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Manufacturer opens new plant in region — and away from its longtime home

PGT Innovations plans to hire some 250 employees in Lee County.

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  • | 3:48 p.m. May 5, 2021
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File. Venice-based PGT Innovations, with some 3,500 employees, is the largest employer in Sarasota County.
File. Venice-based PGT Innovations, with some 3,500 employees, is the largest employer in Sarasota County.
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FORT MYERS — Impact resistant window and door manufacturer PGT Innovations, in tracking a surge in business, is opening a new facility in Lee County that will house some 250 employees.

The 130,000-square-foot facility is in Fort Myers, in a vacant distribution center. The facility will be a production center for doors and door frames, PGT President and CEO Jeff Jackson tells the Business Observer in an interview. “We are expanding and looking to continue growing,” says Jackson. “Florida is hot right now.”

The largest private employer in Sarasota County, with some 3,500 employees in total, Venice-based PGT owns land next to its facility on Technology Drive, just off Interstate 75. But Jackson says the company, founded in 1980 and a longtime prominent corporate citizen in south Sarasota County, chose to expand in Fort Myers, 70 miles south, because Venice city officials have been unaccommodating of late to the company’s expansion plans and presence. Jackson says there have been several instances of cumbersome permitting requirements for smaller projects on its Venice campus that got the company thinking about expanding elsewhere. He adds that while Sarasota County officials have continued to be welcoming and supportive of the company, Venice, in recent months, has not. “It’s weird what’s going on there,” Jackson says. “It’s unfortunate.”  

On the flip side, Lee County and Fort Myers, Jackson says, jumped on the opportunity to land PGT. “They wanted to get us manufacturing there as soon as possible,” says Jackson. “They said ‘what can we do to help you?’”

Venice Mayor Ron Feinsod didn't immediately respond to texts and emails for comments; his city-listed phone number said the voicemail was full. A spokeswoman for the city referred all calls to the mayor's office. 

PGT is hiring now for the positions, with plans to open the facility in June and run 24 hours a day. It's been holding job fairs this week at the offices of SWFL Inc., the chamber of commerce for Bonita Springs and the surrounding areas. Open positions, according to PGT’s website, include production team members, material handling technicians and maintenance and controls. (Go to more information on the positions and the job fairs.)

PGT is also giving a $2,000 bonus to employees who work at least the first year. “We had to outdo the federal government,” says Jackson, referring to the $1,400 stimulus checks as pat of some federal COVID-19 relief packages.

The move into Lee County — and the company’s growth in general — comes a year after it made a move to shutter another facility, in Orlando. PGT shut down operations there, where its WinDoor and Eze-Breeze products were assembled, in April 2020. It moved production of those products to its Tampa and Venice plants. The consolidation reduced the firm’s annualized operating expense by $3.5 to $3.8 million, Jackson said in a statement at the time.

PGT Innovations brands include CGI; PGT Custom Windows and Doors; WinDoor; Western Window Systems; Eze-Breeze; CGI Commercial; and NewSouth Window Solutions. The company posted $882.6 million in revenue in 2020.



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