Stronger Canadian Market Evident at Win-Door

Toronto—While industry sales have declined in the U.S., the Canadian economy and housing market continue to roll along—a fact evident in brisk traffic at Win-Door North America last week. The annual event, hosted by the Canadian Window & Door Manufactur-ers Association, also appeared to see an uptick in activity among door suppliers.

Windoor JosephAmong the new exhibitors at the show was Weber Manufacturing Technologies Inc., an Ontario-based producer of molds and tooling for a variety of industries. The company was showing off three new fiberglass entry doors manufactured using its nickel shell technology, designed to produce more realistic woodgrain surfaces. In the entry door market, the company has had an exclusive relationship with one leading manufacturer, but is now venturing out to partner with other door makers, explained Ken Kussen, business manager. It is entering the market with mahogany-, oak- and cherry-grain doors, with knotty pine and alder versions currently under development.

Its first new partner, Tru Tech Door Products, based in Concord, Ontario, was introducing a new door line featuring Weber technology. Weber expects to announce relationships with a number of U.S.-based door manufacturers next year, Kussen reported. In the Tru Tech booth, the company’s Sam Collister noted that the new TruGrain line, and its enhanced wood look, was being well received.

Also new was a line of raised panel fiberglass doors shown by G&J International. Unlike other doors, which use decorative moldings attached to a flat surface to create the raised panel look, Legend doors feature raised panel design formed right into the doorskin.

Not all activity centered around doors, however. P.H. Tech used Win-Door to launch a new assembly system allowing real wood components to be attached to the interior of its casement and fixed vinyl windows design. With parts screwed into the screen groove, the system features 90º corners to provide an authentic wood window look.

Windoor phtechFollowing up on a launch earlier this year at GlassBuild America was Glasslam NGI, which was showing its new AirTight foam IG spacer product. Billed as a generic foam spacer offering superior warm-edge performance, the new product has generated significant interest from manufacturers, according to the company’s Matt Hale. With strong demand anticipated, Glasslam plans to start production at several facilities early next year.

A major topic of discussion at this year’s Win-Door was the weak U.S. dollar, which could change the buying and selling habits for window and door manufacturers and industry suppliers on both sides of the border. While the exchange rate has benefited Canadian industry suppliers selling to the U.S. for years, the U.S. dollar’s weakness is now turning the table. A number of U.S. suppliers noted they are suddenly much more competitively priced north of the border.

Pennsylvania-based Joseph Machine Co. has sold its saws in Canada, but has struggled in the past with the fact that its prices for a Canadian manufacturer are higher than a Canadian-based supplier’s, observed Abe Diehl of Joseph Machine. “Customers up here have always said, ‘we like your quality,’ but the premium has been too much,” he noted. “Now, we’re enjoying the fact that they can say, ‘Hey, not only do I get quality, I get it at a discount.’”


CWDMA BUSINESS

In addition to the show, the Win-Door event featured a CWDMA business meeting and educational sessions. In a technical update, Jeff Baker, CWDMA consultant, reviewed the latest edition of the Canadian Building Code and its requirements for windows and doors, as well as alternative paths for getting products accepted.



Windoor Vega

Plans to strengthen Energy Star requirements for windows and doors in the U.S. and Canada were reviewed, respectively by Nils Petermann of the Alliance to Save Energy and Steve Hopwood of Natural Resources Canada. Although specific changes have not been set, Hopwood said his office was looking at “upzoning” the Canadian Energy Star requirements, with Zone A (the mildest) adopting the current minimums for Zone B, B changing to C, C changing to D, and new more stringent requirements being added for Zone D, the coldest region.



The relative health of the Canadian window and door market compared to that of the U.S. was a common topic of discussion. While the U.S. housing market has plummeted, thanks in part to problems in the subprime mortgage market, Canada has managed to avoid such problems, and its housing market has remained steady, said Julie Taylor, an economist with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., speaking at the CWDMA business meeting. The new construction market in Canada has hit its peak, she suggested, however, and while her organization expects new housing levels to remain healthy in 2008, starts are likely to see some decline next year.



CWDMA announced its plans for next year, including a spring meeting set for Le Manoir Richelieu in Charlevoix, Quebec, May 29-31, as well as a return engagement for Win-Door in Toronto next November.