A Window of Opportunity
Jilco Window Corp. Partners with Distributor for German Luxury Windows
Jilco Window Corp.’s story began in 1982 in John McDonough’s garage. It was there that he began selling aluminum windows, eventually expanding the business into a wide variety of window and door treatments, cabinetry and countertops, in addition to customized and complex specialty millwork.
Today, John is joined by his son Michael, and Jilco Window Corp., based in Granite Springs, New York, continues to supply an extensive range of products to builders, remodelers, architects, homeowners and designers in New York and Connecticut.
As a full-service window, door, skylight, millwork and kitchen cabinetry supplier, Jilco provides its customers with the products and services that help turn their project dreams into reality. Jilco not only sells the products—which include everything from siding to shutters and mantles to molding—it provides expert installation, delivery, post-sale service and architectural support. All of this is in addition to the many other custom offerings Jilco tailors specifically to customers’ needs, whether it’s giving advice on product style and color or assisting with kitchen or bathroom redesign ideas.
It’s this dedication to the customer that led Jilco to its latest specialty product offering, as the Jilco team noticed a shift toward the high-end luxury market, particularly when it came to energy efficiency. Although the company maintains 30,000 square feet of inventory ranging across several brands and product lines, Jilco was missing a high-end energy-efficient window that it could offer customers.
Always remaining on the cutting edge of industry trends, the Jilco team began searching out the perfect product that could fill this particular niche. The result was a partnership with Harman Fensterbau, a U.S.-based distributor of a German-manufactured window line.
The Perfect Match
The journey toward a partnership with Harman Fensterbau began as the Jilco team started seeing an increase in passive home construction and a higher demand for energy-related, high-performance products in the areas they serve.
High-performance and passive homes have a high standard for energy efficiency and are designed as ultra-low energy buildings that require less heating and cooling. They are designed to be airtight and require advanced window technology, including triple-pane insulated glazing. And although the concept originated in Germany, the U.S. has seen an upswing in passive home construction in recent years.
“We noticed the influx of plans and designs specifying windows of this caliber,” says Michael McDonough, Vice President of Jilco Window Corp. “And we’ve seen that the imported windows contain this type of technology.”
McDonough and the Jilco team knew they needed to find the highest quality windows they could offer customers to fill the growing demand. To find just the right product, McDonough looked to Europe, where he found a German window manufacturer called Harman Fensterbau.
Harman Fensterbau’s manufacturing partner is a third-generation, family-owned business that’s been in operation for over 85 years. With more than 700 employees, they are a major player when it comes to producing highly energy-efficient windows and doors and are a recognized leader throughout Europe.
Harman Fensterbau’s triple-glazed products far exceed current performance requirements in the U.S., making them the perfect fit for energy efficiency and high-performance clients’ homes. Harman Fensterbau offers all wood and aluminum-clad wood, tilt-turn, picture and large format doors. With unlimited color options and wood species, and more than 240 different glass configurations, Harman Fensterbau has an option for the most discerning of clients.
But what made these products even more appealing to the Jilco team is that the German manufacturer already had a local importer and distributor in the U.S. Harman Fensterbau, owned by Jay Harman, is based out of Asbury Park, New Jersey.
“We’re not only getting windows produced by this high-caliber company, but there’s a localized presence,” explains McDonough. “They have the inventory and parts nearby in case something breaks. Harman Fensterbau also has local service technicians that can perform product adjustments or service if needed.”
As McDonough points out, many overseas manufacturers can build and ship great products—but when you need assistance, there’s nowhere to turn locally.
“Importing products is scary,” McDonough admits. “But having a division in New Jersey is a huge comfort level. There they also have all the personnel who are bilingual and who can work through any of the language barriers.”
But before McDonough decided that Harman Fensterbau was the right fit, he did his due diligence in making sure both the product and partnership were going to work.
Sealing the Deal
For more than a year, McDonough and others at Jilco observed and followed Harman Fensterbau’s process—as the products traveled from the manufacturing line in Germany, to the container on the boat that shipped them to New Jersey, to the dealer and all the way to the actual job site. There, Jilco’s employees had the opportunity to learn firsthand about the product installation.
Going above and beyond, Harman Fensterbau’s manufacturing partner sent its own product expert all the way from Germany to help Jilco’s people learn and fully understand the installation techniques and processes, which are different from the domestic-made products the Jilco team was used to working with.
It was this personalized touch, combined with the high-quality products themselves, that left McDonough with an overwhelmingly positive impression of Harman Fensterbau. “What we learned by following this process is that Harman Fensterbau is 100 percent what they say they are. They provide the highest quality product, whether you’re ordering one window or 300. The quality of the product and the support they provide throughout the process exceeded our expectations,” McDonough says.
It’s his hope that Harman Fensterbau will also exceed the expectations of Jilco’s customers. Jilco officially signed on as a Harman Fensterbau dealer in January 2018, making them one of a few elite dealers selling the line.
Investing in People
In addition to investing in just the right products for its customers, Jilco’s leadership understands the importance of investing in its people to provide the highest quality work experience.
Jilco’s team of 40 employees has an average tenure of more than 20 years, a fact that brings pride to them all.
Another Jilco attribute is a focus on training. Because the company sells a variety of windows, doors, skylights and hardware, as well as highly complex cabinetry and millwork, employees are educated on the fine points of every product.
“We’re constantly training,” McDonough explains. “We try to stay on the cutting edge of new products, programs and existing product enhancements. We are willing to try anything to help our employees and customers.”
To provide a top-notch customer experience, all Jilco employees are cross trained in other functions within the company, such as sales, operations or logistics, so that each employee can help a customer in whatever area is needed.
Jilco’s customers appreciate the extra care. Glowing reviews speak to Jilco employees’ professionalism, reliability, responsiveness and thoughtfulness.
And it’s not just the customers talking. Jilco’s cabinetry division has received the Omega Cabinetry Platinum Award for 15 years. The award, ranked nationally, is given for top sales and customer experience.
It’s this focus on the consumer experience that the Jilco team will continue to put into play as they begin providing the Harman Fensterbau line. Thirty-six years after its founding, the company that once sold aluminum windows out of a garage is now prepared to distinguish itself as the go-to source for high-quality passive home products in this growing market.