Celebrating A Special Warroad Connection

Once upon a time, I stepped off of a small plane in Warroad, MN and was greeted by a “stranger” who I would later discover to be a role model, decorated serviceman, dedicated husband and father (now grandfather), close personal friend and, most importantly, one of the finest human beings that I have ever had the privilege to know. This “stranger”  is none other than our good friend, Mr. Tom Amiot, of the Marvin Windows & Doors Tours and Training staff.

I know what everyone’s first thought is going to be… oh boy here goes Ben on another one of his “I love Tom Amiot” stories, but the truth be told, I do love Tom; for the man that he is, for what he has done for the countless people who have come to know him on a trip to Warroad, and especially, for helping me become a better person.

Why I am writing about this now? For those of you who haven’t heard, Tom has decided to tender his resignation and will finish his work for Marvin on September 30.

I have lost count of the number of Warroad trips I have taken in the 25 years I have had the privilege to work for Hastings. More than 50 would be accurate, but beyond that, would be a guess. What I can tell you is that in the past decade, I can only think of one tour in Warroad that was done without Tom (with the exception of some of the specialty tours/courses).

The “Tom Amiot” Experience 

So how did I come to appreciate the “Tom Amiot” experience? I am not sure I can put my finger on one answer, but let me share just a few reasons that come to mind.

  • He has always greeted every one of my groups the same way. We sit down, he introduces himself and allows everyone in the group to talk a little about themselves, where they are from, what they do and what they hope to get out of their trip to Warroad. Seems simple enough, right? Every tour guide does this, right? Yes and Yes. However, there is something about the curious smile, the interested questions and genuine concern that Tom exhibits that goes beyond just “the facts.” He would record either on paper, or more likely in his memory, that information and use it throughout the course of the visit. For example, we meet first thing Monday morning for our introduction. On Wednesday morning, you would hear something like, “Now Joe, on Monday you talked about wanting to know how we bend our round-top frames. If it is a standard radius, here is how we do it; a custom radius/shape, we will do this way.” I had likely already forgotten what I had for breakfast that morning, never mind what Joe wanted to see while he was in Warroad. On another occasion we had a young lady in our group who had never been to Canada. Guess where we went the second night after the training for the day was done? Not because he had to, but because he wanted to. He wanted people to leave feeling a connection to Warroad/Marvin and to achieve their goals for their trip. After all, this is still very much a people- and personal relationship- driven industry.
  • As with many new things, there can sometimes be a learning curve. One of the very first days that Tours & Training decided to bring meals in for lunch, rather that going out, the quantity of food needed was underestimated. Wouldn’t you know that Tom, the host of the group, went home that night and prepared some homemade food with his wife, Cyd. He brought it in and shared it with the group the next day. This was Tom’s way of saying, ‘”Thanks for being patient with us – I am sorry that this happened.” Again, not because he had to, because he wanted to.  He wanted the group to have a positive impression of their trip to Warroad/Marvin.
  • Over the years Tom and Cyd have “adopted” at least 3 elderly people (and that number could be higher) from the community into their “family.” What do I mean by adopted? Tom and Cyd, and often their family, visited these elderly friends either at their home or in a nursing facility daily, took them shopping, to appointments, to church, fishing, and more. My family and I were fortunate enough to meet Sally, one of these friends, during our trip. Sally also became one of our treasured friends until her death.  All this not because they had to but because they chose to.
  • Tom traveled out to New England to learn more about our market. He wanted to see and understand the “environment” here – how it differed from the dealer direct market in Minnesota, how Marvin products were brought to market, how a sale was influenced. He wanted to be able to “relate” with our guests. He did.
  • After the events of September 11, 2001, my oldest son, Nick, wanted to help raise funds for those families most affected by the events of that day. He and some friends decided to make what he called “Freedom Bracelets” – red, white and blue ribbon wound together with beads. He asked for $1.00 donation for each. Somehow Tom found out about this, and the next thing you know, an order for 20 showed up! Along with the order, Tom enclosed a heartfelt letter to my son in which he thanked Nick for what he was doing.  It made a huge impression on a young boy, as well as his family.
  • Several years ago I brought my family to Minnesota and to Warroad. I  had spoken extensively to my wife and sons, and my parents, about my trips, and about Tom. I wanted them to see what I had seen and experienced. My parents were getting along in years, and I wanted to make the trip with them while they were still very active. My father had been the head of the Carpentry Department for one of the State Technical Schools in Connecticut so I knew he would enjoy seeing the Marvin factory and manufacturing process. I called Tom for some advice on a couple of things pertaining to our trip. The next thing I knew, he was taking personal vacation time to meet me and my family part way on our drive to Warroad so that we could follow him and Cyd the rest of the way. He took time off to personally give us a tour of the Marvin factory, and had us out to his house for meals, visits, and ice fishing. Why? Not because he had to, but because he wanted to. Do you sense a common theme here? A common theme that is not so common in today’s world.

