Soft-Lite President Divulges Further Details Regarding Gorell Purchase

March 22nd, 2012 | Category: Industry News

When Soft-Lite announced in February that its subsidiary Soft-Lite-Gorell would purchase the assets of Gorell Windows and Doors, which had been placed into receivership, Soft-Lite’s president Roy Anderson was pretty quiet about the purchase—until now. The company announced further details this week regarding plans for Gorell and on Wednesday Anderson granted an interview with DWM magazine.

DWM: First, I want to go back to the beginning. Were you looking for acquisitions and Gorell came at the right time?

Anderson: They are one of our main competitors that we go head-to-head with and respect in the marketplace. I called Wayne [Gorell] awhile back [late in 2011] and asked him if he had any thoughts regarding selling or merging. He said he had a book out [Offering Memorandum describing the financial performance, product segments, distribution, etc.] and I was late to the party. So we got the book from them and we did look at the company in early January and sent a letter saying we wanted to buy assets. But nothing came of it so we thought it was dead. We were told they would be refinancing with the bank and it wasn’t for sale anymore.

So I was surprised when it was announced that they were placed into receivership. We reached out to the receiver immediately then spent the weekend working with her.

DWM: When you first made the announcement back in February, at that time did you think it may be a possibility to keep both plants running? I know yesterday you said you are closing the plant.

Anderson: When I went there and met the people I tried to find a way to keep the plant open but it just didn’t work out. No one likes to see anyone lose their job–my dad was a blue-collar worker. It’s something I hate. That’s why I took so long from the original letter of intent to the final agreement as we were trying to find a way to keep it open.

DWM: The press release you issued said “it’s not feasible.” Can you elaborate on that?

Anderson: They had an EPA situation from the Season All days from 15 years ago. They have a facility that has to be monitored by the EPA—that’s a liability no one wants to take on. They also had a large unfunded pension liability. We did reach out to the pension fund to see if we could work something out but they never got back to us. When I said I wanted to take on the warranties—that’s a large expense. So if you take on too much you can take on a situation and endanger yourself.

DWM: What Gorell employees are you keeping?

Anderson: We are keeping the sales staff, customer service, IT and some others and the retail outlet will stay open.

DWM: Have you retained most of Gorell’s customers?

Anderson: The receivership really scared a lot of customers, so with the Receiver’s consent I visited a number of them and they are all on board. There are some who have chosen to go a different path but we maintained the large majority and, quite frankly, I am surprised at the number of orders coming in given the press, etc.

A lot of them have been there for 20 years and are loyal to the brand. There are one or two who have left and have indicated to get back with them in 45 days. But we are looking at the orders coming in and they have been very strong.

DWM: I want to clarify something you said in your press releases regarding the warranties. You said that, “Soft-Lite Gorell is committed to honoring Gorell warranty obligations for products made before February 14, 2012, for Gorell customers who meet their obligations to Gorell and remain loyal to the Gorell brand.” So what if a Gorell customer moved to another window manufacturer and a homeowner then submitted a claim? Would that not be covered?

Anderson: No it wouldn’t. Replacement parts will be available, but they will pay for it. As a courtesy we will have replacement parts available free of charge for windows sold through our loyal customers, and that will mean most of the windows, but we are buying these assets free of all Gorell liabilities. So if a Gorell customer has already left or moves to another manufacturer, we have no responsibility for the windows sold before we bought the assets.

DWM: What surprised you, if anything, about this whole situation?

Anderson: I thought the whole deal was over and the next thing I knew they were in receivership. That was a surprise that no one got back to me as I thought they were off the table.

Another thing was the level of debt the company was carrying—it was mind boggling. When you are in the industry you hear rumors. I heard a number and said that’s impossible. When I got that number from the banks it was 50 percent higher than that rumor I had heard.

I’m not surprised by this but I want to say I already like the company and the loyalty of the customers. The people have been there for a very long time. I thought it was impressive that they have been there for so long.

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  1. We had Gorell windows installed in our house in 2009. In early summer 2011 we noticed that the seals in several of the windows had been broken (big disappointment in <2 year old windows). We have tried since July 2011 with no success to work with our installer to get replacement glass. They told us that we would not be charged for the glass but would be charged to install the new glass. The problem was they never did anything.

    With the warmer weather I tried again yesterday to contact our installer only to find they are either out of business or no longer sell Gorell windows.

    This lead me to Gorell who I was told were in receivership. I was told our warranty would not be honored which honked me off.

    I guess the bottom line I did not understand our "lifetime" warranty was tied to the installer and not the homeowner. This does not seem fair but it seems we are stuck.

