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In 1904, George G. Marvin arrived in tiny Warroad, Minnesota, to take a job managing a grain elevator. The area was a booming lumber center, providing pulpwood for paper mills. Recognizing an opportunity, George Marvin established the Marvin Lumber & Cedar Company in 1912.
Honest and hard-working, George earned respect across the northern woodlands. He believed in the sanctity of a handshake and often loaned money to farmers and lumbermen who needed to get through the winter when work was scarce. The only record of the transaction would be a penciled note in George’s black pocket notebook. The need for year-round employment in sparsely populated northern Minnesota would become a recurring theme in the Marvin company history.
During the Depression, George Marvin quietly helped his community. He provided Christmas trees for every family in Warroad. He delivered 100-pound bags of flour to needy families. One year, when crops were poor and farm families were near starvation, George arranged for each family to sell a truckload of pulpwood to a local paper company.
Years after the Depression ended, stories began quietly circulating about George Marvin’s most magnificent gesture to his neighbors – one he never sought to take credit for during his lifetime.
A local bank had failed. All the farm mortgages would come due immediately. Without the cash to pay off their mortgages, dozens of farmers would lose their land. George bought the bank, held the mortgages and the farmers paid him back over time.
But George Marvin also was a shrewd businessman. Seeking a way to keep his lumberyard workers busy during the slow winter months, he designed a machine that turned scrap lumber into wooden stakes. Marvin sold the stakes to the state highway department.
George Marvin set an example of hard work, ingenuity and integrity. But it was his oldest son who would provide the visionary leadership that transformed Marvin into a world leader in the building industry.
William S. “Bill” Marvin graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1939 and set his sights on a career in agribusiness. Months later, he got a call from his father: Come home. I need you to help me. And so Bill Marvin returned to Warroad as the Marvin company’s eighth employee. He’d spend the rest of his long life in Warroad, but his vision extended much further.
Soon after Bill joined the company, a lumberyard employee suggested making door frames and barn sashes – once again, in an attempt to keep workers busy over the winter. The company bought a saw and began its first venture in the window business. But with the outbreak of World War II, Marvin turned its attention to making ammunition boxes and other supplies under military contracts.
When the war ended, Bill Marvin realized that returning veterans needed jobs. If they couldn’t find jobs in Warroad, they’d have to move elsewhere. So, over his father’s objections, Bill Marvin invested in top-line woodworking machinery and launched what we now know as Marvin Windows and Doors.
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.
George G. Marvin arrived in Warroad, small northern Minnesota town near the Canadian border. He managed a grain elevator and lumberyard. He spent the next 70 years building a business that became a cornerstone of the Warroad community.
Percy Roberts and George Marvin established Roberts & Marvin Lumber Co.
The Marvin Timber & Cedar Company was established. The name was changed a few months later to Marvin Lumber & Cedar Company.
The Marvin Lumber & Cedar Company was incorporated just eight years after is was formed. George G. Marvin was president and his brother, Wm. C. Marvin was vice president.
No layoffs during the Great Depression. Marvin Lumber & Cedar Company had its first year with a loss, but was fortunate to offer continuous employment without layoffs during America's Great Depression.
George's son Wm. S. "Bill" Marvin joined the company as the eighth employee.
That year, in an attempt to keep the company busy during the quiet winter months, lumberyard manager Harry York requested a new saw for making barn sash and door frames.
In the 1940s, to help with the war effort during World War II, the staff is increased to nearly 50 and Marvin manufactured ammunition boxes and food containers to fulfill a government contract.
The Marvin brothers in 1942: Jack, Bill, Tut, Frank and Cal.
The company that become Marvin Windows and Doors was born when Bill Marvin realized that making windows would create jobs and keep returning servicemen in Warroad, after the end of World War II.
A fire destroys Marvin’s sash and door factory. The village fire department was handicapped by cold weather.
A delivery fleet was required to meet the demand for product in new geographic areas. A 1951 Chevy truck was used to deliver windows.
Marvin introduced the Stack and Strip, a versatile window that could be used as a hopper, casement or awning.
Marvin salesmen, Dan Mckinnon and Walt Krahn, criss-crossed the Midwest in Chevrolet station wagons. They spent long days on the road to sign up independent local dealers for Marvin’s growing product line.
Marvin manufactured it's first double hung window, The Wingflex.
Marvin became one of the first companies in Minnesota to offer a health care plan to its employees.
Silver dollars totaling $24,910 were distributed to 142 employees with the establishment of Marvin's first profit sharing distribution.
At age 76, George Marvin continued to work long hours and took an active role in the business.
Bill Marvin took over as company president.
Marvin expanded their sales territory outside the Midwest.
Fire struck again! George G. Marvin watched as fire destroyed the plant, machinery and a warehouse full of finished products. Volunteers worked to contain the massive fire as the it grew hot enough to melt glass.
