Is Vinyl Still No. 1?

Survey says: yes
Katie Gregg
May 14, 2019
COLUMN : In the Dealer's Corner | Markets & Trends

WDDA at Work

Here’s what your Window & Door Dealers Alliance was busy with in Q1. 

Window and Door Market Research Study

The first of its kind in the industry, the Benchmarking Report studied attitude and usage research among window and door dealers and retailers. Conducted by The Farnsworth Group, findings were initially presented at Window & Door Dealer Day 2018 and formalized into a member report and webinar presentation. 

Extreme Lead Generation Summit

WDDA committed its support of the Professional Remodeler’s Extreme Lead Generation 2019 event, held April 10-11 in Baltimore. The two-day conference featured premier marketing speakers and networking opportunities. Members of WDDA took advantage of complimentary registration for the event.

Window & Door Dealer Day Program 

Registration for Window & Door Dealer Day is now open and speakers will soon be announced. Located at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center (adjacent to the Georgia World Congress Center), this year’s program will be held Monday, Sept. 16, and will include a breakfast and Dealer of the Year awards ceremony, educational programming, lunch, networking opportunities, and happy hour. Registrants will also receive access to the GlassBuild America tradeshow floor.

Vinyl has the lion’s share of the fenestration market, hovering around 70 percent, according to various industry sources. And for good reason: vinyl is acknowledged for its durability, low maintenance, technical performance and affordability. As reported in the Window & Door Dealer Alliance’s Benchmarking Report, vinyl windows dominate sales among dealers. They are the most commonly carried type of window at 88 percent and contribute to 63 percent of total window sales per dealer.

While vinyl is reported to be the “best” in terms of hitting the sweet spot where performance and affordability meet, other options such as wood, metal and fiberglass also have their benefits. These products may be seeing higher install numbers in a number of high-price-point homes. Composite products are also on the rise and are poised to steal more market share from vinyl as these resin products can be stronger and more durable. 

In part, this also allows manufacturers to make smaller profile frames and sash parts, leading to a better aesthetic. For example, Andersen’s Fibrex material is now being used to make its 100 Series product line. Due to the incredible growth the company is seeing in that space, Andersen is opening a new facility in Phoenix just to manufacture Fibrex windows and parts. Other manufacturers, including Marvin, Kolbe, Pella, Milgard and others also have composite products that are seeing rapid growth. 

Still, Freedonia, a recognized expert in industry forecasting, predicts vinyl will see the greatest growth advantages through 2022. Yet some dealers report issues with vinyl from a sales perspective, including that vinyl windows can be seen as a commodity. In response, manufacturers have come a long way and gained success with vinyl window products that have come to be known not only for their consistent quality, durability and attention to detail, but also for an improved aesthetic. 

Members and manufacturers who are thriving in this space provide some keys to getting these premium vinyl windows into the market. To successfully sell in this market requires:

  • An educated salesperson who understands and can explain the importance, significance and value of a heavier, virgin vinyl and heavy-duty hardware,
  • A robust warranty from a company that will endure to support it,
  • Careful personal attention to the manufacture of each product, and
  • A PG 50+ rating.

A combination of these elements means the discriminating homeowner doesn’t have to choose between performance, appearance and value. 

Overall, best-selling products are those that meet quality and performance requirements across a spectrum of specifications for a particular market and region. A dealer does not have to sell the “best-selling” type of window to be a “best-selling” business. 

Author’s Note: To read more and discover other industry trends that can impact your business, contact me, kgregg@glass.org, for the first edition of WDDA’s Benchmarking Report released in March 2019. The next iteration of this study is currently underway. Window & Door Dealer Day 2019 attendees will be among the first to hear updated results and new year-over-year comparison data. The event takes place Monday, Sept. 16, in Atlanta. 

Katie Gregg is the associate director, WDDA Industry & Member Engagement for the Window & Door Dealers Alliance, the only national business organization advancing the interests of independent window and door dealers. She can be reached at kgregg@glass.org.