Exceeding Expectations

The RiteScreen Company
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

For almost 80 years, RiteScreen, headquartered in Elizabethville, Pennsylvania, has solidified its reputation as a leader in the screen solutions business. Committed to customers and suppliers, and accountable to its team, RiteScreen remains focused on continuous improvement and meeting the needs of the ever-evolving door and window market. This commitment to customers and suppliers was never more apparent than in 2014, when RiteScreen was purchased by Seven Point Equity Partners, placing a heightened emphasis on the company’s manufacturing efficiency and product innovation.

The legacy of America’s first screen company goes back to the 1940s when JT Walker founded the Clearwater Flying Company of Florida. Initially, the business focused on leasing and selling airplanes and providing flying lessons to civilians and veterans following World War II. By 1947, Walker transformed the company into Metal Industries Inc., utilizing a portion of one of its airplane hangars to build window screens with aluminum frames.

“What JT Walker and his partners began in Florida has grown tremendously over the past 75 years,” says Steve Middleton, Vice President of Sales – West. RiteScreen has seven strategically located plants throughout the United States, and Middleton explains that, “Maintaining our values of honesty, integrity, safety, customer focus, accountability, continuous improvement, and teamwork helped make us what we are today.”

With decades of experience providing industry-leading window and door screen products, RiteScreen has the skills and technology to provide best-in-class experiences for all its customers. The company offers the biggest product catalog in the business at almost 100 pages, showcasing standard and customized window and patio door screen solutions along with components and information on custom color capabilities, outsourcing, packaging options, dimensions, and more.

“Our catalog is updated multiple times throughout the year, providing a standing resource for our customers to rely upon when needed,” says Mark Gwozdz, Vice President of Sales – East. Along with an impressive catalog, RiteScreen recently hired a new Digital Marketing Director, further promoting the company and its resources online for window and door manufacturers.

As an OEM in the screen industry, RiteScreen offers window companies a wide variety of options in both packaging and shipping. In fact, RiteScreen tailors its manufacturing processes to each individual window company, providing highly specific, comprehensive screen solutions normally associated with small, boutique dealers. RiteScreen is even set up to accommodate the most frequent ways in which screens are consumed by window manufacturers: sequenced options for lean efficiency, house-packaged options for manufacturer ease, and even stock bundle options for streamlined, efficient screen solutions.

By providing high-quality screens at a more efficient and affordable rate, RiteScreen enables manufacturers to redeploy people, space, and capital toward more profitable endeavors: making more windows, doors, and skylights. “Simply put, our number one advantage is peace of mind,” says Gwozdz. “At RiteScreen, we are screening experts; it’s in our name. It’s our passion. It’s what we do.”

RiteScreen was purchased by Seven Point Equity Partners in 2014 and the company quickly launched its Total Screen Solution presentation, as well as a confidential “make vs. buy” analysis tool. With these tools, the window industry has realized that making screens in-house is never as profitable as outsourcing. The majority of America’s largest and most successful window manufacturers have been outsourcing screens for years—and for good reason. RiteScreen’s Make vs. Buy tool has made small to medium-sized manufacturers realize the benefits and additional profits of outsourcing.

“We always knew we were effective, but it’s exciting to see just how much value we’re actually providing to our customers,” Gwozdz says. “And with the make vs. buy tool, we can definitively show the specific savings we provide to each unique business. In fact, with all the ‘make vs. buy’ analysis we’ve done, we have never found it to be more cost-effective or efficient for a manufacturer to produce screens themselves instead of outsourcing them from RiteScreen!”

As a reliable single-source solution company, RiteScreen makes outsourcing easy, efficient, and highly profitable. By freeing manufacturers from the hassles associated with insourcing screens, they can instead focus energy and resources on their core door and window business. And with a massive selection of screen products and multiple factories, RiteScreen provides roll-formed and extruded screens for virtually every window and door type installed in America. This includes screens for double-hung windows, single-hung windows, casement windows, awning windows, sliding windows, hopper windows, tilt-turn windows, single slide patio doors, swinging doors, and now even multi-panel sliding ‘big doors.’