  2. I completely agree with your frustration! We have been dealing w/ faulty windows for many years now and it is infuriating to me. the company we bouoght them from went out of business, contacted Gorell, several ties. we thought at one point they were going to help us and orde tthe glass. they were to call back and never did. the next time we called, Gorell had been bought out. It was sa total run around and has been for several years now! We contacted Soft Lite and the woman,Laura said, She could give us a really good deal! um, no we are NOT paying for these for a second time, thanks. She was also supposed to call us back and that was about 3 weeks ago. It’s sucha joke to me. We can’t afford to pay to have windows replaced that we’ve already paid for. WE weret old there was a seal issue w/ the Gorrell windows,which there is. This has been a total nightmare. Calling Laura back today and i am not going to be nice about it!

  3. I too purchased a Gorell product- 6300 from Central Doors in NJ- Ron Constanzo in Dec 2009. The locking mechanism on the inside of the door fell off the other day and I tried to get my warranty to cover it. Turns out I found out the same info about the receivership and my warranty is no good. Bummer…..so I called Ron and he isn’t returning my calls. I had to order the part for $40 bucks and it is what it is but I did learn a lesson. Go with a REPUTABLE COMPANY, not a local POS contractor. These guys complain and moan about how they don’t have business and they are losing to big box stores like Home Depot…..well, this is why. You sell a product and then decide not to continue that relationship with the manufacturer and screw your customers. needless to say I will be filing my small claims pro se down in Trenton once I receive my replacement parts and we will see how Mr. Ron Constanzo responds then. BEWARE OF CONTRACTORS people…..buy from Home Depot or Lowes and rest assured that you will be covered as long as they are in business…….

  4. I guess I am another dissatisfied costomer/I had my windows put in in september 2007.So now 5 years latter I had one window replaced 2 yrs after that and now I need 7 more.I agree trying to get someone there to do something like there job.Its like pulling teeth.I spent a lot of money for junk.If there is anyone with any luck with getting something done please contact me I would like to know your secret.No one that I see that has been able to do that yet.p,s. The website is just as difficult.

  5. I hear that. I’ve researched this issue to the fullest. We had our windows for 4yrs and really had will say that any issues were handled without a hitch, that is until this bankruptcy happened. I consulted with an attorney only to find out that regardless of what my the salesman promised they has no obligation to the warranty. At least we only needed to replace a few of the glass up and down part and our contractor is going to cover any the labor.

  6. I brought my widows in 2008. I have two sashes that the film has failed. I have been told by a number of people that I will not beable to get my windows replace because my contracto is no longer assocted with Gorell. In other words because my contractor is not dealing with you I have know hope in the world of getting these widows fixed. I hae gone to a couple of contracts that still by from Gorell but to know avail. If my contractor doesn’t by from you I am left out in the dark, I did alot of reseach when I bought these winddows the quaity was there, everything was what I was that I was looking for and now that this is happen. I had to pay for the quote I got from Soft-Lite which was really high I got another quote from a contractor here that was half of Soft-lite. As you can tell I am really fustrated. I still can’t beleive that I had to pay for my quote. I guess what I am getting at is were or what do I do now. I do know that you still have my sashes that I need and your people told me that. I really wish some one would tell me were to go from here.

  7. I can relate to all of you. Like you we had our entire house replaced with Gorell windows and now are seeing problems. Our contractor tells us that they can’t help us because Softlite is not honoring the warranties but it seems that they would if the contractor would have continued to do business with them so basically we get screwed from both directions. Are we sure theres nothing legally we can do? Maybe if we all band together we would get some results. I’ve been browsing the internet and there looks like the number of dissatisfied customers is growing.

  8. Same problem, very frustrating, I need a replacement frame for a screen missing from a window. I have to pay an outrageous price to replace the screen but no one around my area will make a screen for my window. I live in the south and need the screen so we can have a little cooler place. So much for lifetime warranty. I could kick myself because I actually said no to the Home Depot Windows.

  9. We purchased 3 pane gas installed windows from Huff N Puff who bragged about how great the windows were.We got a 50yr warranty on all 25windows and have had 12-13 replaced twice since 2007 and now need 13 more replaced only to find out that our warranty is void because Gorell went out of business totally pissed and feeling scammed .Considering paying over 18 grand for these windows 6yrs ago.Theres got to be something we can do!!!!!!!

  10. My Mom bought a Gorell bay window from Huff N Puff back around 2005. Same thing – big noise about the great warranty provided. She will never have to worry again! Well, now the window is fogging up inside the two panes. Same thing as everyone else, no coverage on the warranty. Huff N Puff said they will repair if my Mom pays for replacement parts. I call Soft Lite and they charge $25 just to find out how much the repair parts cost. Huh??? My Mom is 85 and is bouncing off the walls. She can’t understand why her promised lifetime warranty is covering this. I honestly don’t know WHO I am angriest at – Huff N Puff, Gorell or Soft Lite. I refuse to pay $25 to find out if it is worth paying for replacement parts (that aren’t guaranteed to solve the problem for good). Does anyone know of another place to get the parts? Better yet, does anyone know a good breach of contract lawyer for a class action lawsuit???

  11. Same story here. Bought $9000 worth of windows for the whole house in late 2009 and already 5 have gone bad. Our installer is out of business and Gorell won’t honor their warranty. If anyone has any luck or decides to try to get something going legally please let me know.

