Wincore tells West Virginia officials it needs space to expand

Photo by Brett Dunlap West Virginia Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch listens to Johnny Miller, national operations sales manager for Wincore, explain how the Parkersburg company makes custom windows that go out across the country during a tour of the Staunton Avenue facility Wednesday.

PARKERSBURG — The West Virginia commerce secretary toured businesses in Wood County Wednesday and today to see what his office could do to help existing businesses in the area.

Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch visited Kreinik Manufacturing, Wincore Windows and Gaskets, Packing & Seals on Wednesday and will visit Mister Bee Potato Chips in Parkersburg and Danser Inc. in Davisville today. He was accompanied by representatives from Wood County Development and other local officials.

While visiting Wincore on Wednesday, Gaunch was taken on a tour of its facility on Staunton Avenue and shown how the company makes custom windows and doors as well as the challenges it faces in doing business.

“I want to see what we can do to make it more productive, prosperous and profitable,” Gaunch said. “(Wincore), what a great success story.”

Wincore employs around 400 people but is running out of space on its property, company officials said.

“We have the good problems,” said Wincore Chief Operating Officer Brian Standley. “Many businesses are shrinking and we are going in the other direction.”

The company saw 20 percent growth in 2018 and is seeing 15 percent growth so far this year.

They have discussed the need for additional space somewhere in the area, Standley said.

“We are going to have trouble to continue to grow here,” he said. “We just don’t have the space.”

To offset some of the issues here, Wincore opened a second facility in Georgia a few months ago that specializes in hurricane-resistant products and is closer to where the demand for those products is. That facility employs 50 people and could grow to around 80 people by the end of the year.

The local facility can backfill any needs from the Georgia facility. As a result the company has not seen any drop in employment.

“We are looking for people,” Standley said.

The majority of employees can drive to work within 30-35 minutes with some people in management driving around an hour to get to work.

Wincore officials have looked at existing facilities in the area, the opportunity to possibly build somewhere and other options.

“We just haven’t found the right match yet,” Standley said.

Gaunch offered the help of his office in anything it might be able to do.

“There aren’t that many 400-employee companies around,” he said.

Wincore started 12 years ago from a core of people who came in from Simonton Windows, when it was sold to Fortune Brands.

“This is home for Wincore,” Standley said. “It is never not going to be home for Wincore.

“We are always going to be headquartered here. It may be on this property or somewhere else in Wood County.”

The company will continue to work on the problem until it finds a solution, Standley said. He said Wincore is not in a rush as it keeps finding ways to accommodate what it needs and find ways to do more.

“When you have the footprint we have out here, you become creative, but you have to do it in a safe way,” said Johnny Miller, national operations sales manager for Wincore.

The company has 18 trucks leaving every Monday to make deliveries nationwide. It has a two-week delivery window. Wincore makes around 50 doors a day and 1,500-1,800 windows a day.

“We don’t build doors; we build furniture for the front of your home,” Miller said.

“The thing that amazes me the most is they are all basically custom-made,” Gaunch said.

The purpose of his trip to Wood County is to concentrate on existing businesses and their needs, Gaunch said. Many times their office is viewed as trying to attract new businesses to the state, but it is always helping existing businesses to be successful so they can expand and create jobs without a lot of needless interference from government, Gaunch said.

“We want to know what we can do to help you,” Gaunch said.

Standley said the company isn’t faced with any taxation or regulatory issues that are a hindrance to its business.

The state office will continue to work with large companies to locate in West Virginia. However, small businesses are the backbone of West Virginia’s economy, Gaunch said.

“My goal is to shine a light on existing businesses, small and large alike, and ask what we can do to help,” he said.

“We want to get a (ethane) cracker and all the downstream industry from that,” Gaunch said. “It would be great but let’s not neglect the Wincores and other businesses like them.”

The secretary said he has been impressed with what he was seeing in Wood County.

“There are plenty of businesses here for me to visit,” he said.

Gaunch said he was impressed with the regional approach this area takes in developing businesses and he would like to see other parts of the state adopt that approach.

“I would love to take what I see in Wood County and transplant it to many of the other areas,” he said.

Brett Dunlap can be reached at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com