Opening a business is always a risky move. There’s a lot at stake and, for the first few years, generally more money going out the door than there is coming in. In 2008, during the economic crisis caused by the sub-prime mortgage markets, many established businesses floundered or closed, and the idea of starting a new one seemed virtually impossible, especially one dealing in construction supply. Ben Heinsohn, owner of Salem Windows & Doors, recognized the challenges, but also saw the opportunities. He had the vision, the faith and the support of his family to take that “leap of faith.” Thankfully for him, his family, his business, and his clients, his commitment and determination have paid off.
While working as operations manager for a now-defunct window and door company, Heinsohn took the initiative to develop a commercial branch of that business. After working for several months to land a major historic renovation contract, by the time the customer was ready to proceed, his employer was going out of business. Heinsohn didn’t want his hard work wasted, and after a soul-searching conversation with his wife, Joy, he decided to proceed with the commercial project on his own. After all, he had the connections and knew the scope of the project; all that was lacking was an official company. That’s when Salem Windows & Doors was created.
Beginning as a home-based business, Salem Windows and Doors flourished during a time of economic insecurity; people were afraid to spend money, and home prices were dropping. However, despite the uphill battle he faced, Heinsohn persevered. Today, the company has two physical locations—their main showroom in Kernersville, and a second location, serving the High Country in Boone.
“I have taken a conservative approach to my growth plan,” said Heinsohn. “I’ve focused the foundation of my business on product knowledge, customer service and understanding the marketplace. It enables our team and me to be rooted in credibility. And where there is credibility, there is trust. Earning someone’s trust is a big responsibility, and it’s one my team and I take very seriously.”
After all, selecting the right windows and doors is a more intricate process than simply going to a big box chain store or a lumberyard. Clients want to make decisions based on trust in the products they are purchasing. They are relying on experts like Heinsohn and his sales team, Chris Kates and Randy Finley, to help them understand their options.
“Our team is educated on the brands we represent, as well as the competition. At a big retail store, you may work with one person one day, and that person may have limited training,” says Heinsohn. “Then, if you go back a week later, you may find that the person you talked to has either been transferred to another department the next week or isn’t working that shift. Most people can relate to the frustration of starting a conversation, then beginning the process all over again when the original person is no longer available. We aren’t like that. Salem Windows & Doors is a business that is structured and designed to have in-depth conversations, which establishes trust and builds lasting relationships.“
Heinsohn shares, “Our clients appreciate that when they talk to me, they can call back and talk to me again. If they talked to our Kernersville sales manager, Chris Kates, or Randy Finley in Boone, they can call back and speak directly with them. We are the same people they will work with the first time, third time and last time. Whatever it takes to make them comfortable with their decision, we are there to listen, educate and guide them towards selecting the right product for them.”
Heinsohn’s success can also be credited to his commitment to educating his clients. “I spent over four years in the classroom. As a former teacher and coach,” shared Heinsohn, “I value education and building partnerships. I recognize the importance of informed decisions. We aren’t focused on ‘selling’ to our clients, but instead, we want to give them the knowledge they need to make the best decision. I truly believe that is a key component of our survival in an industry that often is driven by the lowest price.”
Another big difference is Heinsohn’s willingness to listen. “My team and I are committed to learning what the client needs. We believe in face-to-face meetings, seeing the project first-hand and personalizing the experience. For instance, it’s not enough just to know how many windows or doors they need, or the measurements of the frames. We need to know about the construction of the property. What kind of building is it? Obviously, you wouldn’t put a steel door in a log cabin, nor would you put a rustic wooden door in a super-modern office space. When we can understand the client’s unique needs, we can make recommendations that work for them. We represent several brands, including trustworthy names, such as Marvin and Sierra Pacific. These are products that can address a variety of situations, and work within a variety of budgets.”
For this father of two, owning a small, local business offers him the best of both worlds. Heinsohn has been able to develop his business model not only according to what works for the marketplace, but also what works for his family. A family man through and through, Heinsohn knows how he expects a business to treat his wife and children, and he makes it a goal to treat his clients with the same respect.
“Whether our client is investing in new construction, remodeling, or simply replacing windows that are no longer efficient, our customers can count on us. I’m not interested in selling windows and doors just to meet a quota. I value and appreciate that my clients have other options. Since they are willing to trust me to respond to their needs, I want to be sure I deserve that trust. That’s my number-one priority in this business.”
Salem Windows and Doors is headquartered at 400 West Mountain St. in Kernersville. You can contact them at 336.770.5777, drop by or e-mail Info@SalemWindowsAndDoors.com. If you’re in the High Country, be sure to visit Randy at 8968 Highway 105 S. in Boone. The Boone location can be reached at 828.963.6016. Visit SalemWindowsAndDoors.com and be sure to “like” them on Facebook.
“I appreciate how promptly, and thoroughly you handled this even though it was a small job. You and your installers were all excellent.” ~ Drew V.
”We had our new windows installed by Salem Windows & Doors, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the work they did. Not only were they always on time, but they also made sure we were satisfied before leaving the job. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Salem Windows & Doors to our friends and family.” ~ Chris & Katie B.
“I have been so pleased with the work done by Salem Windows & Doors. When the windows and doors came in, they began immediately. I can’t say enough good about the work done for me. They are thorough and work to completion. I don’t think you’ll go wrong with Salem Windows & Doors!”
~ Bet W.
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