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A Builder Discusses Product Strategy

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Sponsored Content Q+A

A Builder Discusses Product Strategy

Which products make a difference? Andrew Houlihan of Houlihan Building Company dives into what kinds of products matter to builders and their clients, including the Marvin Elevate® and Essential Collections.

October 25, 2023
A Builder Discusses Product Strategy

You have 20 years in the business. How did you get started?

I learned the ins and outs of small business from my family’s custom residential home construction company in Wisconsin. After graduating from college, I was ready to try a business of my own. I started HBC in 2010 with a focus on custom residential and millwork projects.

Can you describe your company and the kinds of projects you engage in?

We focus on custom residential remodeling, additions, woodwork, and millwork upgrades with some new construction. We average 8-12 projects per year.

How often do you use Marvin products?

We prefer to use Marvin in every project with new window upgrades. We install about 30-70 units a year, with Elevate windows (Ultrex® fiberglass exterior/wood interior) used on most projects. Nearly 80% of our jobs are older home remodel projects and Marvin offers a full line of custom products to fit the rough openings.  

The Elevate and Essential collections offer a streamlined set of popular options in terms of hardware, colors, and finishes. Does that make ordering easier? 

Yes. The numerous options and availability allow us to match existing architectural features across older remodel projects and newer additions.

What are your customers looking for these days?

They are looking for quality products that will make their investment last. While they are budget conscious, they do seek name brands, products they believe in, and they’re ultimately willing to spend more on quality products. Especially if it’s a feature that is important to them. When it comes to windows, I’ve started to see a trend for more glass, just trying to get as much natural light in the house as possible with minimal mull coverings and thinner jamb dimensions. A lot of the trim we’re applying is getting smaller to bring more focus on the window itself.

What are some of the material and design trends you’re seeing?
With windows we’re seeing a lot of divided lights, and black and bronze exterior colors are becoming a more requested feature. High-end kitchen appliances, antique brass, neutral wood tones for cabinetry, wireless options like speakers, electric blinds, and lighting that is more integrated or automated. 

City Homes Kellogg


Can you describe a time where a “wow” factor played a part in a home build?

We recently finished an outdoor living space in Saint Paul, Minnesota, that brought together a new garage build with backyard entertainment spaces. The clients wanted the garage to be accessible to patio areas for a seamless outdoor/indoor transition. We were able to achieve that by using products that showcased the openness they were looking for. We used a glass garage door and 10 Marvin Elevate windows to create the look our clients were after. 

Are there certain products where you won’t compromise on quality? How do you make those decisions?

We certainly focus on quality framing materials, exterior products, windows, and insulation. Then we partner with our subcontractors and the install teams to decide what is best for the project and climate.
Marvin is known for its custom-crafted approach. How do you see that taking shape, and what are some advantages of that?

That approach matches well with how we execute our projects. Marvin products allow us to work with custom openings and provide variety in product details and materials. Knowing there are options allows the design and install teams to collaborate on schedule to install what the client wants in a timely manner. Efficient scheduling is a key part of the build process. Marvin’s improved lead times have allowed us to meet deadlines and move projects forward more efficiently.

Accordian Living Room


How important is a builder’s relationship with product manufacturers?

It’s extremely important. I see it most with installation and product knowledge. In the Midwest climate, it’s important to stay consistent with correct product installation, and having a good relationship with the manufacturer helps with that. And of course, manufacturers’ warranties are a big factor in selecting the final installed product.
Marvin offers the capability to pair Elevate fiberglass-wood products with the all-fiberglass Essential collection within a home while maintaining a cohesive look inside and out. Are you seeing more mixing and matching of products and materials in general?

Yes. In remodeling projects you’re always encountering “old meets new” scenarios. There is always going to be a cross between the two and finding the right balance in what’s right for the architectural style, the vision, and the budget. From matching existing home features to making a room stand out with different material options or collections, we are seeing more clients and architects mix and match between product offerings to bring their vision to life.  


All images provided by Marvin. For a closer look at projects completed by Houlihan Building Company, visit houlihanbuildingco.com/.

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