Why Crystal Window & Door Systems Chose Pennsylvania
As a national manufacturer of vinyl and aluminum windows and doors, Crystal Window & Door Systems operates five production facilities and has distribution in more than 40 states around the country. In 2015, Pennsylvania became one of their newest production facilities. We spoke to Steve Chen, Chief Operating Officer at Crystal Window & Door Systems, to find out why they chose Pennsylvania and what it means to them to be in our great state.
Manufacturing a Clear Winner
They say when one door closes, another opens. That’s certainly true in Benton Township, Pennsylvania. In October 2015, Crystal Window and Door Systems acquired a 226-acre industrial property just off Interstate 81 in northeastern Pennsylvania that was formerly owned by Owens Corning Glass, a 336,000-square-foot building. The facility that was once owned by Owens Corning Glass had sat vacant for several years and now that Crystal manufactures here, it has become a tremendous boost to Lackawanna County and the entire northeastern Pennsylvania region. Since that time, we’ve renovated a significant part of the building, begun production operations, and hired 60 workers from the local community. Five-year plans call for further building renovations, expansion of production and a workforce of perhaps 350 to 400 employees.
Experiencing the Pennsylvania Advantage
Great news, of course, but why did Crystal Window choose Northeast Pennsylvania for this large expansion? What can be learned from Crystal Window’s decision-making process that might be useful for attracting other major firms to the area? I’ll try to explain some of the reasons why Crystal has decided to grow in Lackawanna County.
First, the area’s availability of large industrial properties at affordable prices. In New York City and much of its surrounding environs, it is impossible to find properties for manufacturing that exceed 50 acres. Smaller spaces go for wildly exorbitant prices since industrial property competes with commercial, retail, office, and multi-family housing real estate. For example, a recent review of existing industrial buildings for sale in New York City reveals an average list price per square foot of $627, compared with $30 to $55 per square foot for existing industrial buildings for sale in Lackawanna County.
“As we modify the building, we are seeing that Northeast Pennsylvania construction costs are lower than New York City’s by perhaps 30 percent, another factor in the region’s favor.”
The existing building on the new Crystal Window property, while not immediately suitable for our operations, has a usable quality construction building envelope. This enabled us to shave at least a year off production startup, compared to a scenario requiring construction of a completely new building. As we modify the building, we are seeing that Northeast Pennsylvania construction costs are lower than New York City’s by perhaps 30 percent, another factor in the region’s favor.
Also, the area abounds with institutions of higher education. Through internships, graduate recruiting, or production and logistics joint projects, local two-year and four-year universities and colleges will surely play a future role in Crystal Window’s growth and success.
Pennsylvania’s Welcoming Business Climate
Northeast Pennsylvania stands in stark contrast to New York City, which has innumerable direct and indirect costs of doing business. Taxes, regulations, mandates, fees, tolls, and other costs that come with manufacturing in New York City challenge us daily. Things like high local sales taxes, municipal income taxes on employees, restrictive and unnecessary labor mandates, exorbitant bridge tolls, and unrelenting traffic congestion are the straws that broke the camel’s back and contributed to Crystal Window’s decision to expand in the Greater Scranton area, and not in New York City.
All the advantages Northeast Pennsylvania offers reflect a region with an extremely supportive business climate and one especially focused on manufacturing. These regional attributes are important to promote. Manufacturing and other industrial businesses forced out of rising cost metropolitan areas like New York City, or states like Connecticut and New Jersey, are seeking new locations with just such a supporting business climate.
Crystal Window is delighted to have chosen Northeast Pennsylvania and is enthusiastic that other manufacturers make the same great choice!
To learn more about Crystal Window & Door Systems, visit crystalwindows.com and follow them on Facebook. Learn more about Pennsylvania’s manufacturing industry by visiting dced.pa.gov or if you are interested in expanding or relocating your business in Pennsylvania, start the conversation with our Governor’s Action Team. Continue to stay up-to-date on all Pennsylvania company news by following us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and sign up for our monthly e-newsletter.
Steve directs the operations of the Crystal family of companies with its many manufacturing and sales facilities throughout the country. Through his leadership, the company has grown significantly and is now one of the Top 35 Manufacturers in North America with one million square feet of manufacturing space.
Steve is also prominent in the industry, serving as past President of the Northeast Window & Door Association and a national judge for Window & Door Magazine’s annual industry achievement award program. Steve’s business expertise and success was recently recognized by leading business magazine Crain’s New York Business, which named him to its prestigious 2016 40 Under 40 list. He is also an avid supporter of performing arts and a Board Member of several local New York City cultural and educational institutions.