There is as much going on at TRACO, one of the leading manufacturers of window systems in the United States, as there are buildings that need solid, quality windows. Lorie Russo reports on one of the industry’s major newsmakers.
A manufacturer of win-dows that can withstand wind and weather extremes, TRACO of Cranberry Township, Pa., is today one of the construction products industry’s top newsmakers. The company has launched four new product programs and two new marketing campaigns. In introducing these initiatives, TRACO is setting its course on penetrating new markets and expanding its already impressive growth rate.Creating new products and upgrading existing lines is the normal run of business at TRACO, says Phil Abraham, director of national sales for the company’s commercial group. Top-quality design and engineering have been trademarks of the company’s products from its beginnings. TRACO was founded in 1943 by Mae and E.R. Randall, and has always been headquartered in the Pittsburgh area. It has grown into a worldwide concern that employs more than 1,800 team members, who have spent nearly 60 years helping to design intricate and elaborate window systems on the world’s most prestigious buildings.
TRACO has extended its product offering through the years and now manufactures window and door systems for a variety of structures, including education and health-care facilities, multifamily dwellings, offices, hotels and motels, and national historic landmarks. The company is a custom residential and commercial window and door manufacturer, crafting every window and door system to meet the exact requirements of each project or building. Abraham says, “We make hundreds of different types of windows, and everything we do is customized.”
The VALU™ Equation
One of the key new-product introductions is the VALU™ line of commercial-rated windows and doors. This new product family consists of high-performance thermal aluminum, multichamber vinyl and composite windows and doors. Designed for use on multifamily housing, hotels/motels and government buildings, the products are targeted for distributors, dealers and general contractors that specialize in those trades. The VALU™ series is certified by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), and is commercially rated from LC25 through C45.
Another new launch, the historic program, aims at a particular strength of TRACO’s, the historic retrofit/renovation market. The program introduces the TR-600 window, a heavy commercial-rated narrow historic casement, which is ideal for steel-window renovations — especially for historic buildings throughout the United States. “These can be used where there is a need to renovate historic buildings and keep them true to their heritage,” Abraham says.
TRACO’s historic retrofit and renovation work included the replacement of the aging and deteriorated windows on the Statue of Liberty crown during the monument’s restoration in the 1980s. TRACO’s artisans handcrafted 25 windows — each measuring from 41/2 inches to 12 inches wide and from 10 inches to 21 inches in height, and made with safety glass and polished bronze. Another major historic renovation entailed the replacement of more than 6,400 windows on the Empire State Building in the 1990s. This involved replacing the steel, single-glazed, double-hung windows original to the building when it was constructed in the 1930s, with aluminum, thermally broken, tempered dual-insulated windows. Because the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, TRACO was required to meet strict design and color standards while providing high-quality, functioning windows.
TRACO has also worked on historic renovation projects such as the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the United Nations Plaza and Helmsley Palace, all in New York City; Chicago’s Drake Hotel and Civic Opera; and the Omni Hotel in San Francisco. The company has also provided products for the College of William and Mary in Virginia, Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind., and Howard University in Washington.
TRACO also has new initiatives for existing products. The company has been marketing its line of impact-resistant windows and doors (TRACO Security) for applications in the Florida market. Now it’s increasing the target area for this line to include coastal areas from Texas to Maine, in which severe weather now requires highly impact-resistant windows and doors. Also, in promoting its door grouping, TRACO is introducing the heavy commercial-rated terrace door with a self-storing screen. This screen has a slim profile, which permits it to be completely concealed when not in use. It also is less subject to wear from routine door-panel operation.
The company made even more news in late January, with the formation of TRACO Architectural Systems Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary located in Kingsport, Tenn. The new entity will produce curtain-wall, storefront and entrance doors for architectural and heavy commercial applications. To create the new subsidiary, TRACO purchased the assets of an existing curtain-wall/storefront company and manufacturing facility. The first generation of products from TRACO Architectural Systems is slated to be introduced in late spring.
Systems for Solutions
TRACO’s new products carry on the company’s tradition of developing efficient and completely integrated window and door systems. Among its existing products on the residential side, TRACO offers the Power Two window system, a composite system that combines the strength and durability of aluminum on the outside, with the warmth and comfort of vinyl on the inside.
TRACO’s Skytech Systems manufactures high-quality architectural skylights, sunrooms, terrace doors and folding glass walls for the residential and commercial markets.
Altogether, six manufacturing facilities make TRACO’s products in the United States. Aside from the Cranberry Township site, the company maintains a second Pennsylvania manufacturing facility in Bloomsberg, where TRACO Skytech Systems’ skylights, folding glass walls and skylight systems are made. TRACO security windows and doors are manufactured in Miami and Johnson City, Tenn. The plants in Johnson City, Tenn., and Merced, Calif., also focus on products for the commercial and light commercial markets. Red Oak, Iowa, is where production of residential vinyl, composite and thermal aluminum windows, doors, sunrooms and patio rooms takes place. TRACO also has an additional factory in Wuhan, China, where thermal aluminum and high-performance vinyl windows and doors are made for the Chinese and Pacific Rim markets.
Within each plant, TRACO runs a vertically integrated manufacturing operation. Along with its in-house computerized design and engineering functions, TRACO’s extrusion work occurs through The Three Rivers Extrusion Company (TRECO), an extension of the company. TRECO’s equipment includes three aluminum extrusion presses, and its extrusions are used by customers on displays, automotive products, heat sinks, storefronts and a variety of other applications. TRACO applies its paint finishes, which meet AAMA standards, using its own four-booth electrostatic spray process and bake oven. The company recently introduced a two-color paint system, which paints the exterior and interior of an extrusion in a single, continuous process. TRACO is the only custom window manufacturer that tempers its own glass in house, using its own process which involves heating annealed glass to 1,200 degrees in the tempering oven and quenching it with jets of air.
Along with its new product introductions, TRACO also has inaugurated two new marketing campaigns. The first, geared specifically to education customers, highlights the company’s efforts for schools and universities, and includes materials that reinforce its capabilities in designing products for such buildings. The second, called America’s Window Company, underscores TRACO’s affiliation with landmark renovation projects. The materials spotlight the company’s work on the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and other structures, and include patriotic symbols used on letterhead, T-shirts, hats and other materials.
In a way, America’s Window Company has proven to be a timely campaign for TRACO. The company, in fact, has also been involved in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. TRACO played a crucial part in one rebuilding effort right after the tragedy. A telecommunications company operating a switching station in a building next to Ground Zero asked TRACO to replace its damaged windows. “It was an emergency situation, and they needed windows replaced so they could be up and running quickly,” Abraham says.
Efforts such as this, plus TRACO’s continual upgrades to its product lines, have set this manufacturer apart from the rest in the industry. Abraham says the company concentrates on developing new products in line with the latest in aluminum extrusion and glazing technology, as well as offering more varieties of hardware. TRACO continues to be dedicated to innovation and quality as it sets standards for window construction throughout the world.