Marvin Windows: Cutting Jobs During the Recession? Hell no.

Some companies prosper because of excellent leadership. Some because of excellent customer service. A few companies have both going for them, and it sounds like Marvin Windows is in that group.

I heard about this story from Todd Vendituoli, who shared a personal account account of Marvin Windows’ outstanding customer service. According to a profile in the New York Times of the Warroad, Minnesota-based window manufacturer, there are no plans to lay off employees or cut benefits despite the cutback in revenue. Since much of Marvin’s business is linked to the housing market, the company has definitely seen better days, which makes that decision risky according to conventional business logic.

While Marvin’s story might seem quaint, even naïve, Ms. Marvin says the no-layoff policy is as much a business wager as an act of benevolence. She says she is confident that it will ultimately pay off. Already, she says, Marvin is gaining market share from weakened rivals.

Ms. Marvin acknowledges that her family’s private company may have more leeway than public counterparts. It has forgone profits for two years to keep everyone employed, for instance. Nonetheless, Ms. Marvin suggests that corporate America could learn a thing or two from Marvin’s approach and long-term outlook.

“You can’t cut your way to prosperity. You can’t grow if you are cutting your lifeblood — and that’s the skills and experience your work force delivers,” she says, adding later: “Today, I think, to a great a degree, I think things have gotten out of balance. We see Wall Street almost punish companies that take the long view.”