Peerless Products focuses on continuing to improve its windows.
By Janice Hoppe-Spiers, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Publishing
While most people look right through a window to the outdoor world, Peerless Products looks right at it, analyzing every opportunity for continuous innovation. “What separates Peerless Products in the industry is innovation, high-performing products and customer service,” National Sales Director Justin Ebert says. “Those are the three areas we focus on.”
Founded in 1952 as an aluminum products manufacturer, Peerless Products began with a focus on aluminum siding until the 1980s when it began producing commercial windows. Since then, the Fort Scott, Kan.-based company has been solely focused on aluminum architectural and commercial windows for new construction, replacement and historical construction. At Peerless Products, “We are engineers, pioneering new technologies that drive bold advances in window designs,” the company says. “We are industry leaders, offering unrivaled products and capabilities.”
Peerless Products works directly with its customers to design and manufacture custom windows that meet the most stringent quality standards set by the American Architectural Manufacturer’s Association. “Every order is custom with specific sizes, installation requirements and conditions they are going in,” Ebert explains. “We have a very high-performing product and are innovative when it comes to helping our customers come up with better ways to install our products, implementing the latest technology and glazing method. We also focus on overall performance, including acoustic performance and ADA compliance.”
Although a majority of Peerless Products’ business is concentrated on high-rise projects for multifamily and the private sector, the company is well-rounded by also completing projects for the education sector and military. Peerless Products is also well-versed in manufacturing products for historic building projects and renovations. “From the moment we receive a letter of intent, the earliest delivery of Peerless Products is four months and larger jobs with a lot of specifications can range from 18 to 20 months,” Ebert notes.
As a construction materials supplier, Peerless Products puts a strong emphasis on creating a positive overall experience for its clients. “The main thing we are focused on from the time we pick up the phone to handing out the warranty is creating the best experience for our customers,” Ebert says. “We are a client-based company and believe in mutual success. We develop projects and service our clients and end-users with that mentality in mind. Being a relationship-based company has attributed to our success.”
To deliver great customer service, Peerless Products believes it starts with how well it treats its 415 employees. Getting its start as a small family-based company nearly 70 years ago, Peerless Products took a personal interest in making its employees as successful as possible. “We are located in an area with a population of 7,500, so there’s a small pool to pull from and focusing on the people aspect has been a key factor for us,” Ebert explains. “We hired a morale coach and health and wellness leader to provide a safe place to work, competitive salaries, profit sharing and nice benefits to elevate everyone inside the company. We make sure they are the best because they make us the best.”
Peerless Products prides itself on promoting from within and getting its employees involved in kaizen events to ensure continuous improvement is on everyone’s mind. “We take someone who works on the line to come in and solve a problem not related to where they work, which helps contribute to the wellness of the company,” Marketing Manager Sarah Lero says.
Because of its culture, employees regularly refer potential new hires to Peerless Products. “There are a lot of incentives to work here and it’s an excellent place to work,” Ebert adds. “We have a nice referral system in place.”
Peerless Products also focuses on community outreach, targeting high schools and community colleges to implement engineering and manufacturing programs. “About 20 miles south is a four-year university from which we draw a lot of talent from,” Ebert notes. “We cross-train and offer ongoing development programs.”
Community outreach is important to Peerless Products and the company participates in a number of charity events. “We provide a tremendous amount of charity support not only in this community, but around the country,” Ebert says. “We have built a reputation for our company by supplying products for historic job sites around town at no cost in an effort to help enhance our town for the future. We donate a lot to our clients’ causes around the country like coats for the homeless. Outreach programs are big for us.”
Peerless Products prides itself on staying innovative and implementing the latest technology and proprietary programs to ensure a streamlined process. “We are cutting the waste out of all the processes we have,” Ebert says. “We are focused on visual systems to help clients understand our bid scopes better and ensure the architect gets quality information upfront. We are working on apps to enhance the Peerless experience for our clients that will allow them to get updated information quickly and enhance the experience to ensure they feel confident while driving out waste.”
