Better Living and Design - Scott Gates of Western Window Systems - Eversprint

Better Living and Design – Scott Gates of Western Window Systems

Scott Gates, President and CEO of Western Window Systems

Scott Gates, the President and CEO of Western Window Systems, grew his company’s revenue from $45 million in 2014 to $100 million in 2017, a 122% increase, and to around $123 million in 2018.  

Western Window Systems provides moving glass walls and windows that blend the indoors with the outside.  

In this interview with Eversprint‘s Malcolm Lui, Scott shares how he and his team accelerated their high value sales by:  

  • Focus their marketing and sales on the lifestyle their products provide, instead of product features.  
  • Innovating across all facets of their business, not just on products.  
  • Developing a corporate culture to change the world, have fun, and treat all internal and external stakeholders as partners.  

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Malcolm Lui:
Welcome to the High Value Sales Show of Eversprint.com. I'm Malcolm Lui, the Managing Member of Eversprint, and today we're speaking with Scott Gates, the President and CEO of Western Window Systems, a provider of moving glass walls and windows that blend the indoors with the outside. Welcome to the show Scott.

Scott Gates:
Hey, thanks, Malcolm. Glad to be here.

Malcolm Lui:
Scott, you grew your company's revenue from $45 million in 2014 to $100 million in 2017, a 122% increase, and in 2018 you hit around $123 million. Before we talk about how you grew your company so fast, can you briefly share what your company does beyond my quick intro, and how your company differs from the competition?

Scott Gates:
Absolutely. So we are a specialty window and or provider made primarily out of thermally broken aluminum. So if you think windows and doors, when you go in a home or into a commercial project, the raw material that makes up the product is a lot of what serves the design functionality. So we're aluminum, which looks very contemporary and modern. But what we're really known for. Like you said in the description is making big massive doors that replace entire walls that can slide or fold or stack away and basically make the wall disappear. So we started actually the companies over 60 years old. But I like to say we're a 60 year old startup because in the round 2012, we were only six million and sales had existed for a long time. But we started to think more progressively about sales, marketing and things we could do and really just got more innovative on solving problems for the marketplace. And we just as you said, we've exploded and it's been very much attached to this trend of people going, I want natural light, my house. I want to live inside and outside. And wow, this company can sure make a difference in helping that happen. And it has been an amazing ride to be a part of.

Malcolm Lui:
I checked out your product on your Web site. I've got to say, it looks really cool having a huge glass door window. I'm not sure what I adore is not the right word for it or a glass wall. Really? Slide away now. Why wasn't this product available 10 years ago or 15 years ago? What changed that out? Now you to do what you're able to do today.

Scott Gates:
Yeah. So here's the amazing thing. It actually was and this is one of those classic business stories where it's not always about having the best mousetrap or something new, it's about actually solving your total value proposition for the market. So doors like this have been around since the 1980s, but really what they were designed for and originally made for were ultra high end homes. So products that existed for the super wealthy. And one of the things that really kind of drove our our vision as a company and who we wanted to be was, you know, these products when they're in. I mean, there's a lot of data that talks about how when you have natural light in your home, it lift your spirits, you feel better. There's also a ton of data that says if you can be outside and enjoying fresh air and connected with nature, you feel better. And I think we all intuitively know if you have more people over to your house and you entertain and you and you have deeper relationships, you live better. So we started thinking, why on earth if we had a product that could facilitate those three things, would we only have it exist for the super wealthy? So what we got really innovative on is making the product work for all spectrums of homes. And a lot of that wasn't just in our indie or material changes. It was price points, procurement strategies and lead times and marketing approach to really make a very unique product look like it existed for very different demographics of customers. And we've had a lot of success bringing it downscale to the market.

Malcolm Lui:
So was there a certain sort of technology that allowed you to deliver it at a lower price point?

Scott Gates:
So what's interesting is economies of scale always help. Right. So when you're a high end window and door manufacturers serving the ultra luxury market, customization is the name of the game. You you can't buy things in bulk. You really kind of say yes to one off request because the way you win in the market is by doing things that a larger scale manufacturer wants to do or larger scale manufacturers and capable of doing. And that had been our core business for 20, 30 years. But what we started realizing is you can still bring touches of customization to a broader market. But if you do so, you can tailor the customization just a bit, make it still feel custom, but kind of limit the wider range of offerings that you have. And with that, you can really pull down your base costs. And we started basically going and presenting ourselves to what we call the the broader production builder market, the everyday new home. And in exchange for that tradeoff of less customization, we were able to pull down price and really still deliver a product to the market that while still expensive relative to the to the items it was replacing, it ended up being a profit center for the customer, which is another big part of the reason we won.

