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Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Asks Susan Marvin Three Questions

By

Three Questions – Susan Marvin, Marvin Windows and Doors
FeaturedĀ in Minneapolis/St.Paul Business Journal.
November 3, 2016

Susan Marvin, former president of Marvin Windows and Doors and now vice chairwoman of the company, was the keynote speaker at the recent Minnesota Manufacturer’s Summit in Bloomington, an event presented by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

Marvin was president of the Warroad-based manufacturer for 20 years until resigning from the position earlier this year. After the speech, Marvin answered a few questions about her family’s business and how Marvin Windows is using technology to advance its manufacturing. Her answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

The family business survived not one, but two collapses of the American Economy. In both instances, the company did not lay off any employees. How proud are you of that accomplishment and how that resonated, not only with Minnesotans, but the country? It does resonate. We are not unique. Many companies either did it or tried to do it. If you really, truly value your workforce as your most valuable asset, the last thing you do is lay them off, and yet many companies go there first. We do value them as our greatest asset. Keeping people together and on the payroll and with medical benefits was a priority, and as long as we can do it, we are going to do it. It wasn’t without a little pain, but it was a challenge the entire family was proud of. M ore importantly…when you’re challenged as a company…if your employees are loyal to you and you are to them, you’re stronger.

Can you talk about staying in Warroad and knowing what the company means to the local economy? We do mean a lot to the local economy. Having said that, the community means a great deal to us. The location forced us to be innovative and some of these innovations became competitive strengths. That’s the number one reason for staying. The second thing is, these people we work with, they’re our neighbors, our friends and our classmates. If we pulled out – and they built the company – that just wouldn’t be right, because we feel they had a great deal to do with the success that we have today. The third thing is, there’s no question in my mind that a great deal of our success has been because of the people in that community. So why would we leave such a powerful part of our success?

How can Marvin use advances in technology to expand your product? We use robotics extensively in our factory. It’s made us more efficient. It’s allowed us to put out a better quality product. Virtual reality is going to be, I think, a big part of our future in helping us demonstrate products and its going to help consumers pick the right features. Big data is certainly being used to help us understand our customers better and what we need to do to be better competitors.