More Options, More Styles at Builders’ Show

Annual event sees window and door manufacturers continuing to expand lines and provide more “classic” looks
Christina Lewellen and John G. Swanson
March 1, 2007
Meetings & Events | Products, Aesthetics & Style

Orlando, FL—Window and door manufacturers rolled out more options, filled out product lines and launched new branding initiatives at the 2007 International Builders’ Show held in February. With no “big” new products, the most noteworthy element of the show may have been the positive attitudes expressed by exhibitors and attendees alike. Anderson launched a new branding initiative designed to highlight its portfolio of brands.

Despite a down housing market, and slightly lower attendance, there wasn’t a lot of doom and gloom in the atmosphere in the Orange County Convention Center. “We knew it couldn’t last forever,” one manufacturer noted, referring to the past several years of record-breaking housing starts. “We may have to tighten our belts in the short term, but the long-term still looks pretty good.”

One new option apparently gaining momentum is the retractable window screen. Jeld-Wen, which kicked off the Builders’ Show with a pre-show press conference, used the event to introduce a new retractable screen option on its custom wood window line. Weather Shield, Kolbe & Kolbe and, of course, Pella, were also promoting this option, each noting how retractable products provide a better view outside, and improve the look of the window itself when the screen is not in use.

Given the show’s Florida location, it’s not too surprising that several manufacturers were talking about impact lines. Atrium, which has offered an aluminum impact line, introduced a new vinyl impact line at the show. Simonton Windows was featuring new larger sized, vinyl impact patio doors. Chris Monroe, the manufacturer’s director of marketing, noted that although his company offers aluminum impact products, it is seeing a definite shift toward vinyl in the Florida market. Vision Windows was rolled out as a separate business unit by Weather Shield.
Seeing an opportunity to provide more cost-effective offerings, MW Windows was showcasing new operable shaped windows. Its vinyl single-hung is now available with an arch top or segmented arch top, “that really simplifies things for the builder, and delivers the look they want,” explained the company’s Ken Flint.

Marvin’s Integrity Windows used the show to highlight the fact that it has filled out its all-Ultrex fiberglass window line with a double-hung window. Also launching a new fiberglass product was Andersen Windows, which featured a swinging patio door made out of glass fiber, added to its 200 Series. Atrium was also filling out its vinyl line with a new upgraded casement model.

BRANDING INITIATIVES
The biggest news from Andersen, however, may have been its new branding initiative, as it featured products in its booth from all its operations, including Silver Line, which it added last year. Silver Line and its American Craftsman brand—carried by Home Depot—each sported new logos featuring the Andersen name. The manufacturer is dropping the KML from KML by Andersen as part of a shift toward a broader architectural line. “This change is part of the evolution of the Andersen brand and our long-term strategy to broaden the portfolio and create a more cohesive branding of our products,” said Jay Lund, group senior vice president. “It aligns with our corporate vision and leverages the strength of the Andersen brand across all of our businesses.”
Simonton was featuring a new vinyl patio door for the impact market, available in larger sizes than previous vinyl offerings.
Also moving to a more cohesive branding strategy is MI Windows & Doors. The company announced at the show that its individual lines, including Insight, BetterBilt, Capitol and Xact, will be de-emphasized going forward and the MI brand will step to the forefront in all marketing materials and branding efforts. “Nothing is changing at MI,” explained the company’s Matt DeSoto. “We are producing the same quality product as we always have, they will just be more clearly recognized as an MI product.”

Weather Shield, meanwhile, used the show to officially debut Visions Windows as a separate business unit. The vinyl window operation had its own separate exhibit, featuring a variety of products including new Optically Divided Lites (using 3M’s Accentrim). A cost-effective way to dress up the windows, according to Jeff Kibler, brand manager, Vision put its own touch on the decorative offering, developing a way to apply a black bead of acrylic in the center of the tape to create a unique look reflective of traditional caming.

The Vision booth, as well as the Weather Shield and Peachtree booths, also featured the manufacturer’s new Zo-e-shield high performance glass package. The branded glass boasts multiple layers of low-E coatings, as well as an easy-care coating to ease the cleaning routine.

DÉJÀ VU DESIGN
At its press conference, Jeld-Wen highlighted several trends it sees emerging in 2007, including what it calls “déjà vu design,” or a return to classic looks. Jeld-Wen displayed two products fitting into this trend—a new fiberglass Dutch door, in which the upper half swings in separately of the lower half, as well as a speakeasy door with an eye-level opening.
Jeld-Wen expanded its folding door line with a new 90 degree unit, enabling builders to open up an entire corner of a room to the outside.
Thinking along the same lines, Weather Shield highlighted a prototype wood Dutch door, which features a lower threshold for disability access. The manufacturer’s Collections line of windows and doors features traditional, old world design elements with heavier hardware, wood species options and attention to smaller details—like covering the dead bolt key hole with a swinging lock cover in a matching finish.

