Weather Shield® Premium Windows & Doors would like to extend our congratulations to H.B.S., Inc. on their 2007 Dealer of the Year Award for Focused Excellence in Installation as granted by Window & Door Magazine. The magazine considers nominees from across the country. Founded in 1973, H.B.S., Inc. is one of the largest full service window and door distributors on the southeast coast of Florida. It specializes in the distribution and installation of premium window, door and glass products, particularly the highly technical impact-resistant products.
With Exceptional Window and Door Service, H.B.S. Stands and Delivers
In the visually appealing and culturally sophisticated Indian River County area in Florida, where high-end homes from 5,000 square feet on up dot the pristine sands that separate residential paradise from the Atlantic Ocean, competition is fierce for window dealers. To survive, they must cater to the elite with architecturally accurate products that perform and appear on the cutting edge of modern design. To thrive, they must find their niche.
For H.B.S. Inc., that niche is clearly defined by the exceptional service they provide for their customers before, during and after the sale. For a company that’s founding purpose was to produce window screens and repair broken glass with only two employees in its fold, H.B.S. Inc. has come a long way. Bought by a retired New York City police officer named John L. Barrie in 1976, H.B.S. Inc. grew gradually and incorporated high-end residential window and door products into its selection. By the late 1980’s, the company had evolved into an elite custom window and door specialist, committed to exceeding its customers’ expectations at any cost.
H.B.S. services and delivers to all areas in and around the Treasure Coast and Palm beaches. The company has 40 employees, including a team of full-time installation professionals. “We consider it critical to avoid subcontracting,” says Ray Reinhard, vice president/engineer for H.B.S. “Hourly pay ensures that our installers are taking the time needed to do the job correctly.
They’re paid the same amount for an hour’s work whether they hang one window or three.” Reinhard adds that with its ability to supply, install and service their products, H.B.S. is a single source supplier. “Because we actually install over 90 percent of the products that we sell, our trained installation service team gives us a major competitive advantage,” he says. And his customers agree. “H.B.S. offers superior and consistent installed service,” says Charles Garrett, vice president of RCL Development. “We make it common practice to have H.B.S. install all of the windows and doors that we buy from them.”
John Barrie and his team at H.B.S. recognized early on that the window and door industry was becoming a highly technical and specialized field, particularly in areas that are prone to hurricanes. As a result, H.B.S. began to specialize in the distribution and installation of premium window and door products by manufacturers like Weather Shield, PGT and CGI, leaving the sales of other types of building materials to the more general home building supply companies. As the company’s resident engineer, Reinhard brings a wealth of structural understanding and technical expertise to the job. “My engineering background is a value added service for our customers,” he explains. “In the world of high-end custom home building, each window design is an original, so we get a lot of requests for unconventional applications. I’m often tasked with figuring out how pieces from various systems can work together to create aesthetically distinct windows and doors for these unique applications, without sacrificing the performance or integrity of the original units.
“Additionally, the fact that I understand things like wall structure, and whether or not we can cut into a specific concrete beam without causing a collapse, enables us to look beyond the window and door aspect of a project to better comprehend, and work together to achieve the architect’s goals,” Reinhard adds.
In order to become an accountable and successful H.B.S. installer, those who aspire must first master the trade, according to H.B.S. standards, by completing the company’s apprenticeship program. To begin, candidates are assigned to a crew. Each crew is overseen by its own lead man some of whom are able to claim up to 15 years of on-the-job experience. As a crew travels to various job sites, it is the lead man’s charge to train and prepare the candidate for an unspecified period of time, or, until the lead man declares the trainee is ready to stand alone.
Trained H.B.S. installation professionals install more than 90 percent of the windows that they sell.
“It is not unusual for a candidate to serve as a backup to a lead man for two to three years before he reaches the caliber necessary to succeed as a H.B.S. installer, and many don’t succeed at all,” Reinhard explains. “Our installers are among the highest paid installation professionals in our area, so we accept nothing short of complete and total dedication.” As a result of the apprentice program, the H.B.S. installation team has a solid and proven reputation in their market, known for their proficiency and productivity. Callbacks are rare, and there is very little turnover.
