It was the best of times and worst of times and the dichotomy is hard to ignore: Devastation caused by the Civil War nonetheless created business opportunities galore, especially in the construction arena.
It was the stage on which Barber & Ross Company began its trade. Although history does not place it at the forefront of helping to rebuild the South, the hardware and tool supplier, founded in 1876 in the Washington, D.C., area may have been more than a casual observer in the Reconstruction. Thereafter, it became a main player in the design and supply of quality window systems for new home construction.
Now, as the real estate market continues to sustain itself above all others – and as homeowners continually reap the benefits of a reinvestment into the home – Barber & Ross continues to supply a line of superior windows that not only hold up physically, but also aesthetically. It is the mark of superior craftsmanship that, 126 years after its founding, the company enjoys a vital position in a growing homebuilding market place.
Opening windows and doors for builders
Barber & Ross Company moved from its Washington base in the 1960s to Leesburg, Va., where it began to service a building market within a 250-mile radius of its plant. In 1971 the company was purchased by David Joffee, which changed the focus to a vertically integrated manufacturer, selling and delivering directly to residential new homebuilders. Since then, Barber & Ross has established itself as the nation’s leading builder-direct, full service manufacturer of windows, prehung interior and exterior doors, mouldings and custom millwork products.
“Our forte is the service we provide to builders,” explains David Martin, marketing manager. “Our service people go onto job sites daily to aid builders any way they can and their service is impressive. How we differ from other companies is that everything we make is built to order. If a builder wants an odd size or shape, we’ll do it. We provide the service and the product they need.”
Barber & Ross also produces nearly 100 percent of what it delivers, resulting in higher flexibility and shorter lead times. Barber & Ross, says Martin, is able to respond to fill-in orders in a matter of hours, or – at the very most – a few days. Ultimately, this build-to-order ability translates into broader product selection, delivered directly by Barber & Ross, in less time. In addition, fully integrated manufacturing provides the ability to produce unique custom products at the customer’s request.
To provide the highest level of service possible, Barber & Ross does several things: It maintains computerized master lists of standard house types as well as standard options for each builder. Frequent and regular visits by a representative to a job site is a well-honed service, as is a thorough familiarity of the products customers regularly use. In fact, representatives are encouraged to work from one overlying principle: to know as much as the construction superintendent about the scope and progress of each home. Barber and Ross also ensures that all orders are accurate, complete and delivered 100 percent on schedule.
Four plants, many windows
Barber & Ross maintains four plants totaling more than 600,000 square feet: Headquarters in Leesburg, Va., serves the Maryland, Northern Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., housing markets. A Richmond, Va., facility services the Richmond and Tidewater regions and a North Carolina plant extends its reach to the Raleigh-Durham and Greenboro areas. Finally, a wholly owned subsidiary, Rockwell Window Company in Knox, Ind., services Indianapolis and the burgeoning Chicago-suburb housing market.
As recipients of ISO 9000, Barber & Ross strictly adheres to a set of well-defined standards in the design and manufacture of its windows and window components. This rigidity assures builders that they will receive consistent, dependable products and services. Process control checkpoints identify potential problems before they occur and input by employees is encouraged. Continuous improvement initiatives promote teamwork by bringing together all team members involved in the manufacturing process.
This, of course, translates into well-built products. Among the window systems produced by Barber & Ross are double-hung vinyl windows, which come with a 20-year limited, non-prorated vinyl warranty for homeowner peace of mind. Features include a “brickmould pattern” that gives traditional wood window appearance, a chambered profile with a ribbed design and independent compartments for strength and thermal efficiency. An interlocking sash is engineered to reduce air filtration and a sloped sill channels water flow away from the home. Dual weather stripping forms a tight barrier and boosts thermal efficiency.
Casement windows, which have enjoyed perennial popularity in Europe, are beginning to enjoy an audience in the United States as well, as homeowners seek to redefine and enhance their home’s quality. Barber & Ross’ traditional casement design provides a classic appearance and a clear wood interior allows for staining or painting of sash and frame, as desired. Sash parts are preservative- and fungicide-treated before assembly, and a full perimeter, dual weather strip system maximizes weather tightness and saves energy. For low maintenance, Barber & Ross produces a heavy gauge, aluminum frame cladding with a baked-on acrylic finish.
In the past several years, Martin points out, there has been a trend in the demand of high end clad windows with prefinished interiors, as well as all composite windows; in all new home construction, he adds, “the overriding premise is the installation of maintenance free products in windows and exterior components. Barber & Ross will introduce new lines of prefinished clad windows and all composite windows in early 2003 to meet this demand.”
To further enhance its operations, remarks Martin, Barber & Ross is actively seeking out new strategic sites from which it can expand its product offerings, particularly in the Virgina and Washington, D.C., area – one of the fastest growing housing markets in the country. As homes continue to be built, Barber & Ross will continue to supply the finest windows and building components on the market. Its customers now include some of the nation’s top 10 builders, along with companies that have been honored as the National Association of Home Builders “Builder of the Year.” Major regional builders, including divisions of Fortune 100 corporations, count Barber & Ross as a key supplier.
This is why Barber & Ross says it is opening doors and windows to new possibilities–for both builders and homebuyers.