Homeowners shopping for replacement windows and doors need to do their homework before choosing someone to supply and install them, said Iver Johnson Sr., owner of American Thermal Window of Chicago and Sahara Windows and Doors of Mount Prospect.
"Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in our business who are not credible," he said. "They move in and out of the business under different names and while they sell the product and services, they don't back them up.
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"So there are a lot of unhappy consumers out there who are complaining about companies that have gone out of business or who won't return for service after an installation."
American Thermal Window has been in business for 33 years and Johnson, a former Chicago police officer, is the sole owner.
"When you contract with a company, it should have a long track record and high standing on rating services like Angie's List and Yelp. You can't purchase those ratings. They have to be earned," Johnson said. "We have been named Angie's List's Dealer of the Year and have earned a five-star rating from Yelp. Those ratings reflect the way our customers feel about us."
Johnson learned carpentry skills by working a second job for another window company for about six years while still a full-time Chicago policeman and then, in 1980, he established American Thermal Window and ran it while still working for the city's police department. In 1997 he retired and turned his full-time attention to the window company, hiring two of his former colleagues, also retired, as salesmen. Four and a half years ago, he acquired Sahara Windows and Doors in Mount Prospect.
Both have retained their names but the two showrooms function as the same company with identical offerings and interchangeable crews, which install windows and doors in homes, condominiums and commercial properties.
The combined company is very discerning when it comes to product selection, carrying nine window lines, including Marvin and Pella.
"We only offer the best. If it isn't up to our standards, we don't carry it," Johnson said.
The same is true of their crews. Since a product's performance is only as good as its installation, all installation crews are highly trained and held to exacting standards, he said.
"The window manufacturers are continually upgrading their products. Today's windows have much higher energy ratings, of course, so save on heating and cooling costs."
Quality windows will almost always improve a home's indoor air quality and save you money in the long-run. They are generally available in wood, vinyl and aluminum.
American Thermal Window and Sahara Windows and Doors also offer 58 different door styles in 36 different standard paint and stain combinations, with more than 200 custom glass options. Custom colors are also possible.
Most outside doors today are made of fiberglass because they look like wood, but are more durable and require less maintenance than wood. Doors that must be fire rated, however, because of building codes -- like those between a garage and a home -- must be made of metal.
The companies also make and finish custom patio doors so custom cuts, designer glass and designer grills are all readily available.
"We have a good following with condominium and townhouse associations because we are willing to attend association meetings at no charge. So we also offer a wide variety of fire-rated windows and doors for mid to high-rise residential buildings and commercial properties," Johnson said.
Delivery takes three to six weeks, depending on the order's complexity and he said his crews work year-round "because we are capable of doing all the windows in an average house in a day without causing an undue temperature drop, even in the middle of winter."
Johnson's wife, Janet, works at the company part-time while his son, Iver Jr., and daughter, Andrea Jager, have both been with the company for more than 15 years.
"We all understand what it is to own a home so we are easily able to relate to our customers," Johnson said.
The American Thermal Window showroom is located at 5304 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago and Sahara Windows and Doors is at 150 S. Main St. in Mount Prospect.
"We encourage people to come in to one of our showrooms and see our displays," he said.
For more information, call (847) 259-9099 or (773) 774-3131 or visit www.americanthermalwindow.com.