Throughout much of the 20th Century St. Louis was defined by its industrial sector. Although the region became part of the Rust Belt after the decline of American manufacturing, several industrial firms are still contributing to the region’s economic fabric. Winco Windows, located in the Olive Link’s Industrial District, is a perfect example of that fact.
Winco Windows was founded in 1931 by German immigrant Johann Otto Kubatzky. From its location on the north side of St. Louis, the company produced aluminum ventilators that were sold to builders in the City and surrounding vicinity. Johann ran the company for two decades before turning it over to his two sons, Theodore and Woodrow. By that time, Winco was offering a full line of ventilator windows and had started distributing its products all over the country. As the company’s new owners, Theodore and Woodrow further expanded Winco’s product line and advanced its business practices in order to keep up with an evolving market. In the 60s, the company began to use computerized order entry data in its manufacturing process. During same decade, it also became a charter member of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA).
In 1980, Winco Windows experienced another change in ownership after the death of Woodrow Kubatzky. Woodrow’s daughters, Karen Barnes, Kris Sherman and Kory Miller, became the third generation owners of the company, and Kory’s husband, Gantt Miller, became chairman of the board. A transition in leadership wasn’t the only major change at Winco Windows in the 80s. In 1984 the company left its North City location for 6200 Maplewood Avenue in University City. This new location was chosen for its large size, which could accommodate new operations and features, such as two AAMA-certified window testing chambers added in 1985 and 1992. Over the next thirty years, Winco would continue to lead innovations in window manufacturing while adopting new technologies and reaching new markets across the United States.
Today, Winco supplies built-to-order windows to buyers concentrated in the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast, though they are expanding into the rapidly growing Western market as well. Winco’s products are defined by high resistance and performance that allow them to last for up to 50 years, versus 15 to 20 years for the average window. Thanks to its solid reputation, Winco has been involved in several restoration projects in recent years. These include the Ellis Island New Immigration Building in New York and the Kelly Cullen Building in San Francisco. Additionally, Winco engineers have also continued the company’s tradition of innovation by creating new products. Among these are the Psychiatric Window, which helps provide healing natural light to mental health inpatients, and the Hurricane-resistant 3250 Steel Replica Window, which can resist winds above 150 mph and also provides ample protection from noise and water infiltration.
There’s no denying that University City and Greater St. Louis benefit from having Winco Windows in their economic ranks, but the company itself benefits just as much from being located here. According to Bill Krenn, Winco’s chief financial officer and a member of the University City Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, “St. Louis is centrally located in the country at large, and that helps with distribution.” Bill specifically praises the Olive Link for providing unique advantages to the company due to its “central location in the County/City region, which makes it easy for employees and other parties to reach us via car, the Metro Link, or the bus line.”
With its advantageous location, strong business model and quality products, not to mention its long history as a locally owned family business, it’s safe to say Winco Windows will continue to be a major player in the window industry. There’s also no doubt that it will remain a crucial employer to our region’s industrial workers. In fact, Winco is currently hiring production workers to help manage its very high backlog of products. Seeing a locally owned company that has been growing and expanding since the Great Depression continue to rise is simply astounding, and Winco’s innovations and involvement in restoration projects guarantee that it will continue to thrive for decades to come.
6200 Maple Avenue
University City, MO 63130