Malcolm Lui:
And my customer. Customer, you're not talking about the end user, you're talking about the the homebuilder.

Scott Gates:
Yeah, that's a good question. So we always look at all the stakeholders. You know, that's a buzzword in business, what we're all supposed to think about. So we've got two core businesses and an emerging third one. So just kind of give you a quick update on that, help the listeners understand. So our core business is kind of the high end customer market. And then that business, you're serving luxury builders. But we sell through distribution. So we sell through high end dealers, kind of boutique dealers that are very adept at handling 5, 6, 7, 10 million dollar homes. And the window packages associated with that. Well, that's emerging division that we created. We call our volume program division, which again, rather than targeting high end builders. It actually targets the production builders. So that that is a little d fragmented. There's a lot of consolidation around big public builders. And we really targeted that group with again, through a dealer network with a different value proposition where we really targeted the builders themselves. So even though we sell through distribution, a lot of our marketing and our focus is actually on the actual decision maker in the process. So ironically, from our research, we found that in the production builder space, the person with the most influence is the production builder himself or herself. And our custom luxury space, the key decision maker is the architect. So a lot of our marketing and our sales efforts are really kind of a demand creation focus is on the decision maker. Even though our actual customer is the dealer or distributor, so little bit different, kind of backwards thinking. But it really creates a strong pull through demand. That is it's just hadn't really been done before in our space.

Malcolm Lui:
Right now, what's the difference in customization between the high end custom market and your volume program?

Scott Gates:
Well, this is the neat thing about marketing, so if you think about the car business, right, you've got the Toyota Camry versus, you know, the Lexus model, sometimes the chassis is still the same. But the marketing approach and the brand can be different. Well, what we decided to do is kind of follow a little bit more of like the BMW model, the three, five and seven series. So we used our core brand. But what we did is in our luxury, our seven theories model or a luxury model, you can have almost any option under the sun, any color you can think of, any add on feature, a lot of flexibility on sizes and really 90 degree corner is one hundred and thirty degree corners. Just kind of anything you can dream up. We can do it in our production builder space. Same chassis, same brand, just more limited options. We offer four basic colors. We procure glass at some standard sizes and really kind of tailored and minimized kind of the options available because we felt like that market didn't need those options anyway. So they got to trade off the brand equity of these highly custom product that goes into the homes of celebrities. And basically tell their customer you're getting the exact same product, which is true. It's just a tailored set of options for that core business.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. So when you say something you have mentioned before, some 170 degree window, what do you mean by that?

Scott Gates:
Yes. So think about it, when you are building a high end custom home, you think of these homes that you see on mountains or beautiful homes in the Hollywood Hills. An architect is almost unlimited in what they can draw and design. And when you're spending that kind of money, you want something really unique. So you have walls or angles on a house that sometimes come to a very unique corner. And the architect has to design and engineer in the structure of the load bearing of the roof and the trusses so that that roof is carried to a custom angle at a corner. But when that door opens, he doesn't want to see a post holding up that corner of that wall. He's engineered it so that there is no post. And we have doors that will design and meet at that corner and then completely pull away. So you're looking out over, you know, a lake or onto the beach. And and basically no walls exist at even at crazy angles.

Malcolm Lui:
So almost 180 degree view unobstructed.

Scott Gates:
Yes. Yes.

Malcolm Lui:
That's hard to imagine. I guess that's quite the engineering feat.

Scott Gates:
Yeah, it is, and then what's amazing is on the days the weather's great, the doors disappear. So there are no walls, you're entertaining your guests or in your living room and then they're also on the patio and it's just one big party and hub of just amazing weather. But on the days, maybe it's hotter or you want the doors closed, you still get to capture your view because rather than looking at a wall, all of it's framed in glass. It's it's pretty amazing sight to see.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah, it does sound really impressive and I know that I might do to the wish list. US.

Scott Gates:
Absolutely. Yeah, I know a guy can help you out, Malcolm.

Malcolm Lui:
So I'm sure you know, a numbers. So in terms of your growth, you had some fantastic growth. Forty five million in 2014, up to one hundred twenty three million or so last year in 2013. Can you share the three biggest drivers of that growth? I know you already talked about some of that, but can you talk again about the three biggest drivers of that growth over the past four years, five years?

