CHICAGO, IL — Serious Energy, a California manufacturer of energy-efficient windows, recently purchased a 125,000-square-foot window factory in Chicago for $1.45 million. The factory became available when its former owner, Republic Windows & Doors, filed for bankruptcy.
Serious Energy (formerly known as Serious Materials) is often credited with producing the country’s most energy-efficient windows. In 2007, BuildingGreen awarded Serious Materials windows a “Top 10 Products” designation for the company’s fiberglass-framed windows with Heat Mirror glazing, which have U-factors in the range of 0.10 to 0.20.
Serious Energy has been expanding rapidly. In June 2008, it acquired Alpen Windows of Boulder, Colorado. It also purchased Pennsylvania-based Kensington Windows, another window manufacturer that recently went belly up.
Good news for factory workers
Serious Materials has pledged to rehire all 250 workers who lost their jobs when Republic Windows closed its Chicago plant. In December 2008, the laid-off Republic workers received international attention and supportive words from President-elect Barack Obama when they conducted a six-day sit-in at the shuttered factory. According to The Indypendent, a Web-based newspaper, “With support from several labor unions, the workers occupied their plant December 5, 2008, demanding that they be paid owed vacation and severance checks. The occupation ended victoriously six days later when Bank of America and other lenders to Republic agreed to pay the workers the approximately $2 million owed to them.”
Serious Materials CEO Kevin Surace noted, “It was very sad to see what looks like it could be a world-class operation just fall on terrible hard times and then all of the workers quite abruptly laid off. We saw a great opportunity with a great facility and great workers.” A former Republic Windows worker, Armando Robles, told The New York Times that news of the factory reopening is “a dream come true.”
Demand for high-performance windows expected to grow
Both Vice President Joe Biden and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin have linked the Serious Materials purchase to the availability of weatherization funding. “The reopening of this factory and the rehiring of these workers provide an excellent example of how the money in the Recovery Act is targeted to spur job creation quickly,” said Biden. “These workers will not only earn a paycheck again; they will go back to work creating products that will benefit America’s long-term economic future.”
Senator Durbin noted, “The fuel-efficient and energy-efficient windows and doors they make are going to be in demand as we move toward weatherization.”
Sandra Vaughan, Serious Materials’ marketing director, anticipates that the demand for energy-efficient windows will grow. “We see this opportunity to expand our operations in direct relation to the stimulus package, which includes the greening of federal buildings and the weatherization assistance program,” she said.