Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Quantum weathers economic storm
EVERETT — Throughout the last few years of the 2008 recession, many Snohomish County businesses have been forced to close their doors. Staff have been laid off, machines ground to a halt, and all that's left in some cases are empty rooms or factory floors where the ghosts of people who worked hard to make a living still linger.
But there are some companies that managed to keep their business running when times were difficult. And now that the economy is looking up, the tough stance some businesses took is now paying off.
“Over the years we've weathered the storm,” said Melissa Benton, director of client services at Quantum Windows and Doors Inc.
Quantum is an Everett business that is now reaping the benefits of the hard decisions made by staff in the wake of the 2008 economic downturn.
At its height, the manufacturer of high-end windows and doors employed 120 workers. That number has been lower than the approximately 50 there today. Quantum had to let go good workers throughout the work drought as the housing market went through a severe contraction.
“We have highly trained, highly skilled staff continuing to produce high-end work,” Benton said. “We were letting go good core people.”
Now, Quantum has quoted and bid on more work in the past year than at any other time during Benton's almost 10-year tenure.
“There's an upward swing,” she said.
The strengthening economy and more positive figures in the housing market means for some companies like Quantum that they can rehire some employees. A few Quantum workers, including one due to start shortly before Christmas, have returned to their former employer and are once again helping to create quality product for homes, businesses and other buildings throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Quantum opened its doors in 1981 when two men, Paul Vexler and Herb Hulse, were looking for local sources to supply windows and doors for their construction business.
The product, windows and doors made of mahogany, Douglas fir, teak, oak and other woods, is made to an architect's or customer's specifications in Everett. Milling the wood, assembly, painting and staining and glass installation are all done at the workshop. Some oversized window projects require that glass be installed on site because of weight.
Many custom homes fitted with Quantum doors or windows are those costing up to $5 million. But that's not always the case. The company's well-engineered products are used in smaller homes and business buildings.
Other changes at Quantum have included management personnel with new president Paul Humphreys coming on board in July and doubling his duties in a sales director role. He says that what has partly kept the company going and able to keep its doors open could be due to its longevity.
“The bottom line is the company has been around for 30 years,” Humphreys said.
The Everett business has focused on higher end architecture and continues to build a strong reputation in and around the U.S.
“Our clients are intimate with who we are,” Humphreys said.
During the last two years, Quantum has been hiring new sales people. The company has also increased business in British Columbia, California and Hawaii.
Quantum's core product lines, its Classic and Signature window and door systems, can be found in upscale resorts and Pike Place Market among other installations. While Quantum can design and engineer one front door, the likelihood is that the company will make all doors for a customer's home.
Variation on design is a key feature, Humphreys said.
Quantum earned the Energy Star award last year and clients, particularly with large glazing projects, can rely on the benefit of reduced energy costs.
Staff works with clients near and far, some in challenging areas, when it comes to doors and windows. From the Pacific Northwest to other shoreline climates where salt affects doors and windows, to high altitudes exposed to desert heat and ultraviolet light, they find solutions. Products are made to the highest standard, craftsmanship and quality and are tested in independent labs.
“Our products weather very well,” Humphreys said.
Quantum Windows and Doors Inc.
2720 34th St.
Everett, WA 98201