Photo credit: Mark Wagoner Productions
Window World’s dedication to its customers, franchisees and communities helps it thrive.
By Alan Dorich, Knighthouse Media
You don’t become the No. 1 exterior remodeling company in the nation without hard work and determination, and that is what has driven Chairman and CEO Tammy Whitworth as she has led Window World. Based in North Wilkesboro, N.C., the company offers and installs windows, doors, vinyl siding and other exterior remodeling products.
Window World, Whitworth notes, started operations in 1995 with a mission to be different than its competitors in the market. “Much of the replacement window industry at the time relied on high pressure and deceptive pricing to bully customers into making a hasty purchase,” she explains.
But the company sought to operate as a replacement window firm that offered high-quality products at fair and honest prices. “We were established to be completely transparent with the customer,” Whitworth says. “There were no hidden charges, no hidden costs or anything like that. As time has evolved, and many things have changed, our promise is still to operate with the distinction and integrity we’ve always had.”
The Family Business
In 2007, Whitworth and her husband, Todd, purchased Window World from his parents. Previously, the couple had owned and operated several of its locations. “His parents wanted to retire and we realized Window World had the potential to become more than a replacement window company,” Tammy Whitworth recalls.
The two envisioned Window World as a national institution for home improvement. But when Todd Whitworth unexpectedly died in 2010, “I became a CEO overnight,” she recalls, noting that leading the company was something that she strongly felt she had to do.
“I had lived and breathed the company’s growth from the beginning,” Whitworth says. “It was something I wanted to continue on.”
Since then, she says, Window World has grown both inside and out. For example, it expanded its product lines and its number of vendors, which led it to begin offering a variety of quality home improvement products.
It also started Window World University in 2010, which has served as an educational resource for its owners and store staff. But growing the company was not easy for Whitworth, who also had to raise her three children.
As she did both, Whitworth also battled and defeated breast cancer. Her hard work paid off, and the company celebrated 20 years in business in 2015. While Whitworth credits her resilience to her strong faith and the power of prayer, she also acknowledges the help of others.
“I have a tremendous family support system,” Whitworth says. “I’ve had to learn it’s okay to ask for help and realize I’m not Superwoman.”
Whitworth also has had the support of the people at Window World. She recalls an instance six months after Todd Whitworth’s death, when she had to address an audience of 1,200 at a conference.
“Looking back at that, I don’t know how I made it through, aside from looking at the smiling, loving faces of the Window World community,” she says. “[I saw] their love and support.”
Today, Window World has more than 200 locations nationally and enjoyed sales of more than $673 million in 2017. “We are America’s largest replacement window and exterior remodeling company,” Whitworth says.
When it comes to Window World’s franchise system, “We think it’s our business model and owners that set us apart from the rest of the industry,” she continues. “We’re the company that’s nationally known but locally owned.”
This gives Window World the benefit of being a trusted, corporate brand with local connections. “Our owners know their locales better than anyone,” she says. “Their stores cater to their own communities.”
This helps instill a sense of trust in Window World’s customers. While they are buying products from a national brand, “They appreciate that it comes from someone who could be the deacon in their church or the coach for their daughter’s basketball team, or the neighbor down the street,” she says.
Windows With Care
Another area of pride for Whitworth is Window World Cares ®, the company’s charitable arm. She and her husband started the organization in 2008, inspired by the premature birth of their daughter, Anna Grace, in 1999.
“We experienced first-hand the strain that comes from worrying about a child’s health,” Tammy Whitworth recalls, noting that this experience drove the couple to become partners with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® in 2008.
The first goal of Window World Cares, was to cover the daily operating costs of the hospital for one day, which was $1.1 million in 2010. And the organization met its goal through a program called Opening Windows for St. Jude.
With the help of their friend, race car driver John Andretti, Window World commissioned the construction of The Stinger, a vehicle that was a modern interpretation of the 1911 Mormon Wasp that won the very first Indianapolis 500 race. The Stinger traveled across the United States, collecting signatures of nearly 250 veterans of the famous race.
When the vehicle was auctioned in May 2016 at an event benefiting St. Jude, it raised more than $1 million to support the hospital. Additionally, over the past decade, Whitworth notes, Window World has generated $8 million in funds for St. Jude.
That recently included funds that were raised at a franchise owner trip in Jamaica. During the trip’s farewell reception, a vendor requested a microphone and made a pledge to St. Jude in front of everyone in attendance.
As the microphone was passed around, more committed to donating funds as well. Window World raised more than $322,000 “in 10 minutes, just at an impromptu, farewell reception on the beach,” Whitworth says.
