For brothers, selling windows is a way of life
The Interview: Harley and Aaron Magden, Window Nation
Brothers Harley Magden (left) and Aaron Magden are pictured at their headquarters for Window Nation. They grew up working at their father's window company in Cleveland and formed their own just outside Baltimore. Last year their revenues jumped 70 percent, and they're on a hiring spree. (Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd Fox / August 16, 2011)
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The brothers are still selling windows. But now they're doing it from Glen Burnie.
Five years after founding Window Nation in the Baltimore area, the brothers have built the company into the 28th-largest firm on trade magazine Qualified Remodeler's list of the top 500 home-improvement companies nationwide. Revenue rose 70 percent last year over the year before.
Not counting part-time installers, the company employs 26 in the area and just as many elsewhere — including Ohio. Window Nation entered the Cleveland market when the brothers' noncompete clause with father Mike Magden's former business, Regency Window Co., expired in 2008.
Harley, 35, and Aaron, 31, are married; each has a young daughter. They say they've settled into the Baltimore area and have no plans to move back to Cleveland.
The brothers talked with The Baltimore Sun recently about Window Nation's rapid growth, why they came to the Baltimore region — and which football team they root for when the Ravens go up against the Cleveland Browns.
How did you increase the company's revenue 70 percent last year?
Harley: A lot of things going our way. One of them was the [federal] tax credit [of up to $1,500 for energy-efficiency projects], which recently expired. No. 2, we increased our advertising budget significantly to try to penetrate the market. We're relatively new in this area, so we're just trying to increase brand recognition.
Aaron: We took a lot of the market share. We offer a lot of different windows for different budgets. We're sort of like GM: We offer a Chevy, we offer a Buick, we offer a Cadillac.
How has the rough economy and difficult housing market affected your industry?
Aaron: Most people aren't thinking about buying new houses. They're staying in their existing house. Out of all the home-improvement projects that can be done, windows are something that will pay you back. They'll save people on their energy. That's been a big hit for us because it's not like a kitchen, where it's just beautifying the home. There's a lot of wants, but this is a need.
How's business this year?
Harley: We're tracking up around 20 percent this year. Which all things considered is very strong, considering, on average, trade publications … say the markets are down 5 to 8 percent.
Why did you decide to leave your father's company after he sold it?
Harley: We stayed on for a little while — so did he — and basically ended up leaving the company to move on to bigger and better things.
We figured we had been in this business for a while, we knew it and we wanted to open a new company. … We did have a noncompete [agreement initially] so we could not just open up in the city we lived in. So we checked out about 10 different cities and ended up here in Baltimore.
The housing stock is of the right age, the economy is very strong and stable because of all the government work and government employees, and it's just so conducive to expanding. … Philadelphia is close, Charlotte is close. ... Plus my brother and I really like the area.
Aaron: When we were younger, my dad used to take us to the Harbor every few years, and he'd take us to Ocean City.
How's the competition with the ex-family business going?