Latest Articles in Strategies & Practices

  • 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 »
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    In an online exclusive, a vinyl extrusion salesman shares how he learned his customer’s needs, first-hand.
    Being in field sales your entire career, you sometimes lose sight of what is required by operations to provide the very products you’re out there peddling. I guess you could say that most salesmen think, “If I sell it, they will build it.” But from time to time, salesmen need a refresher course in operations to keep them sharp. In April, it was my time for that refresher. But... 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 »
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    Four Seasons expanding into window business
    When thinking of window and door industry leading brands, Four Seasons Sunrooms may not come to mind immediately. The company’s name is well recognized, however, and it’s now getting ready to leverage that brand more—moving beyond the room addition and sunroom market to windows and more. Recently, it began a “soft launch” of a new replacement window line it has... 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 »
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    Industry reputation and quality installs priority for Oregon retailer
    Keith Strand is working to hand over qualified installers to his competition. This is not exactly typical behavior for a replacement window dealer, but he figures that helping his competitors means helping the window and door industry. "We should all be talking to each other," says the owner of Strand's Window & Door based in the Portland, Ore. area. "We don't have to give... more »
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    A new vinyl window manufacturing system seeks to create "true one-piece flow."
    Most companies making vinyl windows follow the same basic manufacturing steps as 35 years ago. Lineals are optimized and cut into lengths. When the welding station operator is ready to assemble a particular unit, all four pieces are located and loaded one piece at a time into a welder. Sash and frames are then welded, cleaned and sent to glazing. There have been improvements to the process over... more »
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    Eventual market recovery, demand for triple glazing and continued efforts to reduce labor will spur more investments, suppliers predict
    Back in 2005 and 2006, window and door manufacturers were investing in new equipment and plants to expand capacity as the housing market boomed. With the housing bust of 2007 and 2008, things changed. Suppliers report that investments in new equipment are now down dramatically, but they also point out that spending has not come to a halt. Manufacturers continue to replace machines and upgrade... more »
  • An aggressive commitment to constant improvement in systems and procedures enables some manufacturers to thrive, even in tough times
    The decline in new home construction, combined with an anemic remodeling market, has created serious setbacks for many companies and the people who work-or worked-for them. Yet some window and door makers not only made money in 2007, they grew. Some expect no worse than flat sales for 2008. What separates these companies from those that are struggling, or already out of business? To get some... 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 »