With a respected history of innovative firsts, Chelsea Building Products continues to offer the industry better-designed and -performing vinyl extruded window profiles. April Terreri provides a look.
Long regarded as sources of light and a bit of fresh air, the status of residential windows has progressed significantly over the last several decades. Of course, for centuries there have been inspiring leaded and stained-glass windows on churches, and the ornate fenestration of rich country estates and imposing government buildings. But all of that was not for the ordinary man and woman.
Today, a lot of consideration goes into the design and engineering of residential windows. Consumers want more than just light and some sweet country air. They want innovative design and beauty, durability, energy efficiency and multifunctionality in the windows they choose for their homes. Enter Chelsea Building Products Inc. of Oakmont, Pa.
“We are a leading designer and extruder of complex precision vinyl profiles for the window, door and building-products industries,” says Jay Scripter, chief operating officer. Chelsea manufactures vinyl extruded profiles primarily for the residential market and some light commercial markets. The company markets its products to the major U.S. window manufacturers.
The company provides products within two category groups: remodeling and replacement products, and new-construction products. “People in the industry know us for our classic remodeling and replacement vinyl windows, Poly-Tex and Custom Gard,” says Beth Blosnick, sales and marketing services manager.
In the new-construction business segment, Chelsea’s newest addition to the CS-Series line is the CS-270, which is a single-hung or single sliding window with a complementary picture window. “It offers customers another option within the new-construction line,” says Blosnick. “It also has a fully welded sash and frame for optimum beauty and performance.” Engineered for exquisite design appeal, this new window has raised designer frame detailing, including a beveled exterior for a soft, contoured-edge design lending to its traditional appearance.
The CS-Series of vinyl windows offers strength, durability and energy efficiencies — qualities long associated with vinyl windows. Providing better insulating qualities and less maintenance than wood- or metal-framed windows, the increased energy efficiencies delivered by vinyl windows and doors can enhance the value of a building.
Another addition to the Chelsea family of products is the 1600N Series window. “The 1600N provides enhanced performance and ease of manufacturing to the 1600 product family,” explains Blosnick.
First in Innovation
In business for just slightly more than 60 years, Chelsea has made some remarkable footprints on the industry. The company introduced the first all-vinyl double-hung tilt window system in 1975, and was one of the first U.S. extruding companies with the engineering capability to offer a choice of colors. Chelsea was the first extruding company to offer a warranty on its products, and its innovative designs have received several U.S. patents. Along with its innovative tradition, the company also offers the most comprehensive design and production assistance program in the industry.
Over the last two years, Chelsea made some significant management changes. “We have a new senior management staff,” says Blosnick. These include Hans Spijkerman, president and chief executive officer; Scripter, now COO; Ray Walkowski, senior vice president; and Cary Efaw, controller. As a result of the new management, Chelsea has developed a new four-point vision, which is “to create an environment that welcomes and nurtures open communications related to all aspects of the business; amaze our customers with our excellence of service; bewilder our competition with our performance on the marketplace; and provide an environment that has people in the community waiting in line for the chance to work at Chelsea Building Products.”
Chelsea has its sights set on a horizon of high-level productivity. “We see ourselves redefining the industry by bringing new technologies into our industry and by finding new sales approaches that other companies like Wal-Mart, Motorola, and Microsoft have proven to be successful,” says Scripter.
Under One Roof
“Our manufacturing approach is focused on bringing all critical aspects of our tool-making and other manufacturing processes in house,” says Scripter. “We are one of the few in our industry who design, engineer and manufacture all of our extrusion tools in house.” This strategy is helping the company control the processes more closely and accelerates the product development cycle.
The company’s recent $1 million tool-room expansion provided additional EDM capacity as well as computerized machining capacity in house. “This will help us dramatically increase throughputs,” says Scripter. The company operates 52 extrusion lines that run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, producing more than 135 million feet of extrusion every year.
Chelsea’s focus on kaizen methods encourages its 300 employees to continually improve the manufacturing processes. The company uses continuous-improvement teams, including the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) team and the SWAT team. “These teams attack various problems common in a manufacturing facility, and they clean them up very quickly,” says Scripter. “Our goal is to provide an environment that communicates to our customers that we are a company that is very easy to deal with and very willing and capable to help them solve their problems.”
Chelsea looks to a future of expansion throughout the country. A subsidiary of the $2 billion, Belgium-based Group Tessenderlo, Chelsea has substantial financial backing to achieve its ambitious goals. “We are considering expansion plans for manufacturing and distribution-center facilities in western markets,” says Scripter. “We also plan to cater to new markets and new products to increase our customer base.”
After recently purchasing the 10-acre tract of land behind its current 500,000 square-foot facility, Chelsea is now poised for the next level of its expansion. “We are excited about the significant cost reductions made in our manufacturing facility and the opportunities this has provided for our business,” concludes Scripter.