Ply Gem, a manufacturer of exterior building products, is celebrating 70 years of growth, value, and success in 2013.
The company recently kicked off a series of celebratory events at the NAHB International Builders' Show in Las Vegas, where it showcased new products being added to an already extensive line of exterior building products.
“Ply Gem is an American success story,” said Gary E. Robinette, president and CEO of Ply Gem. “Our company has met countless challenges and changes over seven decades, but throughout, we have remained loyal to our core values: a clear, unwavering focus on delivering solutions for customers based on the expertise of our people, practical innovation, outstanding customer service and sustainable growth.”
The Ply Gem story began in 1943 during World War II, when 27-year-old Bernard Hewitt began purchasing used plywood shipping crates from aircraft maker Grumman Corporation for 25 cents apiece. Hewitt tore the crates apart and resold them as lumber to nearby lumberyards and furniture makers.
Riding the post-war housing boom, the company shifted its focus over the years to higher value, differentiated pre-finished wood panels. Numerous acquisitions signaled strategic expansion into new markets, notably specialty wood products in the early 1960s, filtration products and vacuum cleaner bags in the late 1960s, and vinyl siding and metal exterior building products in 1986.
By the late 1990s, Ply Gem divested many non-strategic assets to focus primarily on low-maintenance exterior building products, such as vinyl and aluminum siding, windows, doors, and fencing.
The company expanded into the stone veneer market in 2008 and trim and mouldings category in 2012. Under the leadership of Robinette, sales surpassed $1 billion for the first time in 2006. Since then, the company has continued to strengthen market share, new product introductions, and its overall leadership position in nearly every category of the exterior building products industry, while transitioning into a more focused, integrated business model under the Ply Gem brand.