While the pain in the real estate market has been widely felt, few have experienced it as acutely as building product manufacturers. Thanks to widespread layoffs and closures, the industry has become a poster child of housing’s woes.
But being down doesn’t always mean being out, especially for companies that have pulled together to weather the tough economic times. That was the message conveyed by President Obama in his recent speech in Osawatomie, Kan. To make his point, the president pointed to Warroad, Minn.-based Marvin Windows and Doors.
"During the recession, Marvin’s competitors closed dozens of plants, let hundreds of workers go. But Marvin did not lay off a single one of their 4,000 or so employees—not one," he said. "In fact, they’ve only laid off workers once in over a hundred years. Mr. Marvin’s grandfather even kept his eight employees during the Great Depression.
"Now, at Marvin when times get tough, the workers agree to give up some perks and some pay, and so do the owners. As one owner said, ‘You can’t grow if you’re cutting your lifeblood—and that’s the skills and experience your workforce delivers.’ For the CEO of Marvin, it’s about the community. He said, ‘These are people we went to school with. We go to church with them. We see them in the same restaurants. Indeed, a lot of us have married local girls and boys. We could be anywhere, but we are in Warroad.’
"That’s how America was built. That’s why we’re the greatest nation on Earth. That’s what our greatest companies understand. Our success has never just been about survival of the fittest. It’s about building a nation where we’re all better off. We pull together. We pitch in. We do our part. We believe that hard work will pay off, that responsibility will be rewarded, and that our children will inherit a nation where those values live on."