But St. Jude is not the only recipient of aid from Window World. The company also has supported Veterans Airlift Command (VAC), which provides air transport to wounded soldiers and their families for medical and other purposes.
“Through a volunteer fleet of private aircraft, The Veterans Airlift Command offers soldiers returning from combat, often with devastating injuries and unable to traverse commercial airports, the opportunity to fly worry-free to visit their families and receive treatment,” the company says. “Window World has flown over 100 missions and has surpassed over $1 million in flights and in-kind donations since we began our partnership with the VAC.”
With many veterans in Window World’s team, “We know how meaningful a simple ‘thank you’ can be,” the company says. “Participating in this special program is our way of conveying our immense gratitude for America’s veterans.”
Now is a good time for Window World to be in business, Whitworth says. “From an economic standpoint, the fundamentals of the economy and equity markets remain strong, which ultimately results in strong consumer confidence.”
This, in turn, results in strong spending in Window World’s market sector. In addition, “The housing stock is much older, so spending on home improvement increases,” she says. “Essentials like doors and siding are beginning to fail and require the upgrades for modern living.”
The population increase also has increased the sheer number of jobs in the market, but it also has required the company to adjust to different demographics of consumers. While baby boomers were once the drivers of the remodeling market, the average member of this generation is now over 60, Whitworth says.
This has required Window World to focus on generation Xers, who are in their 40s, and millennials, who are in their 30s. But the latter generation, she notes, requires Window World to cater its service to more sophisticated buyers.
The millennials, Whitworth explains, look for providers with sophisticated internet marketing. “They want to make the purchasing decisions online and they want the ability to design their home from an internet-connected device,” she says.
They also look for companies that provide high-tech tools, including a Visualizer and a Design Center. “A lot of it comes back to the technology that’s available today,” she says.
“We have definitely had to evolve.”
One example is how Window World has incorporated new technology into the customer’s in-home experience with mobile applications and devices. The company has introduced applications such as Hover’s 3D home model builder and Eagleview’s 3D structural measurements and reports.
These new tools help show the true impact that Window World’s products can make and add efficiencies to a store’s production. New devices such as tablets also help the company connect with customers in the home and make the buying experience much simpler. Leveraging these new applications and mobile devices is an important part of the ever-improving in-home experience Window World provides customers.
The purchase of a Window World franchise represents a wise investment for multiple reasons, Whitworth says. These include its culture, which is centered on “the Window World way.”
“It’s a strong family culture,” she says, explaining that the firm strongly values its commitment to its franchisees, its customers and their communities. “It’s an honest and dedicated approach to business, which creates an atmosphere of community among our family and trickles down to our customers.”
A Window World franchise also allows owners to align themselves with an industry leader with an established customer base that has earned it a reputation for strong service. In fact, “Window World has been ranked ‘Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Windows and Doors’ multiple times in the past,” Whitworth adds.
“That further exemplifies our reputation as the nation’s provider of exterior remodeling products,” she says, noting that its vast product lines give franchisees multiple revenue streams. “We revolutionized the window industry in the ‘90s, and continue to be the dominant player of windows in America now.”
The next initiative for Window World will be for the company to establish itself as a one-stop provider for all major remodeling needs. This will help the company be known for more than just its namesake products.
While its windows have long held Good Housekeeping’s seal of approval, “We recently earned the Seal for our siding and doors,” Whitworth says. “That’s probably our proudest moment lately.”
The ability to meet all major remodeling needs “gives our franchisees multiple opportunities to provide products to a single household,” Whitworth says. “It’s a great opportunity to open a Window World franchise.”
Window World provides all of its franchisees with multiple benefits that include territorial restrictions. Each territory, Whitworth says, is defined by counties, giving each franchisee an exclusive trade area.
“This allows each franchisee to invest confidently in local marketing to drive sales, which is an invaluable tool in our eyes,” she says. “It’s not available to those opening an independent business.”
The company also provides them with strong support. “We have regional managers across the country to support our franchisees out in the field and to be another line of communication between our owners,” Whitworth says, noting that the managers help resolve any dispute that may arise.
Window World also maintains a franchisee advisory council that meets throughout the year to provide feedback and ideas for the entire franchise system to the corporate office. This gets them ahead of potential issues before they appear, she says.
For example, Window World’s advisory council recently helped it look at the way that it brings new owners into the system to see if there were any room for improvements. As it looked to optimize the process by which interested parties become official Window World owners, it held workshops with its advisory council to learn from their own experiences with becoming an owner and how it might improve and optimize that process. Hearing their opinions on what was beneficial for a new owner was invaluable in updating the onboarding process for its new franchisees.
The company’s regional owner forums across the country also allow it to communicate with its stores face-to-face, effectively. “That’s our goal with each of our franchisees,” Whitworth says.