In closing I would like to also point out that Tom took a leadership position within the Tours & Training Department with Integrity Training shortly after it was introduced. This came at a time when it wasn’t necessarily popular to do so, and we didn’t have a formal outline for “Integrity only” training in Warroad. Tom once again worked side by side with us to develop a curriculum for a 2 ½ day “Integrity only” training. Thanks to his guidance, it of course went off without a hitch.

Thank you, Tom, for always looking out for the best interests of Marvin Windows & Doors and balancing that with the needs of your guests. Thank you for your guidance, your knowledge, your advice, your time, your talent, and most of all, for your friendship. We are blessed to have worked with you, and blessed to know you.

Tom Amiot

Tom and Cyd Amiot and their grandchildren

We all hope you enjoy the next chapters of your life with Cyd and your family.


Ben Brockett
Integrity Brand Manager

Prep School Library Completes Total Energy Efficient Upgrade with Marvin Windows

The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT outfitted its old Edsel Ford library with new Marvin windows in 2009 during an total energy efficient upgrade. The need for a product that was energy efficient and could match the original look of the various windows made Marvin the brand of choice on the Hotchkiss School campus. When comparing old photographs to the newly renovated library building, there is hardly any change in appearance.

Architect: Henry S. Waterbury Architect and Associate at Delano and Aldrich
Supplier: Ed Herrington’s Inc.
Installation Team: Sierra Construction
Renovation Date: 2009
Window Types: Marvin Clad Ultimate Double Hung Magnum, Clad Round Top, Clad Ultimate Double Hung Magnum Transom with Raised Panels, Clad Ultimate Awning, Clad Ultimate Casement with Polygon, Clad Inswing Casements from Marvin Signature Products with Custom Locking Hardware

See more project case studies and videos at awhastings.com/project-profiles

Countdown to ABX!

We are already approaching fall! This means “crunch time” for ABX, (ArchitectureBoston Expo), the largest architectural event in New England, which falls in November each year. The true planning for the event begins immediately following the previous year’s Show, but September and October bring many meetings and conversations, a lot of design and building, and of course, quick changes.

ABX 2012

ABX 2012 Show Floor  – Boston Convention & Exhibition Center

I’m excited to say that for Hastings, this year has been the best yet in terms of planning for this Show, thanks to our home show team, inside and outside sales teams, business development group, graphic design, and brand and field marketing teams. We are further ahead in development this year compared to past years, and this is a credit to the creativity and input of all groups mentioned above.

ABX was formerly Build Boston – which was the same style of show, but targeted only toward commercial design and architecture. In 2011, they merged with Residential Design, a similar show that occurred in the spring but was targeted to the residential segment. In the fall of 2012, ABX held its first ever Show at the Boston Convention Center.

This year more than ever, I’m excited for our Hastings booth. Our team has worked to create a truly engaging experience presenting our premier brands. In addition to the booth, we are bringing back our luncheons, where we have an opportunity to engage with the architectural audience for an hour and update them on what’s new and what’s coming from Marvin, Integrity and Infinity.

