Western Products was founded to sell fire extinguishers and lightning rods. Today it is a manufacturer, distributor, and installer of roofing, window and gutter products, and siding — including steel siding. The company also operates and supplies U.S. Seamless, a franchise network.

Being a retail home improvement company selling and installing roofing, siding, and windows in its own local market gives Western Products, the manufacturer and supplier, a sense of what works and what doesn’t in the products it makes. The company operates a showroom in Fargo, North Dakota’s largest city. The showroom offers a look at not just kitchen, siding, and other displays but pool tables, hot tubs, fireplace inserts, patio furniture, and cabinets. Owner and president Michael Bullinger says that employee retention is a management goal, one reason why Western Products offers a generous contribution to its employees’ 401(k) plans and full health insurance coverage. “We brag about the longevity of our people,” Bullinger says.

In 2008, Western Products celebrated its 60th year in business by planting 5,000 job signs in 5,000 yards throughout its territory in Minnesota and the Dakotas.

Interesting fact: According to Bullinger, the company is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having installed the longest piece of steel siding: 236 feet 9 inches, on an office building.

- Jim Cory