Article by Kathie Springer, Pictures by Elena Boyce
On a sunny June afternoon, a familiar company truck pulled into my driveway. I’ve seen these trucks many times on the roads of Sandbridge. I also recognized their smiling faces. As the owners of Beach Windows & Siding, John Barringer and his son Thomas have appeared on my television many times in their commercials. We are “Behind the Business” with John and Thomas Barringer.
My first question and my favorite question was, “Why windows and siding”? John’s response, “We like to surf and thought owing our own company would allow us time to surf in the morning and then go to work. A funny thing happened though, the company became successful and we hardly have time to surf anymore”! Even with the success of the company, they still try to get out there in the morning. That is one of the perks of living in Sandbridge; one can surf in the morning, shower and go to work.
A young John started in the construction business as a bricklayer. Being a quick study, John came to the fast realization that carrying bricks and mortar all day was a pretty tough job. He promptly found another job building decks and installing windows and siding. John quickly noticed that transforming a home’s exterior was much more exciting than watching bricks go up all day and a lifetime career commenced!
After 35 years of transforming homes while working for others, John established Beach Windows & Siding in December 2005. “We like the way we can change the look of homes, make them unique, basically giving somebody a new home on the outside”. I can see and hear the passion when John describes transforming a home into a customer’s dream.
Son Thomas is just as passionate as his dad, but that wasn’t always the case. When asked about joining the company, Thomas responded, “I worked for dad over the summers in high school and then went off to college. But, if you told me I would be doing an interview for Beach Windows & Siding 5 years ago, I would have thought you were crazy”! Thomas actually refused his father’s offer of fully paid college tuition in exchange for a promise to work at the company after graduation. He was set on becoming a military pilot, but after a medical emergency, re-evaluated his life and decided to join the business. John’s advice, just make sure you do well in public speaking.
Dad’s take, “It’s hard to find people that will stand up and talk to people. We go into strangers homes and you have to make friends with them. But if you are not good at speaking to people fairly and respectfully you are never going to last in this business”. So, with public speaking aced, after graduating from James Madison University in 2014, Thomas joined his father at Beach Windows & Siding making it a family business.
As a family business, Beach Windows & Siding takes care of its employees including adding a little fun to the work environment. If you happen into their showroom in the summertime and wonder why everyone is wearing flip flops, it must be mandatory Flip Flop Friday. “We want to make working in our office fun”. Thomas even sold one of the biggest jobs in the history of the company to the suits at a big apartment complex while wearing flip-flops on a Friday.
In John’s words, “We all have to work, but we need a good balance between work and family. If you have good family time and good work time and there’s a good balance, then you will be successful at work and successful with your family.” As a family business, John says they are not constricted by corporate mandates. They get to know their customers, even sending out birthday cards.
They also give back to the community in big and small ways including sponsoring the Sandbridge Charity Golf Tournament each year. After hearing of the death of a customer’s daughter, they are now big supporters of MADD, sponsoring the MADD annual awards for the state troopers, sheriffs, and police from the Eastern Shore to Isle of Wright. They also donate to the Virginia Beach Education Foundation and labor to Habitat for Humanity and the Samaritan House.
With the compassionate and fun nature of the Barringers, you wouldn’t expect high-pressure sales tactics, and you won’t get them. Their number one sales technique is educating their customers. They arm their customers with the information and options needed to accurately assess quotes from all contractors. Just mention windows and you will hear about the advancing technology of windows including structural strength, energy efficiency, look of the window and window performance. Sounds boring, but these guys just have a way of turning learning about windows into an afternoon of fun!
They seem to have fun whatever they do, including a surfing trip to Costa Rica, where evening blackouts due to the heat and surging power usage, were just another part of the adventure. John and the family, wife Tracy, son JT and Thomas enjoyed the simple peacefulness of the Costa Rican village (and the surfing) reminding them of the heartbeat of Sandbridge. They now have a grandson and finally a baby girl, their new granddaughter, will be added to the family in August.
In parting, John gave one last thought, “The guys I originally worked with said John, there’s 3 simple rules you need to follow if you ever want to have a successful business. (1) Only deal with quality products because nobody wants to buy junk. (2) Make sure its quality craftsmanship because if you install it correctly the product will do what it was designed to do forever (3) Do it at a fair price. And that’s it.” With that said, we were finished talking and laughing, and we said our goodbyes. Luckily, I know I will be seeing their trucks around Sandbridge and their faces on my television to help recall a pleasant Sandbridge afternoon.
Find the Beach Windows & Siding website here