Paul Marvin, CEO, The Marvin Companies.
Courtesy The Marvin Companies Paul Marvin, CEO, The Marvin Companies.

In August of this year, Paul Marvin, president of Marvin Windows and Doors, also assumed the position of chief executive officer for The Marvin Companies. Paul Marvin is the first of the fourth generation of the Marvin family to hold the top Marvin Companies position, following his uncle, John W. “Jake” Marvin, who has stepped down to become vice chairman.

This transition of power places The Marvin Companies among the few U.S. companies--less than 3%, according to Marvin--to reach its fourth generation of family ownership. Paul Marvin brings over a decade of experience in Marvin’s sales, marketing, and management to his new role, along with the guidance of a legacy that spans over a century.

We sat down with Paul Marvin to ask about his professional development, his new position, and his goals for The Marvin Companies in the present and future.

BUILDER: Your family has owned and operated Marvin for four generations now. How did your family and your upbringing prepare you for your work at Marvin?

Marvin: Part of it has to do with growing up in Warroad and in the family business and being surrounded by it. We are the major employer in town. My upbringing in Warroad, in this town of 1,700, surrounded by friends and family. … I think it gives any family member an appreciation for the work that we do for our stakeholders or our employees, our employees’ families, our community, and of course our customers.

It’s one thing to read about it or hear about it, but to be integrated into it and live it, it’s the definition of culture. Your values are infused. They don’t even have to be taught, because it’s life. I think that has prepared me really well to lead the next generation of the company, because those values are so important to who we are. Being immersed in those [values] from a very young age had a really profound impact on who I am as an adult and as a leader in the company now.

BUILDER: In terms of your tenure as CEO, how do you plan to shape and support the company in the coming years?

Marvin: Well, I can say this. We’re going to grow. We are focused on growth right now, [and] thinking very carefully and forming our plan for how we will grow. This includes growth in our core fenestration business, but we’re also looking at growth in adjacent categories and new products. TruStyle doors was an example of that. Acquisition is an area that we’re going to continue to consider as a key part of our strategic plan, and starting new businesses from scratch continues to be important.

We’re also at an inflection point in our company’s history from an innovation standpoint. We are very proud to have been an industry leader. We have set the standard for the window and door business in so many ways and we are very proud of that. But innovation takes a process and it takes careful thought about how you will innovate and in what areas. And we are busy, along with my cousin Christine who leads the initiative on how we’re going to innovate in the future. Of course that includes product, but it extends beyond product into services and experience and processes.

How we are creative and how we are innovative has to change because the external environment around us is changing so much and will continue to in the next five to 10 years. Our approach to innovation definitely will change, and we’re really excited about that.

BUILDER: Before you became president in 2016, you served as VP of sales, among other roles. What other roles did you hold in the company, and how did they prepare you for becoming president and CEO now?

Marvin: I came in as an analyst 11 years ago, in sales and marketing and operations. It gave me a unique view of the business from an individual contributor role. I managed our wood processing operation here in Warroad--I was the director of our materials and purchasing and supply chain groups, and [then] I was vice president of sales. I should note that my summers as a student, both high school and college, were spent working at the company.

Those progressive positions gave me a broader view of this symphony that takes place and then culminates in a finished product that you see in a home. I got to see a lot of different parts of the business. I would say those positions prepared me for the human element of leadership. At the end of the day, each of those, as any position is, is working with people. And so it gave me an increasing scope of responsibility to not just lead people but work with people of different backgrounds, of different capabilities, throughout the business.

Another role that I’ve had has been on the Board of Directors for The Marvin Companies. I came in as a rookie board member, but that’s been instrumental in preparing me to have a top view of the company from the very most strategic visionary and governance side of the business.

BUILDER: Your position is the culmination of a five-year transitional plan. What did that entail?

Marvin: The five-year transition plan gave me time to grow as a leader, and to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes. It certainly included some formal coaching. I had a number of development coaches and executive coaches along the way that the company hired to help me prepare for the CEO position. But it’s meant other things as well. It meant making sure that the rest of the bench was as strong as possible.

I credit the third generation and the board for making sure that the team surrounding me were rock stars. That includes both family members and non-family leaders. The board was very insightful and proactive in making sure that not just Paul was developing, but the bench around Paul was as strong as possible, which I’ve been extremely grateful for.

And then it meant the third generation, particularly my Uncle Jake and George and Aunt Susan, stepping aside. I think that’s implied in transition, when the next generation takes up the top role. It takes the courage and the wisdom of the third generation to know when and how to step aside and do it gracefully and at the right pace, to ensure that the fourth generation, including myself, is ready, but to also know when to take the training wheels off and say “good luck.”

BUILDER: As both president and CEO now, what additional responsibilities will you hold?

Marvin: I will continue to be a member of the board of the Marvin Companies. I lead the fenestration group as President, so that [entails] responsibility for leadership and strategy and execution of the fenestration unit, which is our largest business unit. And then as CEO, that includes oversight of the fenestration group, of which I’m President, but also other categories and business lines that we have, such as our material innovation company and fiberglass production company, Tecton. We also have a wood processing plant in Oregon, and we have an interior door company called TruStyle.

In addition, the CEO, as in any company, is charged with the future vision of the company, and shaping and leading and organizing the company towards that shared future vision. So that’s going to be a fundamental part of my role, as it should be with any CEO.

In particular, in our fourth-generation family business, the CEO plays the most critical role in ensuring the long-term sustainability of the family enterprise. So that’s something unique to the CEO role at Marvin: keeping the family in the same foxhole, and working hard to ensure that we’re all aligned and pointed in the same direction, pulling on the same rope, so that we’re in position to steward this business forward and hand it off to the next generation when that comes. It seems strange to be talking about that this early in my tenure but it really is something that begins, and has begun already to prepare the fifth generation and ultimately the [future] CEO of the family business to play a key leadership role.