Housing bust tough on Turlock window company

TURLOCK -- Patrick Jensen had plenty of business back during the boom, when new homes went up by the thousands in and near Stanislaus County.

He sold and installed windows and doors through his business, Paul's Glass Co. of Turlock.

Then came the bust, which cut median home prices by two-thirds and wiped out most of the new-construction industry.

"(Business) is down by 60 percent for us," Jensen said. "Four or five years ago, when it was at its peak, we had six trucks on the road a day doing installations. Now we have two trucks on the road."

The company has gone from 14 employees to five.

It's getting by on remodeling jobs and a few new custom homes. The former include energy-efficient windows that get a 30 percent federal tax credit for the homeowner.

Jensen also has increased his window repair business, including emergency service and maintenance contracts. Paul's Glass also does window coverings.

Jensen bought the 69-year-old company, now on South First Street, in 2006. He had worked there during the 1990s, then spent a few years fixing up run-down houses and reselling them in the rising market.

The downturn for the glass business got serious in September 2008 and has been compounded by unpaid bills from customers who declared bankruptcy, Jensen said.

"In my opinion, you will never have the building boom like you had going," he said. "It may come back, but it will only come back a little."