Ply Gem Celebrates 70 Years in Business

Ply Gem, a manufacturer of exterior building products, is celebrating 70 years of delivering growth, value and success in 2013. The company kicked off a series of celebratory events at the NAHB International Builders’ Show last week in Las Vegas, where it showcased new products being added to its already extensive lineup of exterior building products.

“Ply Gem is an American success story,” says Gary E. Robinette, president and CEO, 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 Corp. for 25 cents each, which he tore apart and resold 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 prefinished 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.

Executing on its strategy and mission to become a leading exterior building solutions provider, Ply Gem 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.

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