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Ashland window maker finds niche in customized products
Photo: This cabin on Lake Sylvia had a dark brown exterior to blend into the natural surroundings. The interior stain was a factory prefinish where it was important to match the timber frame that the cabin was built with. H Window’s ability to provide custom finishes made this a natural fit for this project.
When Extreme Makeover rolled into the Twin Ports a few years back, a number of local products were integrated into the home in Northwestern Wisconsin. Included in this was an internationally recognized brand of custom, quality windows that are built in Ashland..
H Window landed there in 2001 after a group of local investors purchased the company, which had its headquarters in Monitcello Minn. When the transaction closed, the investors moved the company to Ashland.
While it has only been in Ashland since 2001, the manufacturer has a long history going back to Europe. H Window was founded in 1959 in Aalesund, Norway after Harald Kvasnes developed the spilka (or fully reversible) projecting hinge. The hinge shifts the balance point, allowing the window to reverse fully for cleaning without interfering with window treatments.
This isn’t the only thing that makes H Window unique. Sales and Marketing Coordinator Dane Gleeson said that one point of difference is that their frames are an aluminum wood composite. This combination provides a structural integrity that is hard to match. When coupled with the spilka hinge, it allows for H Window to create a much larger size that can withstand pressures that other brands cannot.
Another major point of difference is that they offer triple panes. The thicker glass allows for more energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is a priority that dates back decades. The initial founders, who were dealing with similar temperatures in Norway as we experience in the Northland, recognized the value of efficiency given the extreme temperatures we endure.
It was this point of difference that played a major role in Ashland’s newest development using H Window. Jim Hagstrom, owner of the waterfront development known as Blue Wave, said he was interested in working with local companies on his project. After connecting with H Window, he knew it was a good fit.
“It was at that time that I learned for the first time about their history and the state of the art windows they offer. Their triple pane windows are one of the very best on the market,” he said. “At the Blue Wave building, our primary exposure to Lake Superior faces north, and thus we wanted to maximize glass on this side while also being as energy conscious as possible. We chose H Window for our building because their offerings afforded us the best combination of energy efficiency, pleasing aesthetics and high quality craftsmanship. The fact that these windows were made in Ashland turned this from a win-win-win situation to a win-win-win-win opportunity.”
The final major difference – every window is custom built.
“There is no extra charge for us to build a custom size because everything we build is custom,” Gleeson said.
That customization means the windows can’t be found in big box stores. Gleeson said their customer base prefers 1:1 interaction when shopping.
“We have independent dealers all across the country. Most are smaller shops and allow for you to have a face-to-face interaction when buying.”
If there isn’t a dealer within a couple hundred miles, customers also have the option of buying direct from the Ashland company.
H Window currently employ 45 people with six of them added in the last few months of 2014. Gleeson attributed that growth to a rebound in the housing market and the quality product H Window produces.
“We have been really busy lately. Over the years, we’ve had our ups and downs, but we are continuously getting a lot of requests for our products and continuing to grow,” he said.
Beth Probst is a freelance writer based in Iron River.Previous BusinessNorth Exclusives Articles:
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