History of Marvin Windows

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The history of Marvin Windows begins right here in Minnesota. Through the years, Marvin Windows and Doors has developed a reputation for innovation, quality and efficiency, making them an industry leader for more than a century. By using only the best materials combined with fine craftsmanship, they have been able to offer unparalleled design flexibility and a level of service that has no comparison. This reputation began to take shape early in the 20th century.

George G. Marvin took a job managing a grain elevator in Warroad, Minnesota in 1904. By 1912, he had opened the Marvin Lumber and Cedar Company, seizing on the booming lumber business in the area. He earned a reputation throughout the northern woodland for honesty and hard work, preferring to close deals on a handshake.

His generosity knew no bounds. He often loaned money to area farmers with no more notation than an entry in a pocket notebook he carried. Throughout the Great Depression, he was there continuing the help his community needed.

In addition to his generosity, George was also a savvy businessman. In order to keep his workers employed during the harsh winter months, Marvin designed a machine that was used to turn scrap lumber into wooden stakes which were sold to the state highway department.

His oldest son, William S. “Bill” Marvin graduated in 1939 from the University of Minnesota. Though he had dreams of his own, when his father called him home to the company business, he came. In another attempt to stay profitable throughout the winter, Bill bought equipment to make door frames and window sashes.

During World War II, the company began making ammunition boxes and other supplies for the military. Afterwards, Bill invested in new machinery to keep Warroad’s returning veteran’s employed and the Marvin Windows and Doors company was born.

During the 1950s, Marvin’s small sales force criss-crossed the Upper Midwest in Chevrolet station wagons, signing up independent local dealers to distribute Marvin windows. During this time, the company introduced a number of innovative new windows that boosted sales dramatically.

By the 1960s, Marvin had its own fleet of trucks and had added patio doors to its product line. Marvin also began advertising and marketing aggressively, promoting its unique capacity to build any window a customer wanted. Today, that continues with our “Built around you®” promise.

As the decades rolled by, Marvin grew: from a few dozen employees in the 1950s, to a few hundred in the 1960s, to more than 4,000 today. Bill immersed his six children in the business from early childhood. They all remember going to the factory with Dad on weekend afternoons, sweeping floors and emptying wastebaskets. Every one of those six children joined the business and has made significant contributions to the company’s continued growth.

Bill Marvin famously kept a close watch on everything in the company, but also he knew it couldn’t thrive without the best ideas from everyone. He believed in giving people the opportunity to succeed. “I don’t have to be the smartest at everything,” he said. “I just have to find the people who are.” When someone struggled, Bill would say, “That’s not a bad employee. We just need to find the right spot for them.”

BUILDER magazine named Bill Marvin one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century building industry – a richly deserved recognition. Bill Marvin died in 2009 at age 92, but his energy, and enlightened management practices live on in the company he led for 40 years.

-Ryanc