Installation crew members are required also to attend weekly safety and training meetings, led by Daniel Beard, H.B.S. general superintendent, that are designed to address potential product and job site issues and teach new techniques. Reinhard says that the employees look to these meetings for the opportunity to discuss safe and efficient practices and improve their skill sets. For Reinhard, the meetings are also an opportunity to determine which crew may be best suited for a given job. “While each of our installation crews is beyond capable of successfully completing any installation, we feel that certain crews may be a better fit for some jobs versus others,” Reinhard explains. “We try to recognize specific areas where our crews excel—be it with a wood window installation, a particularly heavy load, or some other requirement—and assign our jobs accordingly.”
Accountability Equals Success
The people of H.B.S. understand how to satisfy their customers, despite all obstacles. While it may sound cliché, this goal has been the driving force behind the company’s success, delivered through exceptional service with a positive attitude and, above all, accountability.
For the architects who specify the high-end homes of Southeast Florida, the builders who build them and the discerning homeowners or buyers who reside there, windows and doors of the highest quality are the expectation. The people of H.B.S. know that a product’s performance quality is only as good as its installer, and that each successful installation is a positive reflection on their company. With this mentality, the H.B.S. installation team completes each job with dedicated attention to detail.
“I have nothing but good things to say about H.B.S.,” says Mark Pierce, president of Pierce and Associates Architecture & Construction. “We used to install our windows and doors ourselves, but often found ourselves looking to H.B.S. for tips and technical direction. Now, we take full advantage of their installation service.
“H.B.S. is always accountable by standing behind its products. They also offer advanced techniques and extensive knowledge on impact resistance in particular which makes them an ideal supply partner,” Pierce adds. The detail-oriented mentality also motivates H.B.S. installers to avoid cutting corners and strive to install each window and door with 100 percent accuracy. However, despite this concerted effort, Reinhard acknowledges that even with the most highly skilled of installation professionals, human error does occur. “When our valued customers entrust us to do a job, we don’t settle for second best. Issues are infrequent, but they do occur,” he says. “When that happens, we redo the job until it’s done correctly. We don’t run and hide. We stand and deliver.”
From a product stand point, Reinhard and his team choose their manufacturers carefully. They look for financially responsible partners that manufacture the high-performance products that meet their customers’ demands and stand behind them with strong warranties.
“Many of the homes in our market are positioned near the water, so about 90 percent of the products we install are impact rated,” Reinhard says. For the self-declared “Impact Resistant Window and Door Specialists of Southern Florida,” much of the dealer’s reputation hinges upon the performance of the products that they install.
H.B.S. also takes a proactive approach to educating the consumers that enter their 2,000-square-foot showroom, particularly about the subject of hurricane preparedness as it relates to windows and doors. Sales personnel hand out flyers that explain what consumers can expect a window to do upon impact, and what questions to ask when they’re considering an impact-resistant product for purchase. Reinhard says that while H.B.S. cannot be held accountable for the weather, they can do their part to teach consumers about the various testing methods used to determine a product’s impact rating. This knowledge empowers consumers to make logical choices when purchasing a window or door.
Striving to Diversify
Rather than working to expand his business geographically, Reinhard says that he and the team at H.B.S. are striving to diversify their service offerings. “We’re not out to conquer the world,” he explains. “We are content to continue servicing Southeastern Florida and feel we have the product and expertise that we need to satisfy our customers. That said, we have started to explore other ways to add value for these customers by offering additional services, such as millwork.”
Where growth is concerned, H.B.S. has learned some lessons the hard way. After an attempt at entering the commercial market, it became clear that the industry did not need or desire the level of enhanced service that is customary for H.B.S. “We can’t be all things to all people,” Reinhard says. “Through experience and positive feedback from our customers, we’re learning that H.B.S. is a stronghold in the high end custom home building and remodeling sectors. It’s our niche, and it’s where we excel.”
Manufacturers that supply product to H.B.S. agree. “H.B.S. is a professionally run business that functions under strong leadership,” says Steve Dawson, executive vice president of sales and CFO for CGI Windows & Doors Inc. “Clearly, quality installation and customer service form the backbone of their success. It comes as no surprise that their achievements are being recognized in the window and door industry.”