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INTERNATIONAL

Industry Fights Back Against Chinese Threat to U.S.Window Market

European Window Market
Shows Interest in Alternative Materials

A study by the international firm InterConnection Consulting Group shows some interesting European window trends. In Southeastern Europe, there is a trend toward plastic windows. Plastic was used in 46.4 percent or 3.7 million window units in 2002.

While plastic is rising, wood windows have already fallen below 40 percent of the total market in the Eastern European and German-speaking European countries. As a result, many of the German-speaking European countries are showing interest in the possible uses of modified solid wood for window manufacturing.

According to a survey by InterConnection, 82.8 percent of all participants were either very interested or interested in the results of the possible uses of modified solid wood. In regard to extractable wood that figure rose to 94.4 percent. But, while there is interest in this material, only 22 percent of those surveyed were very well or well informed on the subject of extractable wood, while for modified solid wood 33 percent said they were well-informed.

In light of recent reports that almost half of all imports to the United States come from U.S.-owned factories in foreign countries or from foreign companies to their U.S. affiliates, experts are urging the fenestration industry to become more competitive, especially when it comes to China. In fact, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) thought this issue was so important that it had Alan Dunn, former assistant secretary of commerce and partner in the law firm of Stewart and Stewart of Washington, D.C., speak at the association’s recent summer meeting in Newport, R.I. Dunn urged U.S. manufacturers to be more competitive as they can offer what Chinese companies cannot, such as exceptional service, lean manufacturing and just-in-time delivery. He also reviewed the legal remedies available for companies seeking relief against suspected dumping such as defining the product, tracking the imports and deciding what constitutes injury. There are also various laws and actions to counter unfair trade, such as the Anti-Dumping Act and Section 301 of the Tariff Act of 1974, under which they can petition for an investigation by the International Trade Commission or the Department of Commerce. Dunn said that if an industry can show that such practices have or will harm them, significant duties and other barriers can be placed on the imported products.

Representatives from the AAMA Vinyl Materials Council and the Vinyl Institute met with representatives of two government agencies in Washington, D.C, in October to familiarize themselves with the petition process that protects domestic businesses from dumping.

“Because Chinese vinyl window profiles are being sold at between 35 and 50 percent below U.S. market prices, the majority of our members are extremely concerned about possible dumping,” said Rich Walker, executive vice president of AAMA. “At present, the majority of vinyl extrusions imported are sourced from Canada and are AAMA-certified, but are also competitively priced with the United States. While the current level of Chinese vinyl profile imports has not yet risen above the three percent market volume threshold required to file a complaint, the rate of increase is high and troubling.”

Republic Tries Creative New Strategy to Gain New Dealers

Chicago-based Republic Windows & Doors turned on the creative juices and as a result has created a movie-themed postcard campaign to seek new dealers.

The company is mailing a series of 11 giant postcards to dealers and contractors in regions where Republic is under-represented, according to Amy Zimmerman, Republic’s director of marketing. Additionally, the top 40 prospects for each mailing will receive a promotional gift that relates to the theme of that particular mailing.

Some of the creative postcards include:

• Honey, I Shrunk the Energy Bill – “Starring Low-EHPand Heat Mirror™ with special appearances by SmaRt 10 Glass® and Krypton Gas” emphasizes Republic’s energy-saving glass options.

• Gone with the Window – “As God is my witness, I’ll never clean windows again!” highlights Republic’s low-maintenance glass coatings, Simple Glass™ and Stay Clean Glass®.

• Necessary TUFness – “Republic’s T.U.F.® Glass is 400 percent stronger than ordinary glass. That’s tough!” focuses on Republic’s safety and security option, and the company’s in-house tempering capability.

• Sleepless in Chicago – “Honest, supportive window manufacturer seeks ambitious dealer for long-term relationship…” explains how the company was built on strong customer relationships.

The postcards, which are mailed every three weeks, have already generated a positive response.

“Prospects are tickled by the fun nature of the mailing, which aptly portrays Republic as a company that loves this business,” said Zimmerman. “We wanted to inject a little humor and levity to show Republic’s personality as a fun and innovative partner.”

In response to the problem, AAMA is collecting information and documentation from the industry in preparation of filing an antidumping petition. Walker noted that this would consider the future and projected harm of dumping, which includes factors such as announced plant capacity additions in China, contracts with U.S. customers and a rapid rise in import volume. One of the requirements for filing a petition is to gain the support of at least 25 percent of domestic vinyl window profile producers, which can be assumed, given the dominant representation of the industry within the AAMA Vinyl Material Council, according to Walker.

“Although the petition takes a year to process, it is possible to take remedial action within five months of the petition filing date,” said Walker.

In order for Chinese imports to be monitored in a meaningful way for the fenestration industry, and to update the petition process in the event of rapidly escalating imports and industry harm, Walker said that the U.S. Customs Department will be consulted to clarify and isolate the classification of imported vinyl window profiles.