Scott Gates:
Yeah. So this is gonna sound so I'm gonna give you the two that are, you know, really fundamental and I may give you the third that I think is really at the core of being able to keep up with growth, because I think that's something a lot of businesses struggle with. So first and foremost, like I said, we were a 60 year old company that really had under invested in branding and marketing. And I'll say comprehensive sales strategy. So when this growth started. Really, nothing fundamentally changed in the products we offer. All that changed was how we told our story and how we approach the marketplace. So my lesson from a business perspective is oftentimes we think, man, if I had this groundbreaking disruptive product, I could really grow. But oftentimes the disruption you need isn't necessarily in an innovative or new product. It's just in helping people understand why your product can make their lives better. Can solve problems or friction or things that they wish they had. So when we rebranded and really started accelerating our sales and marketing, we just grew like crazy. And I remember having a really incredible meeting with an architect who came in and said, because I will say our our historical marketing was so bad. It was just not there wasn't good. And we had an architect and a good man. The changes you guys have made in your products are just incredible. And we hadn't changed anything. We had only changed the way we told our story. So I'd say that was probably the starting point for really being successful. So second, I'll say again, and this is similar. It's that innovation, which is something that it's a core value for us.

Scott Gates:
It's a core value for a lot of businesses. But I think what a lot of people think about innovation is, again, very product centric. So for us, we tried to be very innovative across the entire business. So sometimes innovation is not a new product or a new feature. It's a new lead time. It's a new approach of selling. It's targeting new marketplace, a new a different type of customer. So we found that when we injected innovation into the business model, everybody got more creative and we kind of tried to make that happen across the board. And we really felt like we when we launched that volume program, like I said, it was the same product just with a whole different approach to go to market. And if you're a production builder and you found our product in all of our collateral marketing associated with it, the way we told the story about how they could make profit. It felt like our business existed just for them. But if you're a high end luxury architect and you found our other collateral marketing, you felt like we existed for you. And that was just an innovative storytelling. Even though a lot of the products we sold were the same two digits, different people. And then third and this one, I'd say, is the most important. It comes down to company culture. So we have this incredible space. We're a manufacturer in the window, indoor industry. I don't know about you, Malcolm, but as a kid, I don't think that was your dream was to work for a window into our company. Can I confirm? That's correct.

Malcolm Lui:
Yes, that is

Scott Gates:
Ok.

Malcolm Lui:
Correct. Never

Scott Gates:
That

Malcolm Lui:
Crossed

Scott Gates:
Was

Malcolm Lui:
My mind.

Scott Gates:
That was also true of me. I never thought I would work for window and door company. But. What's amazing is we were able to create a vision here that we were going to change the world and we have this crazy vision statement that we want to have fun creating a winning company that changes construction and helps our partners look better. And it says nothing about windows and doors, but it does believe that we can change the market. And really why that was so critical to have this kind of core vision is there's a few key tenants in that. And first, it's fun. Who puts fun in their vision statement? Well, and is certainly a manufacturer. But if you come visit our place, it's like you walked into Silicon Valley. I mean, we're in the south Phoenix near the airport, not the hotbed for innovative offices yet. We have a slide. We've got 14 arcade machines, ping pong tables, shuffleboard, beer Fridays. And we've got a huge spray paint mural. I mean, this is like a place that no one would expect. But that kind of creative culture facilitates and draws in people who never thought they wanted to work for a window into our company and also draws in people that go, wait a second. Windows and doors are kind of commodities, but this place, it's culture makes it feel different. And what I found is to grow in scale and keep up with the momentum that the market is bringing to you. You need such incredible people and innovative thinking. And the only way you can make that work is creating a culture, environment that draws people like that in and helps them stick and really believe this is the best job they've ever had in their career.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Yeah. I don't think any of your competitors have a slide in there in their office.

Scott Gates:
I can confirm that is the case. We are definitely unique.

Malcolm Lui:
And so before you talk about how you changed your story about how about your products that you tell your market. What was it before? Well, can you recall what the story was, you know, 20 years ago and

Scott Gates:
Yeah.

Malcolm Lui:
Today?

Scott Gates:
No. And it's amazing, right? So the original patriarch. That kind of. That's how we refer to that kind of created the company. Company started as a glass company and became a window into our company in the 80s. And this individual, super talented guy, well loved, but he was an engineer by trade. And a lot of our core products today are still standing on the kind of some of the genius of his original designs. But the storytelling to the market was very engineering heavy. So when you got a brochure, you got one picture and you just got all the technical specs. Well, unless you're a window indoor nerd, none of that means anything to anybody. Right. So it is very data driven, very product specific in really what we tried to change our storytelling to as we're not a product company, we're a lifestyle company. And what we want people to see is our house isn't. Or you're making a purchase here. But our products need to be extension of the life you want to create, not products that have this technical rating, this thickness of extrusion and this performance data on the finish. You don't care about any of that. Right. So we wanted to be a facilitator of the life they wanted to create. And we just really shifted our storytelling to better connect those dots, not what the technical specs were of the product, but how they were gonna love hosting their entire family and friends on Thanksgiving or a Super Bowl party and just living inside and outside in their home. And when we did that, people said, oh, wow, this is a great product.