I’m incredibly grateful for the support from our Home Show team. They’ve upped our game considerably on large shows by really looking carefully at our display department in search of the most effective and efficient means of building and repurposing. In the past couple years, they have created a mock-up of the show floor in the Hastings warehouse, so we can have a true feel for how our displays will be presented at the Show. This was a home run for us as it gives us greater efficiency on the day of set up; but more importantly, it gives us the ability to catch any issues prior to set up for the actual Show. Kudos John Tyler, Bruce Kinnin, Mike Papineau and Bill Conroy!

Watch more information on our progress with ABX, including some in-progress photos over the next couple months. And be sure to save the date for the Show, November 19-21, 2013. Visit www.abexpo.com for more info on the Show itself.

Sandra Stoughton -Sandra Stoughton
Integrity Brand Manager 

Coastal Perspectives: Seaside Renovation Project Profile

Homeowners with ocean views want products that will hold up against the elements and won’t detract from the scenery – all while adding beauty to their homes. When remodeling a home that has seen the tides come and go for over 100 years, high quality products that perform well in extreme environments are especially key to ensuring the structure’s continued longevity and aesthetic appeal.

Here’s a coastal success story that helps to illustrate the important role that the right products can play – a seaside renovation project that completely reworks an original century-old waterfront home in Gloucester, MA.  After convincing the homeowners that a renovation could provide more square footage and make better use of the budget than a tear-down and new construction, Architect Michael Szalaji focused on Atlantic Ocean views, the home’s classic architecture and New England tradition in his re-design of the interior layout.

Custom sized Marvin replacement windows and patio doors matched the original openings to maximize views of the Atlantic coastline. The simulated divided light features on all the Marvin products used maintained a classic look on the exterior while providing the necessary update to thermal and moisture protection that the coastal location requires.

For additional photos and project details view the full case study at awhastings.com


Island House Made “Storm Worthy” with Integrity Windows

Learn more about this Integrity solution here.

The Elizabeth Islands are a small chain of islands off the coast of Cape Cod, MA. Due to their unique geographic location, the homes on these islands are subject to some very intense coastal conditions: strong winds, extreme humidity, driving rain, salt air and more. When the owners wanted a year round home for their family, “storm worthy” topped their list of requirements. They also wanted to be able to enjoy the fabulous view from practically anywhere in the home. Energy effciency was a key concern. The goal: to keep utility bills low while choosing environmentally friendly products. Integrity Wood-Ultrex products were chosen for their durable Ultrex fiberglass exteriors and beautiful warm wood interiors.

Learn more about this Integrity solution here.

Consumer Review Websites: Pros & Cons

A.W. Hastings’ Integrity Brand Manager Sandra Stoughton reviews the pros and cons of the consumer review website, Angie’s List and provides an unbiased recommendation on how to use it for your business.

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently diving into information around consumer review websites. The consensus among most of the articles and surveys I’ve found (and my own personal inquiries to friends and family) is that consumers are giving review sites the same level of trust that they give to friend and family recommendations. This made me question my own buying behaviors and what I do when looking at a large purchase, or even just a review on a new restaurant – and sure enough, I’m just the same. I go to the online sites like Yelp, or YahooLocal for the real “dirt”; more often than not, I even skip over asking my own friends and family for input! (Though, they certainly do play a role in purchase decisions).

angieslistWhat I’m seeing is there is power in these review sites. In the building materials industry in recent years, remodelers and home improvement retailers are in high demand given the uptick in remodeling activity. Because of this, I took a much closer look at the well known consumer review site, Angie’s List.

Angie Hicks

Angie Hicks

We all know Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks’ face. She is in every advertising spot they place – and Angie’s List is a marketing machine with advertising on television, radio spots and direct mail. They’ve effectively marketed themselves around the image of the “average consumer” seeking reviews you can trust™.  Angie’s List (AL) is based on a unique model where consumers PAY for a membership fee, which gives him/her the ability to review local businesses and services. Members can comment on businesses and rate them on the following criteria: price, quality, responsiveness, punctuality and professionalism, or which AL then assigns them a “grade” of A through F. AL lists all types of businesses including doctors, contractors, and even small service businesses like pet sitting.

