Crystal Achievement Awards 2015: The Crystal Standard

Emily Kay Thompson, September 19, 2015 via Window & Door
FEATURE ARTICLE | Design & Performance

Most Innovative Window Component

FlexScreen Window Screens by FlexScreen

“Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best,” says Joe Altieri, president and founder of this year’s Crystal Achievement Award-winning FlexScreen. Before he cultivated his simple idea for a solution to damaged screens, Altieri spent 15 years of his career as an independent sales rep, selling outsourced window screens. “The issue we had on a day-to-day basis was damage,” he reports, and homeowner complaints about the design of window screens.

So, he started the same way many entrepreneurs do—in a workshop in his garage. He experimented with different ways of making window screens until, after about a year when he came up with what he calls his "duct-tape-and-bubblegum prototype.”

Screen Woes

Screen damage is typically the number one source of homeowner complaints and financially one of the highest total repair cost items of window companies. The industry average for screen repairs in the field is 2 to 3 percent of all units shipped.

*Source: Joe Altieri, FlexScreen

After filing patents and finding some investment partners, the development stage moved into the production phase (and out of Altieri’s garage).

“The response has been overwhelming,” he reports. “We’re doing so well that we’re looking at opening additional plants in Chicago and Dallas.”

According to our judges, that production is warranted. “FlexScreen is a unique, easy solution that fills a definite need,” one of them notes. “I can see this product in big box stores or as an upgrade option for fabricators.”

Says another: “Bent screen frames are a frequent problem. The FlexScreen appears to have eliminated this problem by its unique yet simple design. I like the ease of installation and it appears that the screen will stay in place.”

Innovative Elements

Window screens that impede the sightline through modern windows seem to fly in the face of the current trend of more glass, more view, in Altieri’s opinion. “We want to look through our windows, not at our windows,” he says, which is why he thinks the best part of FlexScreen is that it disappears when installed, hiding in the window screen pocket. “It drastically improves sightlines and eliminates the need for color matching.”

FlexScreen won't scratch or dent like traditional screens, the company reports, as the design utilizes a PVC-coated, high-performance spring steel frame. “It can literally be thrown from a five-story window without being damaged,” the nomination notes.

FlexScreen is also easy to install, according to the company: the homeowner simply holds the screen in their hands, bends the sides in, and fits FlexScreen into the screen track of their window.

“To remove and reinstall a screen in a vinyl window typically is quite a task,” one judge noted. “FlexScreen solved that with this new screen idea.”

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