Malcolm Lui:
That's a pretty big change.

Scott Gates:
It is an eye and it was a cultural thing, and I'm. When I started at the company wasn't actually the CEO, I was in a it again, it was small. I was in a more of a sales type role. The company never had a marketing hire and I became a marketing director and I think my third month on the job. So marketing had just been under invested in. And the power of marketing is there's an old Peter Drucker quote that businesses are nothing more or when no other reasons other than marketing and innovation. And I think. To live this lesson of this business, the 60 year old company that had been the same size for 60 years and then all of a sudden grew. It was the lesson that your storytelling matters, your brand matters, connecting with what your customers cares about matters. And when we did that, it was a shift that really the company kind of got on board with because it made them more proud of their product as well. They loved our products. But when you start seeing the visuals and the types of homes that we get to be a part of, you start going, wow, we did that. And that kind of change inspires your staff. And when everybody's inspired, you just do better work.

Malcolm Lui:
Now, how do you overcome that? This is how we've always done it. It's always worked well enough for us. What you're talking about, too radical.

Scott Gates:
Yeah. That's. That was a challenge, right? And I think my trick and this is a great hack for other entrepreneurs and business leaders was to really define the culture. So I went to this thing when I wrote this vision statement. I think a lot of the long timers that have been here thought I was absolutely crazy, but I supported it with some ancillary material. So I have what I call a culture book and it answers three big questions. And the questions are, what are we doing? Why are we doing it? And how do you fit in? And the what is our vision? The why is why is that our vision? The how is specific to them? It's our core values is what it looks like to be successful here. And I actually require everybody to go through training on that brochure with me once a year. On the month of their birthday, we do a birthday party. We call it cake and culture. And those types of things allow in those moments. It's very document and specific. So when we say excellence is a core value or innovation is a core value, we try to give specificity to what that means. And in those moments, it's very Socratic. I go around and I say, let's talk about this. How do you try to do that in your area? How do you try to do that in your area? What does that mean to you? Do you agree with this and that kind of fundamental commitment to going we're not going to be who we are. This is where we're going in the future, really creates a lot of buy in and excitement of. Wait a second. I may have liked the way we used to do it. But I really believe and where we're going in the future and I had to undo some hardwired things but band with good vision. You can usually get people to buy in.

Malcolm Lui:
Right now, you're able to do that. Way back then when you were the newly minted director of marketing.

Scott Gates:
Well, and it started as a transition. You know, I took over marketing and then I took over sales and then we had one of those classic stories where our sales exploded. So then our operations fell apart right where we'd never produce the amount of product we'd ever done in our whole history. So all of our systems got overloaded. Our quality started to suffer. And the company really kind of started to fall apart. Even though demand was booming. So at that time, the board came to me and said, hey, we want you to take over. And the president and CEO then, who's still one of my greatest friends, came and said, Hey, I know you don't know anything about manufacturing, but you're smart and you're a learner and I need you to step in and solve this. And I just read every book I could on manufacturing. And really, it's not a lot of what I did. It's more about listening to your staff. And as my authority and title grew, the best way I was able to lead was just leaning into the staff, making more of a collaborative, people centric culture that really pulled the best ideas out from our staff and align them back to a vision they believed in. And next thing you know, I became the CEO. It's been a crazy right.

Malcolm Lui:
All right. So the operational challenges that you have way back then. What was the solution to handle the sudden demand?

Scott Gates:
Well, it's it's just that sophistication, right? The challenge is of scale. All of us growing entrepreneurs know this. But, you know, you you you get so excited. You have an idea that's taking off and you all you want to do is sell it to more people and men. And those first few years when the sales are boom and you think you're so smart and so good, and then you start realizing, oh, wow, scaling. And at the beginning you have exceptional customer service. You do things different and then you start realizing, wait. That was because it took only a small group of people to do it. And we all were superstars and we talk to each other. But as you get bigger, you have to start setting up structure and processes and systems and scale and and really we just had under invested there. So it was a combination of things that got us there. You know, we had to finally put in a sophisticated MRP system. We'd invest in I.T. We had to really upgrade and automate our equipment. We had to sanely start pulling in some expertise and some high caliber talent that had experience running a facilities much bigger than ours had been. And again, it always comes down to people. But for us, it was really just kind of growing up into being a bigger company and all the processes and structure that hopefully don't kill or or allow you to lose what made you special, but to allow you to professionalize and scale up for where you're going in the future.

