We Will Emerge Differently
Most economists–and many industry executives–see new construction increasing, with additional growth expected next year. Remodeling and replacement activity is also on the upswing, with even bigger gains expected for 2013. I've been on the cautious side regarding our current recovery, but I am becoming increasingly confident that things are really getting better for the window and door industry.
With that confidence, my thoughts turn to a question that has been with me for some time: How will the industry that emerges from the Great Recession, or whatever you want to call the recent downturn we've been through, be different than it was at the height of the most recent boom? With many companies closing their doors in the past few years, it would seem that smaller is one obvious answer. But how else have we changed?
Our Crystal Achievement Awards winners, highlighted in this issue, provide some answers. Presented each September, these awards honor innovation in the window and door industry across the spectrum of product development, manufacturing and marketing. Along with a strong slate on nominations, our award winners provide some good snapshots on changes taking place now, while others serve as good indicators of where we are going.
Two of our honorees this year–Royal and Nanawall–are honored for products that help create large openings that connect indoor and outdoor spaces. We also had several other nominees involved in this product category. These multi-panel systems were around before the crash of the market, but they've showed steady signs of becoming more mainstream, no longer limited to the most luxurious homes.
From GlassCraft Door, we have enhanced aesthetics with fiberglass doors that look a little more like wood. We also honor Bella Fleur for its new product that brings elements of nature into decorative glazing panels. Our list of nominations included several vinyl window lines offering extensive interior and exterior finish and hardware options, as well as a number of new door designs offering contemporary flair. All these products suggest that how windows and doors look is becoming a lot more important in the marketplace than it was just five or six years ago.
From GED, we have new equipment designed to produce triple-pane IG more cost effectively. While it's not likely to happen overnight, the emergence of this type of machine suggests triple glazing may no longer be limited to a small niche market. Just as more car buyers are opting for hybrids, more homeowners, looking for the greenest product or the ultimate in energy efficiency, are going to be willing to invest more in triples.
One of our honorees this year is a system from Pella that provides enhanced function, as shades or blinds can be opened or closed not only at the touch of a button, or the swipe of a smart phone screen. Blinds can be programmed through a home automation system to close automatically, when no one is home, when the sun gets too hot. While still early in the adoption phase, Internet-enabled home devices are predicted to see strong growth in the coming decade.
Also still early in the adoption phase, tablet technology is being embraced by many in the industry. With its Touchquote order entry product for iPads, a Unique Innovation award winner this year, WTS Paradigm shows us how the window and door selling process will be different.
Sunrise Windows' award-winning marketing program included a tablet sales presentation. MI Window & Door's website is being recognized to a great extent because it is completely integrated with an iPad app and smart phone compatible as well. And we had several other nominees making use of tablet technology in the marketing categories, reflecting the impact mobile devices are already having.
Simonton's Crystal Achievement Award winning marketing program reflects how social media has moved front and center in the marketing of windows and doors. The manufacturer relied heavily on a YouTube video, blogs and a special page of its website to get its message out about lead-safe window replacement.
When window and door sales last peaked in 2005, the iPad was only a glimmer in Steve Jobs' eye, Facebook was something only college students were using and Twitter wasn't even invented. The world has changed and our Crystal Achievement Award winners show that, as an industry, we're adapting well and ready to grow.
Our winners show us where we're going too. Even with the strides we've made as an industry, we'll be offering products that offer higher performance and expanded functionality. Our windows, doors and skylights will create better looking homes and enable us to bring the outdoors in. These changes will create many new opportunities as we bring added value to the home.
We are emerging from some tough times, and it's okay to start becoming more optimistic about the coming years. Our Crystal Achievement Award winners reflect much change, but they also show our resilience as an industry. Despite tough times, we're still moving forward.
I would like to conclude by thanking all the companies that submitted Crystal Achievement Award nominations and the judges who helped to select the winners. If you’re interested in serving as a judge next year, email me at email@example.com. And, of course, we’ll be looking for nominations again next year.
Of course, I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate this year’s winners. To be recognized by your industry peers is something special. And, in nearly every award category, it took something special to stand out.