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Spring 2001

Bottoms Up!


Mason employee Sammy Dasilva removes an insulating 
glass unit from the Lisec 2000 insulating line.

From cutting the wood to glazing the frames, windows have always been a family tradition for the Mason family. Fifty-five years after its opening, Mason Windows in Pickering, Ontario, is still thriving. Utilizing five locations, the company does it all when it comes to the process of manufacturing windows—and, they do it well, as their longevity has shown.

Like Father, Like Son
Bruce Edward Mason opened Mason Windows more than 50 years ago, a homebuilder by trade, he was frustrated with finding millwork, trim and windows for the houses he built, as World War II had just ended and materials were scarce. He opened Mason Windows, hired employees to run it and continued to build homes and utilize the windows in the houses he built.

Then, in the mid-1960s, his son, Robert, became the president and has honorably held the position for more than 40 years. 

“We’ve always been in the residential window business,” said Mason, proud of both his and his father’s accomplishments in the company.

The Long and Winding Road
Long before Mason windows leave the Pickering manufacturing plant, they visit five Mason 
locations.

The company owns its own wood mill north of the window manufacturing plant in Shaplow, Ontario, where it both cuts and mills white pine lumber to send to the manufacturing plant.

“The wood components arrive here in rough component form and they’re dried, so we profile the window frames, pressure-treat them and paint them,” said Mason. 

In addition, Mason has a facility in Coburg, Ontario, where it blends its own vinyl powders and bends its own extrusions, which are available in up to 700 different finishes.

“We buy vinyl ingredients and blend our own powders,” Mason said. “Then we extrude our own vinyl and profiles.”

Sixty percent of the company’s products are vinyl windows and 40 percent wood windows. Mason has prepared its own lumber since 1978 and vinyl since 1982.

Mason obtains most of its glass from AFG in Quebec.

“We buy our glass in more than 100 cut sizes and then we cut smaller sizes and shapes with our optimizing cutting table,” said Mason. Fortunately, though, he added that 75 to 80 percent of its windows utilize standard-sized glass, which minimizes the custom-cutting the company has to do within its own facility.

Once the company receives the glass, it proceeds to fabricate its own insulating units, while utilizing a Lisec 2000 Automated Vertical insulating line and an older version of the machine from the mid-1980s, which it also obtained from Lisec.

“Argon-filled units represent a large percentage of the products and to a fill rate of a minimum of 90 percent,” said Lisec America vice president and general manager Greg Deweese.

“Every IG unit has a primary automatic seal of butyl applied and is then pressed to an exact size to ensure the highest quality hermetically-sealed unit,” he said.

Finally, the wood, vinyl and glass make it to the Pickering plant, where both are assembled in the finished units. Soon, the completed windows are shipped off to Mason’s two distribution centers—one in Ottawa, Ontario, and the other in Westland, Mich. Between the two centers, the company runs approximately 20 trucks, which deliver the finished Mason windows to building contractors throughout the Northeast United States and Canada.

Although it surely is a long, winding and difficult process, Mason said the company’s vertical integration is what gives it its reputation for quality.

“What sets us apart from other companies? Our vertical integration, our pressure treating of wood windows and our availability of colors,” marveled Mason. “We can make any size and shape.”

In addition, by remaining vertically integrated, Mason said he can be assured that the product—and each of its components—will be of the highest quality possible.

“We have control of all aspects this way—that’s why we do our own delivery, too.”

Keeping Up
The plant manufactures 8,000 to 10,000 windows each week, 90 percent of which are for new construction jobs and 10 percent of which are for renovation projects.

“We’re very fortunate—we sell to three of Canada’s five top building companies and that’s just because we don’t extend to those other two areas,” said Mason.

The company is so confident in its business and machinery that it offers a ten-year warranty on insulating glass units and a ten-year unconditional warranty on wood and vinyl units.

“Without exception, our profiles are of the highest quality in the world, as are the insulating glass units in the windows,” he boasted.

And, according to Mason, quality and treatment of customers is of the utmost importance.
“Customer service is a large aspect of it. Quality products are important, along with longevity,” said Mason.

The Right Stuff
Of course, to be a vertically-integrated company, Mason has to have the right equipment—for speed, efficiency and of course, the company’s own strong suit, longevity.

Originally, the company had to purchase its glass already placed together as an insulating unit. But in 1985, Mason Win-dows purchased an automated vertical insulating line from Lisec, a million-dollar plus machine for insulating glass units. Last year, Mason took another large step into the future, as one of the first four companies in North America to purchase the updated, advanced insulating line. Even with the cost of the machine, though, Mason said it was not a hard decision to make the purchase.
“When we save labor and speed up the process, and if the payback is going to come in a reasonable time frame, we decide to make the purchase,” he said.

Likewise, Mason has to keep up with the rest of the industry and, as it did with the Lisec 2000, even jump ahead of them when possible.

In addition to the Lisec fabricating line, Mason utilizes a variety of equipment, including an optimized wood-cutting system, four-point welders, band saws and several instruments for cutting glass. In an effort to keep all of this equipment in tip-top shape, Mason said he does require service on his machinery every few months. But, he added, it is always at his fingertips when needed.

As time goes on, Mason expects his company to become more and more automated—and more high-tech—particularly with the thriving economy and availability of jobs.

“The tight labor market is compelling companies to look at more and more automation,” he said.
But, as it has done since the company opened 45 years ago—Mason will keep up. It will continue to see its windows through from beginning to end—from wood to frame to sash to muntin, to glazing throughout the Northeast United States and Canada. 

Penny Beverage is an assistant editor for Door & Window Maker magazine.

DWM

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