Malcolm Lui:
Right now, speaking of the future, too, as an 18 year hit around a hundred twenty three million. Could you share what you're on track to do for 2019?

Scott Gates:
Yeah, we're growing a lot. We think we're gonna do. We're gonna approach somewhere in the hundred and forty five hundred and fifty million range. More big growth. It's been kind of a challenging year because we you know, we serve the production market and some of those spooking in the economy at the end of fourth quarter of last year was around housing. And California is a big market for us in particular in California has had some tough housing starts. But what's been exciting for us as we kind of have this philosophy that we always want to be feeding three different horizons for growth in the future and entering new markets that can be geographies or or different products or different demographics or price levels of homes. And we have built in a lot of growth into our business to enter into the commercial market. Some growth into the remodel markets. We're excited about kind of continuing to grow and continuing to make the lives better of our partners across the country.

Malcolm Lui:
How are you growing your business in terms of finding new partners?

Scott Gates:
Well, so like I'll give you a great example. So in 2017, we came up with this crazy vision that we could innovate and launch 14 new window indoor products in one year. And the average for window companies like one to 2. But what we realized was people really loved our products. But the hard part is windows and doors are very code driven product market. So if you're breaking windows and doors in Arizona or California, you have drastically different needs than if you're making them in Florida where you have hurricanes or in Washington state where you have colder weather and colder climates. So the deliverables of a product type can be very different. So ours was very southwest optimize. But the demand for products like ours were coming from all across North America. So we went to our design team and said, hey, we want to duplicate every product. We have. But build a new chassis that can hit any energy value in North America that has a minimum threshold that we'd have to be able to clear and a structural rating of like a DP 50, which all it means is could hire handle higher wind resistance. And we want to do this in the same chassis so that this product could basically open up an addressable market for us anywhere in North America, but make it look like the products we already had. But to be able to have a fully available value proposition, we needed every products. We signed up 14 products. And one year it was pure chaos. I mean, everybody's at each other's throats, but they know they're doing something amazing because they know they're going to change the market. Well, when that happened and we got all those products to market that allowed us to interstates that we had simply been unable to sell into before. So here we are now in 2019. That new product family is around 30 percent of our sales because we're now selling and accelerating growth into colder climate markets that we just simply couldn't sell our products to before.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. So when you go when you go about growing your business by one hand, you you identify a need in a in a product that can fit that market, which you didn't have before, and now you do. And how do you get it into the hands of the of the builders and architects out there? How do you get it? Get it. Get there. Awareness of your products that they'll consider you to put it into their homes that they're building.

Scott Gates:
And that's the right question, right? Because, you know, great products are one thing, but if nobody knows about it or nobody wants it, it's not going to work. So we have a pretty sales and marketing focused product launch cycle and this is kind of a cool story and it will paint a picture of how we do this. So in addition to that product family that we launch, we launched another product family that we call our simulated steel products. So it looks like antique steel, even though it's made out of aluminum. And we have this unique challenge where we didn't have a lot of photography in product samples that we could use to trade on that story. So our marketing team created this kind of watercolor, kind of visual paintings and storytelling of this products because we didn't want to wait to start creating demand until we had a portfolio of products in the field. We wanted to create demand to accelerate sales. Well, before we had anything to actually show the market. So we had these artists create these beautiful renderings out, a watercolor that basically told the story of what this product would be aspirational. And we flooded the market with those brochures, videos, demand and got that in the hands of our architectural sales team.

Scott Gates:
And this is a key. So we know architects need to be aware of the product. And even though we sell our products through dealers, we have a whole sales team devoted exclusively to working with architects. Even though we don't transact with architects, we don't sell with them. So these architect wraps four out with these water colored brochures, really creating demand. A few months before the product was even available to order to build a buzz around it, to create demand. And then all of that ancillary support and marketing was really push and streamlined. And then we culminated that with a very big event at our office where we flew architects and from all over the country to touch and feel the product, to see it firsthand, to make them go down the slide, have have a beer from one of our kegs. And that wave of demand then went back to the market. We were able to start taking orders. And that type of approach is how we try to usually get people excited about just these game changing products that we actually are bringing to the market.

Malcolm Lui:
All right. So does every architect out there know about you guys that you want to do business with, or is there still a huge number that doesn't know about Western Windows systems?

