A Window Of Opportunity In Hawaii

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - September 17, 2008
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Bob Barrett, vice president of Coastal Windows

Coastal Windows is one of 15 companies across the nation being honored with the 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award Sept. 18 at a black tie event in Washington, D.C.

Army reserve Sgt. Mike Echiverri nominated the company for the award, which acknowledges employers for their support of their workers in the National Guard and Reserve. Echiverri has been with the company since 1999, and has had three one-year deployments to Iraq.

“We run our business like a family,” says Bob Barrett, vice president of the Waipahu-based firm. “We take care of each other. There was never any question of what we would do when he was deployed to Iraq for a year. We hope he comes back in one piece. That’s our only concern. He is a delivery driver for us and does a fabulous job. Customers love him.”

“We fill his space when he’s not here, and when he comes back, he has a job,” adds Barrett’s wife Pam, who serves as the company’s director of advertising. “That seems the obvious thing to do.”

Coastal Windows designs, manufactures, sells and installs windows and doors for customers, from homeowners who need only one to commercial projects that require a large number windows to complete a condominium. Its niche is a window catered to Hawaii’s unique weather and conditions: moist salty air, rain, wind and even termites. The business offers a line of windows that include jalousie, awning, casement, sliding, bay and bow windows. Their doors grace the Ala Moana Hotel and the Radisson Waikiki, among others.

Customers can learn more about the company’s products in its showroom and at Home Depot.

The company spreads the word by participating in trade shows, through advertising and by sending out its sales team, as well as by word of mouth.

The idea for the company came when Barrett’s parents, Kurt and Marie Winner, had a window that was deteriorating in their condominium at Poipu, Kauai. When searching for a replacement window, they couldn’t find any vinyl windows in Hawaii. The family, which lived in New Jersey, packed up their worldly goods, hung up their sign and opened their business at the Waipio Gentry Business Park in 1990. The Barrett and Winner family includes the husband and wife team Clint and Anita Tirpak. Clint Tirpak, a vice president in the company, is Bob Barrett’s best friend since they were 12 years old, and Barrett considers him a brother. Tirpak and Barrett installed windows when they were growing up, as Tirpak’s dad was in the construction industry. Barrett’s dad was a part owner of a vinyl business, where Barrett also worked. Anita worked as an office manager and she serves as the accounting manager. Pam’s expertise is in advertising. 15 year-old Ty Tirpak, 13 year-old Trey Tirpak, and 9-year-old Matthew Barrett sometimes come into the shop, which has grown from 5,000 to 30,000 square feet.

Our family has a tremendous amount of experience in vinyl windows,” explains Barrett. “That’s why we can design the product. We find out what the customers are asking for, and what we need. We create something that is going to last; something that we can stand behind.”

Barrett says one of the challenges of running the business is keeping the inventory levels.

“You never know when a big job is going to hit,” notes Barrett. “If inventory starts getting depleted it’s hard get them because we live in the middle of the ocean. We need to haveenough to satisfy our needs. It’s a full-time job. Clint is an expert on that, and he has it handled.”

One of the company’s newest developments is the double hung window, which slides up and down to let the air in, and it detaches, so it is easy to clean the outside. Another one of their innovative offerings is custom colors for the vinyl window frames which usually come in white or bronze.

With the help of 62 employees the raw material is shaped, welded and assembled with high-grade parts before it gets delivered and installed. One of the secrets to their success is every window and door made at the plant has been ordered by a customer, so there isn’t any additional merchandise.

The business has been strong and growing as are the couples’ marriages. How is that possible?

“The bottom line is we get along, and that translates to everything,” says Barrett. “We get along with each other. The employees feed off of that. The sales staff feels it, and the customers feel it. It works all the way through.”

Future projects for the company include more work on the Neighbor Islands, military facilities, homes and condominiums.

Coastal Windows is located at 94-533 Puahi St. The hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 676-0529 or log onto coastalwindows.com.

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