FOUNDED IN: 1921
LOCATION: 2225 Kerper Blvd., Dubuque
WORKFORCE: 15 employees
Chad Lueken takes pride in his business’ ability to provide historically authentic windows and doors coupled with modern efficiency.
“It seems like there’s people that fall in love with old homes,” he said. “These people want to take care of them, they want to make them more efficient, and we provide them windows and doors that can help fill that niche.”
Lueken has owned and operated Dubuque Window & Door Co. since 2004. This year, the business celebrates its 100th anniversary.
The company was founded in 1921 under the name Hurd-Most Sash & Door Co. In 1977, Ed Tschiggfrie and Dale Wiegand purchased the business and renamed it Dubuque Sash & Door Co., operating it for nearly three decades in several locations.
By the time Lueken and his wife, Dawn, purchased the business, Dubuque Sash & Door was located in the Millwork District. In 2011, he renamed the company Dubuque Window & Door and moved its headquarters to 2225 Kerper Blvd., where it is located today.
Lueken also purchased two other businesses, Adams Architectural Millwork Co. in Eldridge, Iowa, and Americana DeVenco Shutters in Atlanta, moving both companies to Dubuque as part of his overall operations.
“We’ve acquired a couple companies to ensure we have a diverse product line and help us keep a stronger business,” he said.
Working in tandem with these acquisitions, Dubuque Window & Door constructs and sells windows and doors to homeowners and companies from the East Coast to Hawaii.
Recently, Lueken said, the company produced shutters for the sets of the television series “Scenes from a Marriage,” as well as for the Blair House, the president’s guest home in Washington, D.C.
Locally, the company’s work can be seen on a wide variety of buildings, from Dubuque Regional Airport to Grand Opera House and many Main Street storefronts.
For decades before Lueken purchased the business, Dubuque Sash & Door was known for its emphasis on historically authentic products. Lueken said the responsibility to carry on that tradition is one he takes seriously.
The process for crafting a customized window or door begins with shop drawings, which are approved by the customer before construction starts.
“From there, we kit the project, meaning we order lumber (and) glass for the shop,” Lueken said. “That’s where the shop employees come in and do their work. They make the drawings come to life. We wouldn’t be here without them because of the talent and the time they put into building these products.”
Dubuque Window & Door offers authentic windows and doors to match a historic building or restoration project, but it adds a touch of modern efficiency with materials such as insulated glass to retain heat.
To strike that balance, a combination of new and old equipment is necessary.
“We have machinery that dates back to the ’50s as well as two CNCs that use probably the highest technology you have in woodworking,” Lueken said. “… Some of this older equipment helps us with the joinery in windows and doors.”
Angie Puls, the company’s office manager and shutter product specialist, said traditional wood windows and shutters are enjoying a resurgence.
“For a while, in the ’50s and ’60s, the triple-track aluminum (storm) windows were hot and heavy, and everybody put them on. But they’re really kind of cold,” she said. “The warmth of wood just has a better feel to it, a better look to it, and it’s very easy to personalize.”
The company’s knack for historic projects has led to partnerships with local businesses such as Renaissance Restoration, a Galena, Ill., general contractor service specializing in restoration work.
Owner Terry Cole said he has worked with Dubuque Window & Door for at least 40 years. Lueken’s business often creates replica windows and doors to match historic ones for Cole’s projects.
“I’ve always had a good relationship with them, and when I need stuff, they’re really quick to turn it around,” Cole said of Dubuque Window & Door. “They’ll travel to a job site and help us with the measurements when we place orders and do quotes. They’re really contractor-friendly.”
Although customized, historical windows and doors are the cornerstone of the company’s operations, Lueken said Dubuque Window & Door also sells retail windows, doors and related hardware manufactured by other companies.
And the shop employees occasionally use their creative skills for other types of projects.
“We’ve done flower boxes before, and wine racks — anything that someone wants,” said Puls.
As Dubuque Window & Door Co. enters its second century, Lueken is prudent when discussing the potential future growth of the business, which has 15 employees.
In a pandemic economy, with an ongoing labor shortage and heightened shipping expenses, he is determined not to bite off more than he can chew so the business can continue to deliver a quality product for customers.
“We’re going to hold steady and just try to grow within our means at this point in time,” he said. “… There’s a lot of responsibility to keep (the business) going, and we’re always trying to figure out how to do that.”