Scott Gates:
You know, I think a lot more do than they used to, and some of that's been by some savvy marketing and media and a lot of approaches. But I also still feel there's a lot of people that still don't know who we are, which is exciting and our core business, which has been that high end customer market. We've got a really strong brand there. But what we are more excited about is we're launching a remodel division because you have a lot of people who love their home. And it's very easy to think about when you're designing a new home. You can create a glass wall and order our products, and that's no problem. But what about people who want to stay in their home, but they want that same product in their home? And those people, a lot of them don't even know what a multi side or a moving glass wall is because they haven't even seen it yet. So what we find is when people go walk model homes or see new construction, they see it and they want it. Our big challenge and the thing I'm really excited about for the future is introducing the everyday consumer who's not looking to move but does want to upgrade their home and or lifestyle to Western Windows systems is the solution we can provide to them and the easy buttons we're creating so that they could easily transform their back wall and start living inside and outside together. And that's our fun challenge coming up in the next few years.

Malcolm Lui:
So we targeted the. The homeowner who wants to remodel or will again be targeting architects who specialize in remodeling.

Scott Gates:
So this this space is going to be a more consumer focused marketing strategy. So, yes, we're going to be going after the homeowner and really we look at our competition here in this space is not actually window and door companies. It's other remodel options. So helping people understand, hey, it might really enhance your house to upgrade your kitchen, but it might really transform your house to make your wall disappear and live inside. Outside. And showing them the economic value associated with it, showing them the jobs that are the customer satisfaction of people who've done it and really helping them see this is the thing that is going to make you love your home more than you ever thought possible because ah, ah, ah. Customers and homeowners that have done that on their new homes tell us that all the time.

Malcolm Lui:
Right now, it has a remodeled division launched yet. Or it's in plan.

Scott Gates:
It's it has launched. We're putting it together actually separate branding strategy for it. We're still going to use the Western brand, but kind of a little unique approach attached to it. We've got a lot a lot of our hiring and key sales positions are in place. The marketing collateral is coming together. So I'd say we've soft launch with big, big intentions for 2020. We think this is going to be something very, very exciting for growth.

Malcolm Lui:
Now, that's a pretty big market here that you're targeting. How are you going to reach the homeowners?

Scott Gates:
Yeah. So I think it's what's needed is you've got all your traditional media outlets and both digital and print, and we think there's a place for those. We also think a lot of homeowners that are interested in remodels, they have different sources of information that go for inspiration. Your Pinterest boards, your house, Web sites, your home and garden shows some of what we've done to actually help us know how to really be successful. And the strategy is we've gone in and hired some individuals that really specialize and lived in this space in their career, because that's not where our company has had its success. And they're helping us guide our investment strategy of how to find those people, how to connect with them, how to help tell our story. And again, very similar to like I said, when we entered the production builder market, we are going to be selling the same products, the same assets. But the marketing and the storytelling and the full value proposition feels entirely different. And

Malcolm Lui:
Right.

Scott Gates:
That's what we're excited to creating right now. A lot of before and after is a lot of case studies and storytelling of homeowners who have done this and just what has meant to them, both from better lifestyle and also from adding value to the what their home in the real estate is worth. So we've got a good story to tell.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. That's all the find your stories are already set up. What else needs to be done before you do do an official launch?

Scott Gates:
I think it's getting a little bit more of the team in place. We've got some unique things of how we're trying to drive leads and create it. We're trying to put some specific show rooms and kind of design centers in place in some key markets and all that is kind of in motion now, which I'm just so excited to actually get people in and touching and see it. And what we want is we've found that when we can get people to come and visit our factory and office in Phoenix, they are just blown away with the culture, the visuals, the fun, the quality of the product that they see when they're here. But not everybody can come to Phoenix, certainly not every homeowner. So how do we bring aspects of that connectivity and kind of unique environment that we've created in our office and put touches of that in key? MSA is around the country and our marketing teams coming up with a pretty creative way to do that. And I just can't wait for people to see it.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah, hi. I'm just imagining it before and after. I'm going to buy two homes that are similar in condition and they're right next door to each other and one that has the remodeling with your windows system and the other one doesn't mean with the light day

Scott Gates:
It is,

Malcolm Lui:
Period.

Scott Gates:
And I think yeah, I think that's the best thing is it's the power of word of mouth. It's like this way I say whenever I recruit anybody to come work here or you are literally changing people's lives in ways that you can't even imagine. And who thought that a window or a door could change someone's life, but it can in some of the best ways. And you start thinking, wow, I increasing my investment. But more than anything, it's making me get outside more. It's making me want to entertain more. It's making my house feel new and fresh and full of light. Like there's just not many things more important to anybody's an individual portfolio than their home. And if you can help people love their home, man, that's something worth getting up for every day.