The AAMA Vinyl Materials Council was scheduled to meet on November 20th in Chicago so chief executive officers in the vinyl window industry could present an overview of the antidumping petition process, and to establish the foundation for the financial and manpower support to protect their industry from unfair trade practices (results of the meeting were not known at press time).

AAMA is not the only association concerned with this issue. Rand Baldwin, president of the Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC), points to a study commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) that paints a grim outlook for U.S. manufacturing.

“The NAM study is a wake-up call,” said Baldwin. “If we didn’t know it already, it is clearer than ever before that manufacturing in this country—and in many industrialized countries of the world—needs to be a top priority for policy makers and leaders.” With that goal in mind, the AEC is participating in campaigns to raise awareness of these issues among policy makers in Washington and between the general U.S. and Canadian public.

According to the study, the intervention of the Chinese government in maintaining its currency at artificially low levels (an estimated 40 percent below markets rates) has created an uneven playing field.

“The effects of this can be seen in a number of domestic markets for aluminum extrusion,” said Baldwin. “China was granted entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, which means free access to our members’ markets. WTO and International Monetary Fund rules prohibit currency manipulation and AEC is actively advocating the position that the WTO provisions be fully and immediately enforced.”

KUDOS
Royal Mouldings Celebrates 40 Years

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The American Architectural Manufacturers Association has announced that its InstallationMasters™ program has now certified 1,500 window installers … The Houston Advanced Research Center has licensed its HARCwood™ technology to Wilton Enterprises Limited of New Zealand. The process enhances the properties of Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) thus providing a number of benefits including moisture resistance. The company says the process has a variety of potential applications, including window frames … Wolfgang Wirthgen and Gary Templin, chief executive officers of WinDor, a Southern California manufacturer and installer of vinyl windows and doors, were honored recently by the Southland Economic Development Corp. as Small Business Person of the Year for 2003 … B.F. Rich of Newark, Del., has created customized price lists for its dealers so they may provide more informative sales presentations in the home or showroom …

Royal Mouldings of Marion, Va., is proud to be celebrating 40 years of success in the building products industry. The company employs 850 people at four U.S. manufacturing locations.

“Royal Mouldings has maintained continuous growth during our 40-year history and has maintained our leadership position,” said Art Ramey, vice president of sales, distribution and marketing for Royal Mouldings. ”We are market and customer-driven, always giving our customers products that support partnerships for our mutual long-term growth.”

According to Ramey, the company focuses continually on improving and refining product performance to be superior to that of either wood or metal. Royal Mouldings’ business is exclusively resin-extrusion applications designed to replace wood and metal.

ACQUISITIONS AND MERGERS
Rugby Acquisition Purchases West Coast Door

Rugby Acquisition Corp has purchased West Coast Door Inc, a wood door manufacturer in Tacoma, Wash.

“We are excited about the opportunity to continue the nearly 100-year tradition at West Coast Door of providing quality wood products to North American home and commercial markets,” said David H Lawrence, Rugby Acquisition’s chief executive officer. “Having all employees continue with the new owner is an important part of completing the purchase and paramount to our future success in the door business.”

Lawrence added that the company plans to make a substantial investment in sales, marketing, product development and manufacturing expansion in the first year “to meet the challenges of an ever-changing marketplace.”

COMPANY NEWS
B.F. Rich Has New Ownership

B.F. Rich Co. Inc. has been purchased by its management team and Michael D. Sifen, a real estate developer from Virginia Beach, Va.

The company says its manufacturing operations will remain in Newark Del., and the current management team will stay in place as will their 250-plus employees.

“We are excited about joining forces with Mr. Sifen, whose success in real estate development makes him an integral part of our company,” said BFRich president George Simmons. “I am confident that our partnership will further allow our team to bring some very forward-thinking designs and solutions to the window and door industry—the possibilities are endless with our new ownership in place.”

CODES AND SPECIFICATIONS
Two New Specifications for Screens

The Screen Manufacturers Association (SMA) has issued two new screen specifications. The Specification for Insect Screens for Windows, Sliding Glass Door and Swinging Doors (SMA 1201-2002) provides nationally recognized standards of quality for framed insect screens for windows, sliding doors and swinging doors to afford guidance for those who specify, buy or use them.

The Specification for Metal Protection Screens (SMA 6001-2002) covers metal protection screens designed and manufactured primarily for installation in window openings for the purpose of providing security for the building occupants by restraining or deterring forced entry and by protecting the window from vandalism. This new specification supercedes SMA 6001 and ANSI/SMA 6001 (R 1998).

A list of all SMA specifications is available on the associations’ website at www.smacentral.org.

Correction

The caption that was published with the photo on page 50 of the November-December issue of DWM was incorrect. The photo actually shows a unique powered tilting and dual-sided inline assembly system for building and testing large picture windows, mulled units and oversized windows from Machine Techniques Inc. Safety devices and guards are incorporated for operator protection. The photo on page 48 of that issue is the one that shows an inline patio door assembly system with large unit vertical stretch wrapper.