The company that became Newpro began in 1945 as the Window Shop of Medford in the basement of Nick Cogliani's parents' house. It evolved into a full-service home improvement operation before entering the replacement window business in 1972. Today, with Cogliani as owner, Newpro makes its own vinyl windows at its 50,000-square-foot plant in Bellingham, Mass., and installs them with employee crews who are AAMA-certified window installers. Nick's son, Anthony, has been active in the business since 2001.
Replacement Contractor: How did Newpro respond to the recession?
Nick Cogliani: Many ways. One is that a lot of companies, when they see a slowdown, they cut back on marketing expenses. We kept doing our marketing.
RC: You've pursued a diversification strategy for the last few years.
NC: Our window business diminished slightly in the slow years so we added to the home improvement end. That brought us full cycle. In 1978 we decided to specialize in replacement windows. And for 30 years we have continued to do that, though we have gone on a tangent here or there. But we felt we needed to add product in addition to windows to make up for lost revenue.
RC: What did you add?
NC: Siding, roofing, basements, radiant barrier.
RC: Are those growth categories?
NC: I think that for our model the roofing and siding business has worked out best and will work out best going forward. We got into basements at a time when people were buying needs not wants. So they weren't going to put a room in the basement for $35,000. We never got that off the ground. With gutter protection and radiant barrier, the size of the sale doesn't work well in our model so we are going to focus the next few years on our roofing and siding business — where I believe we'll see very strong growth.
RC: Why manufacture your own windows when others could supply them more easily and less expensively?
NC: Although we purchased our windows from manufacturers from 1978 to 1996, we always felt that the missing ingredient to truly give our customers quality and value was our own manufacturing facility. Manufacturing our own window makes us unique and allows us to deliver a product specifically engineered for the New England climate. Made in New England for New England.
RC: How do you keep the product you manufacture current with ongoing technological changes such as advances in glass, mechanical and aesthetic design, and insulating properties?
NC: We never get comfortable and are never satisfied. We are always looking for ways to meet the demands and needs of our customers as well as industry standards. We strive to be ahead of the curve. Having our own manufacturing facility allows us the opportunity to do this. We depend on the expertise of our manufacturing facility staff to keep ahead of the industry trends, demands, and requirements. We actively pursue opportunities to participate in new development and industry programs.
RC: Newpro puts great emphasis on brand-building. What's the essence of the brand that makes what you do distinct?
NC: Three things: great customer service, employee installation, and the fact that we make our own window. So we make it, sell it to you, install it, and service it.
RC: How does it fit in with the rest of your marketing?
NC: Branding has always been a part of our marketing strategies. This year, in particular, we focused on family ownership. My son, Anthony, and I are featured in all our TV marketing and in our radio spots. This personal touch builds on a brand that is already prominent in the New England market. This is particularly important because right now consumer confidence remains low. People want to feel secure with the money they're investing. Our business depends on hunting for that next lead, but in today's environment it is just as important to continue to build on the brand so that when people are ready to purchase, Newpro will be top of mind.
RC: Where do social media and the online component fit in?
NC: We are extremely focused on developing all of our social media channels — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube — where our customers speak for us and add another layer to our brand-building. Most people today would rather read or hear about something from someone they consider a peer, rather than be talked to about it by someone from a company. We realize the significance of this and have trained everyone from customer service to telemarketers to installers to product specialists to encourage online reviews, Facebook and Twitter postings, and other electronic interaction. A significant segment of our brand-building is that we are customer-focused. It's not us talking to customers about us. It's customers talking to customers about us.
RC: What do you think of as the strongest part of your organization and what do you think of as the weakest, and why?
NC: Customer service, or customer care, is our strongest. We've recently become disciples of the book Delivering Happiness. We've instilled in our culture the idea that customer service includes every department in our company. Customer service was something we always thought we did well, but we realized there was lots more you can do to improve the customers' experience. As far as the weakest part of the organization, that may be internal communications. That can slow things down.
RC: What do you see as the biggest challenges and how are you meeting them?
NC: The biggest challenge is financing. We're always looking for creative finance options; some kind of financing for everyone. The other challenge is consumer confidence. More than ever customers want to be sure they're receiving real value. To address that, we've focused on building and expanding our reputation through social media channels and online review sites to let customers speak for us. We've initiated a new position — our Newpro customer concierge — to make sure every comment, request, complaint, or whatever is addressed and the loop closed. We're using our family more prominently in our marketing. And we're relying more on feedback from third-party surveys via GuildQuality.
—Jim Cory, editor, REPLACEMENT CONTRACTOR.