Windows Ceases Operations; Gillman, Plant Manager and Others Speak
Echo Windows LLC, a window manufacturer based in Red Oak, Iowa,
ceased its operations yesterday. Echo, which is owned by former
Republic Windows owner Richard Gillman, had purchased the plant
in early December from TRACO. (CLICK
HERE for related article)
The closing of the plant results in the loss of all jobs for a
100-person workforce, according to a press release issued by Echo.
The release attributes the closing in part to the media coverage
of the Republic story.
We had hoped that, with the support of new investors, Echo
Windows LLC would have the ability to serve niches of customers
needing good products manufactured in the Midwest, Gillman
says. However, the labor strife, continuous labor media stories
and accusations which accompanied the closing of the Chicago company
added to the difficulties in a troubled economy. The ongoing attacks
closed our access to additional investment and, in all likelihood,
made nervous customers hesitant to engage in business contracts
Gillman says that, at the time of the purchase, we knew the
economic climate was tough but we were optimistic about our plans
for serving the healthy parts with good products. What we didnt
plan on was what we noted in our announcement of the closing.
We are sad that the inability to make the company succeed
represents a loss for more than 100 workers and their families,
and investors who held great hope for this enterprise, adds
Gillman in the press release issued by the company.
He further told USGNN.com, This is a great industry
and has opportunities. I recommend that manufacturers remember that
Red Oak, Iowa, has a fine group of skilled, hardworking people ready
When asked about his plans for the future Gillman said, Im
not sure but I am likely to accept some of the invitations to speak
about the events and experiences during efforts to make the companies
succeed in very challenging conditions.
Meanwhile in Red Oak, Iowa, plant manager Dwayne Adams says he
was surprised by the decision to close, though he was aware it was
The management team knew for seven days that it wasnt
looking good, says Adams. We tried to put a deal together
with myself and the five other managers here but something like
that usually takes six months and we just couldnt do it in
time and came up short.
He adds that he received word via e-mail on Sunday from Gillman
that the plant would close.
Anyone in the industry knows that you cant make or
break a plant in 90 days, says Adams. (The new ownership took
over in early December.)
However, Adams says that the plant had a backlog of orders so a
shortage or orders wasnt the problem here. He adds that Gillman
wasnt paying the bills besides payroll and health insurance.
Adams also says that when Gillman took over ownership he assured
all employees that they would keep their severance, etc. All
that is gone, he says. Many of the employees have been
here for the 14 years since the facility has been opened.
Despite all this, there may be some hope to which Adams can hold.
There is an investor that gave me a glimmer of light to put
Gillman and the Republic scenario out of the picture, he says,
not wanting to give further details.
When the Republic facility closed, some dealers moved their business
directly to Echo Windows, including Window and Door Resource in
Maple Plain, Minn. When USGNN.com called the companys Steve
Kundo to find out where the company would move its business now
he hadnt heard the news that Echo closed.
Regarding the fact that dealers such as Kundo werent notified,
Adams says he wasnt surprised.
He [Gillman] was trying to make an exit and make it fast,
He adds, however, that dealers who switched from Republic to Echo
all had positive feedback regarding the transition.
They commented on the quality of the product we produced
here, he says.
But now that Echo Windows is closed, dealers like Kundo have to
find a new supplier. Dealers could move their business back to Republic
if the sale of the Chicago facility goes through. Kevin Surace,
president of Serious Materials, says the company is still working
toward the purchase of the Republic facility.(CLICK
HERE for related story).
I see no reason why they [Republic dealers] wouldnt
consider coming back, says Surace.
However, there is still much work to be done until the facility
may be reopened under new ownership.
A hearing will be held today and approval may be given as early
as Wednesday, February 25, but Surace says there are then lease
negotiations and union negotiations to work through, among other
There is stuff in that facility that doesnt work anymore,
says Surace, referring to the abrupt closing of the Republic plant.
But he says there is good news that lies ahead, particularly in
the economic stimulus package signed last week, which, Surace says,
sets a new bar for energy-efficient windows. With the stimulus package,
to qualify for the rebate, windows must have an R-value of 3.3 or
higher and a solar heat gain of .3 or better. Most dont
make that, says Surace. This presents a tremendous opportunity
for homeowners as rebates will pay for 30 percent of their window
He says it also presents a unique opportunity to window manufacturers
who produce high R-value windows. But this isnt in favor
of those who produce commodity products, he adds.
He says this translates to commercial projects as well. There
is a commercial bill that gives tax breaks to those who replace
glass with high R-value glass, says Surace.
Surace says the company plans to produce both commercial and residential
units at the Chicago plant.
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