September  2004

The Window Guy


Everything I Know about the Window Business …
I Learned in the Third Grade
by R. Mark Reasbeck

It was a cool but balmy September day. The birds were composing a morning theme song complete with harmony to accompany the waves of dew drenched in grass. Down the street, the friendly paperboy could be seen carefully placing the newspapers ever so gently as to not land on the wet sidewalks. The lady next door, harvesting a handful of her prize-winning lavender roses, smiles at me as I walk to school for my first day in third grade. Life was good. Too bad that’s not the way it really happened. 

“I told you to move it mister. Now you’re late for school. Get in the car and grab your sister’s bottle,” said my mother without taking a breath. 

If you like reality shows, you should have been around my house on school mornings.

Ahhh, what I wouldn’t do to be back in third grade again. To be honest, I’d like to go back to forty, slap myself, and ask for a different road atlas. Third grade was my favorite year. I attended parochial school, and had a really cool nun for my teacher. Her name was Sister Maria, and I was considered “teacher’s pet.” 
Third grade is where you start a path of critical thinking. You’re beyond the ABCs. You can multiply and you learn to write like grown ups. This is why there is a special day set aside in third grade for “what do you want to be when you grow up?” 

There were 50 kids in my class. Before the day was over, we had several battalions of firefighters, two police squads, a few astronauts, a couple of doctors and clergy. It was always better to be last because if your choice was dumb, you could copy a better one you had already heard go around the room. (Notice: no one wanted to be a lawyer!)

Wonder Where They Went? 
“Mark, what would you like to be when you grow up?” Sister Maria asked for the 43rd time. 

“A window guy,” I blurted out proudly. (Please insert screeching tires sound effect.) 

Just like the singing birds, cheerful paperboy and lavender roses, that’s not the way it happened. How did I get into the window business? Think about it. How many people can say that they “planned” this career? I’ve been working with windows and doors since 1973. 

Most of the people that I know in the industry used to have hair and it was a solid color, but that was traded for a distinguishing gray. 

Just cruise through the NAHB convention. You see the same faces every year. They may be in a different booth, but it’s the same crew. What is it about this industry that commands loyalty? 

I’ll answer that. I believe at the root of it is a salesperson’s heart. That inner desire to convince someone that he needs our product and make him think it was his idea. See I couldn’t be an Oreo salesperson. People already want Oreos, so there’s no sale to be had. But just like the teacher’s pet advantage, I want to be the one who shows a builder how smart he is for choosing my product.

That has given me incentive for years, and the thrill of a new contractor brings the same satisfaction I get from eating a package of Oreos.

I have made a living in this industry. I’m not rich in money, but there is a great feeling of accomplishment driving by a subdivision and thinking, “I helped build that home for that family who doesn’t even know who I am or could care less if I live and breathe.”

So on that note, I would like to address all of you fellow dinosaurs and show you the “Top ten signs you’ve been in the window business too long.”

Mark’s Top Ten List
10. While getting dressed, you find yourself using a trucker’s knot on your tie. 
9. You have three broken windows in your own home … going on ten years.
8. No one on your payroll has ever heard of “glaziers putty.” 
7. Your family is convinced that the “spacer channel” you talk about is a cable station about aliens. 
6. You still have the slogan “Gas, grass or glass: no one rides for free” around your license plate.
5. You consider trade industry conventions as a family vacation. 
4. While entering a hotel room, you check first to see who manufactured the windows.
3. Your 16-year-old son thinks “low-E” is a new rap artist.
2. You have a lawyer on staff.
1. You affectionately refer to your crow’s feet as “stress cracks.” 
I’m done until next time. 


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