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In what could be one of the best signs yet of a housing market recovery, PGT, a bellwether local window and door firm, is amid a resurgence.

For starters, the Venice-based company recently transformed its branding and marketing approach. The firm has a new website and a new slogan — We See it Through — that's also an internal call to arms for its 1,200 employees. Todd Antonelli, who previously ran the sales department at Masco Cabinetry in California, oversees the program. Antonelli, named vice president of sales and marketing at PGT in spring 2012, says he's confident the new initiatives will help the firm grab more market share.

“It's important to keep our brand fresh and relevant,” says Antonelli. “We were looking for a brand lift.”

The firm's revenues certainly received a boost toward the end of 2012, which executives attribute to both the new branding and a host of other factors. Annual revenues at the publicly traded firm increased 4.3% in 2012, from $167.2 million in 2011 to $174.5 million. The company, further, posted a $9 million profit in 2012, or 17 cents per share. That's a $25.9 million turnaround from 2011, when PGT, in the bowels of the recession, lost $17 million, or 31 cents per share.

PGT President and CEO Rod Hershberger, in a Feb. 20 earnings release, says “this improvement in net income resulted from increasing sales in more profitable categories, improving manufacturing efficiencies, reducing scrap, and increasing efficiency within our transportation team.”

Wall Street responded heartily to the results. The stock, traded on the Nasdaq under PGTI, hit a four-year high March 6 at midday trading, at $6.30 a share. Shares, by contrast, were less than $2 in March 2012.

St. Petersburg-based investment bank Raymond James, meanwhile, upgraded PGT shares to a “strong buy” Feb. 21 and, in a report, writes that the important Florida market showed “some definitive signs of recovery.” And TheStreet Ratings, in pushing the stock from hold to buy, says PGT's “strengths can be seen in multiple areas.”

In addition to low share price, PGT, which sells windows and doors through a dealer network, fought against layoffs and decreased sales for most of the past two years. But the overhauled marketing and branding program, say PGT executives, is what will help the company, founded in 1981, navigate future downturns.

The We See it Through campaign, created by Antonelli and his team with assistance from Venice-based Knight Marketing, includes a glossy booklet that features real-life employees. The revamped website, adds Antonelli, has a design studio where users can upload pictures of their house to see what it would look like with PGT windows.

The campaign also works in-house under the same tagline. For that the company set up We See it Through comment cards, where employees can nominate each other for one of PGT's five core values. Those are: integrity, family, customer focus, quality and community. The nominees will be included in the company's annual top tier employee contest, where it awards individual bonuses worth anywhere from $100 to $5,000.

Antonelli says a big key to the campaign was simplicity. That essentially meant taking what the company already does and telling, or re-telling, its story. “Our company was built upon the notion that promises were made to be kept,” says Antonelli. “That's what this company is all about.”


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