Fendor’s History of Innovation

In Mike Nichols’ classic film The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin is memorably told by a businessman that a single product will define the future: plastics. According to Greg Westwell however, the future has long been in aluminum.

Westwell is the owner of Fendor, a company that installs windows, doors, and garage doors. Based and founded in the Ottawa area, it began as a family business back in 1941, a tradition that Westwell has carried into the present day. Not only did Westwell’s father own the company, but it is now a workplace that he shares with his wife, sister and three sons. Of course, he looks at everyone who works at Fendor “as a sort of family” as well, he adds.

Fendor was born out of innovation. Though it started out by building and installing wooden garage doors, its focus quickly changed, with it being one of the first companies to start working with aluminum as their primary material, right before metal started taking over the construction industry.

Beyond doors and windows, Fendor also produces the Fendock, an aluminum dock system made for lakeside cottages. For Expo 67, Fendor was commissioned to build a large domed building. In 1971, they were commissioned to do similar work for Toronto’s Cinesphere, the world’s first permanent IMAX theatre. Through designing and constructing these futuristic buildings, Fendor began experimenting with Triodetic structures, conjoined triangles of aluminum tubes that act as support for a larger edifice. They found a practical use for these in cottage docks. Strong, yet lightweight, the Fendock became a widely-used product all across Canada.

The innovation did not end in the sixties. Westwell emphasizes that there are always new attachments and features that are being added to the Fendock.

“[With our docks], we’re always looking to add accessories, and try to make it so that cottages will have an easier time either getting into boats, or getting our docks into and out of the water.”

One of their newest innovations is a device that stabilizes kayaks.

“Something we kept hearing from our customer’s is that they have a hard time getting in and out of their kayaks, because of their tippy nature. We designed a stabilizer that was simple to use and adjust, making it easier to enter and exit their kayaks.”

This is exactly what makes Fendor such an impressive company. They are constantly rethinking and redesigning their products with the customer and their concerns in mind. If there is a need to be met, Westwell and co. will do their best to address it. In fact, Westwell says that the best aspect of his job is working alongside his customers.

“We really try to please the customer and work with them. The customer is the most important thing to us,” he states.

Not only are Fendor’s products practical, but, they have no imprint on the environment. It only takes a simple thermometer to realize that water freezes at 0˚C or a couple days spent in Ontario during the winter to realize that it is a cold province. Permanent docks are not good practice in cold climates, as ice, constantly expanding and compressing, can completely destroy your dock. This makes the Fendock perfect for Ontario’s unforgiving winters, as it is easy to remove from the water during the cold months, and can be reinstalled effortlessly when it’s once again time to enjoy some summer rays by the lake.

Using up excessive water space, permanent docks have become a frowned upon practice in any climate, making a product like Fendock even more ideal. Beyond that, aluminum contains none of the chemicals that are present in wood or other kinds of metal that are generally used for permanent docks. Without a doubt, the Fendock allows you to relax peace-fully, knowing that it is leaving little to no environmental and ecological footprint.

In regards to the other area of Fendor’s business, the environment is exactly what needs to be considered when contemplating new windows. Once again, Ottawa is cold, and your warm, comfortable home is directly affected by the state of your windows and doors.

Westwell talks about when customers realize their windows need to be replaced.

“A lot of them are wood windows, but even vinyl windows that have been around for thirty years. [Many] windows get tired. And with the new technology today, — such as low E glass and argon gas between the panes — windows are more energy efficient. Changing your windows out means that you can get away from maintenance on the outside and improve the thermal [insulation] of your home, saving you money.”

“The same is true with older entrance doors,” he continues. “Seals start wearing out and allowing cold air in. Older wood doors tend to warp, creating air leaks. By replacing your old door and frame you create a much better seal.You’re going to save on your heating bill and your cooling bills.”

Many vinyl or wood windows last, at most, thirty years. Fendor has made a name for itself bringing old buildings into the modern day by retrofitting them with new, insulated windows. Just as Fendor dealt with some impressive clients for Expo 67, they recently replaced 27 floors worth of windows on Prince of Wales Dr., in what is to be a three-phase process.

Fendor maintains a strong sense of duty for using their innovation to benefit the community. One of their most significant initiatives is the annual donation of their docks and time to the annual Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival, the largest festival of its kind in North America. Additionally, they donate docks to the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, a gesture that shows just how environmentally sound the Fendock is.

Today, the commercial aspect of Fendor’s business has changed. They now deal mostly with installation instead of production, though you can still expect that their final product will be durable and long-lasting. They handle both residential and commercial projects, something that is quite unusual for most companies in their field. Once again, this just displays Fendor’s versatility as a company. Whether it’s providing your cottage with a durable dock or insulating your home for Ottawa’s cold winters and hot summers, they have the perfect product for you.

For more information about Fendor and their innovative line of products, visit www.fendor.ca and www.fencodock.ca