ScreenCo represents a company that seems to be doing everything right nowadays, as the Canada-based roll form and screen manufacturer takes on 2014 with a new wave of momentum. The company’s president, Jennifer Small, talks about the journey her company has taken to get to where it is today, its exciting new expansion into the United States market, and why ScreenCo’s prevailing philosophy of always focusing on the future has paid off in a big way. Steve Engelhardt reports.
The company was founded 35 years ago in 1979 by three individuals, all of whom brought backgrounds in the roll-forming industry with them, and were looking to start their own business. While initially successful, the business didn’t really take off until 2001, when Small and her mother bought the company and took over operations. “When we came in, there wasn’t really an active sales presence,” Small says, adding, “there was a sales agent and that’s how they had grown their business, but they weren’t aggressively attacking the market, and yet they were still the number two or three roll-forming company in Canada.”
Recognizing the opportunity, Small and her team at ScreenCo have worked since then to completely reenergize the identity of the company, doubling the business in ten years, opening up an additional facility in Calgary, and targeting a whole new set of markets. Today, in 2014, ScreenCo represents the largest rollform and screen manufacturer in Canada, and is looking to grow even further.
Screening the Products
Roll form screens are the foundation of ScreenCo’s business, and they offer a wide variety of products related to such. While they provide everything from custom rollforming, window and patio door screen frames, and accessories, to screen splines, foam tape, and frame corners, their most popular product by far is their OneScreen System.
“The OneScreen System has brought us a lot of success and really has revolutionized the industry in that it’s one screen frame that can be used for several different types of windows,” Small says. The OneScreen System is unique because in the past, users had to have screen frames specific to the kind of window they were installing, and the costs could quickly add up. “The OneScreen system can work on many different window types, such as single hung, casement, or even a slider,” she says, adding, “the screen has different types of corner keys and all you have to do is change them depending on the window you’re pairing it with and it will work.”
Small says that the OneScreen System’s success stems from not just its ‘one size fits all’ nature, but also from the fact that it eliminates the need for any punching or drilling of holes into the screen frame itself. “It won’t be visible to the consumer, which is significant because, admittedly, screens can be a bit of an eyesore,” Small says, with a laugh. She says the product is also popular with their customers from a manufacturing standpoint. “For our customers who fabricate their own screens, all they have to do is cut, put four corners in, wire the screen, and they’re done.”
The OneScreen System has been ScreenCo’s flagship product for many years, and its success in Canada has Small and her company eagerly, yet carefully, wading into the markets down in the United States. She says they debuted the product recently in the Northeast region, and the results thus far have been extremely positive. “The initial success we have experienced in the U.S. with our OneScreen product has led us to push for an ever broader market to impact,” Small says, adding, “the Midwest will be somewhere else we go after, and I think through the distribution network my sales team is establishing with both large and small players will really facilitate a lot great business partnerships for our company.”
Another big opportunity on ScreenCo’s horizon is their expansion of their fabrication capabilities, with regards to finished products. Small says that many companies, particularly those in construction, are making hundreds of thousand of the same size windows and rely on their internal departments to install screens in them as well. “Window and door manufacturers don’t want to make their own screens, as it’s a non-value added item and something they’d like to get rid of, with respect to their of production process.”
She says that her company is already effectively serving as an outsource option for these companies, where ScreenCo will produce the screens along the same timeline the windows are being made so that when it’s time to ship their windows, the screens are ready to be wired in, and minimal production time is lost as a result. “This kind of business probably only represents about a third of what we do right now, but I really think this outsourcing of screen production is the future, and it’s something we’re aggressively promoting ourselves towards as a trusted partner to do so with.”
Small says that part of her optimism in expanding into new markets is fueled by her company’s philosophy of open-mindedness, and how being opportunistic has largely gotten them to where they are today. For example, she recalls a time several years ago when her and her mother were at a window and door conference in Toronto, getting ready to leave, when they struck up a casual conversation with another individual heading out. “We were sitting in the lobby of the hotel where the conference was being held, talking to a gentleman from All Weather Windows,” she says, adding, “he was discussing his need for a solution for his window screens, and it just so happened we manufacture a little clip that could remedy his situation.”
Small says that they initially shipped him a few thousand units a month, but soon, his demand for their clips skyrocketed. “We gave him something that was aesthetically pleasing and combined our quality product with an honest policy towards doing business with him.” Now, in 2014, All Weather Windows represents one of ScreenCo’s biggest customers.
Continuing to Produce
With their success continuing to grow, further evidenced by Small’s prediction of a 20 percent growth figure for 2014, what kind of production facilities and processes does ScreenCo have in place to handle rising demand for their products? Headquartered in Concord, Ontario, ScreenCo mainly operates out of a 40,000 square-foot production plant with employee numbers inside ranging between 40 and 50 depending on the season.
Inside, one will see over a dozen roll forming lines, finished window and patio door fabrication occurring, and perhaps even Ms. Small occasionally walking up and down the lines, inspecting and ensuring everything is running smoothly. “Lean manufacturing is a large part of our identity here at ScreenCo, and I myself am a big believer in it and like to take a hands-on approach when I can,” she says, adding, “with the lean processes we’ve implemented, in combination with the hard work of our employees, our lead time, depending on the order, often takes as little as twenty-four hours, sometimes even same-day pickup.” In addition to their Concord facility, ScreenCo also has a 13,000 square-foot facility in Calgary, where they mainly handle distribution.
As 2014 continues to progress, ScreenCo has taken their forward-thinking business and propelled themselves to new heights. Small says that while there have been ups and downs in the past, such as the economic downturn of 2008, ScreenCo’s strict adherence to the principles of honest policy and quality of product have allowed them to weather a storm that sank many others, and now has them sailing smoothly ahead. “We lost a couple of our main competitors then, and while it was sad in the sense that they were great companies, I think that where we are today speaks loudly to the sustainability and trust in ScreenCo and its products.”
Small says she is as optimistic as ever about her company, and upon looking at ScreenCo’s production capabilities, internal philosophy, and strength of product, it’s hard not to share her sentiment.