The Return of a Positive Attitude

John G. Swanson
August 15, 2013
COLUMN : Opening Remarks | Management

The lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer are still with us, but in this issue, Window & Door looks ahead to the fall and GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window & Door Expo, September 10-12 in Atlanta. It's the first of several fall events where window and door industry executives will gather and get down to business, either finalizing plans for 2014 or preparing for what's next.

For window and door manufacturers, GlassBuild America represents an important opportunity to review suppliers' new window and door systems, finish and hardware options, and other components. It also features a variety of new equipment for those companies looking to manufacture new product lines or upgrade existing operations.

Despite the steep decline in the window and door market, GlassBuild America has remained fairly steady overall, especially compared to events like the International Builders' Show, which lost nearly half its exhibitors and attendees during the worst years of the housing downturn. Although smaller than in the past, GlassBuild managed to hold its own through the down years, most likely driven by manufacturers' needs to meet ever-changing energy requirements and differentiate product lines. (A point of full disclosure, Window & Door is published by the National Glass Association, which is also the show organizer.)

With more companies anticipating market growth, GlassBuild America has seemed to regain momentum, and personally, I expect much more activity this year. Window and door manufacturers are no longer anticipating market growth. Most have seen it and expect it to continue. The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based market research firm, recently issued a report projecting more than 9 percent growth in window and door demand through 2015.

Alongside that growth will come new energy requirements. Although the Energy Star criteria set to take effect in 2014 has not been finalized, many window manufacturers are examining their offerings to see how they can best meet the new requirements. Others are exploring the Energy Star Most Efficient program to see if they want their windows to reach that higher bar. Beyond that, I hear more companies talking about passive house window criteria. Suffice it to say, many manufacturers will be looking at components in Atlanta that enable them to cost effectively meet new numbers. Some might even look at equipment for producing triple glazing.

We don't unveil our 2013 Crystal Achievement Award winners until the September issue, but judging by the nominations that came in this year, the industry is producing many innovations, and I expect that to be reflected on the trade show floor in Atlanta. Whether it's solar-powered hardware, new dynamic glazing, or new options for producing those increasingly popular multi-panel door systems, there will be plenty to see at the show.

Personally, what I'm most looking forward to at this year's event is the return of a positive attitude. Our industry is blessed with many entrepreneurial, can-do types. Even when we hit the lowest of lows in terms of sales expectations, they brought a sense of enthusiam with them to the show. Others succumbed to the times. I'll admit to suffering bouts of pessimism myself.  

At this year's GlassBuild America, as we talk with old friends, industry peers, competitors and suppliers, I think we will almost all agree the worst is truly over. It's time to move on. And the show floor is likely to provide some good direction as to where we're headed next.