Abby Binder went to college to become a gym teacher. But when she graduated and began working for her stepfather’s door and window company, she found herself drawn in by a newfound challenge.

“I would go up to the door and hear customers whisper to each other, ‘Oh, it’s a girl coming to the house,’” she says. “They were just not expecting it at all because [the industry] is so male dominated.”

She also spotted what she saw as an opportunity—a missing link in the local market.

“I started seeing that quality products in our market weren’t being sold, so much as higher-volume types of windows,” she says. “I approached my stepdad at the time and said, ‘I think we should take a different angle. I think we should start selling a higher-end, triple-pane product.’”

Binder’s stepfather took exception to her suggestion, exclaiming, “If you think you can do this so much better, then prove it,” while slamming a 10-foot piece of trim coil to the ground, adding, “I bet you can’t. I bet you’ll trip over your own feet in this industry.”

The disagreement marked a turning point for Binder, who immediately started her own company—Abby Windows & Exteriors in Brookfield, Wis.

Her primary goal was to “absolutely wow” every single customer. Twelve years later, “We’re one of the few woman-owned home improvement companies, and quality is at the core of what we do,” her company’s website declares. It’s been, “nothing but growth ever since,” she says.

Binder followed through on her plans to sell primarily triple-pane windows—not just for comfort and energy performance, but for condensation resistance in a state that sees wild temperature swings. She also operates on the belief that there is no one-size-fits-all method for achieving quality installations. Instead, “We have a customized method for everything—eight different ways to install a window,” she says.

When it comes to her business, at first, she was resistant to the idea of growth, believing that it would be difficult to maintain her standards without putting her stamp on everything. But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and her business took off, “Sometimes life happens for you, not to you,” she says. “I prayed a lot. And my fiancé, who is also my vice president, was right by my side through everything—to the point where we’d wake up talking about work and would go to sleep talking about work.”

Since that time, her company has grown to a total of 29 employees, including three project managers and coordinators, 10 sales reps, a sales director and a director of operations. She established a dedicated call center recently and opened a 17,000-square-foot showroom. Her company also employs a full-time brand ambassador who visits customers at the end of every project, delivering personal gift baskets. “When somebody spends $10,000, $20,000 or even $100,000 with you, then they get their certificate of completion and the installers finish up, get the check and walk away, people kind of feel like, ‘That’s it? That’s all I get?’” she says. “We want to give them that closure and to leave them feeling appreciated.”

After 12 years of success, she says her company is just getting started.

“I think that we’re kind of laying the groundwork right now, where we haven’t even maxed out our marketing potential in this area,” she says. “For two women to be able to do this in the construction industry, it’s kind of an anomaly.”

From 2021 to 2022, Binder’s revenue grew by 74% to $11.8 million.

For more stories about this year’s Fast-Growing Dealers, CLICK HERE or visit [DWM]’s digital edition at dwm.mydigitalpublication.com/july-august-2023.

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