AL also offers businesses free listings on their site – marketing this as the way they keep their reviews genuine. Because businesses do not pay, but members do pay, they consider the quality of the review to be more honest and truthful. Businesses are encouraged to monitor, review and respond to all reviews on their site; AL even provides a mobile app for businesses to make the response time that much quicker.

Sample of search results based on grade and number of reviews.

Sample of search results

All sounds good, right? There are of course some questions, because the service can’t be foolproof. How does AL avoid fake reviews?  (example: I’m reviewing my cousin’s bakery favorably to help them achieve higher scores). AL claims that it has a strong screening process for each posted review where experts evaluate the review for any “clues” that this might be an imposter. Then there’s also the question: What if my business is not on Angie’s List? Are you losing business because you haven’t set up a business page? Or, if you do set up a business page, are you chancing bad reviews, and will that hurt your business?

There is also a value to having a business page – AL allows businesses to market directly to members who have indicated an interest in their specific types of services, creating a more targeted approach. For example, a remodeler may choose to market to members who have indicated that they are interested in home remodeling services. AL also offers a service where they will take a business’s customer list and match it to their existing member database (this is referred to as the FETCH program). For any of those that match as a member, AL will reach out personally and ask the customer to review the business. This is a helpful way to build your business page easily with reviews.   There are additional services that AL offers to businesses, but all for a cost. We all know nothing is truly “free.”

My evaluation: At a minimum, businesses need to be aware of their presence on AL and keep an updated page. You of course chance negative reviews, but everyone is entitled to an opinion. It’s all in how you respond to the review in that public forum. Above all, if you’re looking to get feedback from your customers, don’t rely on review sites to post these comments – instead elicit those testimonials on your own and place them on your own site.

So, in sum, take a moment to take a look at your business presence on AL – what are your customers saying about you, and is there an opportunity here for new business and new customers? You might find that it’s an opportunity worth exploring!

-Sandra Stoughton
Integrity Brand Manager  

Sandra Stoughton

Integrity Impact Products Make an Impact on Chatham, MA Police and Town Office Annex

Learn more about the Chatham, MA Police and Town Office Annex here.

The Chatham Police and Town Office Annex is a new construction project that called for an attractive, low maintenance window solution that could withstand the salt air, sun, and wind of Cape Cod. Integrity Wood-Ultrex Impact products met the needs of the project with fiberglass and IZ3 ratings for a durable exterior with a warm wood interior.

Learn more about the Chatham, MA Police and Town Office Annex here.

Coastal Perspectives with Ocean Alliance

Team members of the non-profit research organization Ocean Alliance are accustomed to working in the most challenging open water environments – making the best of whatever Mother Nature dishes up. When the organization made plans to transform the iconic Tarr & Wonson Paint Factory in Gloucester, MA into its new headquarters, seaside elements were once again cause for careful consideration.

CEO Iain Kerr also needed to preserve the history and aesthetics of a structure that held great meaning for the old New England town’s residents.  We spoke with Iain and builder Geoffrey Richon about the renovation process – and the key decisions that needed to be made along the way.

Ocean's Alliance 2013 - Websize-62

Iain Kerr is Vice President and CEO of Ocean Alliance, an organization dedicated to research and conservation of whales and the ocean. Learn more about Ocean Alliance on their website www.oceanalliance.org.

The Memorial Chapel at Union College in Schenectady, NY Upgrades with Marvin Historic Replacement Windows

Learn more about this Memorial Chapel Replacement Window project here.

Union College needed to replace the windows in its historic Memorial Chapel, a prized performance space where the College hosts artists, singers, bands and lectures. It needed to make the building more energy efficient and prioritize the sound abatement throughout the building.

Union chose Marvin Windows and Doors because of the ability to provide an all wood window with single glazing to match the existing units.

Marvin Magnum Wood Single Hung
Marvin Tilt-Pac with custom casing

Learn more about this Memorial Chapel Replacement Window project here.