All in the Family

Custom Vinyl Windows and Siding builds sterling reputation from within

By Christy Arboscello Macomb Daily Special Writer

A Warren window business is relying on the reputation it's earned for shutting out the Michigan cold over the past four decades in effort to endure today's harsh economic climate.

Custom Vinyl Windows and Siding Inc. has been a staple on Ryan Road, south of 12 Mile Road, since settling in its 4,500-square-foot warehouse and showroom in 1979. Eight years prior to that, company president and founder Gary Gouin, 60, of Shelby Township, worked out of his homes in Hazel Park and Warren.

This has been the toughest year in the business's history. Just a few years ago, about 400 windows were sold a week compared with roughly 150 sold per week now, Gouin said.

"I'm a small company, not a large company. My family works for me. We're down right now, as with everybody else," he said. "The only thing that's keeping me going is past customers' referrals and recommendations, which probably is about 90 percent of my business."

Custom Vinyl Windows and Siding encourages customers to visit the Better Business Bureau, where the company's rating has been an A-plus - the highest possible - since May 2007. The company also boasts that, unlike some large retail stores, all the installations are done by in-house employees, not subcontractors.

There are currently seven crews of three that install windows, roofs and siding. One of the installers is Gouin's stepson, Dennis, while the businessman's wife, Judith, keeps the books and his son, Gary Jr., is apprenticing under his father to eventually take over the company.

Macomb Township resident Debbie LoPiccolo, 51, has been a loyal customer of Custom Vinyl Windows and Siding for years. When she and her husband moved into a Warren house after their wedding 25 years ago, they soon discovered the rickety windows were so drafty the cold breeze would sweep through each room. The couple decided to use the money from their wedding to replace windows throughout the house and get new screen doors.

"I've never had anything like them. My parents have bought them. My husband's parents have bought from there. There is no comparison," LoPiccolo said, noting the windows are durable, easy to clean and energy efficient.

Eventually, the couple bought their house in Macomb Township and found the existing windows unacceptable. So, this time, they decided to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary with new windows from Custom Vinyl Windows and Siding instead of going on vacation to a tropical destination like Hawaii.

"Maybe the next 25 years," she joked of the delayed trip.

Gouin said he was inspired to start his window and siding business nearly 40 years ago by his late father, Eugene, a subcontractor for different companies who taught his son home improvements from an early age. When Gouin was 18, he got a builder's license and at 22, he founded his company.

"Raising eight children, he always told me that he would help me get a business going on my own so I didn't have to work for no one else," he said. His 91-year-old father died a year ago after seeing the company flourish for decades. "He was pretty proud."

Business Bio:
Company:
Custom Vinyl Windows and Siding Inc.
Location: 28767 Ryan Road Services: Vinyl windows, siding, roofing, entry doors and more
Founded: 1971 Owner/President: Gary Gouin
Contact: 800-883-8611, info@customvinylwin.com
Web site: www.customvinylwin.com
Hours: 10am - 5pm weekdays, 10am - 3pm Saturdays