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March  2004

Top of Their Game
American Window Alliance Members Enjoy Double-Digit Growth
by John Robinson and Mark Adams

The American Window Alliance (AWA) proves how an alliance of regional fabricators can be successful in the maturing vinyl window market. Several members are expanding their operations to accommodate continued, double-digit growth.

Midway Industries
One of these companies, Midway Industries in Bedford Park, Ill., will be moving into a new 90,000-square-foot facility, more than doubling the size of its manufacturing space for the 2004 vinyl window selling season. Art Strauss, president and CEO of Midway Industries, has led his company on a path of consistent and aggressive growth since 2000. In fact, the company increased its business by 64 percent in 2001, 24 percent in 2002 and 21 percent in 2003. He credits not only his fine employees, but other AWA members for his company’s considerable success. 

“I have the ability to talk to men in our alliance who have more than 350 years of collective manufacturing experience,” Strauss said. “We are in different areas of the country, so we openly share all of our manufacturing strategies and hold each other accountable for producing a quality product at a fair price in one-week lead times. That is a powerful way to do business.”

BMD, Kansas City, Mo.
Lloyd Watts, president of BMD in Kansas City, Mo., is also expanding his operation with an additional 36,000 square feet for a total of 106,000 square feet at the North Kansas City headquarters. BMD has also enjoyed significant double-digit growth in the competitive Kansas City market and gives credit to other AWA members, as well as several key vendors.

“The power of the alliance comes in many forms and one is the relationships and expertise we can generate through our vendor partners,” said Watts. “Dayton Technologies has been a great resource for the AWA in the way of product design, development and testing. Tru-Seal has been a valued partner and Truth Hardware has also been a great resource for us. All of our vendor partners spend much more time addressing our collective needs because we are united and our collective volume speaks in this industry. Without the group volume, middle-sized vinyl window fabricators may be perceived as just another fabricator, but as a group we have clout and our vendor partners value our business. Those of us in the AWA share the philosophy that we are not limited to manufacturing great windows; we also build great long-term relationships.”

Mathews Brothers
Scott Hawthorne serves as president of the AWA and is also president and CEO of Mathews Brothers in Belfast, Maine. His company will celebrate 150 years in the window business in 2004. It joined the AWA in 2001. Mathews recent focus on vinyl windows has resulted in huge vinyl window market gains in Northern New England, and 2003 marks the first year that vinyl window sales will exceed wood window sales at the company. 

“We joined the alliance because we felt we needed a competitive edge versus the competition. We found that edge in the AWA,” he said. “Not only do we enjoy the benefits of sharing manufacturing expertise but we also have developed award-winning marketing programs through our collective resources, both financial and human.” 

Vinyl Fabricators Thrive 
While most industry forecasters predicted doom and gloom for all but the largest fabricators in the vinyl window industry, American Window Alliance members have not only survived, but thrived in the ever-maturing vinyl window market. They have achieved success by using team expertise from diverse human resources within the alliance to develop better sales strategies and manufacturing techniques, as well as pooling their buying power to better address the increasingly shrinking margins in the industry. The AWA holds regular member meetings in various locations throughout the Eastern United States. Each individual fabricator hosts these events and information is shared openly to better help each member address similar challenges in their businesses.

This simple, yet effective, strategy has brought about impressive results and rapid growth that has led to expansion. 

“We can pick up ideas from each other and feed off of one another’s successful strategies,” said Strauss. “Who needs to pay consultants when you are aligned with the best consultants in the industry? These men are actual peers who face the same challenges I face every day.” 

The AWA includes ten vinyl window fabricators throughout the eastern two-thirds of the United States.

The XYZ on the AWA
Want to be an AWA member? While all members must use Dayton vinyl profiles exclusively, other criteria for membership do exist. According to Dayton, alliance membership requires a comfortable fit between the potential new member and the existing alliance members. For example, the potential new member should be located in an area where there will not be significant overlap of marketing efforts to the same customer base. The new member would also have to agree to utilize and promote alliance products aggressively, marketing materials and brand names. Also, the personality and business philosophy of the new member must fit nicely with those of the existing members, since the new member would be required to serve on one or more committees, along with current members, to help guide the future growth and direction of the group. 

Dayton says it facilitates alliance growth and prosperity in many ways including sponsorship and participation in regularly scheduled alliance meetings and business planning sessions. The company participates in the design and testing of alliance products to a significant degree, since the products and/or test reports are used by all fabricators in the alliance. The company also develops marketing support materials for alliance customers.
Info www.alliancewindows.com. 


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