The manufacturing process is vital in the overall customer experience, which is what led Peerless Products to cut waste from its processes and implement technology. Additional technology includes the ability to order materials from its vendors much more efficiently and remotely communicate with the fabrication machines on the production floor for tighter tolerances. Automation has been introduced in the factory in key areas with an in-house team focused solely on writing code. “We are using technology to drive out manual processes and waste and to have more visuals out there,” Ebert adds.
Safety on the production floor is Peerless Products’ No. 1 focus. “We focus on safety for our employees, in the products we use and safety for the end-user of our products,” Ebert explains. “Safety is an absolute priority at Peerless that has led to improved quality, service and productivity.”
Over the past five years, Peerless Products has transitioned into a single piece flow in its factory, which Ebert says has been “a huge change.” The switch involved upgrading the plant to configure an optimal flow of materials, which has increased productivity and output of its products.
Peerless Products also expanded its facility to house a world-class powder coat paint line complete with a sophisticated and automated finishing machine purchased overseas. The company has been supplying powder coat finished products since the expansion was completed in 2016. Peerless Products sits on 20 acres, which will allow for further expansion in the future.
With its 250,000-square-foot world-class facility in place, Peerless Products is well positioned to take on supplying its commercial aluminum windows for construction projects of all sizes throughout the country. Some of its most recent projects include the Hudson Exchange, a 30-story apartment building in Jersey City, N.J.; the Virgin Hotel, a hotel aiming to achieve a zero-carbon footprint in Dallas; and Reston Park, which utilized smart glass technology that can be controlled on your smart phone, in Fairfax, Va. In Texas, the company has supplied windows for a number of universities including Texas A&M, Texas State University and Texas Tech University.
Although some of the projects for which Peerless Products supplies its windows takes 24 to 30 months, the company’s portion may only span 10-12 weeks. “We pride ourselves on exceeding the project schedule,” Ebert says. “We want to be ahead of everyone and no one waiting on us.”
Peerless Products switched to a palletized system, which Ebert says is a unique shipping method, but allows the company’s clients to unload, store and maneuver its windows around their jobsites more easily.
“We can stage our product ahead of schedule so that our product is flexible with the construction schedule, is there and meet the end client’s demands,” he explains. “That’s a big feature that sets us apart in the industry. Being ahead of them as far as the project schedule and maintaining a level of staging for our clients allows them to make scheduling changes on the fly. We don’t keep a large inventory number and are focused on getting the product into the hands of our clients ahead of schedule so they can stage out what they need. Our responsibility ends as soon as the trucks leave but do work closely with our clients to find storage facilities for staging.”
When Peerless Products manufactures its windows, end-user comfort is always on its mind. The company pays attention to the acoustic performance of its product because “being exposed to high levels or prolonged noise raises human blood pressure, which can cause damage long-term,” the company says. Peerless Products also offers a five-pound ADA handle operating force without tight grasping, pinching or twisting of the wrist with casement in-swing windows. It also recognizes the importance of daylight as occupants are generally healthier when in an advanced environment.
“Sunlight causes your brain to produce serotonin, which regulates mood and anxiety, reduces depression and helps maintain bone health,” the company says. “More sunlight leads to increased occupancy comfort and satisfaction.”
“We believe in operable units to get fresh air into the building and having the means of egress or escape should any calamity happen or security breaches,” Ebert adds. “We believe in using technology to get out of these situations whether it’s a fire or active shooter – that’s a big thing today and really focusing on that end-user and giving them what’s best. We deliver higher performance products and are working towards net zero. We really want to provide an overall excellent experience for the end-user, as well as our clients.”
Moving forward, Peerless Products will continue to focus on expansion. “We are a growing company and see that continuing as the market demands better performing products,” Ebert says. “We purchased a significant amount of land to grow our facility and continue operating a world-class facility. We are expanding the company and are starting to look at different types of products to incorporate into our repertoire. We want to focus on new market segments and introduce our portfolio.”