Gerkin Windows and Doors, based in South Sioux City, Nebraska, moved into a new facility in January 2013 to increase glass production and enable expansion down the road if needed. Steve Schneider, president and CEO, says it is one of the few companies that serves both the residential and commercial markets. It also may be one of a handful that has grown year over year.

Was it difficult to take on an expansion when the market was still in a downturn? Hardly.

“If we didn’t expand we wouldn’t have been able to keep up with demand,” he says. “We have grown each year for the past 20 years.

Schneider says there are many reasons the slowdown and market crash did not affect his company. For one, Gerkin doesn’t participate in the lower end of the marketplace.

“In times of lull the lower end companies go first,” he says.

It also helps that Gerkin serves residential and commercial markets. When one is down the other keeps the company going.

“We have commercial aluminum products and we have residential vinyl products and those are countercyclical markets,” Schneider explains. “In my 23 years experience, I have found that when one is down the other is up. Occasionally they run up together but I never have seen them run down together even in 2006 or 2011.”

Last year, in fact, Gerkin posted a 20-percent increase in sales.

“I know that did not happen for everyone and I know there are some that are still hanging on by a thread,” he says. “It’s a whole mentality and how you operate in general, reinvesting back in your business. When you go into a downturn like that you need to retool and revisit your product lines and I don’t know that everyone did that.”

The company’s existing building is still used for window production, as the new facility was built strictly for production of its IG units as the company was short on space for this process.

Gerkin purchased new automated machinery for IG production which has helped the company produce more units. This included a new glass optimization system and cutter and a fully automated production line. Schneider says the company has space for another fully automated production line and another washer and may be looking at these purchases down the road.

“We did a lot of little things that add up to more windows and more IG units per day,” he adds. “When we built the plant we upgraded everything with the goal in mind to increase production.”

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