Relocation offers were made, but the Marvin family remained committed to the Warroad community. "The company will rebuild in Warroad" Bill promised, "We will get back in production... just as soon as it is humanly possible... buying or borrowing machinery where we can."
Key employees remained on directly after the first and additional men were hired as equipment was secured to produce basement window units.
A new 100,000 square-foot factory opened for production on June 27th, a year to the day after the fire, and a grand opening celebration was held. With subsequent additions, that factory is now 2 million square feet.
Marvin began making patio doors
A decade of dramatic growth. Sales soared and employment grew to about 950 workers.
George Marvin passed away at age 94.
Marvin purchased an airplane and started a corporate aviation department. Today, a fleet of four planes brings more than 4,000 customers, dealers and builders to Warroad every year for sales, tours and training. To date, the Marvin fleet has flown more than 56,000 hours without an accident or injury.
Mitsui Home Co. of Japan became Marvin’s first international customer.
Marvin became the first window manufacturer to have its entire window line certified.
Marvin reintroduced the round-top. Bob Moncrief, a homeowner from Baxter Springs, Kansas, placed the first order with Riverton Building Supply. In January 1980, Marvin took one unit to the NAHB show.“ the round top changed the face of residential housing in the United States.” - Frank Marvin
Frank R. Marvin assumed the company presidency.
Marvin built its first factory outside Minnesota in Ripley, Tenn. Today the Ripley facility manufactures Marvin patio doors.
Marvin developed the Terrace Door and introduced the "Made to Order" advertising campaign.
Frank G. Marvin Passed away.
Marvin opened a facility to produce cut wood stock in Baker City, Ore.
Marvin Windows and Doors was recognized as one of the "99 Things Americans Make Best" by Money Magazine.
Jake Marvin became company president.
Marvin partnered with Tecton Products to create Ultrex® pultruded fiberglass, a revolutionary product that is still stronger and more durable than existing fiberglass.
Marvin's safety recognition program began.
Susan Marvin was named president of Marvin Windows and Doors.
Marvin introduced Integrity Windows and Doors, a product line made of Ultrex® pultruded fiberglass.
A new factory was built in Fargo, N.D., to manufacture the Integrity line.
Marvin was honored by the state of Minnesota with a Governor’s Award for its pollution control efforts, the first of many such awards from the states where we have facilities.
Marvin opened a manufacturing facility in Grafton, N.D
Marvin launched Signature Products, a special division that tackles the most challenging design and construction jobs.
Bill Marvin was named one of the 20th Century building industry’s 100 most influential people by BUILDER magazine.
Marvin launched its bachelor’s and associate degree program. The company partners with systems of public higher education to bring instructors to Warroad, enabling employees to earn accredited two and four-year degrees.
Jake Marvin became CEO.
Marvin introduced Infinity Replacement Windows.
Marvin produced a four-wide wood outswing ADL entry system with a Pemko sill for the White House.
The Wm. S. Marvin Training and Visitor Center opened in Warroad, Minnesota.
Marvin built a new manufacturing facility for Infinity Replacement Windows in West Fargo, N.D.
Marvin introduced the Ultimate Casement line, a revolutionary window that quickly become a top seller.
Bill Marvin passed away at age 92.
New York Times reporter Andrew Martin spent three days in Marvin's hometown of Warroad, Minn., talking with company leaders and townspeople. He wanted to look at how a mid-sized company was navigating through the economic downturn – weathering tough times without laying off employees. "Our most significant accomplishment was that we lived our mission in the most challenging of times" - Susan Marvin
In a much-anticipated speech on the American economy, President Barack Obama discussed Marvin Windows and Doors, using the company’s story as the emotional climax of the address that commentators agreed set the terms of economic policy discussion throughout his 2012 election campaign. Obama held up Marvin as an example to the nation. Telling how Marvin refused to lay off workers even as competitors made deep cuts, he said, “That’s how America was built. That’s why we’re the greatest nation on Earth. That’s what our greatest companies understand.”
Marvin was honored with the American Business Ethics Award and the Minnesota Business Ethics Award.
The third and fourth generations of the Marvin family are deeply involved in all the facets of the company, from executive leadership to the factory floor.
Marvin purchases TruStile Doors, the leading manufacturer of quality architectural interior doors in eco-friendly medium density fiberboard (MDF) and natural wood.
Paul Marvin was named president of Marvin Windows and Doors.
Marvin’s record of innovation goes back to the very earliest days of the company. In fact, we got into the window business after a worker at the Marvin lumber yard suggested making barn window sashes and door frames as a way to keep employees busy during the slow winter months. Longtime Marvin employees tell stories of rigging their own machinery out of truck parts and farm equipment. If nobody made the equipment they needed for a specific task, they’d build it themselves.
Since then, we’ve consistently been an industry leader in developing innovative new products as well as innovative ways to better serve our customers. Innovation is in our blood. We work as a team to develop new solutions for products and services.
Marvin's products, features and designs are covered by one or more of the following patents or pending patent applications: