SHIELDS® Windshields ships its polycarbonate windows throughout the United States and halfway around the world. But no matter how far its reach extends, the company continues to prioritize its commitment to be a good neighbor and an active member of the community.

A good business knows the value of developing a strong sense of community. Cultivating it can have a significant impact on long-term success. It happens when there’s a deliberate effort in every aspect of the business.

SHIELDS® Windshields has worked diligently at being an active part of the greater Martinsville area, as well as the national and international heavy equipment industry – and the results show as the company continues to grow.

Second-generation family member and President, Brad Shields, sat down with his daughter, Director Alyxa McKee, who represents the third generation, and in a podcast, they discuss the culture of the company.

This is the second in a series of conversations hosted by Tim Surber about how the busin  ess took shape and grew over the past four and a half decades.

Community shows up

During the 100-year flood on June 6, 2008, SHIELDS® faced an unenviable situation. Martinsville received 11 inches of rain overnight and residents woke up to a nightmare. More than 1,200 homes were damaged and 160 destroyed, leaving many homeless.

SHIELDS® wasn’t exempt from the damage. The plant was submerged in 36 inches of water and layers of mud coated much of the production room floor. The damage was extensive, and production was threatened.

Until the community stepped in.

Brad Shields shares about the experience. “We were OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) for Caterpillar at the time and on Wednesday we made a partial shipment and that’s after having 36 inches of water throughout entire building Sunday afternoon.

“On Sunday evening, we had so many family, friends, employees, employee families, players, coaches, coach or players’ families help. All I did was make sure we had food and drinks and make sure people were taking breaks.

“You think about how devastating that flood was, and yet we made a shipment, and we were partially back into manufacturing by Monday.”

Giving back to the community

Despite the challenges of maintaining production, Brad took his non-OEM crew and spent the next week and half working in other local businesses, cleaning up the rest of Martinsville.

“That’s the only thing we can do,” Brad said. “You know you’ve got to pay your employees to go clean. “

Alyx agreed.

“You give back your dues.”

That included the ones affected in the plant as well.

“We had many employees who lost their homes,” Alyx added. “You know the motivation of that. They’ve lost their home. They can’t lose their job. We’ve got to get operating.”

In it for the long haul

A growing business can be tempted to find more attractive business opportunities elsewhere, or they can choose to get creative and work within the community they started out with.

SHIELDS® has opted to stay put and make it work in Martinsville.

During a recent taping of a commercial for the company, Alyx touched on the subject. “I remember talking to our director of the commercial and it got me crying, talking about the community and all those things. I mean there’s probably more intelligent (business) moves we could make that would take us outside of the community. We’ve just put a bigger challenge in front of ourselves to expand, but I think it’s worth it.”

Brad concurred. “It’s way worth it.”

Playing the game the right way

There continue to be improvements moving forward, but sometimes it’s good to take inventory and see how far you’ve come. When asked about the last decade, Brad talked about his goals and where SHIELDS® stands in the heavy equipment business.

“I didn’t have a monetary goal,” Brad said. “My goal was to be synonymous with heavy equipment replacement, non-breakable, high-functioning performance windows.

“I go back to football. Your goal is to win the game, but you’ve got to focus on how you win. You win by first downs, you win by getting off the field on defense, and you win by not losing on special teams. If you focus on those three things, the scoreboard takes care of itself. If all we focus on is sales and numbers, we can get caught up in euphoria one day.

Playing the right way has paid off for SHIELDS® in the marketplace. Its commitment to quality instead of fast growth at any cost has vaulted it into a position of recognition with its customers and potential business partners.

“I felt it for the first time at ConExpo in 2023. It was fantastic for me to feel the recognition that we’re synonymous with premier windows, with windows that will help you make money, with windows that will keep you working, with windows that will keep you safe.”

Alyx has seen a change even in the last few years.

“I’m seeing it in little ways – the questions we got three years ago on the phone aren’t there, the name is there. “

Educating the marketplace

As the company’s footprint expands, customers are catching on to the importance and necessity of the products.

“People take windows for granted but I think our customers in the industry are really starting to recognize the SHIELDS® brand. You can’t take your windows for granted,” Alyx said.

Brad highlights education as being an important part of the business.

“We educate. We don’t sell. We educate, communicate and demonstrate.”

“Like the guy with the fleet of 75 windows – he almost apologized for trying just one. You try one, he will order for all of them.

“The bottom line is – if you’re sitting behind my window in a piece of heavy equipment, you’re making money, you’re staying on time and you’re going home safe every night.”