Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it? We are a dealer representing dozens of window, door, hardware and millwork manufacturers. About 75 percent of our customers are builders and contractors. The business has been here since 1984, and I bought it from Dave LeFors in 2004.

How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? I moved here in 2004 from Santa Clarita, Calif.

What inspired you to go into this line of work? I came up here because another business was for sale. We came over the Siskiyou Summit on April 15, and it was as green as Ireland, but the business didn't suit us. We talked to our business broker, and he knew Dave LeFors was trying to sell. I had been in windows and doors before; two months later we were here.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? I held up on laying off people. In 2006, I was hearing things were slowing down, but it wasn't for us at the time. I had twice as many employees in 2006 in comparison to what we have now, and I held on to them way longer than I should have. I didn't start laying off until the summer of 2007. I kept thinking, it's everybody else, not me.

What's the toughest business decision you've made? Actually letting half my people go in 2007. I had to let five people go, and some of them were really great. The people we've got are the cream. We're making do with fewer people and we're more efficient. We are serving our customers even better today because what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. All my employees know we are in this together. I had triple-bypass surgery in August, and my guys stepped up to the plate and the business ran like a dream.

Who are your competitors? The big- box stores, Lowe's and Home Depot.

What are your goals? Right now we go from Northern California to the coast, up to Merlin and over to the Klamath Basin. My goal is to work up I-5 to Grants Pass, Roseburg and Eugene. I will only do it if we can service people the way we do now.

What training or education did you need? I've got an education from the school of hard knocks. Everything I've learned, I've learned on the job. I started off doing purchasing for a custom wood and window manufacturer and eventually became production manager and general manager. My education was from a management perspective, not a sales perspective. I had to learn to do sales when I bought Superior Window & Doors. The first few months were interesting, to actually own a business where you don't know how to sell. But within six months I was competent, and within a year people thought I was an expert. It's all about perspective.

What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs? Being involved in the community is everything. I joined the Ashland Rotary and was really inspired. The more I gave to the community, the more business I got. We've had people walk in the door because they saw what we had done for other people. Be passionate and care. Treat people like family.

To suggest ideas for this column, about businesses that are at least five years old, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email business@mailtribune.com.