ou cannot tell the story of Wallside Windows without telling that of a one-time fruit vendor named Martin Blanck. They are one and the same.
The son of Eastern European immigrants pedaled produce to help support his family while growing up in Detroit, and after his Army service he embarked on an American dream � to be his own boss.
Martin Blanck from a 1987 profile in Crain's Detroit Business.
A salesman above all, he would leave a new customer feeling comfortable they'd made the right decision to put their trust in him. And rarely would he be proved wrong.
For Martin Blanck was not one to put his name on a piece of poor work. To him it was a point of honor: You left the customer satisfied, or the job wasn't finished. How could you build a business otherwise?
Martin Blanck is recognized for his achievements by Mayor Dennis Archer at the Detroit Builders Expo in 1994.
Martin Blanck's Wallside Windows began on Schaefer Road in Detroit with a few machines, a few employees, and its owner's steadfast commitment to a few key values. He remained the company salesman, the setter of standards and the guarantor of customer satisfaction.
The phones lit up. Wallside Windows mushroomed by any measure. The square footage of its facility went from 7,000, to 15,000, to 36,000. Martin Blanck hired salespeople and imparted upon them his values: Work hard, be straight up, and always take care of the customer.
He loved coming to work, and he enthusiastically took visitors on tours of his factory. This is where we do this, he would say. This is how we make this.
Martin Blanck kicks it with Wallside plant manager Felice Bernardara, drummer in an all-employee combo, during a holiday party in the plant.
Parkinson's disease began demanding his time and capacities in the 1990s, but Martin Blanck continued to come to the office until December 2000, when he no longer could. He died in January 2001.
His funeral was huge, and after his death his family received letters and faxes from across Metro Detroit � including from people who said they had bought Wallside Windows and wanted to say how much they thought of Martin Blanck and what he stood for.
With about 200 employees and hundreds more contractors, Wallside Windows is the largest home-improvement company in the United States that serves a single geographic market.
Martin Blanck's values are still paramount today in the company, run by his sons, Stuart, Stanford and Fred.