Customer Interview: Steve Sousley, Victor S. Barnes


Our marketing team sat down with Steve Sousley, a sales representative for Victor S Barnes, to talk about his experience with Endura Products and some of the key door components used in their door systems.

Victor S Barnes Company was founded in 1958 as a supplier to lumber yards, cabinet shops, and OEM office manufacturers through diverse product lines. They are locally owned & West Michigan based. The team at VSB works hard to improve as a company and have been in the exterior door business for over 45 years.

As door sales have become a larger part of Steve's job, he has seen the value of the innovation and quality that Endura provides through their products. In addition to the continuous testing and product improvements, Endura continues to be a problem solver providing solutions for the industry's most common door component complaints.

Steve sat down with Mary Fonvielle, who works with Endura's marketing team, to discuss his experience with key door component products including the Z-Articulating Cap Sill, FusionFrame composite frame system, and Panolock multipoint lock. Listen or read the full transcription below.


Full Transcript:

Mary Fonvielle (00:00):

Hi everyone. This is Mary Fonvielle with the Endura products marketing team. And I'm joined today by Steve Sousley of Victor S Barnes. Steve, thank you so much for joining us.

Steve Sousley (00:11):

You're welcome, Mary. Thanks for having me.

Mary Fonvielle (00:14):

You've been with Victor S Barnes since 1986, which is an impressive tenure; joined the sales team in 2003 and have made door sales, a big part of your sales. What can you tell us about Victor S Barnes as a company?

Steve Sousley (00:28):

Yeah, thanks again, Mary, for having me Victor S Barnes is a locally owned and operated company out of west Michigan. We are a Masonite door distributor as well as, we carry other product lines. We have a good mix of customers between the industrial market, which is big here in west Michigan, the furniture makers, as well as the lumberyards and cabinet shops. My role is to call on the cabinet shops, lumberyards, and some of the wood working shops that we have as customers.

Mary Fonvielle (01:06):

Now, what is your interaction with customers when it comes to Endura Products?

Steve Sousley (01:10):

When I'm doing my sales calls and field visits, often they ask questions about the components we're using on our doors. As I mentioned, we hang Masonite interior and exterior doors, but more importantly than the doors we're hanging is what parts are we using? If the parts are inferior, if we have problems with them or creates a lot of field issues, that's not good for anybody. So when I tell them about Endura I mention that they're the brand leader, you know, we've had the door line for 16 years now, the Masonite line, and the whole time we've used in their products and with what they're bringing out these days of new products and just solutions to problems. It's really exciting to see.

Mary Fonvielle (02:05):

That's always great to hear, especially for someone on the Endura side. Before we started recording, we were sort of talking and you mentioned you had really just gotten into our products in the past couple of years. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Steve Sousley (02:19):

Yeah, so, you know, a rep makes a big difference. Sometimes an outside sales guy, when you want to spend time with a rep, it's not always the most enjoyable thing. It's really sales driven numbers driven right at this time. Our rep Robert and I, we took our time, got to know products together. He explained things really good. So in watching him interact with our customers, doing our visits, I was able to, to kind of rub off what he was talking about too. So by doing that, I saw benefits of the product without sitting down to do like a sales training. I was able to pick up, you know, why certain products can make our lives a little bit easier, especially if there are service calls involved.

Mary Fonvielle (03:19):

When you think about Endura products, what comes to mind?

Steve Sousley (03:24):

Brand leaders. When I think of, you know, the sills, astragals, jambs, you know, all the components that are made to assemble this door, Endura jumps out in front because they keep improving them. It used to be I was more enamored with the door or what it looked like or the decorative glass on it, but more and more I'm finding out it's about the components. If I could pick on the automobile industry, a car can look great, but if it has all the wrong parts inside, you're not going to get the performance that you like. And that's kind of what I think of Endura when I think of a door: a door package.

Mary Fonvielle (04:23):

I think that's a great way of putting it. I know before I joined Endura, I had never really thought twice about my exterior door. Like you said, you pay attention to the door panel, the glass, you know, what you see first, but I actually just bought my first house last year, and the first thing I was looking at was around the jamb and the sill as I was walking in. So it really gets you thinking

Steve Sousley (04:46):

It does. And especially, you know, the ZAC sill is just a problem solver when we do these builder nights and home shows. That's what people want to see. They want a problem solved, as far as air and water leaking through the bottom of the door. And I think Endura did a great job in that product.

