Windows Plus finds niche in replacements

By Thomas Heath
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 10, 2010

I think I'm the laughingstock of the Case Handyman.

Every spring and autumn, I shell out a few hundred dollars to pay the Washington area Case Handyman service to take down (spring) and put up (autumn) a set of old storm windows that came with our house when we bought it in 1996.

The Case guy arrived again last week, and again we discussed how much cheaper it would be if I didn't bother with the storms, since they are about as airtight as Swiss cheese.

And again he suggested I consider replacing the windows.

I e-mailed Windows Plus of Springfield and asked them for a price, sight unseen, for 25 "average" replacement windows. Not the best; not the worst.

The reply came back: "Roughly $14,000 for the house of 25, mid-priced double hung windows. Average at $550 +- per opening."

I investigated further and found that Windows Plus co-owners Reg Wayland and Tom Camarca have a pretty cool -- and lucrative -- business. Their profit on my house alone would be in the neighborhood of $5,000.

Wayland, 48, and Camarca, 43, net about $250,000 a year each on their not-so-little niche business, which grosses about $3 million annually. The profit margin is somewhere north of 35 percent, or at least $1 million -- before they pay themselves and their staff, and cover administrative costs and office rent.

In addition to replacement windows (they install about 2,000 a year), Windows Plus installs siding, doors and specialty glass.

Wayland and Camarca knew each other growing up in Annandale, and both started in construction after high school. Wayland attended Annandale High School and Camarca went to Bishop Ireton High School. They were in the general construction business in the 1980s, earning about $10 an hour and playing in a flag football league.

"We were both construction dudes, working in Potomac, doing all the wood stuff and banging the nails," Camarca said. They both had an entrepreneurial spirit, preferring to work for themselves and seek out opportunities. Camarca would go home after work and build decks or install doors for friends and neighbors, earning $300 to $400 a week in extra cash. He was making $30,000 to $40,000 a year.

The right stuff

In 1990 they started a general-contracting company called TRS, which stood for The Right Stuff. The enterprise centered on rehabilitating kitchens and bathrooms, and building home additions.

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