Malcolm Lui:
Oh, yeah, definitely. I saw a bit of digital marketing going on right now on your Web site. You get a you get a good amount of traffic from my tools. It looks like you get about 60000 visitors a month and it looks like you're spending some good amount of change on your paper. Slick ad budget now as well. So for both of those, who are you trying to attract to your Web site?

Scott Gates:
So all stakeholders. Right. So we do some targeted approaches where we aim at our key decision makers in each of our of our core categories. So like I said, in our customer division, a lot of geo targeting and specificity around architects and trying to tell stories to them pulled the men and then a production builder division. We actually have a supporting Web site. We do some stuff on our core site that draws them in and really tries to tell an economic benefit story and option upgrade story that really helps them see why these products exist for them. But our number one source of visits to our site is actually the consumer. So even if they're not the key decider or in the end, they always are. Right. Because this is their home and their purchase. But a lot of how they find it or can even use it is from the decision makers or designers ahead of them in today's day and age, in the digital age. Consumers are empowered. They want to know what they're doing, what they're visiting. And what's exciting for us is a lot of these leads, despite our not even quite having are remodel strategy fully developed and ready are people who want to remodel. And we're excited to think, man, when we really tailor this experience and and can really make that easy button available for them. With this ecosystem we're creating, we can really, really drive some demand.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah, the easy button. That's what everyone wants, right? I'll let consumers push

Scott Gates:
Yes.

Malcolm Lui:
A button. Get that window installed.

Scott Gates:
Yeah. We're in the Amazon age, right? Everybody wants their groceries delivered in an hour. And if they want a big glass wall in the back of their house, they don't want to call 15 people. They want to call one person and have it taken care of. And that's what we're working to figure out. It's a complicated operational challenge. But again, like I said earlier, best business lesson. Innovation isn't just products. Innovation is the business model. And if you can solve that, you can win.

Malcolm Lui:
Three final questions for you, Scott. What message would you show on a billboard along the freeway that's only going to be seen for six seconds or less?

Scott Gates:
So that's it. I like that question, Malcolm's a good one. It's almost like you do this for a living, my friend.

Malcolm Lui:
I've asked

Scott Gates:
So

Malcolm Lui:
That a hundred and fifty times so far.

Scott Gates:
Nice. So are kind of one sentence vision. And this is true is we help people live, design and build better. So very simple. We're gonna make your life better. We're gonna help your designs be better. If you're a builder, we're gonna help you build better. And it's as simple as that. If you use our products, all of those functions get better and we're your solution.

Malcolm Lui:
Right now, can you fit all that on a billboard?

Scott Gates:
But if you look at it this way, so far as strategies, typically depending on who are aimed at. So if we were on a billboard on a freeway, we'd probably be looking at consumers. It'd probably be a shot of one of our doors. Very photo centric with our logo and the words live better. That's it. That's

Malcolm Lui:
No

Scott Gates:
All

Malcolm Lui:
Better.

Scott Gates:
It would get if it was a especially freeway that only architects were able to travel on because of some modern society where they have their own traffic ways. I'd probably say design better and if same thing for builders you they build. But it's that we do it better and whatever the key adjective is that you're looking for. For consumers, it's live. Where your solution.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Yeah. We're doing interviews. Think about the billboard question and possible ideas for it. 60 year old startup, I was pretty good. I thought,

Scott Gates:
Yeah. Yeah.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah,

Scott Gates:
I like that, too. And even

Malcolm Lui:
A.

Scott Gates:
Kind of. There's a little bit of a hook of like we say, this is a little taste of our culture and maybe it would work on a on a brochure, but. Instead of giving out cheesy swag to our customers, our vision is to have fun and help people live better. So one of our most common gifts is. Set of corn hole boards that have old 1980s arcades on it. With our logo and they say have fun on one set of corn hole boards and they say live better and the other like, that's who we are. We have fun and we live better.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah. What were those boards called again?

Scott Gates:
Yeah. Like if you ever seen the bean bag toss game where you play corn hole or bags, whatever you want to call it. We have those all throughout our office for people to take breaks. We want our customers to have it their offices. We just want people to associate us not with a logo or a window company, but as a company that has a lot of fun hanging out with people. That's

Malcolm Lui:
Right.

Scott Gates:
Who we are.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah. That's a nice gift, I guess. Companies give way. You never use. Right after you receive it. Something like that. I think it has some ongoing utility.

Scott Gates:
Yeah, absolutely.

Malcolm Lui:
And my two last questions for you. Who are your ideal partners and what's the best way for them to contact your company?