Mary Fonvielle (05:13):

Thank you so much for saying that. I think with these problems, one thing I have noticed in this industry is a lot of people aren't actually looking for solutions to some of these really common problems. And so here comes Endura with these solutions and it's almost like, "oh, why didn't anybody else think about that?"

Steve Sousley (05:31):

I like that, that's true. Because you know, ZAC is a self adjusting, self articulating sill cap. So you don't have the screw caps on the top, like you do with the old style before we started using the ZAC sill. That's where my problem was. I'd go out to a job site and there'd be air or water or snow up here in Michigan. And it was nothing scientific that I'd do: I'd go out there with a Phillips screwdriver and adjust that sill cap and try to get the tension tight enough to where it wasn't rubbing too much on the door, while also not allowing the water and air to filter through. With the ZAC sill it self-adjusts, so it is automatically in contact with the bottom of that door. For any builders that are out there listening, they know the frustration of having to go back to a job, maybe a second, maybe a third time, just to adjust a sill. So with this being our standard sill for the past two years now, service calls and callbacks on sill issues are practically non-existent.

Mary Fonvielle (06:51):

And that's not just time being spent that's money being spent as well. So that's money saved, not having to go back again and again.

Steve Sousley (06:58):

Correct. It seems like most of the jobs that I used to have to go out to, none of them are next door. They're out in the woods a little bit. I would have to drive and it probably was on the worst day of the year when I had to go out there. So it sure makes things easier when you have a solution for somebody.

Mary Fonvielle (07:19):

Absolutely. Nobody's calling and noticing drafts on a nice, beautiful day. They are noticing in the dead of winter or during a rain storm.

Steve Sousley (07:27):

Right. That's true.

Mary Fonvielle (07:34):

So what else about ZAC? I really love the spring-loaded cap. It's not just for getting that perfect seal. Even if the door is slightly out of whack, or if something's not quite right on one side - higher on one side versus lower on the other, it's creating that perfect seal all the way down.

Steve Sousley (07:53):

Right. We've seen doors where maybe the floor started to valley a little bit or bow, or maybe a heavier door where the longer screws weren't used on the top hinge. So that door will start to sag. And you're getting more of a drag on that than you did when you first installed it two, maybe three months ago. As you mentioned, the whole door will shift on the lock side and not even move on the hinge side.

Mary Fonvielle (08:58):

If nothing else it works against that everyday wear and tear, I would say very much improving the life expectancy of your sill.

Steve Sousley (09:06):

Right. And if I could jump in now to the testing that Endura does. When we were thinking about this being our standard, we asked all these questions, you know, what about the durability of it? I was so impressed by the testing that Endura did. That enabled me to talk to the lumberyards, homeowners, builders, door installers, and tell them that this product isn't going to wear out, it's not going to be a flash in the pan have to be replaced in a couple of years. This is meant to fix your problem and fix it for a long, long time.

Mary Fonvielle (10:01):

That's great to hear. And we definitely do extensive testing on all of our products to make sure that this is going to be a lasting product and is actually going to hold up.

Steve Sousley (10:13):

And people remember that. They remember these little conversations we have at the lumberyard desk when you got to go back out in the field and talk to them and it's a very captive audience when you can get them, you know, one-on-one, not trying to upsell them, just tell them about the product. And once people see it and use it, that's a product they're going to use time and time again.

Mary Fonvielle (10:44):

Let's talk about FusionFrame next, if that's all right. FusionFrame is our answer to the composite door frame. It's got the engineered wood core, it's got the composite exterior, so it combines the best of both worlds. What's your take on FusionFrame?

Steve Sousley (11:08):

I'm kind of dating myself, but in the old days we had a lot of aluminum cladding. People requested aluminum cladding because they didn't want raw wood. They wanted perhaps something that was a little more maintenance-free, but aluminum had its limits. FusionFrame is a product we've been using for about year and a half now. What I like about it is all the fasteners are concealed. So if you can envision a jamb and it has a channel where you can put your screws, and then a cap that goes over that, as Mary mentioned, it also has, you know, it's, it's an LVL-type material for you builders out there. So the core is going to be sustained for a long time. The bottom five, six inches has FrameSaver on it as well.

