Building Community through Conversation

Emily Kay Thompson
October 25, 2016
THE TALK... | Strategies & Practices

While catching up from being out of the office is never fun, last week at Window & Door Dealer Days and GlassBuild America was more than worth it for all of us who showed up for two days of nonstop networking.

I was inspired by the sense of community I witnessed during the event. Dealers from across the country sat in groups to discuss their ongoing struggles with hiring, job training, and sales and marketing issues. These forums provided a safe space to discuss what works and what doesn’t and gave participants a list of actionable strategies they were anxious to put into play when they got back to their desks.

The crowd was also engaged during the panel discussion on managing and maintaining a showroom. Former Dealer of the Year award winners all provided their approach to showroom design, pointing to specifics in terms of incorporating technology, keeping their space fresh, and bringing the showroom experience online.

Business owners were particularly curious about this last point, as the discussion turned to virtual showrooms that leverage the technology of Google 360. Check it out on Glass Concepts’ website, click here to experience the Windows, Doors & More virtual site, and visit Woodland Windows & Doors’ virtual site to see how the tool brings a new level to online window shopping. These three companies that incorporate this new tool walked attendees through the process of creating their 360 showrooms, so don’t be surprised when more of these pop up on the web.

As it tends to do, the conversation eventually turned to straight up business management. Company owners shared their “secrets” to how they keep business flowing, how they balance their days wearing multiple hats and even how they prequalify potential customers. Though, as Ken Mariotti, Woodland Windows & Doors, put it, there are really no secrets to business. “We’re all putting our own spin on it, but there really aren’t any secrets,” he said. Mariotti kept the conversation going for hours on Thursday, revealing what works for his company as well as touching on his struggles. Participants were willing to share and ask questions during the session, which only led to more ideas and theories all could take back to their showrooms.

One of the more fascinating points that became clear throughout the discussions was that all specialty retailers seem to deal with the same set of obstacles and have similar strategies for success. In fact, an international representative spoke up to share that what he was hearing in the Window & Door Dealer Days sessions were the same set of problems dealers throughout Europe face.

What came of all of this was that there is an overwhelming craving for more of this kind of networking and idea-sharing. Would you be interested in being a part of the next discussions? Review the results of this week’s poll, post a comment and/or email your thoughts on the subject.

Survey Results for 10/26/2016: Do you take part in any forums or peer groups for window and door specialty retailers?
No, but I'd like to
Yes, and I find it helpful to business
No, and I'm not interested in doing so
Yes, but I don't get much out of it
Thompson is editor of Window & Door,, and WDweekly. Write her at

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