After Closure of B.F. Rich, What’s Next?February 9th, 2017 by Trey Barrineau
Wednesday’s sudden closure of B.F. Rich Windows & Doors after 60 years in business leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
The Delaware-based manufacturer of doors and windows for the replacement and remodeling market formally announced the closure in an e-mail on Wednesday, though rumors about the company going out of business had been circulating since Friday afternoon. According to multiple sources who contacted DWM, the company was in talks with a buyer, but the parties couldn’t reach an agreement.
“Apparently negotiations failed for a sale on Friday, and with that, they had to close their doors,” said Mike Milanese, president of Milanese Remodeling in Coatesville, Pa., whose company has worked closely with B.F. Rich since its founding in 1957.
No other details about the possible sale were available. The exact reason that B.F. Rich decided to close is unclear, though the company’s statement to the media says it never fully recovered from the housing crash and economic downturn that began in 2007.
It’s also unclear if the company’s 130 workers will receive severance packages, according to a story from the Wilmington News-Journal. The newspaper reported on Wednesday that it had spoken to multiple workers who said they were told they wouldn’t get any severance pay. They also won’t qualify for an extension of their health benefits under federal law.
Additionally, the News-Journal reports that B.F. Rich has not submitted a WARN notice to the Delaware Department of Labor. WARN is a federal law that requires companies with more than 100 employees to notify state officials more than 60 days before they close. However, companies that are trying to sell to new owners or are seeking capital investments to avoid closing don’t have to meet that requirement.
It’s also uncertain what might be ahead for homeowners with B.F. Rich windows who might have a warranty claim. The company offered a lifetime limited warranty for its products.
According to the Better Business Bureau, any warranties on B.F. Rich windows could be covered by the company that installed them. However, as reported in a feature story in the June 2010 issue of DWM, there aren’t many laws against warranty loss when a manufacturer goes out of business.
The closing of B.F Rich is a big blow to installers in the Mid-Atlantic area, many of whom worked with the company for more than 50 years.
“B.F. Rich and the founders were very close to our family,” said Mark Milanese of Milanese Remodeling, who is a blogger for DWM. “It was a very sad day to see this long, long history of an honest, trustworthy company come to an end.”
Mark Milanese said B.F. Rich, which began making aluminum storm windows and transitioned to vinyl replacement products in the early 1980s, was a pioneer in that segment of the industry.
“This whole thing where a manufactured product was going to be retrofitted into an American home was a brand-new industry,” he said. “They were the ultimate pioneers of that.”