Window World: A Home for Veterans

As an Air Force recruiter, Art Lane competed with many of America’s finest as he crisscrossed the Upper Midwest in the 1990s, trying to pin wings on the best candidates while competing with rivals from other branches of the U.S. military who were also recruiting them.

“You’re in an area by yourself as an Air Force recruiter. That area is usually manned by about a dozen recruiters from the Army and even more from the Navy, and maybe a half-dozen representing the Marine Corps,” Lane recalls. “You’re driving, you’re canvassing — everything is done by you.”

But a quarter-century later, Lane is grateful for how this aspect of his experience in the U.S. military helped prepare him for the competition he would face as owner of two Window World franchises, one in his home town of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the other in nearby Wausau, Wisconsin.

“That military experience honed my ability to run a business, and my sales skills. It gave me a foundation. It was one of the many things I learned in the Air Force that I can attribute for our franchises’ success today.”

More American companies are expressing their appreciation for military veterans such as Lane these days, and Window World is right in the thick of such efforts. For example, the company works closely with the Veterans Airlift Command, a nonprofit organization that facilitates free air transportation to wounded veterans and their families. Using its corporate jet, Window World has flown 114 missions to date for the Command, transporting 139 veterans over 160,000 miles and logging over 420 hours in the air. The partnership has raised over $1 million in flights and in-kind donations since it began in 2008.

Headquartered in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, Window World is America’s largest replacement window and exterior-remodeling company, with more than 200 locally owned offices nationwide. Its windows, vinyl siding, and Therma-Tru doors all have earned the coveted Good Housekeeping Seal, and in 2018, Window World was ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Window and Patio Door Retailers” by J.D. Power & Associates, which surveys retail customers.

Andrea Gallina is another U.S. military veteran who appreciates what Window World means not only to her but to other vets. “They’re the kind of people who, when you shake someone’s hands and look them in the eye and give them a promise, they follow through,” says Gallina, who is a design consultant for Window World franchisees Gene and Karyn Bryan in Vista, California.

Gallina learned about the importance of honesty, commitment and dedication in lots of ways, beginning with her decision to join the Marine Corps right out of high school in Oregon. She became an encryption specialist and served during Operation Desert Storm in the first U.S. war in Iraq. After that stint, she left the service, got married and began raising children.

But lots of things changed for Gallina, as for the country, after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. She decided to re-up, joining the Reserves. And this time, she signed up in a field closer to her original desire: photojournalism. As a reservist combat photographer, Gallina helped document the Marines’ views of important events and developments ranging from catching airborne drug runners in Curacao to chronicling the rise of female helicopter pilots in the Pacific Ocean on the USS Reagan.

After six years of that stint, during which time she also divorced, Gallina pivoted to something she also figured she’d be good at — home-improvement sales. She was able to apply some of the skills she’d learned as a reservist, such as careful photographic documentation, to marketing home repair.

More important, though, working for Window World has enabled her to apply principles she embraced in the military, including “being able to stand behind my word,” she said. “Window World has delivered. If I sell a package of windows and tell customers what’s going to happen, everything is followed through. Window World is a great organization, a place where I can be myself and rely on core values of customer service, integrity and positivity.”

Aaron Broer is learning the values of the U.S. military and of Window World simultaneously. He’s a motor-transport operator in the Marine Corp Reserves in Fargo, North Dakota. Broer is also working as a project manager and head installation technician for his brother and sister-in-law, Carter and Melissa Broer, who own the Window World franchise there.

He is a link in the supply chain that is crucial for Marine Reserves’ training and, if necessary, deployment. Broer’s service requires his absence from work monthly for a five-day stint and a couple of weeks during the summer. “Window World is a great supporter of what I do,” he says.

And it’s important to him, Broer says, that Window World runs as smoothly as his Reserves unit. “Other companies don’t run that way,” he says. “It’s nice to be with a company that works to a schedule.”

Art Lane, the Wisconsin franchisee for Window World, leveraged a small loan from a physician friend to purchase the 48th Window World franchise nationally in 2002. He has overcome a number of personal and business obstacles — including his wife’s ultimately successful struggle with cancer, his son’s serious injuries in battle in Afghanistan, and the Great Recession — to emerge sobered and yet grateful for commerce, and for life.

“After losing almost $100,000 in 2011, a devastating hit, I haven’t seen a negative number in this business,” Lane said. “I can attribute a lot of our success to lessons I learned in the Air Force. But it’s Window World that has taken us from rags to comfort in a relatively short amount of time.”

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