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September - October 2002

HOT TOPICS

Be the Best—Beginning Now 
by John Matukaitis

Frequently, I am asked by many people within the fenestration products industry for my thoughts and ideas relative to what my company, an IG sealant producer, sees as trends or possible events that could impact the industry. Our prognostic skills or abilities are probably no better or worse than most people involved with fenestration products. However two events stand out as candidates that are in their embryonic stages of impacting the industry.

In this regard, I have observed, more often than not, when someone asks “how’s business?” what they are really asking is, “what’s new?” What is happening, or beginning to happen in our industry, which might impact my business?

Two events are occurring that dictate that manufacturers of fenestration products need to pay particular attention to making the best products of which they are capable, now, and especially in the future.

Government Involvement
Government is becoming more involved in influencing how your products will be made and how they should perform. The fenestration industry has enjoyed the luxury, relatively speaking, of not having a governmental agency directly regulating its businesses. Various governmental agencies provide guidance and suggestions to the fenestration industry, but no single agency truly regulates the industry per se.

The U.S. Department of Energy (Office of Building, State and Community Programs) has begun its DOE-Window Industry Technol-ogy Roadmap. Three major components of the program include the establishment of a system for rating products based on durability, defining appropriate durability and warranty periods for different window components, and developing guidelines and standards for durable window products. I don’t know how clear my crystal ball may be, but political science and history seem to demonstrate how guidelines and standards become legislation, with that legislation being administered via the regulation of the industries involved. Is the government, in essence, preparing to tell you how to make the best product?

New Technology
The GasGlass is a non-invasive Argon analyzer that is being marketed in North America and around the world. The Argon issue within the fenestration industry was hampered previously by the then-technology employed in determining how much Argon is in an insulating glass unit (IGU), and how long it stays in the unit. The GasGlass appears to provide accurate information, within seconds, that enables an IGU fabricator, and others, such as regulators, compliance organizations, test labs, production personnel, lawyers, consumer groups, etc., to make these determinations. If you fabricate IGUs containing Argon, and make certain claims about the Argon content and retention within the unit, GasGlass can support or refute your claims quickly and accurately. The technology for determining which IGUs will be the best, relative to Argon content and retention, is now a reality.

It is not difficult to make the best fenestration products. One of the DOE’s endeavors included the creation of the “Panel on the Durability of Seals in Insulating Glass Units.” Why wait for its findings to be published when you can take action now? Iit is possible to make the best fenestration products, including IGU, now, when accurate comparisons are made.

I have seen a number of high school and college football stadiums with a sign posted on the wall of the tunnel that leads from the home team’s locker room to the playing field. The sign simply says, “Be the Best.” Events are underway in the fenestration products industry that will allow only the best performers to survive and proliferate. 


John Matukaitis serves as marketing director for Delchem Inc., based in Wilmington, Del.

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