Much has changed since RiteScreen was founded, including the materials and production methods used in manufacturing. And now, even the typical door and window sizes are changing! While windows and doors are still designed for functionality, it’s undeniable that these products are becoming larger and more complex than ever. This is particularly the case along the West Coast in California, where property owners want massive doors to enjoy their spectacular ocean or mountain views.

Thanks to improvements in technology, energy efficiency, operations, and hardware, RiteScreen is seeing more requests for bigger screens, multiple panels, and even entire walls to accommodate these gigantic doors and create expansive spaces. Fortunately, the company has dedicated considerable effort to developing screens to meet these emerging needs— whether it’s height, width, or how everything fits together—and has created innovative, dynamic products to cover multiple-panel spaces.

In fact, RiteScreen has solutions that support numerous operating configurations, with screen sizes up to 40 feet wide by 12 feet tall. “Recently, we launched a multi-slide patio door screen where you can go out to eight panels wide, 12 feet tall, and 40 feet wide with a screen system that’s attached in panels,” says Middleton. “You have the door panels? Well, now we can replicate them and produce screen panels in the same exact configurations to cover that space. 10 or 15 years ago, we never would have considered such a product. But now, in response to our customers’ evolving needs, we provide the best option in the industry for screening-in that size of door and that size of opening.”

All businesses faced tough times during COVID-19. Still, RiteScreen was able to successfully deliver an impressive 98.7 percent on-time and completion rate to its highly aligned and most committed customers through the pandemic. This remains not only a point of pride, but a clear sign of the company’s management, efficiency, strengths, and customer dedication.

“That was an important time for us, and we are very proud of that,” Middleton reflects. “Plenty of companies talk about maintaining continuity of supply and remaining on time, but in the toughest of times—particularly over that two-to-three-year period—we came through without any decline in quality or lead time. We know those were challenging times for manufacturers across many industries, so we take a great deal of pride in the collective efforts of our entire team.”

Early in the pandemic, RiteScreen made provisions to ensure adequate supplies of aluminum so it could keep its promises to customers. “We didn’t want to be the reason they had to change their lead time or break delivery promises to their customers,” says Middleton. With seven plant locations, RiteScreen came together as a united entity, rather than individual silos. This collaborative spirit proved to be a huge advantage for the company and its loyal clients.

RiteScreen’s team had to react quickly to ensure continuous production throughout the pandemic. Sometimes, lines had to be pulled down with little notice, but by seamlessly moving production from one plant to another, the company filled orders in full and on time. By ensuring sufficient materials and employing the strengths of all its plants, the company continued to honor the close working relationships it has built with its customers.

“We are very proud that we did not change our lead times during that period, and maintained our ability to complete orders.,” says Gwozdz. “It was a lot of hard work, but everybody at RiteScreen committed to keeping those promises. While many manufacturers focused on bringing in new customers during that time, we really prioritized our existing customers. And I think our customers really appreciated the work we did.”

As RiteScreen grows, it continues to introduce exciting, new screen products to the market. One of the most recent is the proprietary SlideRite adapter, which transforms standard 5/16” screen frames to a larger 3/8” or 7/16” screen frame dimension without increasing the base metal frame size. This unique innovation allows manufacturers to use the same screen design in windows with varying screen pocket dimensions, providing cost savings for manufacturers and alleviating headaches for installers.

In recent months, RiteScreen has also started offering manufacturers the option of ordering patio door screens in a shipping tube or box. This allows for the shipment of more doors in a smaller space, generating significant savings on freight costs. Paused during the pandemic, RiteScreen is also finalizing and adapting a new proprietary blue light adhesion technology. This provides manufacturers with an alternative method for securing screen mesh to a screen frame. Ultimately, this new method reduces the manufacturers’ screen acquisition costs by eliminating the labor and materials associated with a traditional screen spline.

As the company’s 80th anniversary approaches, RiteScreen is continuing to invest in future endeavors, making improvements to its enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, electronic data interchange (EDI) technology, and just-in-time (JIT) delivery processes as it anticipates the demand for outsourced screens to continue to grow.

“RiteScreen’s market penetration is expected to persist with investments in new plants,” shares Middleton. “In Q2, we are set to launch a new ERP system, enhance our functionality, and expand services to our manufacturing customers. Additionally, we are actively pursuing acquisitions of complementary screening products, allowing us to further broaden our product portfolio for window, door, and skylight manufacturers.”

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