Continued Opportunity in Color

Eric Thompson
March 13, 2019
THE TALK... | Design & Performance

A few weeks ago, I returned from International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas—where there had been a bit of snow, as you might have heard. Wild weather aside, IBS coincides with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show to make up Design & Construction Week, and it’s always a nice snapshot of the current home industry. Window & Door provided a nice recap here.

I always keep my eyes peeled at these shows for what’s new and unique in the window and door space. Some things I noticed this year included bigger openings, attractive new hardware, and lots and lots of color.

But new and unique? Not so much. Consumers are demanding efficient windows, which the industry is delivering through high-performance profiles and insulating glass, just like we always have. Instead, I’m noticing that new ways to customize tried-and-true technologies are the way the market seems to be headed right now.

Color, in particular, is something that I believe window and door makers can no longer afford to ignore, if they haven’t already worked out how to provide their customers the option. About two years ago I wrote about why color was opening up new opportunities to differentiate, and it’s only become increasingly common—and competitive—since that time.

I’ve had recent conversations with customers who are going the extra mile to deliver on color options—in some cases, literally. One of my contacts in the West has been sending completed windows to a paint shop in Tennessee in order to deliver on customer demands. With the cost of freight these days, that’s no small investment. Elsewhere, a customer looking to seize new opportunity in the California multifamily market told me their business stands to gain significant margins by offering color options beyond their traditional portfolio.

It stands to reason that window makers everywhere will explore opportunities to deliver on customer color demands. With that comes many options to consider. Will companies outsource the painting of their windows? Bring painting operations in-house, with the environmental, health and safety implications to consider? Will they consider paint at all, given the new co-extruded technologies available from some suppliers today?

I think Design & Construction Week shows us that there’s continued opportunity in color options for today’s window and door manufacturers. And it’s an opportunity everyone should be investigating or risk being left behind.

Eric Thompson is a national account manager for Quanex Building Products. Email him at eric.thompson@quanex.com