HAYFIELD -- Hayfield’s top employer has a clear vision to take the more than 65-year-old Hayfield Windows and Doors to “the next level.”
The facility is a busy place with more than 30 trucks loaded with ready-to-install windows for use in homes, apartments and other residential buildings rolling out of the plant every day to go to customers in eight states.
Long-time employees sport T-shirts with company slogans like “Kicking Sash,” while new workers wear bright yellow vests for their first 90 days on the job.
Many of the 271 workers on the production floor are currently wearing yellow vests. However, CEO Mark Pardi says he needs more -- a lot more.
“I need 75 more people today with the goal of doubling our production,” he said Monday. “We need to get to doubling the business and then sustain that for a good six, seven months. Then we can move to the next step."
Pardi explained that adding staff to double production is the next short-term phase in a bigger strategy to triple production by September 2022. That phase in 2022 might require an expansion of the plant as well as 75 more employees.
Those goals are good news for the region and the City of Hayfield with its population of 1,500. About 50 current employees live in Hayfield with 50 more residing in Austin. The rest come from throughout southeastern Minnesota.
While the company doesn’t release specific production numbers, it’s clear that tripling production of the 190,000-square-foot facility is a major undertaking.
This push is a sign of the aggressive strategy of Stamford, Conn.-based Drum Capital Management, which purchased Hayfield Windows from the Rouhoff family in August 2019.
Chief Financial Officer Bob Martin said the private equity firm saw the capacity for growth at Hayfield Windows and it is investing to make that happen.
"It's kind of very different from some transactions that take place, where people think costs are going to be cut by new owners. We're actually doing the opposite with our ownership,” said Martin. “They're actually fueling our growth in equipment as well as people and then other capital expenditures in order to go with Mark's vision…”
The idea is to ramp up to better meet the growing demand for their windows. Pardi and Martin say customers have been requesting more and more products in recent years. Now that some of the pandemic-spurred supply chain bottlenecks are improving, Hayfield Windows is in a good position to increase its production.
On top of those standing requests, the new home construction market as well as the remodeling segment, started to boom as the COVID-19 pandemic lessened its hold on the country. Experts estimate the U.S. window market at 46.2 million units in 2021 with that demand projected to grow steadily through 2026.
Hayfield Windows is designed to operate on a “4/10” work schedule with employees working four, 10-hour days a week. However, demand keeps production running on most Fridays with the workers earning overtime pay.
In addition to paying wages Pardi and Martin describe as highest in their area, the company is trying to improve the experience of working at Hayfield Windows.
New, more efficient machines are being added almost weekly. Plus the facility is being remodeled to improve the employee break areas and make working two daily shifts more comfortable.
“We want to give people a nice place to come to work every day. We want them to feel proud of where they work,” said Pardi.
People are the resource Hayfield Windows most needs to move up to the “next level,” according to Martin.
“While we are improving automation, making windows is still a hands-on, manual, intensive process,” said Pardi. “We need more employees, so the company can grow.”