Whitworth praises Window World’s owners, who have contributed heavily to Window World’s success. “They’re some of the most driven, hardworking and resourceful people that I truly have ever met,” she says.
Many started their careers with the company as a member of its staff, like Whitworth. “These individuals have helped build Window World into what it is today,” she says. “They take pride in becoming ambassadors of the brand in their own community.”
She also highlights the company’s national product team, which helps it stay ahead of the curve with energy efficient products. Additionally, “Our Window World University team provides training opportunities throughout the year,” Whitworth says.
The employees have helped the company stay committed to its values. “We’ve grown into a big company while holding onto our small company values,” she says.
Whitworth is proud of Window World and how it has changed people’s lives. These changes have ranged “from new windows beautifying a home to resurrecting an entire neighborhood to being part of an organization of franchisees that provides so many jobs across the country,” she says.
These positions range from store owners to office staff to workers in its vendors’ manufacturing facilities. “Our owners are able to provide a whole host of jobs,” she says, noting that she is also proud of how Window World Cares has bettered the lives of children and veterans. “We get to change lives in many ways.”
Whitworth sees growth ahead for Window World, which is in the process of expanding its footprint. “We are currently working to add our first location in Hawaii,” she reports, adding that the firm also wants to expand its presence in the western United States, as well as open international locations.
The company also is on the lookout for new products. “We are always looking for anything that will help us,” she says. “This will help us to remain the No. 1 exterior remodeler for many years. Our aim is to remodel the customer’s home from top to bottom.”
Making it Easy
Window World offers its customers aid through its Window Design Center, which helps them visualize what the final product will look like. “With Window World’s unique design software, envisioning new products on your home becomes as easy as a few clicks of a mouse,” it says.
With the use of the Window Showcase, customers can select from multiple window options and configurations, as well as color schemes, grid layouts and glass designs. “Lending to realism, the Showcase allows you to select wall colors, molding and floor options to resemble your room and the ultimate result of the project as closely as possible,” Window World says.
The company’s Visualizer also allows customers to see how its products can improve their home’s curb appeal. “Our unique software allows you to upload a picture of your own home and experiment with different windows, siding and doors,” it says, noting that this eliminates guesswork on projects.
Designed to Save
Customers can enjoy energy and financial savings with Window World’s energy efficient products. For example, its Warm-Edge Spacer system can impact the energy efficiency of the entire unit, the company says.
“The traditional, box-shaped spacer system can increase heat loss and cause condensation to form on the edge of the glass,” Window World says. “Our Warm-Edge Spacer is designed to block the path of escaping heat far more effectively, reducing condensation on winter glass.”
Non-conducive edges, the company says, eliminate glass-to-metal contact and help reduce edge-of-glass temperatures. “Featuring a unique U-channel design, these spacers are far more effective than their dated predecessors,” the company says.
Window World also highlights its SolarZone Low-E Glass, which is created through the application of an undetectable metallic coating to the second surface of an insulating glass unit. “Its intelligent design blocks heat gain from the sun’s reflected rays in the summer, but allows warmth from shorter solar rays into the house during cold, winter months,” it says.
Up to Standard
Window World has received multiple recognitions for its work, including the Good Housekeeping Seal. “For over 100 years, Good Housekeeping has been one of the strongest forces of customer advocacy in America, standing for customer satisfaction, superior quality and dependable warranties,” the company says.
“The Good Housekeeping Research Institute stringently evaluates each product to give customers the peace of mind that if it has earned the seal, it is of the highest quality,” Window World says. “We take pride in the fact that our windows, siding and doors are all backed by the Good Housekeeping Seal because of the quality and integrity that it represents.”
Window World also has earned EPA’s Lead-Safe Certification. According to the company, this ensures that it is trained and regularly undertakes precautions to protect customers from harmful effects of lead.
“During our installation process, we take special care to contain any lead dust created, protecting our customers and the environment,” Window World says. “By following lead-safe work practices, we mitigate the risk of lead exposure associated with disturbing remnants of lead-based paint/projects.”
The company also is an ENERGY STAR Partner. “Products that earn the ENERGY STAR prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy,” it says. “Window World offers a variety of window and door packages that are ENERGY STAR qualified in each of the nation’s four climate zones.”
Window World also has earned a Gold Label from the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), which develops standards for third-party validation of product performance and quality. “Because Window World windows are certified for structural, air and water performance, they bear the prestigious AAMA Gold Label, the highest possible AAMA rating,” the company says.
“The Gold Label indicates not only that the individual parts and piece of the window are certified, but that the entire window system is of the highest quality,” Window World says.