ADDRESS: 439 SW 2nd St, Corvallis, OR
OWNER: Lance Gibbs
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 11
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 3 full-time, 1 part-time
WHAT THEY SELL: Windows, doors, stair parts, mouldings, skylights and sun tunnels, door hardware, and products for commercial jobs
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: High-quality products, knowledgeable staff, and outstanding service. It’s no surprise that much of their business is word-of-mouth – a good indicator of happy customers!
Next time you’re in downtown Corvallis, take a walk down 2nd Street and take a moment to stop in at Riverside Window and Door. Their showroom is full of elegant windows, doors, and more—and their friendly staff is eager to show you around. Owner Lance Gibbs is a Corvallis native who has worked hard to create a solid business that offers high-quality products and services—and his enthusiasm for both his work and his home community is contagious.
When and why did you decide to start your business? I worked in construction when I was first out of high school, but it took its toll on my knees and back. So I switched to sales, where I’ve been for the past 25 years. I worked at a lumber yard for awhile, then I began to concentrate on windows and doors. Through my various jobs, I got to know a lot of people in construction, including Warren Lisser. Around the time that I got laid off in 2001, Warren was trying to figure out where to get good window and door products and service. I was getting pretty tired of working for other people, so I decided it would be worth the risk to start my own business. That’s when we became business partners.
Warren, his wife Susie, and I opened Riverside Window and Door on January 1, 2002. I had a lot of contacts, and Warren and Susie provided the start-up funds. At first, Susie and I ran the business, and Warren did the contracting. We had a very small, very cold office in the back of the warehouse at 2nd and Washington. When the building changed ownership several years ago, we moved our business down the street to where it is now. From day one, Warren, Susie, and I had agreed that we’d have a 5-year partnership, and then I would buy them out—which I did after 4 years and 9 months. We’re still good friends.
Tell us about your products and services. What are your specialties? We have a very nice showroom that gives people a chance to see samples of our windows, doors, and related hardware. While we offer a full line of custom and higher end products, we also carry high quality basics. What really sets us apart is the knowledge and service we provide. I’ve been concentrating on windows and doors for more than 20 years. There are so many choices that people often feel overwhelmed. My goal is listening to customers and helping them find solutions that make them happy. Our focus is on value, not on offering the cheapest product. This combination has been good to us.
I spend much of my time working with contractors, but I still help some with retail. I like doing both. I enjoy going out to people’s homes, seeing what they have and what they need. Commercial is really big right now. We supplied all of the windows in the new Monroe Library.
What challenges have you faced as an independent local business owner, and how have you met those challenges? The recent downturn in the economy has definitely hurt us. But we’re busier now than we have been in the last 3 years. What has really helped us is staying debt-free; we paid cash for everything, and that’s what’s allowed us to survive, while focusing on quality and service.
What is the impact of local independent businesses on Corvallis, and what does the future look like for local independents? We’re lucky in this area compared to a lot of places. Here in Corvallis, we haven’t seen the spikes that some communities have seen because we support each other. I make it a point to support other local businesses. Supporting local independent businesses helps the whole community. I think the future is looking up for the local independents, especially based on the past 3 months.
What do you enjoy most about owning a local, independent business in Corvallis? What excites or inspires you? I really like working for myself—and not working for someone else. It’s great being able to go in the direction I want to go. I like working in a place where the employees enjoy working and where customers enjoy shopping.
What is your relationship to the community? What organizations do you support or participate in? We’re members of CIBA and the DCA, and we’ve supported the Boys and Girls Club, da Vinci Days, and Heartland Humane Society. I was born here, in the Heart of the Valley Hospital, and I really care about this community.
Please give us your one-sentence take-away message about your business. Let our experienced, friendly staff assist you with your building and home improvement needs.
(Interview and article by Annette Mills – May 5, 2013)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).