By Jerri Stroud, BBB Editor
Paul Birner is no stranger to the windows business. Twenty years after he started Amazing Siding and Windows in west St. Louis County, Birner bought the Renewal by Andersen affiliate in St. Louis in December 2012. The St. Louis office, a 2015 TORCH Award winner, serves homeowners within a 70-mile radius of St. Louis.
Birner delegated the running of Amazing to one of his sons, but soon sold it to concentrate on the new business.
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” Birner said, referring to the purchase of Renewal by Andersen – St. Louis. “It’s a great product, and it sells itself.” Renewal already had an expert installation team.
Renewal had seven employees when Birner bought it and now has more than 50, Birner said. Sales reached $11 million last year, and the firm had five employees with sales of $1 million or more, including two of Birner’s sons.
Birner’s business philosophy has always been putting the customer first. Renewal by Andersen’s mission is to provide customers with quality products and the highest level of customer service.
“If something’s not right, we make it right, period,” Birner said. “We tell our customers: If something doesn’t go right, let us know.”
Communication is key to keeping customers happy, he said. “We don’t like to keep anyone in the dark,” Birner said, especially when it can take four to six weeks to order and receive the windows or doors and complete the installation.
Salespeople send customers a thank-you note as soon as they close the sale. When the windows are ready, the customer gets a call informing them of installation plans, the scheduled date, the installer’s name and a single person they can contact for updates or questions. Installers put down runners and tarps to protect a homeowner’s floors, and they vacuum before they leave.
After the installation, Renewal sends an “ambassador” to the homeowner to review the completed job, answer questions and explain the operation and cleaning of the new windows and any doors. The ambassador also brings a tin of cookies as a thank-you for choosing Renewal.
Sales reps get six weeks of paid training on product knowledge and accurate measuring. After that, they attend twice-weekly meetings for updated training. The canvass and events teams get daily training on products, and the inside staff meets weekly to discuss any issues that arise or ideas for improving customer service.
Birner holds dinners for employees to show his appreciation for their hard work, and he also brings in lunch from time to time. For a recent luncheon, Renewal hired a masseuse to give 15-minute massages to employees. Renewal also awards a trip to the employee of the year as well as to any sales representative with $1.5 million in sales.
Since taking over the St. Louis affiliate, Birner has mounted a campaign to portray it as a family enterprise. Renewal has taken part in an array of community events, including booths at the Cardinals Care Winter Warmup and weekend open houses at the World Bird Sanctuary. Renewal hands out Healthy Planet magazine at its booths to underscore the company’s green philosophy, said Sheena Edwards, marketing and events director.
Renewal also has partnerships with charities including the Missouri Botanical Garden/Butterfly House, the St. Charles Art Council, the Humane Society, Crider Health Center, the YWCA, Sprint for the Cure with Washington University, Responder Rescue, BackStoppers, Wounded Warriors, Habitat for Humanity, the Maryland Heights Police Officer Association and the Christmas program at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital.
Renewal has won Green Diamond awards, a recognition given to just five Renewal by Andersen affiliates every year, and Provia Door Co.’s Platinum Club award, which recognizes dealers with at least $250,000 in sales of Provia products.
Birner says his takeover of Renewal’s St. Louis affiliate has been so successful that he’s been asked to consider opening stores in other parts of Missouri.
Profiles of BBB Accredited Businesses and BBB Accredited Charities are created as part of BBB’s TORCH Award process and are not intended as an endorsement. To register for this year’s TORCH Awards luncheon on Nov. 13, go to http://www.bbb.org/stlouis/events.