San Antonio, TX—Steves & Sons Doors says its win over Jeld-Wen Windows and Doors (NYSE-JELD) following five years of litigation will restore fair and open competition in the door manufacturing industry.
Steves & Sons won at every critical juncture in the case to force the divestiture of Jeld-Wen Holdings’ Towanda, PA doorskin manufacturing plant. The Towanda plant is Jeld-Wen’s largest molded doorskin facility.
It is the first time an antitrust lawsuit brought by one company against another—rather than by the U.S. government—has resulted in a divestiture and complete legal victory. Steves & Sons filed its lawsuit against Jeld-Wen in June, 2016, alleging that Jeld-Wen violated the U.S. antitrust laws in 2012 when it merged with a competitor—CraftMaster Manufacturing Inc.—and acquired that firm’s Towanda doorskin plant. Doorskins—the front and back molded facings of most interior residential doors—are critical components in door manufacturing.
By order of the Court, Steves’ long-term supply agreement with Jeld-Wen will be extended through the completion of the divestiture process, after which the company which acquires Towanda from Jeld-Wen must negotiate a fair supply agreement with Steves in the volume and product types reflected in the current contract. That new supply agreement will extend to at least September 10, 2024.
“Jeld-Wen finally accepted the inevitable,” says Steves & Sons CEO Edward Steves. “It was our decision to forgo the full jury award of more than $139 million for future lost profits and to seek Jeld-Wen’s divestiture of Towanda instead, which would ensure the continuation of our seventh-generation, family-owned company. Divestiture is the remedy that will restore competition in the door manufacturing industry.”
Jeld-Wen announced August 2 that it had decided not to challenge the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals upholding a Virginia federal court’s divestiture ruling, and that it would work with a court-appointed special master to complete the sale of its Towanda plant. “We will take a well-deserved victory lap, and tomorrow we’ll get back to work, providing doors to our customers,” Steves says. “This puts an end to a five-year legal marathon in which Jeld-Wen said again and again that it had done nothing wrong. Our judicial system found otherwise.”
A critical aspect of the judgment was that the long-term doorskin supply agreement which Steves & Sons signed with Jeld-Wen in 2012—just a few months before Jeld-Wen acquired CMI—remains secure throughout the process of divestiture, says Edward Steves II, president, at least through September 2024.
“We and our customers can operate in the confidence that Steves can deliver on orders as we always have,” says Steves, noting the win “reaffirms our faith in the basic fairness in the law,and we look forward to restoration of real competition and choice in our industry.”
Steves & Sons’ lawsuit went to trial in Federal court in Virginia in early 2018 and resulted on February 15, 2018 in a unanimous jury verdict in favor of Steves’ position. Damages were awarded by the jury. In October of that year, Federal Judge Robert E. Payne ordered Jeld-Wen to divest itself of the Towanda plant, which Jeld-Wen had illegally acquired. A Jeld-Wen appeal resulted in a unanimous decision February 18 of this year by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals reaffirming Judge Payne’s divestiture ruling in favor of Steves. When Jeld-Wen asked the appeals court to reconsider the panel’s ruling, the court unanimously declined to do so.
“In addition to divestiture, Jeld-Wen is also liable for the actual, existing damages of $36,455,619 awarded by the trial jury,” says Steves attorney Marvin Pipkin. “With interest, that figure is now almost $40,000,000. Further, Jeld-Wen must also reimburse Steves the tens of millions of dollars in attorney fees it incurred in prosecuting this case.”
Since 1866, the Steves family has been involved in the company, with six generations actively involved in the business, which was founded the company on the principles of conservative growth and environmental responsibility, a hallmark that remains in every product Steves & Sons manufactures. From incorporating recycled materials, to making products that can conceivably last as long as the application, the Steves family prides itself on its tradition of environmental respect and responsibility.
Headquartered in San Antonio, TX and with interior and exterior door plants in San Antonio, and interior door plant locations in Lebanon, TN and Richmond, VA, Steves employs over 1,300. With unmatched quality at an outstanding value, Steves & Sons continues to build its business and reputation among builders and homeowners across the country with continued emphasis on quality materials, new technology and efficient distribution.
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