It’s pretty clear what Eagle View Windows & Doors makes: windows and doors. A few hundred come out each day from its new plant near Jacksonville International Airport.

 

Vinyl comes in from Illinois, aluminum from Memphis and glass from Virginia.

It’s all cut, assembled, welded, glued and polished to become windows and doors for homes and apartments in the Jacksonville area.

Jacksonville had its own window manufacturing company for more than three decades. That’s where Jack Dunham got his start in the business, working in Kinco’s Northside plant.

Kinco was bought by a national firm in 2004 for $27 million. The staff, which had numbered as many as 600, started to dwindle soon after and by 2008, as the recession hit the housing market, it shut down.

But Dunham stayed in the business as a supplier of other windows.

Three years ago, he opened Eagle View in a 15,000-square-foot space on Verna Boulevard on the Westside. He had just 10 employees then.

The big boost came last year when Bill Myers moved in as CEO and financial backer. With an investment of about $10 million, the company expanded this year to International Parkway near the airport.

It’s now 82,000 square feet and has 82 employees, including the six who started last week.

The plant is now turning out 200 to 300 windows and doors a day, but Dunham said that could soon grow to 500 with a couple of contracts they’re close to closing on.

The plant’s capacity is about 1,300 during an eight-hour shift.

The windows and doors are sold to builders and directly to homeowners, they don’t go through anyone else. They install almost all of them themselves.

“A store like Lowe’s or Home Depot wants to dictate too much,” Dunham said. “I don’t want any part of that.”

He designed all the windows and the manufacturing process. Everything is made to order.

The vinyl comes in 16- to 20-foot strips made to Eagle View’s specs. They’re cut and aluminum supports inserted. The windows are assembled, the corners welded. Yes, you can weld plastic, too. Basically, the plastic is melted together.

Meanwhile, there are the big sheets of glass, 6 by 7 feet. They’re laid on air-cushioned tables and cut, all computer controlled, of course.

The cut glass pieces are sent through a wash, not unlike a car wash, actually.

All the windows are double-paned, so two pieces are put together with a neoprene spacer, fused in a 375-degree oven and put into the windows with a silicone adhesive.

About 85 percent to 90 percent of the windows go into new homes, the rest into existing ones. But retrofitting costs a lot more.

Eagle View charges $15 to install a window in a new home. Dunham said a crew of two or three people can put all the windows in a new home in 1½ hours or so.

An existing home can take 1½ days, he said. There’s no telling what the installers may find once the old window is out: Rotten wood, cracked mortar ...

That’s why it costs $115 to put a window into an existing house.

Dunham figures his market is a 250-mile radius around Jacksonville, but he’s looking to open a distribution center in Sanford to handle Central Florida.

There’s not a lot of locally made competition. One maker of high-end windows in Ocala is the only other manufacturer within 300 miles of Jacksonville, Dunham said. Most of the windows coming into Florida, he said, are made in Texas and Pennsylvania.

Actually, a lot of makers and suppliers went out of business when the housing market crashed.

In the four-county Northeast Florida area, the number of new homes fell from close to 18,000 in 2007 to 3,200 in 2009. It had climbed to almost 7,000 last year.

According to the Window & Door Manufacturers Associations, U.S. factories shipped 66.7 million new windows in 2006. That fell to 38.9 million in 2009, but was back to 57.5 million last year.

And with the market coming back so quickly, Dunham said he thinks Eagle View will keep growing, making more windows and adding more employees.

“We start at $15 an hour, have a 401(k), profit sharing and health care,” Dunham said. “And we move people up. As we make more money, they make more.”

 

Roger Bull: (904) 359-4296