Volume 44, Issue 1 - January 2009

News Now

Residential Window Companies and Divisions Face Financial Troubles

On December 4, 2008, TRACO in Cranberry Township, Pa., announced the sale of its residential vinyl replacement division to Echo Windows LLC, noted as “a strategic buyer, experienced in the residential marketplace.” 

“We felt that the timing was right for a more streamlined corporate strategy, concentrating on the heavy commercial side of our business, which has grown dramatically since the 1980s,” commented Robert P. Randall, president and chief executive officer of TRACO. 

A company press release stated that Echo Windows has assumed all of TRACO’s residential vinyl manufacturing and sales operations, and would continue manufacturing windows in the Red Oak, Iowa, facility it purchased as part of the agreement. 

Following the TRACO sale, questions arose around Echo Windows—and its relationship to another company facing financial troubles, Republic Windows & Door LLC. 

Republic Windows and Door announced in early December that it would cease operations due to the fact that Bank of America canceled its line of credit. Given only a couple days notice, workers staged a sit-in demanding their severance and vacation pay. According to union officials, such short notice represented a violation of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which protects workers, their families and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs. In the end, workers and Republic reached a $1.75 million settlement with Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase, which will provide workers with eight weeks of pay, two months continued health coverage and all accrued and unused vacation.

After Republic had announced it was closing, the Chicago Tribune reported that “Sharon Gillman, who shares an address with Republic president and CEO [chief executive officer] Rich Gillman, is listed as an officer of Echo Windows & Doors LLC.” Amy Zimmerman, who served as vice president of sales and marketing for Republic, is listed as the registered contact for a website, www.echowindows.com, according to www.networksolutions.com

One dealer, a previous Republic customer, told USGlass, “It [Republic’s closing] hasn’t impacted our business as we are still doing business with them [Republic].” The dealer, who wished to remain anonymous, then confirmed that his company had switched its window business from Republic to Echo.

When USGlass called the Red Oak facility an unidentified representative said, “We have no comment at this time.”

Republic filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief on December 12. According to court documents, the company has between $1 and $10 million in assets and between $10 and $50 million in liabilities. 

—Alan Goldberg, Penny Stacey and Tara Taffera all contributed to this report. 

Republic Windows Story Garners National Attention

Door and window manufacturer Republic Windows & Doors not only was a hot topic in the fenestration industry news, but the story of the company’s abrupt closing—and union sit-in—drew national attention in December. The story appeared on various news outlets throughout the country—particularly after incoming President Barack Obama offered his opinion on the issue and political notable Jesse Jackson delivered turkeys and food to employees during the sit-in.

Among the news outlets that covered the story were The Chicago Sun Times and The New York Times, both of which sought information from Tara Taffera, publisher/editor of USGlass sister publication DWM, and included information from DWM in their own reports.

USG

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