The front door of a home gives visitors their first impression of not only the home, but the owner. The way it looks gives one a glimpse of the owner's personality.
Windows, on the other hand, generally serve a more utilitarian function, keeping heated or cooled air inside where it is supposed to be, improving a home's indoor air quality and saving the owner money in the long-run, said Iver Johnson Sr., owner of American Thermal Window of Chicago and Sahara Window and Doors of Mount Prospect.
Eye-catching bay, picture and other specialty windows serve both purposes. They add personality to a home while also keeping the interior of the home comfortable.
Johnson, a former Chicago police officer, has been providing windows and doors to Chicago-area homeowners through his American Thermal Window Co. for 37 years.
He learned carpentry skills by working a second job for another window company for five or 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. In 1997 he retired and turned his full-time attention to the window company, hiring two of his former colleagues, also retired police officers, as salesmen. Eight years ago, he acquired Sahara Window and Doors in Mount Prospect.
Both stores have retained their individual names, but the two showrooms function as the same company with identical offerings and crews that skillfully install a variety of products in single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums and commercial properties.
The combined company is very discerning when it comes to product selection, Johnson said, 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 its installation crews. Since a product's performance is only as good as its installation, all installation crews are employed directly by American Thermal Window and Sahara Window and Doors and they are highly trained and held to exacting standards. They always arrive in company trucks and the average installer has a minimum of nine years of experience, Johnson said.
"Window manufacturers are continually upgrading their products. Today's windows, which are generally available in wood, vinyl and aluminum, have much higher energy ratings than those being replaced, of course, so they save on heating and cooling costs," he added.
In addition to selling windows, American Thermal Window and Sahara Window and Doors offer 58 different door styles with 36 standard paint and stain combinations and more than 200 custom glass options. Custom colors are also possible.
Fiberglass is a common modern choice for outside doors because it is very durable, Johnson said, but his two companies also offer nationally recognized Simpson Doors that are made of solid oak, birch, cherry, poplar and other woods, produced in America. Doors that must be fire-rated, however, (like those between a garage and a home) must be metal and the showrooms also sell those.
The companies also offer and install custom patio doors. Custom cuts, designer glass and designer grids are readily available. Steel security storm doors are also part of the inventory for unbeatable protection, as are garden windows for growing plants, windows with blinds between the panes and fashionable doors with decorative glass options.
Johnson cautioned that homeowners shopping for replacement windows and doors need to do their homework before choosing someone to supply those new windows and doors and then install them.
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. We have been awarded with the Angie's List's Super Service Award for several years in a row and have an exceptional rating on Yelp. Those ratings reflect the way our customers feel about us. We also have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau," Johnson said.
"We also have a good following with condominium and townhouse associations because we are willing to attend association meetings at no charge. 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 Johnson's crews work year-round "because we are capable of doing all of 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 business for more than 19 years.
"We all understand what it is to own a home, so we are easily able to relate to our customers," Johnson said. "We strive to make sure our customers receive a positive experience from beginning to end, from their initial phone call, to their interaction with the sales rep and the showroom staff, to their experience with the installation crews. Nothing but positive experiences!"
The American Thermal Window showroom is located at 5304 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago and the Sahara Window and Doors showroom is located 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. "There is always someone to serve you."