Marvin is a one of the upper Midwest’s manufacturers with a long history in the region. As company president Darrin Peterson explained to Prairie Business, Marvin started manufacturing windows and doors after World War II and has grown into the company it is today.
“Back in 1904, George G. Marvin came to Warroad, Minn., to manage a grain elevator and lumberyard for the Canadian Elevator Company,” he said. “When the firm relocated, George stayed in Warroad and started the Marvin Lumber and Cedar Company. Then in 1939, George’s oldest son Bill came back to work for his family and foresaw a job challenge for the WWII veterans who would soon be returning to Warroad.
“To ensure there would be jobs, Bill invested in top-of-the-line woodworking machinery and launched what we now know as Marvin.”
Peterson, who said he had the privilege of watching the third generation take the company to national recognition before successfully handing it off to the fourth generation, never aspired to be president but it has been a blessing.
“I started on the ground floor and worked my way up through the company,” he said. “It’s been an amazing career and I’m thankful for every opportunity I’ve been given at Marvin.”
He explained more about the company by answering the following:
For what types of buildings does Marvin manufacture doors and windows?
We create windows and doors for everything from new residential to commercial buildings. Our range of products and customization capabilities allows us to build for a wide range of projects, from very modern homes that feature expansive window and door walls to extremely detailed historic buildings.
How many locations does Marvin have? About how many employees?
Marvin employs more than 5,500 people across 16 locations throughout North America, including facilities in Grafton, N.D., Fargo, N.D., West Fargo, N.D., Eagan, Minn., Northwood, Iowa, and of course, our headquarters and plant in Warroad, Minn.
For what states does the company design and build?
Marvin designs and builds for all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. We also distribute to Canada and other countries across the world.
In what ways has the business and/or industry changed over the past few years?
We rebranded in April 2019 to combine the Marvin Windows and Doors brand with Integrity Windows and Doors to be known simply as Marvin. The rebrand included a new logo and collections to make it easier for our customers and dealers to navigate our portfolio of products. I’ve personally heard countless stories from customers about how the new Marvin brand makes it easier to select products for projects.
The industry has also undergone several changes that have affected how we do business. For example, considering well-being and incorporating design thinking into products has become more prevalent and we’re actively leading this change in the industry by introducing new products that meet these expectations. In addition, there’s been a bigger emphasis on technology and its role in windows and doors. Over the past several years, we’ve introduced several products that feature automatic control, lock security sensors and more.
Are there any trends in the industry that you’re seeing right now?
We know that people spend 90% of their time indoors and COVID-19 has probably only increased that. As a result, homes are becoming a retreat and features like natural light and a connection to the outdoors are paramount. This feeds the growing trend for bigger glass and large openings in spaces. Our company purpose is to create and imagine better ways of living. We’re delivering on that by introducing new products, like the Marvin Skycove and Awaken Skylight, which were created in our Design Lab following extensive research.
How has the pandemic affected the business and how has the company met those challenges or opportunities?
Like most companies, when the shutdowns started, our orders dropped significantly. Our No.1 priority was to protect our employees, so we immediately adopted several initiatives to keep people safe. Office staff moved to a work-from-home situation. We implemented protections in our facilities, including putting up signage throughout the plants to encourage social distancing and hand washing. Our R&D team created modified door handles using a 3D printer, we partnered with the Lake of the Woods Brewing Company to manufacture 12,000 bottles of hand sanitizer for employees and we recently implemented a drive-through COVID-19 testing site in Warroad.
We also partnered with local companies on relief efforts to give back to health care workers. We worked with the University of Minnesota and Polaris to create procedure boxes that keep health care workers who are in close contact with COVID-19 patients safe, and with the local high-school robotics team to create face shields for regional health care workers.
In what ways would you say Marvin has impacted the upper Midwest?
The upper Midwest is where we got our start and since our beginning, we’ve been committed to positively impacting the communities in which we work and live by providing jobs and investing in the communities where we do business. We view our remote location as an asset in encouraging innovation. It has forced us to find new ways to connect with our customers across the country and create products that change the lifestyles and environments for homeowners.
Looking ahead over the next few years, what do you foresee in the industry and for the company?
Housing typically leads the country out of a recession, and I believe the future is bright. I think there will be a shift of people moving to smaller towns to build new homes. Our company was on a strong growth trajectory with acquisitions and new product introductions before the pandemic hit. I’m confident we’ll continue to drive toward our goal of bringing forth products and experiences that imagine and create better ways of living.
Of all your projects, is there one that you’re most proud of or that sticks out in your mind?
There have been so many great moments, but becoming the first non-family president of Marvin has to be the highlight. I took over as president in January 2019, but it really didn’t hit me until our annual meeting in December of 2019 when I was speaking in front of thousands of employees, many of whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with and learning from over the years. At Marvin, one of our values is “stronger together” and I truly believe that if we do our individual parts and come together as a whole, it will continue to lead to the success of Marvin for years to come.