Steve Sousley (12:01):

So it's a moisture-resistant bottom, but all that is hidden behind this composite jamb that, again, is very durable. It is paintable. You can paint it, but you can leave it white as well. So we've been really promoting this at Victor Barnes company only because, again, not to up-sell anything, but just to show people. Here in Michigan, we got a lot of second homes, a lot of cottages up here, and people aren't going up on the weekend with a gallon of paint and paintbrush. They want to come up here to relax, and FusionFrame allows them to do that. There is a stainable version, too.

Steve Sousley (12:56):

It has a level built in, right at eye level. So I know of a few times I've put in doors, I don't have three hands, I got two. So I needed that level on there. And you can set it regardless of whether your wall's crooked or out of square. You can get your jambs straight and then you install the brickmould. So when you do that, you're interested in two things: Number one, that your door is plumb and true and square. You're going to get a nice tight fit on your door. Then when you put your brickmould on, even if your wall is a little crooked, that compensates for it, because it does have like a flange on it. So it's exciting. We've done a couple of display doors for businesses here and they have really enjoyed it.

Mary Fonvielle (13:59):

I don't know if it would surprise you to hear it, but I've actually installed one myself in training, and it's so much easier than traditional frame systems, especially with that built-in bubble. And then the ability to make all those little adjustments that just make your life that much easier throughout the whole process.

Steve Sousley (14:16):

Yeah, and it really allows the homeowner, builder, framer, trim guy - whoever is putting in that door - to do it with relative ease. I mean, it's still a little tricky. I've still got to do some shims. But at the same point, it makes it a lot easier, I believe, than a traditional wood frame, and the end product is just a beautiful thing.

Mary Fonvielle (15:01):

Yeah, definitely. Despite whatever the rough opening conditions are, you're going to be able to get a truly perfect finish with FusionFrame.

Steve Sousley (15:09):

Right. A little testimonial: Our lead guy in our door shop has been with us for 20 years. He was impressed by it. So he really didn't need doors in his house, but he wanted these out there and it's been probably eight months now. And he said he loves them. Just can't believe that the difference it made and the look, I mean, it looks just wonderful.

Mary Fonvielle (15:35):

Yeah. I know. I've seen a few photos that we've taken of some finished FusionFrame installations and had people ask if we had photoshopped them.

Steve Sousley (15:43):

Right? Yeah. It's, it's that much true. Just a nice clean look. I mean, when you snap on a side piece over the jamb and over your installation screws, it looks nice.

Mary Fonvielle (16:00):

Yeah, definitely. Now, when you're having these conversations about FusionFrame, what stands out as the biggest advantage to you?

Steve Sousley (16:08):

A couple of things, Mary. One, that it's maintenance-free, and two, the ease of installation. That little level that you and I both mentioned, you know, that is a big deal. That makes things a lot easier. If I ever had to field check one, which I haven't yet, but if I did, that would be the first thing I check. I could simply take off the cover and see where we're sitting there. If it needed to be adjusted by the homeowner, builder, or myself, it could be easily done. That and the sleek look of it - the nice finished product when you're done - those really jumped out at me.

Mary Fonvielle (16:53):

I'm glad you brought up the bubble level again, because I think one thing that I see Endura doing time and time again, is with our products we really try to find those little details that make the product stand out against the others.

Steve Sousley (17:07):

Correct. The problem solver - that would be another word that I would use to describe Endura. Not just FusionFrame but a lot of your products are problem-solvers.

Mary Fonvielle (17:31):

Absolutely. So, last but definitely not least, let's talk about what I think is one of my favorite products, which is Panolock. What made your team decide to add Panolock to your offerings?

Steve Sousley (17:45):

The nice thing about Panolock is it'll receive almost any residential lockset that's out there. So, you know, you don't have to pick up a certain one. You don't have to buy a certain type of lock from us or from Endura, you know, leave that freedom up to you guys. So all we're doing is putting the parts into the side of the door. And so many times, especially with an eight foot door, even a seven foot door, you know, you got a good lock at the lock set, but then top and bottom are pretty loose. And depending on the situation, sometimes that could also potentially warp the door without this three point lock set. You have three different points that lock, which make the door more true to the frame. For the machining we do, our shop guys were trained by Endura. It takes awhile to do this, but it's well worth it. So it is our newest product. We've just started to get some flyers out to customers and let them know about it because we want it to be ready internally before we set this thing loose, because I think once people see it, they're going to want it.

