Work Culture: Renewal by Andersen
Location: Cottage Grove | Employees: Around 1,000 | Specialty: Window and door replacement
The story goes that Danish immigrant Hans Andersen found his way to Minnesota in 1860, where he established Andersen Corp. Along the way, he picked up English, and the first saying he learned became his company’s mantra: “All together.” Actually, back then it was “All together, boys.” Today, Renewal by Andersen, the company’s full-service window and door replacement division based in Cottage Grove, embodies an updated version of that ethos, with at least 24 different languages spoken on the manufacturing floor.
In 2018, Renewal took action to create a more inclusive workplace. The initiative started by benchmarking 13 companies to gather ideas, followed by a deep analysis of its own diverse workforce to better understand employee needs.
“The workforce is changing,” says Jeremy Fossum, Renewal’s vice president of composites and manufacturing. The company wants to reflect the diversity of its clients as well as its staff, ensuring that employees of all “ethnicities, genders, and generations”—from the manufacturing floor to leadership positions—have opportunities to grow in their careers.
One way Renewal has executed on its commitment is to offer “English @ Work,” on-site English courses in conjunction with Great Rivers Adult Education Consortium. The 40-hour courses are not only free, but employees are paid for their time.
Renewal also provides leadership training to interested employees. Many who started on the manufacturing floor have become floor leads, then gone on to supervisor or management roles. “As we’ve been bringing more folks on,” says Fossum, “we want them to understand that we want them to have a career here.” Today, 35 percent of Renewal’s front-line leaders are people of color; 20 percent are women.
“When you have more diversity, you have more creativity and diversity of thought that will fuel our business into the future,” Fossum says.
In June 2020, a 350,000-square-foot expansion brought Renewal’s total square footage to 710,000 square feet.
“The market is hot,” Fossum says. “It is a great time to be in windows.”