Win-Door Reflects Slumping Canadian Market

November 14, 2008
Meetings & Events

Toronto—The Canadian market has remained relatively healthy, but the weak U.S. economy is beginning to drag it down. That was a big topic of conversation at this year’s Win-Door North America, the annual trade show hosted by the Canadian Window & Door Manufacturers Association.
Last year, the continued strength of the Canadian market versus the U.S. was evident in stronger attendance than in 2006. This year, attendance was down somewhat, reflecting the fact that Canadian window and door makers are buckling down for tougher times ahead.

“It’s going to be pretty grim,” said John Johnston, chief strategist for the Harbour Group, part of the Royal Bank of Canada, offering an economic forecast at the show this year. He emphasized that the coming months will represent “a serious recession, but not a depression.”

Johnston predicted the Canadian economy is likely to hit bottom sometime between March and August 2009. “As a business person, you want to see the stock market get better; that means in about three to six months, you’ll see the economy get better,” he said.

Window and door manufacturing equipment suppliers brought a number of machines to Toronto this year.

Suppliers and manufacturers at the show were talking about a tough 2009, but many shared Johnston’s perspective, suggesting the window and door industry would hit bottom and perhaps begin to see signs of some growth in 2010. A number of exhibitors and attendees alike, however, suggested the road to the bottom would get rocky, predicting the shutdown of a few more operations before any turnaround begins.

Much of the show was business as usual. As in past years, Win-Door feature a wide range of exhibitors, with large booths hosted by Canadian based extruders like P.H. Tech, Soniplastics and Westech, as well as a strong mix of door suppliers, including Inde-Pane, Masonite and Novatech. MasterGrain, which made its debut at last year’s Win-Door, showed a number of prototype fiberglass doors, featuring a range of panel design and wood finish options now offered by the company. Tru Tech featured a new steel door with a woodgrain finish.

Suppliers of slabs and other door components accounted for much of the space at WIn-Door again.

The show saw some of the same new products featured that were introduced at GlassBuild America in October. For example, Royal featured its new window system incorporating fiberglass reinforcement. Glasslam was featuring its AirTight foam spacer product. The company has completed its factory and built up significant extrusion capacity, and now has aggressive plans for growth, reported Gerhard Reichert, president.

A number of suppliers indicated that they still see manufacturers planning ahead for better times. One way they are doing that is looking at new products to differentiate themselves. Laminates continue to attract more interest, reported David Harris, American Renolit. Vinyl manufacturers that have already started to offer these options see it as one part of their product lines that’s growing in this environment, he noted.

“We see companies taking advantage of this time to really focus in on their operations,” said Nathan Herbst of WTS Paradigm. Despite weakness in the market, he reported healthy activity in his company’s software and systems’ business.

This year’s show featured two new patio door exhibitors. Premium Products was showing its line of three patio doors, as well as prototype window designs it plans to offer. About a year old, the company plans to target fabricators both in the U.S. and Canada, reported Elias Mancebo, Premium’s VP of design and engineering.

Not a new company, but making its Win-Door debut was Sunview Doors. The company, which offers both vinyl and aluminum patio doors for applications ranging from single family homes to high-rise terraces, has been around about 30 years, but was recently acquired by Vic De Zen, founder of Royal Group, and is now working to raise its profile and grow, reported Tony Mariotta, general manager.

Another new exhibitor was BEC Window & Envelope Consulting. Working in the Alberta construction market, the company has developed a new sealant and methods for window and door installation that it is now seeking to promote to window and door manufacturers.

Other business at Win-Door includes a look at more stringent Energy Star requirements coming down the pike within Canada, as they are in the U.S. CWDMA also continued its efforts to raise awareness about window and balcony safety, with a putting contest designed to raise money to fund construction of more display units that can be used for education.

CWDMA meets next for its annual general meeting, scheduled for June in Prince Edward Island. Its annual Win-Door show returns to Toronto on November 11, 2009, when, as one exhibitor noted, “let’s hope things are looking a little better.”