Whether stuck in an economic downturn or thriving in a robust housing market, PGT Innovations centers its internal focus on sustaining a quality workplace for its employees and giving back to its community.
“I joined PGT Innovations during the heart of the housing downtown in the 2000s,” says Dean Ruark, Vice President of Design Engineering and Innovation. “The company had been a phenomenal growth company, and then we saw this downturn.”
Through the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression, Florida businesses were hit tremendously hard.
“But despite it being such a difficult time, the company conducted itself with integrity and generosity,” Ruark says.
The company never wavered from its core values: they continued caring for team members, making decisions with the customer first, and supporting the community.
“Seeing the company’s performance through that time was a phenomenal experience,” shares Ruark. “A lot of businesses act differently when times get really tough. It was cool to see how PGT conducted itself through that time—it made me have this admiration for a company that held true to its values in the toughest of times.” And then, as the economy grew back in 2012, many former employees came back as soon as they had the work again. “It was exciting being part of that growth story where past team members who weren’t able to stay with the company through that downturn were now back and building windows again.”
Debbie LaPinska, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, has been with the company for 28 years and says her “years of service” is a testament to the company.
“Because you don’t necessarily stay with a company that long,” she says. “There’s got to be something really special about it, that would keep you here. A lot of the things that we do as a company are done because of how much we care for the people who work for us and because of our belief that you take care of your team members. It started with Paul and Rod, and it has carried on with Jeff, to a whole new level. He believes that you are only as good as the people who work for you and with you every day.”
In a “pun intended” statement, LaPinska urges outsiders to come “open our doors,” see what’s at the heart of the company, get to know the culture of care that exists not only between team members and the customers, but extends to the entire community as a whole.
“I think people generally want to work for a company that has a passion to do the right things and is very caring and giving,” says LaPinska. “It’s not just about business and the numbers, right? Where Hurricane Charley hit Charlotte County, FL in 2004, that was where 60% to 70% of our team member population lived. We made sure they were taken care of, even when we could not talk to them on the telephone because obviously power lines were down.”
She recounted that after the company hired an airplane to fly over the community with a banner that said, ‘If you are a PGT employee, call this number’, they set up a recovery station nearby where the employees could get tarps, generators, water, food, and supplies, wash their clothes, and even get money to help them get by.
“We told them, ‘the most important thing is to take care of your families, take care of your homes. Your job will be here when you get back’,” says LaPinska.
Through several years of post-storm relief efforts since then and standing together through poignant hurricanes like Irma and Michael, PGT Innovations’ pillars of community and family have become stronger with every storm.