  12. Here’s two more joining the pity and pissed off party! Purchased windows from Gorell through
    POS company for our whole house in 2009. To date, 4 have failed. We did all the research we could and felt safe ordering from Gorell. HA!!!! We are retired and decided to get our house in shape as much as we could. Now we are screwed. Our POS Company offered to replace them “at a good price.” I hung up the phone. So what to do? We will have the glass replaced as they go and use money from our hard earned savings. I sort of feel sorry for Gorell employees, too, whose pension fund was underfunded. No wonder we got such a lousy product. And Soft-Lite is the devil’s tool as well so far as I’m concerned. They could have earned a great reputation by honoring our warranties. But most of all, I feel badly for all of us who put our trust and hard-earned money into an American company who failed us and no one is going to bat for us. That’s what happens when corporations run a country. They drag it down into ruin, while they and the people they bought and we elect over and over live the high life. Meanwhile I tell anyone who will listen not to buy from a POS store and vent on sites like this.

  13. I am the owner of a home exterior improvement company and we sold Gorell for a couple years and have some of our customers in the same position you guys are in. I can’t stand it and feel horrible for them. Softlite told me the only way these customer would get their parts under warrant was if I dropped my existing line of windows and committed to selling only their brand! That seems like extortion to me. My customers bought into and trusted in Gorell and are now being left in the dark. I realize its a different company but they are picking and choosing who they will cover and who they won’t. It’s simply not right. As far as my customers they have to buy their own parts, but we can get the quote for free and we are waving all service and install fees on our end because its simply the right thing to do… I wish Softlite – Gorell would do the same..
    Jason Durante

  14. Pretty much the same here. As we neared retirement we bought Gorell windows thinking they would outlast us. Not even close. Before Gorell sold, all 13 windows had to be replaced because plastic strips between the glass was falling out of place. This was done under warranty. Then Gorell sold and the windows started fogging. To date we have replaced 5 sashes, on our dime this time. We too, would be interested in taking part in a legal action if someone comes up with a way to do it.

  15. My problem pales compared to some of the comments above. Have only one large picture window that has defective glass on the outside pane that is sure to only get worse over time. Started my research with the installer and found they also were no longer in business. From what I read contacting the “receiver” as suggested would be a waste of time and further the frustration.

  16. I ordered soft-lite Gorell windows from a Home exterior Improvement company for entire house in May 2013. They came and installed the wrong color windows and then we went for a month trying to get some window colors which would match our interior. The contractor could not match but we offered to accept a substitute color for a small discount. The owner of the Home exterior company was very nasty and refused to even talk with us. However he did bring out windows without any agreement, One of the windows has a stress crack and he refuses to honor the lifetime warranty which soft-lite advertises. I am a senior citizen and I think these companies like taking advantage of senior citizen by using bulling tactics. They lie and they have no conscience and bad business practices. It is time for Soft-lite Gorell President Mr. Anderson to fix the problems by his Contractors and honor their warranties.

  17. Add another disgruntled home owner to the Gorell fiasco. Did the whole house and both the installer and Gorell went out of business. It was a nightmare to get the out of business company to give my money to Gorell but it happened. I have had 15 windows already replaced and Gorell is a POS.

    I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND DOING ANY BUSINESS WITH SOFTLITE…………

  18. Purchased Gorell windows for my entire home in 2009. 15 windows in all.. My husband did SO much research and we thought these were good quality windows. Within the first year, the weights in one of the windows failed so the window won’t stay open. Now we’ve noticed that three sashes had seal failures. I thought they were just dirty, but when I went to clean them… Ugh. Now I’m finding out our installer AND the manufacturer is out of business and my warranty is now fire-starter? Please let me know if there’s any legal action. What a great way to start the new year…

  19. I own a small window and door business in Indiana and sold Gorell windows for 6-7 years. I was contacted by Soft-Lite when they purchased Gorell and was told they would honor the Gorell warranty but only if I sold a certain amount of their windows each quarter. They would give me a credit for each window I sold and that could be applied to all claims I turned in if that quota was met. The problem is that I have two other brands I prefer to sell so therefore I’m stuck. I have offered to pay a percentage of each claim and I install the glass at no charge. Gorell made their own IGU (insulated glass units) and that is never a good idea. That is why they have so many seal failures and that is probably why they had financial problems and had to sell. Gorell was an older, reputable company and I was please with the products they sold. Occasionally there were issues but they were good about taking care of them. Nobody was more upset about this deal than me! I value my customers and will do my best to cushion this blow. I have lifetime warranty vinyl windows in the house I built 20 years ago and that company went out of business 8 years ago. I have had over a dozen seal failures. I ordered the IGUs from one of my suppliers and replace them myself. The price of each one has been from $40-60. This happens far too often in this country and I agree that someone should be held accountable. A product is only as good as the dealer/installer and I’m sorry so many of you were left hanging out to dry.

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