As its growth continued, the company moved out of downtown Toledo in 1986 and into new headquarters in Walbridge, OH. This 6-acre, 500,000-square foot manufacturing and office facility currently houses over 450 employees who serve the more than 750 active Great Lakes Window dealers and distributors. Great Lakes Window has now custom-made more than eight million vinyl replacement windows and doors for homeowners in 48 states.
Committed to Manufacturing Excellence
Windows and doors made by Great Lakes stand apart from the competition as premium products made using state-of-the-art technology, modern equipment, and cutting edge operational techniques.
Great Lakes utilizes a manufacturing process known as Demand Flow Technology. It ensures a consistently high-quality product while manufacturing the most diverse product offering in the industry. Each window and door is ordered by a specific dealer to fulfill a homeowner’s custom order, a process enhanced by Demand Flow Technology.
Additionally, Great Lakes Window uses a wide variety of other technologies to assure its products meet the needs of customers and homeowners alike. These include:
Great Products Come From Great People
Great Lakes Window Associates have always been the key component to the company’s overall success. We’re dedicated to attracting and motivating a team of talented individuals by creating a work environment that fosters personal development, mutual respect, innovation and accomplishment. Our Associates are dedicated to the details that make our products unique and seek to provide breadth in design, along with custom options that cannot be found at other window manufacturers. Great Lakes’ employees complete the finishing touches, with attractive options such as beveled-leaded glass, designer grid options and natural-looking wood grain laminates. To a Great Lakes employee, making windows and doors is not just a job; it is a commitment to fulfilling a customer’s vision of “home.”
The Family of Great Lakes Window Products
Homeowners and consumers purchase Great Lakes vinyl replacement windows and doors through a nationwide network of professional remodeling contractors, distributors and lumber yards. With an expansive product offering and multiple brands, Great Lakes Window has the right windows and doors for virtually any replacement window need.
Our product lines include:
Great Lakes Window is dedicated to helping its dealers and distributors separate themselves from the competition through the availability of outstanding marketing and sales tools including support literature, branded sites and educational seminars. Great Lakes provides its customers with the fundamentals necessary to extend the benefits of its products to homeowners.
Independently Verified Quality
Great Lakes Window products are run through rigorous energy efficiency and quality testing by the National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC) to determine how well they prevent the transfer of heat through the window unit. In addition, Great Lakes Window has been awarded Hallmark certification from the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) which tests performance ratings for air infiltration, water penetration, structural load and forced entry resistance. Windows featuring Great Lakes Window premium glass options earn the ENERGY STAR® by meeting the strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. ENERGY STAR qualification is based on NFRC certified product ratings.
A PlyGem Company
Great Lakes Windows was acquired by PlyGem Industries in 1986 which also includes Variform Siding, Napco Siding Systems, Kroy Fencing, CWD Windows, MW Windows and Doors, Alenco Windows, and Alcoa Siding. PlyGem, headquartered in Kearny, Missouri, is the parent company for this family of businesses which manufacture and distribute a range for products for use in the residential new construction, do-it-yourself and professional renovation markets. Principal products include vinyl siding, windows, patio doors, fencing, railing, decking and accessories. PlyGem’s majority shareholder is Caxton-Iseman Capital, Inc., a New York-based private equity firm.