Window World CEO to tell her story at Athena Award program
YOUNGSTOWN — Newly married and living in Atlanta, Tammy and Todd Whitworth decided to uproot their life together — she left her job at a building supply wholesaler and Todd, a regional representative for a window manufacturer, left his, too — to launch a Window World franchise.
It was 1998 and the couple’s first Window World was in Wilmington, N.C. They purchased the store from Todd’s father, Leon, company founder.
The Whitworths went on to open several more stores before selling, giving Todd the freedom to move to the corporate office as president. When 2007 came and Leon retired, Todd bought Window World Inc. and became its CEO.
Tragedy struck three years later.
Todd unexpectedly died at 40, leaving Tammy a single mother of three young children and inheriting of a tremendously successful business. She also was left with no other option but to be strong for the kids and for her Window World family, so she chose to carry on and become CEO.
“Because I had been involved for so long and knew the business from the ground up, I had worked in stores and done everything that anybody who is asked to run a store would do, and these people had become my family, they really have; we call it the Window World family … I guess I had a choice about becoming CEO, but at the time I didn’t fee like I had a choice, but also felt like leading Window World was what I wanted to do,” Whitworth said.
“So I threw myself in that, crazy single mom of three, busy work life and in 2015, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I was 47 at the time,” she said.
Her doctors concluded stress was the cause of the cancer. She fought it and won, and is cancer free.
Her story of overcoming seismic, life-changing obstacles to lead the largest exterior home-remodeling company in the U.S. is one she’ll tell tonight at the 28th annual ATHENA Award Dinner in Canfield.
Presented by the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber and The Vindicator, the ATHENA Award honors individuals who strive toward the highest levels of professional accomplishment: women who excel in their chosen field, have devoted time and energy to their community in a meaningful way and also open doors so that others may follow in their path.
Twenty-eight women are nominated this year.
The company under Whitworth’s guidance moved to a license-type of business model to the franchise model in 2011. There are 230 stores in 48 states, including Hawaii, with plans to continue to grow in the western U.S. and abroad into Canada and Mexico.
Window World started out with windows, but grew into all parts of exterior home remodeling to satisfy customer needs.
“We have over the years evolved and now we are a whole exterior home remodeler. We do patio doors, entry doors, vinyl siding, garage doors and our latest product is roofing,” Whitworth said.
Roofing services are being rolled out slowly and not yet available at every store. “We’re crawling before we are going to run there,” Whitworth said.
Window World cracked Franchise Times top 200 plus list for the first time in 2019 with global sales of $738 million. It ranked No. 123.
This year, the company landed on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 list at No. 268, nearly 100 spots better than in 2020.
In the region, the Moran family, led by father and son, Fred and Pat, operate multiple Window World stores in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. A third generation, Pat’s son and daughter, also work for the company.