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High Quality North American Windows Vs. Imports – Is there really a difference?

July 6, 2021

We’re all guilty of making choices based on price, we can always find a reason to justify why we chose the lower priced item, but when it comes to larger purchases, is it really wise to base the decision on price alone? Sure, in the moment, saving a few hundred dollars seems economical but, if you end up needing to replace the purchase in a few years, was the lower priced item really cheaper? What did it really end up costing you?

There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey. – John Ruskin

Do They Have Your Best Interest At Heart?

With as much trust as you put into your builder, you want to believe they are looking out for you and thinking long-term when they are recommending products for your build. There are builders that will do this, but there are some that don’t. Through experience we’ve learned, there are builders that often don’t understand the importance of high-performance window and door products and are usually looking for the lowest price for materials and services.

We’ve encountered numerous projects that had customers ripping out windows and doors after 5 years, 2 years, 1 year or as little as 6 months after the projects were completed because the product performance was disappointing. The products are made in bulk and designed to make money, not to combat individual location challenges. In a lot of cases, homeowners believe they have a good window package because of how they operate but quickly learn they’re knockoffs – designed to look pretty and feature the same operations as a high quality window but the performance is subpar and durability is non-existent.

Hard Lessons

We had a former customer come in who was excited to announce she had just purchased a new home with Access Windows and Doors and was in to buy some blinds for them. Some time passed and we received a call to come and make some adjustments to the windows.

Upon sending one of our guys down to the house to do an inspection, we found that the windows were not ours and we could in fact not make any adjustments as it would compromise the integrity of the entire window. We sadly had to inform the customer that what she had would likely last no longer than 3 years.

Her windows had only 2 locking points where they should have had 6. The hardware was rotting and rusting, and the whole window was flimsy due to poor craftsmanship. The windows that had been installed were imported and had been chosen by the builder because of their lower price point and installed by someone unfamiliar to window installation.

This homeowner now has to replace 2 exterior doors and all of the windows after only 6 months. Our hearts went out to this customer who purchased a brand new house (at today’s insane prices), only to find out her windows and doors were not going to last. They looked good, but upon inspection from a professional all of the components were cheaply made. Most likely the products were imported to turn a quick profit, the importer isn’t a part of the community so they’re not worried about a bad reputation because they have hundreds of customers all over the country. The choice to import the windows meant that there was no one that could service them since they weren’t manufactured locally.

What Experience Has Taught Us

We have over 20 years of experience in the window and door business in Canada and we understand that what works in one area doesn’t mean it will work in the next. There are so many factors that determine what materials will last in each climate.

We make all of our products with the best quality hardware you can find; it might not be necessary in all climates but it will outlast anything else on the market and it eliminates the need to increase inventory and avoids any shipping issues with the wrong hardware being shipped and delaying projects. We offer only the best, highest-priced hardware so our customers never have to worry about it corroding due to salty sea air or becoming compromised in the quick temperature fluctuations that many regions are known for.

We also design our products with the most expensive profile money can buy. Our goal is not to have the most expensive product, but to have the best product available to our customers. We’ve travelled all over the world with our engineer to find the best components for all North American climate zones.

Our corporate office and production facility are located in Manitoba, which has served as the perfect testing ground for products that can withstand any climate, as it has one of the harshest climate zones in the world going from extreme hot to extreme cold in a short amount of time. This has allowed us to design products that can stand up and excel in these conditions.

Things to Consider

Buying from North American manufacturers means that parts are easily available and your windows and doors can actually be serviced. When you are buying imports, is there someone that can help you if something goes wrong? What about colour matching? If something is damaged, are you able to colour match with an import?

All of our products are made exclusively for the North American market, we take all the factors into consideration. We understand that what works in Michigan won’t work in Manitoba, we take the time to do our research. Importers, unfortunately won’t think about that. We have a North American engineer on our team who does calculations to see what will work best where, while with an importer, they base their decisions on price.

The average wage for a factory worker in Eastern Europe would work out to roughly $3.50 CAD an hour. It’s safe to say at these wages, not a lot of effort is being put into the product. Meanwhile, local manufactures employ professionals – people who take pride in their work. When we are looking at hiring someone new, one thing we always ask is if they are looking for a job or a career. We want to employ people who want to build quality products and believe in the same values as we do. When you buy window and door packages from local manufacturers you are supporting your own economy and providing job security for people in your area.

Manufacturers are here for the long haul, they’ve invested in their companies, their teams, and their facilities. They’re not in the business it to make a quick buck, they want to build something that lasts. Speaking as a local manufacturer, we want to build a good reputation for honest, reliable, high-end products; we are building a legacy. We could have easily chosen to be importers, we have a lot of connecting in Europe, but it wouldn’t satisfy us to only look out for ourselves. We are proud of what we do and are so much happier looking at the bigger picture and providing superior products to our customers. Manufacturers have made the commitments to their companies and have a lot more to lose than an importer. If you have any questions about our products, our materials, or our company we’d be happy to have a conversation. Contact us today!