More companies in remodeling and replacement channel...

April 16, 2008
THE TALK...

The Talk, Page 2...

Survey Results for 04/16/2008:

More companies in remodeling and replacement channel...

...are diversifying in windows and doors.

  

 

42%

 

Neither...the pendulum just keeps swinging.

  

 

30%

 

...are specializing in windows and doors.

  

 

28%

 

John Swanson,
editor/
associate publisher
of Window & Door

Okay, some weeks I ask a lousy question. I know that, so I don’t complain when only one or two responses to a WDweekly Talk trickle in. This week’s question must have been really bad, however, because I didn’t get one email with a comment this past week when I asked whether more remodeling and replacement companies these days are specializing in windows and doors or more—who are specialists or semi-specialists already—are diversifying into other product areas.

The poll results aren’t overwhelming, but suggest a few more readers see more of a diversification trend these days. That’s not surprising, given the economic environment. If business is flat or declining, it makes sense to look at adding products to increase sales.

As I noted last week, however, Kermit Baker, a remodeling industry expert at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, suggests smaller, independent companies might find more strength in specialization (not just in windows and doors, but in any aspect of remodeling, I assume). He argues that it’s easier for companies that are “specialists” to appear to be the “big fish” and not just one more in a long list of remodelers (or home centers) a homeowner may talk to before proceeding with a project.

I don’t know if that’s the case with Windows & More in North Carolina, but that company, mentioned by Christina Lewellen for an upcoming story on companies that are growing despite tough times in the replacement market, has found success by dropping other lines and focusing on its window and door business.

Since I didn’t get any comments to back up the poll results, I’m going to make the counter-argument that there are more “window and door specialists” emerging out there at the dealer level. I see it driving around in different parts of the country with more window and door retail locations. Some may be specialty operations that are part of bigger entities, such as building supply houses and lumber yards, but others are remodelers that evolved to become window and door dealers. Again, I don’t know if it’s all about being the big fish in the pond. Issues of litigation and the realization that window and door installation requires some expertise also play a role. I also think buyers—whether they are homeowners or builders—demand higher levels of professionalism, whatever the category, and that also encourages the trend toward specialty operations.

Even if the question didn’t pull in much of a response, I think this trend bears watching. And if you want to talk about it more, I’m still open to your comments on the subject. I’ll add, however, that if you have ideas for Talk topics and questions, I’m all ears. Send your ideas and thoughts on any topic and let’s get a new discussion started.