President Biden Visits Republic Windows
April 28, 2009
Vice President Joe Biden visited Chicago's Republic Window and
Doors (now Serious Materials) yesterday, along with U.S. Sen. Dick
Durbin and Sen. Roland Burris and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, to
illustrate how the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act has had an impact.
The plant isn't up and running yet, but Serious is preparing to
re-open in the next month or so and slowly bring back more workers.
The majority of the windows produced by the Chicago plant will be
designed for commercial applications. Approximately a dozen re-hired
plant workers were on-hand yesterday for this event.
Materials president Kevin Surace said the plant's re-opening "will
bring life back to American manufacturing. Without the Recovery
Act this would not have been possible."
"What I have seen here today at Serious Materials Chicago
inspires me and brings to life the real impact the Recovery Act
is already having, just in the short time since our work began,"
said Biden. "We're not measured by a jump in the gross domestic
product," he added, "But by the men and women who will
come back to work here."
He also said he'd like to come back to the plant in the future.
"I hope I'm invited back when 600 workers are working three
That visit may be a long way off, but the workers who have been
re-hired say they long for that day as well, including Armando Robles,
a maintenance worker at the factory and president of UE Local 1110,
who spoke with USGNN.com.
"This is great for us," said Robles. "We hope that
all our workers will come."
Melvin Maclin, vice president of the union, added that he looks
forward to the new ownership.
"During a time when other companies are going out of business,
Serious is expanding," he said. "We never gave up hope
that we would come back."
Other employees re-hired recently include Kevin Heylin, site manager.
He worked for Republic for 16 years, and though he left briefly
to work for another window company, he said he is thrilled to be
Heylin shares the hope of workers such as Robles that more workers
"I share their feelings that we won't be truly satisfied until
all [the] workers come back," he said.
"We're trying to drive government sales," added Heylin.
"There is a lot of stimulus money for this and it's just another
opportunity to sell a more efficient window."
Pete Kovacik was hired last week as commercial sales manager for
the Midwest region, and previously worked for Traco.
"We are looking at some innovative things for heavy commercial
[applications] and will manufacture these with the most energy-efficient
materials," Kovacik said.
Surace said the plant already has the capabilities to produce commercial
glass. It has three glass lines and even a tempering line in house.
"They [the former owners] invested heavily," said Surace.
He added that commercial windows are what Serious does best. "We've
done 10,000 commercial projects," he said. "We have the
largest research and development team in the window space,"
he added. "We have things coming out that are truly stunning."
But the road leading to Biden's visit was not an easy one. Chuck
Wetmore, director of operations for Serious, told USGNN.com that
seven trucks from the former owners on their way to Echo Windows
(the company set up by former Republic owner Richard Gilman that
is now out of business) arrived back at the Chicago plant in February.
According to Wetmore the trucks never made it to the Echo facility
in Iowa as they were stopped by state police.
"A lot of stuff was flipped over. Some newer equipment doesn't
even work," he said.
But Wetmore added that the company had other equipment in storage
and is close to having the facility ready to make windows. In fact,
a former dealer just placed an order and Wetmore said the company
could be manufacturing those windows next week.
For more on yesterday's event, CLICK
HERE to read Tara Taffera's, editor/publisher of DWM, a USGlass
sister publication, blog.
To view more photos and video from the event CLICK
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