Legacy Remodeling, in Pittsburgh, sells and installs a half-dozen products. But if a customer calls requesting service work, “probably it’s windows,” says CEO Ken Moeslein. Which might seem simple, except that the company has used four different window suppliers in its 25-year history.
Not far away, in Youngstown, Ohio, Weather Tite sells a window product with its own brand on the glass. In the course of the last 27 years “various suppliers” have manufactured that product. If the window fails and customers call for repairs, there’s a chance that it’s no longer being made. But “they don’t want to know that,” owner Merv Hollander says. As far as they’re concerned, Weather Tite is responsible. The company’s production department can track down parts online. But not always. “We’re servicing 27 years of product,” Hollander says. “And there are a lot of parts we can’t get.”
Such are the hazards of longevity for window replacement companies as they walk the fine line between the need to make past customers happy — and earn referrals — and the obligation to avoid losing money in uncompensated service charges where the warranty is invalid.
The disappearance of a number of window manufacturers has left some replacement contractors holding the bag on service work. Siding-1 Windows-1, in Chicago, for instance, installed a window manufactured out of a Newington, Conn., plant that is no longer in business. So if one of those units is broken or damaged “there’s no way to replace it,” owner Bill Conforti says. Siding-1 Windows-1 stocks parts, but “they’re getting fewer by the day,” Conforti points out. If the window can’t be fixed “we need to sell the [homeowner] a new window,” he says.
Ed Ladouceur, owner of StormTite, in Warwick, R.I., says that if the homeowner calls after 15 or 20 years with seal failure, “it’s time to think about a new window,” since repairing what’s there by installing new glass only leaves homeowners with a window inefficient by today’s standards.
It Is What It Is
Legacy Remodeling tells customers “the window manufacturer’s warranty is what it is. If the manufacturer goes out of business, so does the product warranty.” That said, the company promises customers that it will cover the labor side of a service call at no cost “as long as you own your home,” while billing for whatever parts are needed for repair at dealer cost. The policy clarifies Legacy’s obligation while at the same time satisfying customer service requests at its own discretion.
At WeatherTite — where service costs average out to about $14 per installed window — every call is handled differently. “Rather than jump in and rebuild the house,” Hollander says, the smarter way is to “take a look and spend time to determine the best course of action at the least cost.” —Jim Cory, editor, REPLACEMENT CONTRACTOR.