Industry: Built Environment
Products: Custom skylights and solariums
President Marilyn Peters is leading the manufacturer of premium custom skylights, solariums, and greenhouses into new markets.
With a client roster full of celebrities, high-profile restaurants, and all 13 University of California campuses, Aluminex is well-known in the Golden State.
"This company has been around for 79 years and was first started by the Estey brothers, who were in construction and installed top-quality greenhouses that were shipped from Europe," says Peters, who became the company's fourth owner when she bought Aluminex in 2017. "They decided to start manufacturing in the U.S. and the line morphed into other products such as skylights and solariums."
According to Peters, Aluminex's experienced crew keeps the company at the top of its specialty niche. "Some of my employees have been with the company for over 30 years," says Peters. "Everybody here wears many hats, so they're cross-trained to help out in areas where and when it's needed." She believes this has helped the business succeed, especially with meeting the requirements for custom and high-end projects.
As a result, many of the restaurants, homes, and businesses that have Aluminex products are in expensive real estate markets like Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Beverly Hills, and San Francisco. While some companies would move closer to their clients, Peters believes the company is in a better position in its Riverside location where it has been for 18 years, rather than being in higher-rent areas. "The clientele is very affluent; made up of celebrities, sports personalities, movie directors and more, but we stay in Riverside because this is where our employees live," says Peters. "Yes, it's occasionally difficult on our installers. They have to leave very early to get to some locations, but we've made it work and they enjoy what they do."
Over the years, Peters says that the company's go-to products have driven sales, but it will be important to develop new lines of complementary products to spur future growth. Additional business partnerships will help in this area as well; Aluminex is working on several business opportunities that Peters is not ready to share with the competition.
The projects Aluminex works now, however, are still just as important, and vary greatly in size and the overall construction term of the building project. "Some of these homes can take five years to build," says Peters. "We will put in a bid and could work with the architects and building contractors for a very long time. We also have quicker projects that are turned over in six to eight weeks, but what has made this company most successful is its reputation and great customer service before and after the sale, regardless of the timeline."
Many of the homes and businesses with Aluminex products have been featured in magazines like Architectural Digest. "It's very cool that our work is often seen in these renowned publications, and that has helped our visibility," says Peters. "I've recently created a website and brochure for our company, but a lot of our exposure still comes from people seeing our products in these luxury magazines and the awards we've earned throughout the company's history."
Challenges: "We have some dated equipment that our team are experts on, but we need to upgrade in order to take the company to the next level," says Peters. "My plan coming into the business was to see where we're at, and not immediately spend lots of money without a strategy. We're trying to transition smoothly as the fourth ownership by keeping the previous owner involved and making changes at a manageable pace. To that degree, it's also challenging to find new skilled employees that understand the importance of those small things that make a big difference."
Opportunities: "I want to focus on Aluminex as being the resource company of skylights," says Peters. "I want the company to grow by creating more products and services that will complement the skylight business. We want people to know we not only build the best custom skylights on the market, but we offer additional products and services with equal quality and customer service."
Needs: "My biggest need is getting skilled workers," says Peters. "We are start to finish with our product, so we need skilled people in manufacturing as well as installation. There is a lot of pressure for high school kids to go and get a four-year degree these days, but there are great opportunities out there in trades. Junior colleges are adding more trades to their curriculums, and I fully support these programs and the opportunities their graduates are finding."