Details was the theme in the upper level of the Marvin booth, where it highlighted its Signature Services targeting the needs of architects. Products on display included a double-hung balanced with traditional pulleys and sash weights, and a push-out casement with interior wood screen. Kolbe & Kolbe’s Cindy Bremer noted that her company has seen growing demand for its push-out French casement. The manufacturer was showing a new version at its exhibit, featuring a curved top.

Pella focused on the details in the entry doors it displayed, highlighting features such as decorative nails to match the rustic look of the hardware. Showing its new line of Heritage wood entry doors was Hurd Windows & Doors. According to Larry Haberman, the new custom line fits well with the company’s existing line of high-end windows and doors, enabling Hurd to meet all the needs of discriminating buyers.

Hurd is not the only window manufacturer to launch an entry door line recently. Milgard, which officially introduced its fiberglass entry door line last summer, featured its doors for the first time at IBS. The rollout of the line has been going very well, according to the company’s Patti Hendrix. The addition to the Milgard line has been welcomed by its dealers, she noted.

Fiberglass door maker Plastpro highlighted the fact that it can supply more than just door slabs. Selling to wholesalers, lumberyards and pro dealers, Plastpro has introduced Fiberframe, a fiberglass frame for doors, which comes in standard finishes, white cap or a primed version ready for painting and staining. Its snap-on lite frame has a sleek look, as it’s missing the screw holes that have to be plugged in traditional frames.

Therma-Tru also focused on its complete packages of door slabs, frames and other components, highlighting its Tru-Defense line of products that have been tested and certified to meet coastal and impact requirements.

An increasingly popular option in the door market is the wrought iron look, reported Simpson Door Co.’s Brad Loveless. It was showcasing its line of decorative glass offering the look of wrought iron enclosed within an insulating unit. Jeld-Wen introduced 15 new designs in its wrought iron grille offerings, allowing builders and homeowners to create a distinct look with the impression of security. “They’re not designed for security but they certainly have that look,” noted the company’s Teri Cline.

In the patio door arena, Jeld-Wen introduced an innovative version of its folding exterior door—one that forms a 90° angle. The folding doors come together to form the corner of a room, or allow an entire corner of a room to open up to the outside. Kolbe & Kolbe was showing a new lift/slide door system also designed to provide wide-openings.

As window and door manufacturers continue to tweak product lines with additional aesthetic options, hardware manufacturers like Hickory Hardware showcased their ability to keep up with demand for more style. The supplier introduced two new finishes for door hardware—Antique Black Copper and Sausalito Silver. “We want to stay on the design and finish edge,” said John Pelka, vice president of marketing. “As we develop hardware for the front door, we develop sliding door hardware as well. It’s for consistent design.”

Overall, the International Builders’ Show featured hundreds of new products and options from window and door manufacturers and other industry suppliers. Look to Window & Door April issue for our “Best of the Builders’ Show” product highlights. Kwikset launched a new "biomentric" door lock, which locks and unlocks with the scan of a fingerprint.

Nearly 104,000 building industry professionals were on hand for this year’s event, according to NAHB. Particularly given the declining fortunes on the housing market, that reprsents only a small decrease from just over 105,000 people who came for the 2006 event. For 2008, the International Builders’ Show returns to Orlando one more time before moving back to Las Vegas. The 2008 event is scheduled for February 13-16, with more information available at www.buildershow.com.

 


Garage Doors Move Upscale

The garage door is the primary means of entry for most homeowners, according to a new survey sponsored by Jeld-Wen. The manufacturer reported that its “Perfect Home” survey of single-family homeowners also found that about 70 percent of respondents said the curb appeal of their garage door is very important.

Looking the garage door, homeowners said they are “taking more of an in interest in how it looks and functions,” reported the company’s Elizabeth Souders. In keeping with this finding, Jeld-Wen displayed in its booth a wood composite garage door with a colored finish and decorative hardware. A kiosk allowed attendees to explore all the design options available for garage doors.

Carriage style doors, Craftsman and Shaker designs, contemporary aluminum-and glass lines and numerous decorative glass options were evident in the booths of such manufacturers as Clopay, Wayne Dalton and Overhead Door.