Mary Fonvielle (19:41):

Oh yeah. We've had a lot of interest in it. And we've seen a lot from both from our customers and from our customer's customers. You touched on a lot of points there, so let's break this down a little bit. So Panolock is, like you said, it's a multipoint lock. So it is pulling that door panel into alignment every time you lock the door, on the top and bottom, as well as in the center. We actually have some great videos of doors that are slightly out of alignment. And you can see them being just pulled in as the lock is turned. We've got the tapered bolts at the top and bottom so that it's not ever going to hook. I've seen some other multi point locks that, you know, after a while they can catch if they're not quite lined up correctly. So we've eliminated that problem. And then, like you said, this is going to fit with almost any off the shelf hardware. We've tested compatibility with most major brands, including Schlage, Kwikset, Baldwin, and lots more. And then we're still testing.

Steve Sousley (20:41):

Yeah. And, like I said, you can literally see it, feel it go in once you engage that three point lock. So it pulls the top and bottom and forms a better seal. Customers are going to feel more secure. They're not going to see an air gap or a gap up at the top of the weather strip. And especially with different conditions like we have here, you get that heat deflection and you get a cold overnight and you get the hot sun again during the day. That door eventually, especially, you know, the range of conditions we get, you can really see that door bow throughout the day. With this lock, it doesn't even allow that opportunity to happen. And it's a security thing too. How many people go right for the locks and don't think that there's going to be a latch up there as well? So it really is peace of mind for the homeowner, you know, against doors warping, and I believe to some degree a safety feature.

Mary Fonvielle (22:08):

Yeah, absolutely. I think mostly when, you know, if people are trying to force that lock, they're going for the center, and like you said, they're not thinking about that. There could be additional points at the top and bottom, and that's just deflecting impact wherever it's happening.

Steve Sousley (22:23):

Correct. And we've had some customers that inquired about a three point or a multi-point lock after the fact. And I know because I helped price them out. They're really, really expensive. Endura is basically one-stop shopping. You got your sill that's self adjustable, you got FusionFrame, which is maintenance free. And then on top of that, you put on the PanoLock in, and all of a sudden you have a door system that is second to none. I believe you're at the best of everything, made by a quality company. That's all they do. You know, they don't make door panels, they don't make door glass. So, you know, we're not dabbling in this and that, they know what their strengths are. And I believe Endura is the brand leader in all of this.

Mary Fonvielle (23:19):

Of all these products, what do you wish you had in your home the most?

Steve Sousley (23:31):

Without a doubt, I would say Panolock. As I get older, I'm getting a little cheaper. And, you know, just to make that feel nicer on the door, nice and uniform and not worrying about air leaks or anything like that. And peace of mind as well. If somebody wanted to try to get in, I feel much more comfortable with a Panolock than I would with a single lock set. So that, that would be on my wish list

Mary Fonvielle (25:40):

What sort of feedback do you get from your customers about Endura products after they've had the chance to try them and adopt them into their own businesses or into their own home?

Steve Sousley (25:48):

That's a good question, Mary, because again, a big push from us probably has been the last three years on using the products as not a selling point, but as a talking point to customers. So, you know, they see it and once they've tried it, it doesn't matter the product, but it's a nice feeling for me to hear is, "It's exactly like you said, it would be, there weren't any surprises." So it's just making people's life easier and doing exactly what we say it's going to do.

Mary Fonvielle (26:40):

That's excellent feedback. And that's what we want to hear. Yeah. Well, Steve, thank you so much for joining us today.

Steve Sousley (26:50):

You're welcome. I appreciate the opportunity and it's nice to work with a product that is easy to get comfortable with. And the customer service from that standpoint too, you know, every time we've had or needed a part that wasn't even ours replaced, everyone at Endura has been really good to help us. And I think it's really helped with our door sales in the last couple of years.

Mary Fonvielle (27:18):

Well, thank you again. Thanks everybody for listening. And if you want to find out more about Endura Products you can go to our website Thanks for joining us.




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