HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. -- A local manufacturer of a patented window insulating system is expanding operations, along the way partnering with a national nonprofit in the interest of creating "good green jobs."
Hoosick Falls-based Windo-Therm LLC recently completed licensing two new manufacturing centers, in Orford, N.H., and Fall River, Mass., for its Advanced Energy Panels, which are built to size and custom-fit to seal and insulate existing windows below the cost of replacement.
The double-glazed panels can triple the window's effective insulating value, reducing fuel use 20 to 30 percent, according to company President Jim Devine. States are beginning to include the panels in energy efficiency rebate programs and past local installations have included the town offices in Shaftsbury, Vt., the Vermont Mill Properties in Bennington, Vt., and the Cheney Library in Hoosick Falls.
But marketing and shipping have been hurdles to growth. "We ship all over the country, and shipping is a big, big issue," said Devine. The new manufacturing centers alleviate both marks through local marketing and regional production.
There are added benefits as well with the center in Massachusetts, a spinoff of YouthBuild Fall River, a vocational skills and General Equivalency Diploma (GED) program for at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 24. "They saw us as an opportunity to get good green jobs," said Devine, who said he was attracted to the nonprofit's green housing rehabilitation projects.
YouthBuild USA supports 273 regional programs nationwide, and more internationally, engaging about 10,000 young people a year working toward their GEDs or high school diplomas while receiving job skills; hands-on training, Devine said, that "doesn't require a master's from Harvard."
The new for-profit venture, YouthBuilt ECO Solutions, is intended as an employment option for students completing the GED program in Fall River, said Carmen Richardi, a former YouthBuild employee now managing the startup business. Other students receive internships, job offers, or go on to attend college.
"The dream was a facility to build green products ... and be able to employ students at the same time," said Richardi. He said the long-range goal was getting the one manufacturing center running and students to work, and then "replicate (the venture) and offer it to other YouthBuild programs."
"That's the big dream." In addition to supporting the YouthBuild mission, the concept is also to help sustain the nonprofit financially, Richardi said. The production site, housed in the basement of the Fall River Armory, has begun taking orders for installations in October and November. The company will offer other services including weatherization.
An informational how-to video was filmed to help other YouthBuild regions start their own manufacturing centers. The Fall River initiative got underway in part through stimulus money and grants for jobs training programs.
In New Hampshire, Windo-Therm has partnered with the startup company Window Improvement Masters, which is now entering its second season producing and installing the insulated panels. The licensed centers receive raw materials from Windo-Therm and pay a percentage in royalties. Devine reported quickening orders in New Hampshire due to jobs prospecting over the past year.
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