Progressive Startup to Re-open Rust Belt Factory and Make Revolutionary Green Product


Photo by Robert Thornton III

That is a headline that we hope will be repeated many times, and describes the purchase of Chicago's Republic Windows.

Of course, whenever we write about the need to rebuild the rust belt for the new green economy, we get told in comments that it will never happen, the unions are too strong, the workers too expensive and the work rules too onerous. And look at Republic Windows' union, I mean, shades of Norma Rae, they had the gall to stage a sit-in, demanding their back vacation pay and severance! Who's gonna invest in that kind of environment?

Kevin Surace of Serious Materials is.
Kevin Surace at Greenbuild

He is going to retool the plant and retrain the workers to make his ThermaProof superwindows. The regular housing market may be dead, but Surace told us at Greenbuild that he is confident about the green building market and is putting his money where his mouth is.

According to the Chicago Tribune:


Surace said he sympathized with the unemployed workers and saw a chance for his company to expand into a new region where there was already a plant, equipment and a trained workforce available for purchase.

"It was very sad to see what looks like it could be a world-class operation just fall on terrible hard times and then all of the workers quite abruptly laid off," Surace said. "We saw a great opportunity with a great facility and great workers."



our interview of Surace at Greenbuild

It will come down to this: you can make a cheap product like a vinyl window in great quantities and put twenty of them in a McMansion, or you can charge twice the price for a product four times as effective, and use half as many of them. It is, as always, the balance of quality vs quantity; in most cases, the same workers can do either. It is quality's turn.

More on Serious Materials in TreeHugger:

Serious Materials Makes Serious Windows
TH Interview: Kevin Surace of Serious Materials
Soundproofing and Climate Change
New Drywall From Serious Materials Saves Serious Energy

Tags: Chicago | Energy Efficiency | Green Building | Green Jobs | Housing Industry

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