Vancouver's Profile of Excellence features Centra Windows


Vancouver Profile of Excellence Centra Windows

A “people first” model is the key to building a business legacy that lasts. In addition to home improvement, Centra Windows has been in the business of people for over 35 years. “We’re not in the window business, we’re in the people business,” says Garett Wall, President & CEO of Centra. “It’s our focus on making a difference in the lives of customers, employees, and communities that really makes us different.”

What sets Centra apart is their unique business model. Whereas competitors are owned by conglomerates or a single owner, John Tilstra had a different vision. The Centra founder wished for the organization to outlive their people, providing opportunities for the next generation and reassurance to customers that Centra will always be there. To fulfill that, they combined their FERST values — family, entrepreneurial spirit, respect, safety, and teamwork — to establish their core foundation of employee ownership.

With employees representing and investing into the company as owners and shareholders, they have a stake in business matters — with Centra involving employee owners in decision-making, and sharing business plans and financial results with full transparency. Wall remarks, “When our people feel like their families, careers, and futures are provided for, they’re going to take care of our customers, which builds loyalty, which grows the business. It’s this flywheel that keeps moving forward to progress business growth.”

Recently Centra reached their greatest business model achievement to date with the Employee Ownership group buying out its founder to achieve 100% Employee Owned widespread ownership. Typically, founder buyouts result in sales to private equity or new owners, leaving employees and customers uncertain about where their futures and warranties stand. This succession strategy ensures that every employees’ future is secure.

Wall believes a company should only exist if it makes the lives of its customers, employees, and communities better. Employee ownership benefits all three — customers receive the highest levels of service from owners themselves and employee owners get access to investment opportunities, spreading wealth back into their communities.

COVID-19 came right on the heels of their major milestone. Luckily, Centra had a prepared mindset to deal with the pandemic and provide reassurance to customers.

“It was paramount to answer two questions: how do we keep our employees safe, and how do we keep our customers safe,” shares Wall. “We created safety procedures before they were required, then we had communication go out to customers on how we will ensure they stay safe.”

The way Centra sees it, renovation is not just another job; it is an investment in the homeowner’s future. That is why they care about providing the highest level of customer care and workmanship through their vertically-integrated approach — and they stand behind their work with the most trusted lifetime warranty in the business.

 

With customers spending more time at home, Centra is well-positioned in an industry seeing customer demand grow during these times. “People are falling in love with their homes again and understand how much home is a part of their lives.

We invest in the community while we make homes better, and we make people’s lives better by making their interaction with their homes better.” “We only have one install standard — the right standard,” says Wall. “We bring the same level of technical experience and expertise used on major projects into your home. We’re the only ones in our space that handle the full spectrum of single family and multifamily install expertise in-house with no subcontractors.”

The Centra Cares Foundation — the company’s registered charity — has given their people an opportunity to give back and make an impact. To date, they have fundraised and donated over $750,000 to local causes. Their philanthropic efforts were heightened during COVID-19.

“Charities, causes, and grassroots organizations are struggling — their funding has been cut and their services are needed more than ever,” says Wall. “We’re supporting food banks, hospice societies, seniors programs and other programs assisting those impacted by COVID.

Centra is focused on the people side of their company goals. “Our upcoming goals include building to 500 employee owners,” shares Wall. “We’ve proven this employee ownership model is a successful way of driving the business forward and creating a culture that creates a positive difference for people, our customers, and for communities.” 

 

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