Over the past few years, the economy has caused many businesses to seek innovative and alternative ways to survive. Oxbowindo in White Lake Township has done so by carving out its own niche in the window industry — by shifting its focus to replacing wooden windows.
When construction was booming in southeast Michigan, Oxbowindo was busy supplying many new homes with beautiful new windows.
But with the economic downturn, many industries and businesses suffered, especially the construction industry, which in turn affected Oxbowindo.
“The bulk of window needs was always new construction,” explained co-owner Todd Burmeister, who splits ownership of the third-generation, family-owned company with his brother, Kyle, and cousin, Debbie. “I would say our business was 70 percent construction to 30 percent replacement (back then). Everybody was building houses.”
Their grandfather, William Burmeister, originally started the company as a lumber business in 1947 to meet the local building needs, before branching into window manufacturing to meet customer needs.
Eventually, the company’s main focus became windows and the business morphed into the Oxbow Window Company, before turning into Oxbowindo in the 1970s.
It has remained that way ever since, even with the company being passed down through successive generations.
William Burmeister’s sons, William and Robert, inherited the business upon his death and continued expanding and developing the business — adding other quality lines of windows and doors while still manufacturing their own double-hungs and sliders.
Today, the company manufactures wood and aluminum-clad exterior windows while distributing other window lines and exterior doors.
However, Oxbowindo’s main business is now window replacement.
“Our focus is the wood window market. There are a lot of houses in the tri-county area that have all-wood windows — with wood on the inside and outside. And between the way people aren’t maintaining their windows and the way the windows were finished, the windows are rotting out of the homes, ” Todd Burmeister said.
Although today the business is “geared almost a 100 percent” towards window replacement, Oxbowindo has not reduced its product offerings.
“There are still a few new homes being built each year, but replacement remains our focus,” said Todd Burmeister, who had to shrink the staff and implement cost-cutting measures as the company navigated its way through the tough economic climate.
Customer service also remains a focal point of the company.
“All we can do is keep doing our best. The products are not changing as rapidly as they used to so we are placing our focus on our customer service to do the best to take care of our customers’ needs that way,” he said.