Scott Gates:
Well, I'm glad you use the word partners, because even though you think about customers, as you know, that's the common word. We used the word partners because we look at anybody that engages in our business. This is a partnership. There's always money at stake when you're making a transaction. So we want people who actually sign up for that word. And, you know, that old business axiom about the customer is always right. Well, here's the hard truth for the customer. They're not always right. Sometimes they don't know what they want or sometimes they want something that's unreasonable or won't actually work. So what we want to communicate is we love people who want to have mutually beneficial win win transactions. We want to help things that create value that can drive economic benefit. But it doesn't always mean that ours is going to be the lowest price. It means we're going to deliver something that's going to make your life better. Solve real problems, drive economic value, get a tremendous reward for the purchase. But we're going to be a partner who's going to also need to make money and be successful ourselves. So we put a lot of emphasis on that word. Partnerships, a core value because we really like people who want to sign up and go hand in hand with us because construction is hard. Things go wrong. It's so time, base and schedule based. There's always friction. And the best way to navigate for high friction based market is with a partnership mentality where you're hand-in-hand. You work together. You move and adjust to kind of solve the problems. And anybody that has that mentality, man, we can do great business and went together and and make money, which is excite.

Malcolm Lui:
And what's the best way for them to contact you?

Scott Gates:
So if they go to our Web site, Western Windows Systems dot com, we've got a very interactive contact us page. If they're a builder or an architect, a potential employee, because we actually refer to our employees as partners as well. There's a lot of different forms to navigate and get to the right people. But men, all of those stakeholders, employees, customers, architects, we want to hear from you because men, we want to help you have fun and we want to help you live better.

Malcolm Lui:
Now, how do you filter their good partner not.

Scott Gates:
Oh, we have a process. So after the contacts made. You know, like I said, our culture is very defined, so we know how to ask the right questions. Is this person going to be the right fit for us? We like to find people that have a decent sense of humor because we love the laugh. And we're usually able to find out pretty quickly, is this going to be a fit? Because we're not for everybody. Because our culture is really, really strong. In fact, in our culture brochure, we actually have the words to say, embrace our culture or find a different company. And we're kind of proud of that. We we're not for everybody. We're not for everybody to buy from. We're not for everybody to work with or to work for. But, man, if you want to change the world, if you want to laugh or lie, if you want to do the best work, if you want to buy a product that is fun and innovative and does things you've never seen before and really be willing to ride this incredible wave, you're you. We usually know pretty quickly, mutually that it's a great fit.

Malcolm Lui:
Now, speaking of ways, how is your company going to ride the wave when housing goes into a slowdown as it will at one point?

Scott Gates:
Great question. You sound like an investor. Malcolm, I have to answer that all the time.

Malcolm Lui:
I used to be an investor in the investment banking business, so,

Scott Gates:
Nice.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah, I question something

Scott Gates:
Nice.

Malcolm Lui:
I've asked often.

Scott Gates:
So I mentioned earlier this this terminology about we always are looking at three horizons. So this is actually came from a book I read book I'd highly recommend. It's called The Alchemy of Growth. And it talks about Horizon 1 is essentially your core businesses, things that you're serving every day that are producing the sales horizon to are the things that are going to produce growth for you in the next year or two. And Horizon three are the things you're going to use growth for you in the next three to five years. And what they challenged an executive, especially a CEO, is you have to devote equal energy to all three horizons at all times. So what we are constantly trying to do here and I feel is on top of creating a culture that's contagious, an employee allowing employees to do their best work. My job is to be making sure we're fueling growth opportunities and not just protecting our core, but finding avenues for growth that currently we don't get any sales from is remodel. Division is a great example of that. Some of the geographies we plan to enter in the next few years or in other examples. So we feel like even if housing starts dip or there is a recession, if we're constantly seeding pipelines of opportunity where we currently get no no growth, we're going to be well, well, okay. To not only survive a storm but actually be able to thrive within it because we were prepared.

Malcolm Lui:
All right. That makes sense. Scott, it's been awesome having you on my show today. Really enjoyed hearing how you grew your company so fast.

Scott Gates:
No, thank you, I always I always I enjoy listening to you. Always love. Anytime we can have a chance to tell our story. So thank you for always helping fuel stories for business leaders and helping us be inspired of what we can do next in our own companies.

Malcolm Lui:
We've been speaking with Scott Gates, the President and CEO of Western Window Systems, about his company's rapid growth. For interviews with other fast growing, high value sales companies, or to learn how we can accelerate your firm's high value sales through automation, visit Eversprint.com.

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