Quality Without Compromise

North Star Windows & Doors
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

When selecting windows and doors, customers have a choice. They can pay less today to purchase products with poor insulating qualities that will have to be replaced in a few years, or invest in high-quality doors and windows that are designed, engineered and manufactured to save heating and cooling costs while lasting for decades. That is the difference in purchasing from North Star Windows & Doors.
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Based in the southwestern city of St. Thomas, Ontario, the company has proudly served customers for the past thirty years. Privately-held North Star Windows & Doors has a massive facility of about 225,000 square feet at one location. It even makes its own vinyl and injection molded pieces of hardware and recently purchased and installed a new glass line in its factory. Its present staff of about 225 expands to 350 in the peak season and have earned it an industry-wide reputation for quality.

“We serve a good part of Canada and into the United States,” says Ron Cauchi, who has been North Star’s chief executive officer for almost two years. “While we still have a concentration in Ontario, we ship east to the Maritimes and to the west to places like Calgary.”

Selling only high-quality products has elevated the company and allowed it to remain true to the vision of its founder, Peter Banman. He created the company in 1985 as a response to his displeasure with the windows available on the market at the time.

Originally producing sunrooms, the company expanded the windows side of the business, and in time, was rebranded as North Star Windows & Doors. Although the business has grown considerably over the past years, it retains its unwavering commitment to the manufacturing of superior-quality products, employee safety, outstanding customer service and exceptional value for the dollar.

For customers who prefer quality over mass-produced products, North Star ensures all its windows and doors are manufactured to meet, and often exceed, demanding industry standards. North Star Windows and doors are built to last and tested and certified by Energy Star, which helps to protect the world’s climate while saving money through superior energy efficiency initiatives.

Energy Star examines doors and windows for criteria including air infiltration and water infiltration. Products are evaluated by third-party labs, with the results posted publicly. “We tend to sit at or near the top of all categories.” It is its commitment to quality and environmental initiatives that puts the company very high up on the list of Energy Star rated window and door businesses.

“A lot of companies make good products, but they are on the lower end and don’t come close to where we are in terms of Energy Star ratings across a range of products,” says Cauchi. “For example, a competitor might make a good double-hung product, but not a casement. I believe we have the highest rating across the product mix from any manufacturer in North America.”

The company’s products also comply with standards set forth by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) which has been a strong advocate for manufacturers and professionals in the window industry since 1936. As a further assurance of the company’s commitment to quality, North Star provides customers with a transferable, limited lifetime warranty for its windows and doors.

At every stage in the construction process and even, “between each of the sub-process steps, there are quality checks in place,” says Cauchi. Rather than inspecting work at the end of the manufacturing process, each stage is verified to ensure quality and product consistency. For example, once the glass is cut for a window or door, it is inspected prior to going to the glass insulating unit for manufacturing. “We’re pretty thorough, and that’s true at every step of the process, whether it’s vinyl, glass or the fabrication and assembly of the windows themselves,” says Cauchi.

The company is dedicated to innovation and continuous improvement. It embraces proven design and engineering technologies – including production processes that are not only environmentally friendly, but reduce waste and save energy – while engaging in product development and technological advances. There is a never-ending investment in new technology such as the recently installed glass line in the company’s plant.

Through its EnviroMade™ manufacturing process, North Star takes every measure possible to ensure customers are investing in high-quality products. In addition to saving energy during the recycling process, the company’s green initiatives are wide-ranging and go far beyond mere lip-service. Excess materials, including PVC, cardboard, scrap metal and even glass, are recycled into vinyl fencing in decking, cellulose insulation, reused by scrap metal recyclers, or even ground and use in road resurfacing.

It uses highly-efficient manufacturing technologies that see it filter and re-use water from its glass washing equipment, re-direct heat into its plant to reduce energy costs and re-refine engine oil to make various oil-based products. It also has energy-efficient lighting throughout its entire plant to reduce overall energy consumption.

North Star’s high-value products are not sold indiscriminately through just any retailer, but specifically through designated dealers who are keenly aware of quality. “We are very pure to the channel and focus exclusively on professional window and door dealers,” states Cauchi. The company’s offerings are frequently used in renovation projects by customers and professionals who want to maximize the thermal performance of windows and doors.

“We sell high-end renovation-type products, not entry-level construction products. You can’t win by chasing it to the bottom of the market and hope to beat others, so you’re better off to play the top of the market.”

North Star’s products have numerous advantages. Durable vinyl requires little maintenance and never needs to be painted which saves customers’ time and money. Since the windows are energy-efficient, they help to save costs of heating and cooling while looking great and boosting the value of a home. Using energy-saving ‘Low-E’ (low-emissivity, which measures how much a glass surface transfers radiant heat), along with Super Spacer® technology in every window and patio door, boosts energy efficiency. It also helps resist condensation, reduces noise and increases insulating R-values.

To further increase energy efficiency, a high percentage of the company’s products are filled with inert krypton or argon gas, which provides excellent thermal insulation. North Star is proud to offer a variety of options and customers can choose from a number of combinations, including triple pane over double pane glass.

To meet all customer needs, North Star Windows & Doors offers a wide range of exceptionally well-made doors and windows in every shape and size. Everything from two, three and four-panel patio doors to casement, awning and picture windows as well as extremely durable and economical pre-finished steel doors is available. The company also manufactures its Exclusive Signature Collection of doors with unique designs, accents and a great deal more.

North Star stands behind its products through its limited lifetime warranty and unparalleled commitment to quality and customer service. For thirty years, the company has taken great pride in providing quality products. It has also earned a reputation for on-time delivery along the way. Other companies might make customers wait for weeks or even months to receive an order, which results in backlogs of crews and their ability to perform timely installations.

“It is not unusual for us to run north of 99.5 percent on-time complete – meaning that the order not only got there on time, but that it was complete, and there weren’t some back-ordered items on the order,” says Cauchi.

“In an industry that is typically a lot worse than that, we get it there. With us, customers know they are getting a good, solid product; that there are no warranty issues; and that they won’t have a problem installing our windows and doors. It is all about reputation.”

In fact, North Star’s reputation for quality has led to others approaching the company and asking to be dealers for its products. “We have incredible loyalty among our existing dealers,” says Cauchi. “Unless they die or retire, we never lose a dealer.”

North Star maintains four priority areas: the health and safety of employees, customers and suppliers; quality and customer service; effectiveness in productivity; and ensuring a growing, sustainable venture. Growing in the high double-digits last year, North Star is on track to perform just as well in 2015.

“The real magic behind North Star is the people,” says Cauchi. “Our team is highly focused, and they really care. You walk through the plant, and you see people handling the window like it is getting installed in their own home. That’s what we have at North Star: great people really focused on caring about the product and the customer, and it makes my job pretty easy.”

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