Are You Looking for New Vendors?

John G. Swanson
March 3, 2009

Survey Results for 03/04/2009:

With the new tax credit requirements, our company:

Is ready to go with qualifying products in our line.





Does not have qualifying product, but does not plan to change.





Is looking at new potential vendors to upgrade line.




This week’s survey results conflict with some of the anecdotal reports we received in response to last week’s Talk. A strong majority of respondents indicated they already make or sell products that qualify to the 30/30 standard set forth for the stimulus bill tax credits. Yet we received emails and calls from both manufacturers and suppliers they were getting more inquiries since the new numbers went into effect. There are definitely window and door companies out there looking for new vendors. 

“We are seeing a surge in business over the last two weeks, increasing exponentially each week, reminiscent of the first energy tax credit for windows in 1979, but then it was storm windows, which more than doubled sales in one year,” writes Wayne Gorell, CEO of Gorell Windows & Doors. “I'm hoping this credit does the same. After the horrible last two-and-a-half years, a significant increase in business is welcome.”

“I just wanted to report that Vinylmax is sitting pretty these days,” writes Laura Doerger-Roberts, VP of sales and marketing for the vinyl window manufacturer. “Most of our mid-grade products with our standard Low E/Argon package meet the 30/30 requirements. We have a triple-pane program that qualifies the products that don't meet it with double pane. This gives us a competitive price advantage over many others who are forced to upgrade to a triple pane or specialized Low E package. Even more interesting, our Sherwood series of Wood Replacement Windows also meet the 30/30 requirement with our standard Low E package. Very, very few wood manufacturers are meeting those numbers and taxpayers have few options for a true wood interior. All of this great news came just in time for the home and garden show season, where our customers have a distinct advantage against their competitors.”

Several respondents noted how they were gearing up for the tax credits. “I read your note in the WDWeekly email today and thought I would let you know that Taylor Building Products’ Premium Glass division, based in Lancaster, Ohio, is/can transition our customers, or other non Taylor customers, into the new Obama Administration’s 30/30 NFRC/Energy Star qualification program now. We could be someone’s new vendor,” writes Hugh Gordon, a regional sales manager with the company. “We are the only doorlite based company that has domestic manufacturing/processing facilities that can react to the new program rapidly. We are capable of transitioning decorative or commodity doorlite products to the new .30 U-factor now. We have our own CNC cutting, fabrication and tempering operation that can process most doorlite sizes and shapes in- house such that we can give the customer a finished decorative doorlite/sidelite product that meets the new 30/30 code. We do not have to wait on overseas supplies to come in with appropriate low-E products, if available–we are ready to serve now.”

In addition to increased business for some, the .30 U-factor/.30 SHGC numbers in the stimulus legislation are also raising some questions among readers. “We are getting some calls. However, we are also confused about the requirement,” one distributor writes. “Is the U-factor and SHGC rating only have to do with the glass rating or is the overall window taken into consideration?”

“We have received a significant surge in inquires from window and door manufacturers regarding this subject. Many of the window and door manufacturers’ questions are predictably focused on expanding the number of their products that meet the qualification criteria,” writes Tim Singel from Guardian Industries Corp.

“Unfortunately, many of the questions also seem to be the result of misinformation," he continues."For example, the qualification criteria (<0.30 / <0.30) are clear, but the law is silent regarding the basis for qualification. Considering the broad industry endorsement of total window performance as the appropriate measure of window U-Factor and SHGC, we are surprised by the number of calls from window manufacturers that have been prompted by a competitive component supplier’s assertion that unless a component meets the qualification criteria based on center of glass, the window won’t qualify for the tax credits. This statement seems to equate center of glass and total window performance. Isn’t that the myth that the NFRC was established to dispel?”

What these readers both point to is the fact the actual language in the stimulus package does not specifically reference how a product’s U-factor and/or SHGC is to be determined. As signed into law, it includes only the numbers. In the past, when such details aren't spelled out in the actual legislation, it has been up to the Internal Revenue Service to issue a ruling on the matter—saying something like “as determined per National Fenestration Rating Council standards and procedures.” That has not happened yet, but my guess is that NFRC and the Department of Energy–among others–will work to make that happen.

Looking forward, it’s clear there is opposition to the new tax credit numbers. AAMA plans to lobby Congress to bring back Energy Star criteria as the qualifier for tax credits, and we’ve heard from others in the industry who would prefer that approach. Some may charge that the industry is doing this because they want to make it easier to qualify for the tax credits.

It’s worth noting, however, that DOE itself went through a lot of effort to come up with regional numbers designed to maximize energy performance based on different climactic needs. The one-size-fits-all approach clearly has drawbacks, and while not scientific, our poll results do indicate many in our industry are ready to sell high performance.

As Gorell concludes in his comments, “If anything we think the performance requirements were too low, not stringent enough to really conserve a lot of energy, which is the real goal of this legislation.” But he also sees the value of going with different numbers for different climates. “We would like to have seen a .25, or at the least a .27 number on the U value, and limit the solar heat gain requirement to where it is important, the Southernmost part of the country.”


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