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Prestige Millwork closes after 36 years

GENEVA – After 36 years in business, Prestige Millwork Inc., at 2526 Keslinger Road in Geneva, has closed its doors. Its owner blamed the lackluster economy and big-box competition among the reasons.

Prestige Millwork started in 1978 in a rented space on the corner of River and State streets.

“We were one of first ones to go into the window and door business,” business and property owner Ralph DeGroot said. “It was very specialized then.”

DeGroot, a Wheaton resident, said now that big-box stores also sell high-end window and door products, consumers can get them cheaper, willing to take their chances with warranties and installation.

“The economy is really tough out there for just about everybody,” DeGroot said. “We used to be a small business in a small town. We did the best product, and we still are No. 1. But the economy being what it is, people don’t want to spend a lot of money.”

He said when he would get customers, they might wait two or three years before following through.

“At one time, I had 12 employees, including myself. Then, I was down to four people,” DeGroot said. “We fought it to the end. We did everything [we] could do. We cut overhead ... I worked for nothing for a couple years. Then you hit that brick wall.”

The harsh winter was a factor, DeGroot said, as people cannot get windows installed during bitter cold and lots of snow. His oldest daughter, who used to manage the business, is among those out of work, he said.

“We went as long as we could,” DeGroot said. “And I’m proud of that. We’ll land on our feet, but I never expected to retire this way.”

The property is listed for sale through Sperry Van Ness commercial real estate in Geneva.

The Prestige building was built in 1988 and is 7,000 square feet. It is listed for $650,000. Neil Johnson, a broker for Sperry Van Ness, said the property is well-maintained and has flexibility because of its business zoning classification.

“It’s a very nice property. They took wonderful care of it,” Johnson said. “It’s very flexible, given the B4 zoning. The properties along that street are retail, medical and industrial. It’s directly across from the entrance to [Delnor] Hospital. ... It has unique signage on a busy road.”

About 1,400 square feet is made up of showroom and office, he said.

It also has two exterior docks that can handle two semi-trucks, as well as a 14-foot drive-in door.

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