It’s for good reason this family-owned business continues going strong after two decades. Not only does the firm repair, sell and install windows but it backs up its work with a commitment to integrity.
Why would a small-town window company from Lake in the Hills be called to repair windows on the 20th floor of a high-rise building in Washington, D.C.?
Because Simply Windows and Doors has the experience and work ethic to do the job right.
Two other crews were fired before Michael Strobel, owner of Simply Windows, was called in.
Strobel says it was flattering to know his team’s reputation preceded them.
“It was a big job,” he says. “It made me feel good knowing that when someone messed it up, they called me to make it right. That made me feel good because that’s what I want us to be known for.”
While the D.C. job happened nearly 10 years ago, the legacy of that job shows two things. First, Simply Windows has decades of experience to know how to work correctly and efficiently. And secondly, they’ve had a good reputation for decades. While the team’s general service area spans about 75 miles from its home base, the team has traveled all over the country, from Seattle and California to Texas and Florida.
“I don’t even know sometimes how people get my name,” laughs Strobel. “I’ll get a phone call on my cellphone and people will want me to go and do work.”
“In Washington D.C. they knew us, and they said, ‘Listen, we need you to come out and fix this,” adds Ron Strobel, Michael’s older brother, who handles sales for the company. “So, we have a good reputation. We’re certainly not perfect – we make mistakes – but it’s how we deal with those mistakes that makes a difference. If we make a mistake, we’re going to fix it; we’re going to make it right.”
In fact, it was that dedication to doing the right thing that led Michael Strobel into business in the first place. He was working as a serviceman for a large window and door company in Wisconsin when the company announced it would reduce his salary by 10% to help cut costs.
“I asked them, since they’re going to give me a 10% pay cut, am I going to do 10% less work?” he recalls. “They said no. That’s how I started my company.”
Armed with the knowledge of window repairs – and work in multiple Midwestern states – Michael Strobel set off on his own in 1999 and founded Quality Services and Repair.
“He took a risk,” adds his brother Ron. “He started working out of his garage, and he grew from there. One of the largest companies, for many years, was the company he used to work for. They used him as a subcontractor, only paying him for the jobs he needed to do. The nice thing was, he was able to take jobs from other companies and other people.”
Over the years, the company has grown from the home garage to a storage unit, a series of warehouses and now a 12,000-square-foot warehouse in Spring Grove plus a showroom at 9235 S. Illinois Route 31 in Lake in the Hills.
The opening of the showroom in 2020 was a natural evolution for the business, says Ron, who utilized his background in sales when he joined his brother in 2017. As an Illinois registered DBA (Doing Business As) company, Simply Windows and Doors is an extension of Quality Services and Repair.
“Realistically, we were doing installations for other companies, we were doing repairs, and we decided, ‘Why are we putting other people’s windows in? Why don’t we sell our own windows?’” Ron says.
The showroom allows customers to physically see and touch windows and doors before buying them. It’s launched Simply Windows and Doors into a one-two punch in the industry.
“One of the things that gives us an advantage over other companies is when you come into our shop, I don’t care if you buy windows because I can repair them,” says Ron.
This allows the team to be upfront with customers and help them find the best solution for their family – which isn’t always what they expect.
“A lot of times, people are thinking about fixing their windows when they’re thinking of selling their house,” Ron Strobel says. “It’s not going to greatly increase the price you’re getting for your home; you’re not going to get out what you’re putting in. When you put new windows in, it should be for yourself to enjoy.
“We recently had a family that was going to replace all their windows,” he adds. “I asked, ‘Are you planning on moving?’ The windows didn’t operate properly, but they looked good on the inside and outside. So, we repaired them instead. They spent the extra money they were going to spend on windows on a new front door.”
Part of the reason Simply Windows and Doors has thrived for almost 25 years is because the team – which has expanded to include three office employees and eight servicepeople – strives to be honest with customers.
This past April, Michael Strobel visited a customer who wanted six new windows, an investment that would have cost roughly $20,000.
“I said to him, ‘You don’t need to replace your windows. We can repair them, and they’ll be just fine. It’ll cost you $2,500 versus $20,000,” Michael recalls. “He said, ‘Why would you tell me that? Aren’t you losing money?’ I said, ‘I don’t want to take advantage of you.’ Do I make less money? Yes, but it goes back to doing the right thing. I don’t want someone walking into my house and doing that to me. We don’t believe in that here. We are honest and ethical, and we strive to do the best job we can do for every customer.”
While Michael Strobel likes to think most companies want to do the right thing, he knows that’s not always the case. He recently encountered a customer who wanted a new door. He told the customer it would take about five months for the door to arrive, as a byproduct of lingering pandemic supply problems. A competitor told the client tit would take six weeks.
“They went with the other company,” Michael says. “And once they signed the contract, they were told the door was on back order for six months. That’s what a lot of people are doing. Once you sign the contract, you can’t do anything about that. We always just talk honestly with people.”
Honesty is what makes Ron proud to be a part of his brother’s team.
“I just don’t like telling somebody anything but the truth,” he says. “And sometimes that truth is something they don’t want to hear, but I’m always going to tell them the truth. I think if you’re honest with people, that’s going to pay off tenfold.”
Similarly, the importance of owning up to and fixing a mistake is huge, he says.
“Most of our business comes from word-of-mouth,” he says. “So, if you have an angry customer, that person will share that bad news 40 times greater than someone who had a good review with you. Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of people, if you take care of them, they’re going to be a customer of yours in the future, and they’re going to tell their friends, ‘I had an issue, but these guys took care of it. They did a great job.’”
When Michael Strobel looks into the future, he focuses on personal effort and a positive attitude.
“I don’t worry a lot,” Michael Strobel says. “If you do the right thing, and you follow good business guidelines, and you run an ethical business, everything will always be OK. Have I struggled sometimes? Yes, but it always works its way out.”