Fifteen-hour days are nothing new to John Lacognata. When he got into the windows, doors and siding business 10 years ago, he knew what he was getting into. After all, if you want to be successful in this business, much like any other industry, you have to put in the work.
That hard work is paying off for John and his company, Universal Windows Direct of Chicago. Now serving a majority of Northern Illinois, John has expanded their services and met the growing demand. Let’s see how he did it!
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Jacob Hurwith: What are some of the services you offer?
John Lacognata: When it comes to windows, doors and siding, we do it all. Unlike many other window companies, we handle new wall installations, wall removals and structural changes.
Going along with windows, we also handle home winterization, green home improvement and energy efficiency projects.
Hurwith: What is your favorite part of the business?
Lacognata: Personally, I like watching the transformation. I love taking an old window or old siding and making it look new. With that, I love seeing people’s reaction once the project is completed. Living in the house, they can see the work going on, but once done, their reaction is priceless.
Hurwith: No industry is perfect. What do you not like about the business?
Lacognata: To be honest, it’s the long hours. We work 10-15 hour days. It’s a lot more work than many people think. It’s just the nature of the business. There’s a lot more to it then just coming and giving a quote.
Furthermore, I love dealing with people. You always remember the good people, but you get a few homeowners who are more difficult to deal with.
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Hurwith: Do you have one remodeling story that really stands out?
Lacognata: To honest, I love anything that sticks out, but one of my favorite jobs was a wood window project in Evanston (pictured above). The house was more than 120 years old and we had to mass all the original woodwork. I knew the final product would look good, but we were beyond thrilled with it. It was a big transformation, but we kept the original feel to it. The homeowners got exactly what they envisioned.
It was a $15,000 project. Wood windows are not cheap.
Hurwith: What is your best form of marketing?
Lacognata: Trade shows. We get a lot of business from trade shows and CraftJack.
Hurwith: Is there anything else you would like to share with our homeowners?
Lacognata: The No. 1 thing to remember is that there’s always a reason the lowest bid is the lowest. I have personally seen companies lowball a homeowner and they end up getting screwed. Never go with the lowest bid!
Hard work always pays off and John Lacognata demonstrates that fact each and every day. He may put in long hours, but as he told me multiple times, “it’s well worth it.”