New Andersen CEO on COVID, solar tech, more

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Chris Galvin, the new CEO of Andersen Corp., knows he is following a long line of door-and-window innovators.

Take Fred C. Andersen, the son of company founder Hans Andersen, who received the company’s first patent in 1926 — for a universal frame with wood-nailing flange.

“Prior to that, windows were assembled on the job site,” Galvin said during a tour of the Bayport-based company last week. “You’d actually take the wood, you’d make the frame, you’d make the interior window. One of his first inventions was to put together a frame bundle that we could manufacture here, and you could take it on site and put a window together in a matter of minutes instead of hours. … That really helped the company take off.”

The company, which has more than 235 patents, remains dedicated to avoiding complacency, Galvin said. “The way I view it is: If we don’t innovate and disrupt our own industry, somebody’s going to come in and do it for us.”

The company’s latest venture is a joint-development agreement with Ubiquitous Energy, a transparent-solar-technology company based in Redwood City, Calif., to develop energy-generating window and door products.

“For a couple of hundred years, the focus has been: How do we keep warm air in and cold air out? Or if you live in the South or the West, vice versa,” Galvin said. “Where we’re going, from an innovation standpoint, is to try to use windows and doors for energy generation, which is a really different concept. This could really transform our industry. We are in the process of developing a transparent solar window, which will be able to capture the energy from the sun to generate electricity. We’re still in the development stage, but things are looking really good. We’re about one year in, and we already have some of our pilot units being tested.”

Chris Galvin, president and chief operating officer of Andersen Corp., shows off an Andersen Noiseless Sash Pulley in the Andersen House in Bayport on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

Galvin, who was named CEO in September, joined Andersen Corp. in 2002 as an investment director. He has held leadership roles across all areas of the company, including corporate finance, manufacturing, logistics, supply-chain operations and general management. In 2019, he became president of the Andersen Division. Two years later, he was promoted to president and chief operating officer of the company.

“One of the things that we hold sacred at Andersen is making sure everybody can achieve their full potential,” Galvin said. “What’s great about that is I had opportunities, as do every one of our employees, to move to different parts of the organization.”

Founded as a lumber company in 1903 in Hudson, Wis., by Danish immigrant Hans Andersen, the privately owned Andersen Corp. will celebrate its 120th anniversary in August. It has nearly $3.5 billion in annual revenue and has more than 13,000 employees in sites across North America and Italy. About half of the company’s employees work in Minnesota at facilities in Bayport, Oak Park Heights, Cottage Grove and North Branch.

Company lore has it that one of the first phrases Andersen learned to say in English — which would become the company’s mantra — was “All together.” “He used to say it when he was out on the (St. Croix) River breaking up the logs,” Galvin said. “It used to be ‘All together, boys,’ but it’s changed to just ‘All together’ now.

“The way he described it is, ‘We share in all the challenges in the business and the hardships, but we also share the success,’” Galvin said. “He believed in that. It’s a saying and a mindset that we use today as we continue to build on that ‘all-together’ culture.”

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