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Business Observer Friday, Dec. 26, 2014 7 years ago

A window for growth

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From sales growth to a major acquisition, 2014 was a significant year for one of the largest companies in Sarasota.
by: Mark Gordon Managing Editor

The last 12 months have been full of big doings at PGT Inc., already one of the biggest companies in the Sarasota-Bradenton region.

The news from the Venice-based impact-resistant window and door manufacturer runs the gamut of corporate growth. It includes: a new 96,000-square-foot glass plant that opened in November; a $111 million acquisition of a Miami-based window and door firm that closed in September; and the promotion of CFO Jeff Jackson to president and COO in May. Co-founder Rod Hershberger remains chairman and CEO.

PGT, with about 1,500 employees, also posted two more quarters of year-over-year sales growth that topped 25% — the continuation of a trend that started in 2012. The firm posted $62.7 million in sales in the first quarter of 2014, a 26.6% increase over the 2013 first quarter, when it had $49.5 million. That was followed up by $81.6 million in the second quarter, up 29.9% from $62.8 million in the 2013 second quarter.

The first quarter earnings figure was PGT's best sales output in a first quarter since 2007, the firm says in an earnings release, and the second quarter results are the most in any quarter since 2006. The 25% year-over-year sales growth streak ended in the third quarter, when sales increased 19.2%, from $64.8 million in 2013 to $77.3 million. The firm had posted seven straight quarters of 25% growth.

The first three quarters of 2014 total $221.2 million in sales, which puts the firm on pace for its best year since 2007, when it had $278.3 million. Just like in the mid-2000s, new construction, in Florida and nationwide, is the main outside factor that led to the recent sales growth, executives say.

Hershberger, in looking back at the year and what's in store for 2015, retains some of the cautious optimism many Gulf Coast executives held this time of year in 2013.“We don't see next year as being totally back to normal,” he says, “but there is a lot of positive momentum.”

One factor in the momentum is the new glass plant. Lakewood Ranch-based Willis Smith Construction was the lead contractor on the $14 million project, which broke ground in January and opened in November. The facility has glass cutting and tempering machines, and has about 60 employees.

Built down the street from its Venice headquarters, the glass plant is part of a strategy to bring more work in-house and buy less glass and materials from other vendors. PGT executives say that will save the firm money and time, and allow it to have more control over inventory and customer delivery. “One advantage we now have is we are able to treat a piece of glass and turn it around quickly,” says Hershberger. “We are pretty excited about it.”

The acquisition of Miami-based CGI Windows & Doors Holdings was another high-water mark for PGT that took place in 2014. It was one of the largest acquisitions for the firm since it was founded in 1980. CGI will remain a separate name in the Miami market, where a rebound in condo construction has led to a surge in demand for building products. PGT executives say the deal will both diversify the company's brand and products and help it compete better against national suppliers.

One worry at PGT for 2015 is anything that can derail growth in the homebuilding industry. On that front, Hershberger says the company plans to introduce a new line of products next year that will be industry leaders in energy protection and insulation. So if the homebuilding industry falters, Hershberger says PGT “will drive market share with new products we are pretty excited about.”

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