Latest Articles in Management

  • While it's nice to ask customers “how are we doing?” it’s important to track how your competitors are doing too
    What is your competitive advantage? I have been asking that question frequently in my recent market research with building materials companies. Amazingly, the answers are generally all the same.Here is a brief summary: Our culture, our quality, our experience and our people. The “four feel goods” account for 95 percent of all responses.This begs the question–If everyone has the... more »
  • Manufacturers are looking for dedicated dealers who will get the job done, and dealers are looking for suppliers who value them
    A dealer buddy of mine sent me an email this week that started with an apology for ranting and then went on to his rant. He wants to know (not from me, but just in general), where his suppliers’ sense of service went through the years? He seems to have woken up and realized, now that business has ebbed a bit, that the door and window manufacturers supplying his dealership aren’t... more »
  • A minor variation in energy performance as manufacturers push the “state of the art” could create liability issues
    Federal preemption is probably not a concept many would associate with the fenestration industry. I suspect many readers have never even heard the term. It’s a concept, however, the industry should understand and promote. The underpinnings for the principle of federal preemption are found in the U.S. Constitution and the goal is the uniform regulation of matters of strong national interest... more »
  • The Legal Department
    We don’t need new laws; we just have to enforce the ones we have…” This line has been applied in innumerable ways to issues which have been the subject of a cry for more legislation. Sometimes, the furor results in old laws being enforced with new vigor. It’s good to know when that happens. We are seeing newly vigorous enforcement of an “old law” that has come... more »
  • It is important not to lose sight of the long term and fundamental strength in the residential housing market. Admittedly, it is difficult to see this silver lining through all the doom and gloom publicity about the housing slump. It can be even more difficult when we now hear talk of recession.  Maybe certain politicians are, for reasons of their own, saying we’re on the precipice of... more »
  • If I offered to hand you $15 or let you flip a coin to earn either $20 or $10, which would you choose? Taking a chance might mean I only fork over $10 to you but playing it safe means you give up the opportunity to walk away with $20. In this example, the difference is only whether you’re buying me one round or two, but what if the stakes are much higher? How risk tolerant are you when it... more »
  • Many of us in the building materials business have read this book before. Housing starts and permits plummet, sales drop and it is time to start the belt tightening. When it comes to cutbacks, they usually come in the following order: * Training* Market research* Marketing programs (dealer, consumer, builder and remodeler)* Sales support and/or customer service* Sales... more »
  • News in the industry hasn’t been very good as of late. While I generally start new years with renewed optimism, I’m realistic about 2008. So Therma-Tru Doors’ David Haddix struck a chord for me when he noted for our industry forecast (page 51), “The future is bright. I just wish we could fast forward.” I share his optimism for the future and that eagerness to move on... more »
  • Current market conditions may slow M&A activity, but financial buyers are still looking at residential building products segment
    Many different factors are currently affecting merger and acquisition activity involving window and door companies. The rise in defaults of sub-prime mortgages has decreased lenders’ willingness to extend new loans to customers that don’t qualify for standard mortgages, affecting the outlook on the residential housing market. The losses suffered by major lenders in this space has... more »
  • In case you came to work today with nothing better to do, let’s chat about ripping off your customers. Not that I’m implying any of my dear readers would do such a thing, but let’s say your evil twin decided to put his toe to the edge of the slippery slope and flirt with some unethical, immoral and perhaps even illegal business practices. The question is this: Even if you put... more »