In his address to the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, President Obama lauded a "family business in Warroad, Minnesota," for its no-layoff policy, even in economic down times.
The vast majority of convention-goers probably had no clue which company Obama was referring to (beyond the Minnesota delegation), but everyone in the tiny northern Minnesota town likely knew it was local employer, Marvin Windows and Doors.
"The family business in Warroad, Minnesota, that didn't lay off a single one of their 4,000 employees during this recession, even when their competitors shut down dozens of plants, even when it meant the owners gave up some perks and pay -- because they understood their biggest asset was the community and the workers who helped build that business -- they give me hope," Obama said.
Marvin spokesman John Kirchner said Friday no one at the company had any clue the shout-out was coming. "I was watching the speech like everyone else, and when I heard it, I thought, 'Did I just hear that?'" he said. His phone instantly lit up with calls and text messages confirming it.
The housing bust has deeply hurt home suppliers like Marvin. Although the company has received national attention for its no-layoff policy, it has had to cut back on employees' hours and last year it eliminated profit-sharing bonuses for only the sixth time in 55 years.
Obama offered similar praise in a speech last December in Kansas -- the company didn't know about that in advance, either.
Still, as the Star Tribune's Hot Dish Politics blog reported Thursday, the Marvin family has given money largely to Republican candidates and causes. Kirchner said a donation was made to Obama challenger Mitt Romney's campaign.
When asked if business is improving, Kirchner said it's still pretty flat. "But there are signs that the housing market is picking up. We're hopeful the economy is coming around."
Janet Moore 612-673-7752