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Northern Comfort Windows and Doors Ltd.: Fenestration Installation Sensation
Northern Comfort Windows & Doors Ltd. (NORCOM) is not a company that rests on its laurels even though it’s won the Top Choice Award five years running as Best Window Company in the region of Ontario, Can. Earnest Ebner, co-founder and CEO of Northern Comfort Windows and Doors, credits this to the fact that the company has been a Window Wise certified dealer, as well as his entire crew being trained by those guidelines. Window Wise is an energy efficiency program of SAWDAC, the Siding & Window Dealers Association of Canada. The program ensures efficient windows and installation, quality assurance, and a 5-year industry guarantee. It also includes random inspections over those five years by other certified Window Wise personnel over time to ensure the installation is still solid.
Currently, there are approximately 2,000 window manufacturers in Canada, but less than 30 are certified by Window Wise. “You can have the best window, but if it’s not installed properly then what good is it? It won’t perform properly,” explains Ebner. While the company carries a variety of products from a variety of different manufacturers, NORCOM keeps up to date as well as up to their business standards. NORCOM carries three of the top window manufacturers: Armor, Northstar, Vinylbilt and Vinyl. Per Window Wise regulations all models have been tested to CSA A440 standards and are Energy Star qualified. “There’s always new products, always improvements they come out with,” says Ebner.
While its Window Wise team is the jewel in the crown of the company, the staff have just as much attention to detail with their other products and installations. NORCOM also specializes in steel entrance doors, storm doors, garden/terrace doors, as well as patio doors. In addition to windows and doors, NORCOME also installs porch enclosures, sunrooms, vinyl shutters, and even “do some exterior siding, but not too much,”
Keeping it in the Family
Ebner founded NORCOM in 1998 in and the company has remained a family-owned and -operated company ever since. The 30 plus staff members have collectively over 32 years of experience in the renovation field, and they are spread between NORCOM’s two locations; their headquarters in Barrie, Ontario and a second branch in New Market, Ontario. Ebner himself got into the industry due to family, and states “there’s still a lot of family working in this company.” NORCOM has its own in house service department and makes a practice of dealing directly with the customer without the use of subcontractors. The first response to a service call would be one of the company’s full-time factory trained service technicians. “We have all our own guys, they’re all Window Wise trained,” says Eber, “we do it once, and do it right.”
Whereas some contractors may install Window Wise approved windows, they may not be certified as a Window Wise contractor. NORCOM installs what they sell, and offers financing options to many of their customers. Recently, there has been a big demand for windows with better window insulation. “A lot of people are switching to triple-glass these days, so we do a lot of triple glazing,” explains Ebner. “With the triple glass it makes sense to have a window that’s insulated.” This is one more way NORCOM stays ahead of the competition; “We have windows with the frames totally insulated, where some companies have frames that are totally hollow,” says Ebner, “There’s windows and there’s windows. You get what you pay for, right?”
Both Energy and Cost Efficient
The country’s focus on sustainability and energy efficiency has definitely had an impact on NORCOM’s business. “ In the old days, when builders installed it they just put it in with a couple of nails in it, just hold it in place,” explains Ebner, “[and] that’s why all these problems down the road with the windows being drafty and no good. It has to be done right.” Despite Ontario’s pride in historical preservation, customers are eager to save more money when it comes to insulating their homes. “The houses we do are sometimes 30 to 40 years old, we’re often replacing the old windows with energy efficient windows,” says Ebner. NORCOM is more focused on residential market rather than commercial, but the company has accepted municipal contracts in the past. “We’ve done some government projects as well. We’ve done some work on low-income homes,” recalls Ebner, “they needed new windows. I mean, they don’t want to freeze.”
The economic recession can still be felt in both towns where NORCOM’s is based, but Ebner remarks, “We haven’t suffered any downturn, our business has been growing pretty well every year.” The current annual revenue for NORCOM is approximately $10,000,000. This doesn’t mean NORCOM is unsympathetic to the customers who need a little financial assistance. “If they can’t afford it, we offer them a financing package,” says Ebner, “and a lot of jobs are financed.”
When it comes to installation practices, NORCOM sticks to their guns. Ebner laughs at how long he’s been in the industry and how far the company has come as NORCOM approaches its 15 year anniversary. As long as NORCOM continues to uphold its high installation standards that result in significant energy savings, it’s already looking at 15 more years ahead.