A Clear View

North Star Windows & Doors
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

Not all windows and doors are created equal. Big box store products might look good at first, but can show signs of wear and tear in just a few months. Handles loosen, hinges squeak, and paint starts flaking and peeling.

Using durable laminates instead of paint, making their own sealed units, and extruding their own vinyl, the team at North Star Windows & Doors manufactures products designed to last years.

“Our four cornerstones are QVSD: Quality, Value, Service, and Delivery,” says North Star General Manager Sheldon Dyck. “Those are the four pillars that have made us successful.”

A tradition of quality
Established in St. Thomas, Ontario in 1985, the company started off in the sunroom business. To fill the need for high quality windows and doors in their sunrooms, a new product category was launched in 1988. As that business rapidly grew, the sunroom company was sold to allow the team to focus on these new products. Growing its staff and market over the years, 2017 saw North Star purchase TruBilt, an entry-door business.

With a staff of about 420 today, North Star has a 224,000-square-foot window and patio door plant in St. Thomas and an 80,000-square-foot entry-door facility in Woodbridge.

Joining the business in 1989, Dyck has seen North Star evolve from a relatively small company into a business selling through a trusted dealer network across Canada from the Rockies to western Quebec, and in the upper United States from South Dakota to New York State. In the Maritimes, North Star sells through Mitten Building Products, part of Cornerstone Building Brands. The company also works with select buying groups including Home Hardware, the Independent Lumber Dealers Co-Operative (ILDC), Castle Building Centres, and in the U.S., ABC Supply and Standard Lumber. “We go through the dealers and don’t deal directly with many builders,” explains Dyck. “If a builder contacts us, we will typically partner them with an existing dealer of ours.”

Outstanding windows and doors, rigorous quality checks, investment in technology and equipment, and in-house manufacturing are just a few things that set North Star above the competition in the industry. Extruding its own vinyl, North Star uses Renolit film for lamination and sells components to fabricators in Nova Scotia, Ohio, and Mexico. These fabricators then manufacture windows using the company’s extrusions, which they have been doing for about 15 years. “Everything we make is custom,” says Dyck. “We don’t stock anything.”

Deemed an essential industry, North Star Windows & Doors operated throughout the pandemic. Although COVID presented some hurdles, the company is back to capacity, allowing clients to better schedule their installations. The turnaround time on white windows is just two weeks, with three weeks for colour.

Investing in self-improvement
Instead of waiting for opportunities, North Star installed a second high-speed glass cutting table for redundancy and capacity during COVID, along with a third high-speed glass line, which doubled the company’s glass capacity. Representing millions of dollars, the company made these significant investments for the betterment of itself and, in the end, its customers.

Continually innovating, North Star designs and manufactures windows and doors that are not only aesthetically pleasing and functional, but help save money over other products. This results in Energy Star® rated designs, and products created through the EnviroMade™ manufacturing process.

Along with internal quality checks and physical tests, random auditing is conducted through the CSA (Canadian Standards Association) Certification process. The company is also certified with AAMA, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, which represents manufacturers and professionals in the fenestration industry.

At North Star, the company also takes environmental issues seriously, saving energy and waste throughout its entire production process. This includes recycling PVC scrap into vinyl fencing and decking; recycling cardboard, scrap metal, and glass; re-directing heat generated by equipment; and filtering and re-using water from glass-washing equipment.

ComfortStar™ comes to patios
A focus on delivering beautiful, energy-efficient, and long-lasting windows and doors to the market is in North Star’s DNA. Last fall, the company launched ComfortStar™, its new patio door. It was designed with Energy Star 2030 in mind rather than Energy Star 2025, knowing the next two releases of Energy Star will be increasingly stringent.

“The ComfortStar patio door is the product of nearly 40 years of innovation and our commitment to consistently exceed industry standards—providing homeowners with products of exceptional value and builders the versatility for any installation application,” says the company. “ComfortStar was thoughtfully crafted to address long-term comfortability and provide a high degree of protection against weathering elements and water infiltration. More notably, ComfortStar addresses the need for sustainable building products and bears the ENERGY STAR and ENERGY STAR® Most Efficient distinction.”

Structurally strong, with enhanced water and air performance, ComfortStar patio doors also feature a unique self-draining sill. Backed by a lifetime warranty, the door is available in nine UV-resistant Fusion Colour Wrap™ exterior laminated finishes.

“It’s more airtight and watertight, and it’s structurally stronger as well,” says Dyck of the door, which took about 18 months from inception to production. “We’re able to use it on higher floors than our old patio doors, and it has more rigidity. It’s better for large projects that require air and water testing.”

Opening now, the Sentinel Entry Door System™
Along with ComfortStar, the company has recently launched the Sentinel Entry Door System™. A new door design, Sentinel marks the company moving from a vinyl-clad system to a composition jamb and self-draining sill. Lab results demonstrate outstanding abilities to withstand rain and strong winds. At performance grade (PG) 40, the Sentinel can withstand a Category 4 hurricane, with winds of 130 to 156 miles per hour (209 to 251 kilometres per hour) and up to eight inches of rain an hour.

“Structurally, the Sentinel is stronger, and better for water,” says Dyck. “And from a labour perspective, it’s easier to assemble. So you get a better door with fewer parts, less labour, and a cleaner look. It’s a beautiful door, and we’re excited about it.”

In the year it took to develop, North Star partnered with the University of Waterloo and Washington State University (WSU) to select the right composite material for Sentinel. Known for its expertise in materials science, North Star connected with WSU’s experts online, and expects to work with them on future projects.

A view of the future
Closer to home, the company partners with engineering co-op students from the University of Waterloo, and partnered with Fanshawe College to develop a window- and door-installer program—not for direct labour, but to support dealers by providing installers to them.

Promising some redesigns and new products for next year, North Star continues to build on its reputation for outstanding, energy-efficient windows and doors, including casement windows, single-hung and double-hung, bow windows, bay windows, the Sentinel™ Exterior Door Collection (including Sentinel™ Steel, Sentinel™ Fiberglass Smooth, Sentinel™ Fiberglass Woodgrain, and Sentinel™ Garden Doors), and its extensive glass and hardware collections.

In the coming years, Dyck says he’d like to see North Star expand its facility with an extra 100,000 square feet, about 550 staff, more extrusion lines, and a larger geographic footprint. “We’d love to be into British Columbia and fully into the Maritimes, not just dabbling as we do today in Quebec,” he says. “And in the U.S., we’d like to be more into Pennsylvania, New York State, and Ohio.”

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