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Deceuninck sales dropped by half and the company had to tighten its belt by closing two U.S. facilities. Since then, it has “more than recovered,” he said, enjoying double-digit growth since 2011 and growing annual sales from $78.6 million that year to $156 million in 2018.
That rebound, Geeraert said, is the result of three things: the market recovering, Deceuninck capturing and holding onto double digit business at a time the rest of the market grows by just 3 to 5 percent and the company designing the right new product line for existing customers.
What that has meant for the company is the kind of growth that adds jobs, with employee totals rising from 350 in 2013 to 550 in 2017. About 70 of those jobs since the start of 2018 came as the result of a 1.35 percent, seven-year Job Creation Tax Credit approved in late 2017 to help fund expansion projects that grew the facility by one-third.
Now, at 1.3 million square-feet, half of it dedicated to manufacturing and the other half toward warehousing, holds more than 200 patents on processes, technologies and material science.
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It continues to make investments aimed at increasing and sustaining growth. In 2017, the company invested $15 million for multiple higher speed extrusion lines and upgrading older equipment. The following year, it purchased and installed six extrusion lines and two lamination lines.
Last month, Deceuninck unveiled an array of new residential and commercial window and door systems and components at trade show GlassBuild America. the largest annual gathering for the glass, window and door industries. At the show, the company launched several new products by the company, including a new hurricane impact-resistant Window System and a hurricane impact-resistant multitrack sliding door.
It also scored “Best in Show” honors out of 450 exhibitors.
“That is related not only to the booth layout, but also the innovations you bring to the table in the industry,” Geeraert said.
The company’s focus on innovation, design and sustainability are three keys to its growth, he said.
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Part of Deceuninck’s innovation is illustrated via its creating PVC with a solution that is 20 percent additives and 80 percent resin. It pushes sustainability by using bio-based materials for half the additives it uses in that process.
In terms of design, Geeraert quite literally says customers can stand behind Deceuninck’s products.
“In a lot of cases, if you have hurricane-impact windows and you live in Florida and a hurricane hits your house, you’d better be behind your windows rather than behind the wall,” he said. “I’m not kidding. Projectiles … will hit through the wall, but not through the window.”
It also designs windows with black and bronze laminates able to withstand temperatures up to more than 200 degrees.
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Sustainability is evident in the materials Deceuninck uses, Geeraert said. While the rest of the industry uses aluminum to reinforce its windows, Deceuninck creates an exclusive material that is 80 percent fiberglass and 20 percent resin and is as strong as aluminum but, “from a thermal point of view the performance of our Rovex (fiberglass) product is similar to PVC,” he said.
“That means using this material instead of aluminum, you have better thermal windows, so that means inside the house it’s more comfortable,” Geeraert said. “If you touch the window, it feels good because you don’t have the (conductivity) the aluminum adds on.”
Geeraert said Deceuninck expects to see “tremendous” growth in the commercial arena, an industry in which 99 percent of windows are aluminum, he said. In contrast, residential use of PVC is already is up to 70 percent, with only the remainder consisting of aluminum.
“Even if we can only hit 10 percent of the (commercial market), we might be bigger than our current PVC business,” Geeraert said. “We believe in the next five years we should have a breakthrough with that material and really growth this facility.”
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The company’s biggest challenges is finding more employees to add, especially with the addition of a gigantic Amazon fulfillment center in Monroe, one that is well on its way to creating 1,000 jobs, and a Kroger-Ocado customer fulfillment center that will need 400 employees when it debuts in 2021.
Deceuninck’s most recent effort to recruit and retain employees is a new program launched at the end of August, one that allows Miami University students to apply for a job at Deceuninck North America, Fairfield’s Fischer Group and Hamilton’s thyssenkrupp Bilstein of America. While enrolled in the school, the university will pay for housing and books while the employer pays the tuition and the student a wage for their work, which Geeraert said amounts to 24 hours a week.
As long as the student maintains good grades at school and good standing on the job, he or she will graduate with no debt, he said. That also gives the student four years of on-the-job experience and companies workers they can groom.
“It’s the best of all worlds,” Geeraert said.
In addition to the 550 employees at its Monroe facility, Deceuninck North America also employs 40 people at a satellite facility in Fernley, Nevada.
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FACTS & FIGURES: Deceuninck North America
• part of the Deceuninck Group, an integrated global organization that is active in over 90 countries and is supported by 3,927 personnel worldwide
• traces its roots back to 1937, when its parent company launched in Belgium
• employs 550 people at its North American headquarters at 350 New Garver Road in Monroe
• ships products across the U.S. and to other countries, including Canada, Mexico, Chile and the Caribbean from Monroe and its Fernley, Nevada facility
• holds more than 200 patents on designs, processes, technologies and material science