Solon brothers follow in father’s footsteps

Solon brothers follow in father’s footsteps
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Published: Sunday, August 28, 2011, 9:13 AM
By Thomas Jewell, Sun News

SOLON For Harley and Aaron Magden of Window Nation, less is more, at least when it comes to marketing and product presentation.

And their father, Mike Magden, late of Regency Windows, really can’t argue with the results.

Back in the day, “Mikey” was known for his over-the-top commercials. He smashed windows, slashed prices and waved cash.

Then he sold Regency Windows in 2004 and eventually retired to Aurora, although Harley and Aaron stayed on as marketing and sales vice presidents.

That lasted until early 2006, when the brothers from Solon left Regency and started their own company, Window Nation, signing a “non-compete clause” with Regency and setting up operations in Baltimore.

Incidentally, the “non-compete” clause expired in 2008, and Window Nation now operates in Maryland, Washington, D.C., North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and yes, Ohio.

The brothers have since opened up a showroom in Bedford Heights on Miles and Richmond roads.

“It’s definitely interesting running up against the company you helped run and your father owned,” Harley said in a conference call with Aaron and Mike, who took a little time away from a vacation in Put-in-Bay.

In fact, Harley and Aaron had worked in the industry all their lives, starting as warehouse boys in their teens. They basically worked in “every facet, except installation.”

They also gave their assurances that no child labor laws were ever broken, as they worked while attending Solon High School in the 1990s and after that, John Carroll University.

“I don’t think there’s anything on the books about unloading trucks when you’re 10,” younger brother Aaron quipped, having moved over to sales after finishing school.

As it turns out, Mikey, a Cleveland Heights High graduate, grew up in the business as well. It was his father, Melvin Magden, who got things started with a general home improvement company in Cleveland Heights.

Aaron and Melvin’s relatively low-key business approach continues to pay off. Last year, Window Nation earned over $20 million in revenue. It ranks 37th on Replacement Contractor’s list of the 100 largest companies in the home improvement industry, and 28th on Qualified Remodeler’s list of the nation’s top 500 remodelers ranked by revenue.

The windows are manufactured in Streetsboro, according to the company website.

The Magdens also do a lot of charitable work in Cleveland, their most recent project being with Goodwill earlier this summer.

They have donated a portion of their sales, employee time and windows to Habitat for Humanity and Ireland Cancer Center. They’ve also been involved with the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

And Mike couldn’t be prouder.

“They’ve done a superb job, following what I taught them,” the retired Mikey said. “Here are two guys who learned the business, opened up their own company and moved to a new place.

“And they did it in an economy that was wobbly, expanding to five states,” the elder Magden added.

Asked if they would ever consider emulating the old man’s approach on commercials, Harley said it was highly doubtful.

“I don’t think we can get up to that level. We’re not as animated.”

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