Volume 7 Issue 3 March 2006
From the Publisher
Installations: Conversations with Two Manufacturers
by Tara Taffera
When I asked window manufacturers recently (see DWM January, From the Publisher, page 4), to offer their views on installation issues, I received a great deal of feedback from two leading manufacturers—Gorell Enterprises and Kolbe and Kolbe. Representatives from both of those companies allowed me to share our conversations with DWM readers.
“We at Gorell do feel that a majority of performance problems and many operational issues relayed back to us are installation-related,” says Mike Rempel, president and chief operating officer for Gorell. “The better a product is installed, the better it will perform and, conversely, a bad installation can make even the best products perform poorly.
To promote quality installations, we at Gorell have two InstallationMasters™ on staff and are regularly holding classes to train our dealers’ installation crews. We believe in the concept and feel that our dealers who have been trained have certainly benefited from the education, not only from a quality and reduced call back perspective, but also it adds credibility for a sales benefit.
Follow up is the biggest challenge. Although in theory that would be great, the ROI on field inspections of hundreds of installation crews just isn’t practical. I think the best we can hope for is to regularly offer the training and encourage our dealers to continue to follow the training guidelines.”
After receiving Rempel’s comments I wanted to clarify whether or not Architectural Testing Inc., administer of InstallationMasters, conducts any on-site inspections of installations as Canada’s WindowWise program does. The following is what I was told by Ellen Marderness, program manager, certification services at InstallationMasters.
“We do not do field inspections of installations. The program does not certify companies or installations. We certify that the installer has mastered a body of knowledge on the correct installation standards and procedures as demonstrated by passing the certification test.”
Although there are no inspections, Rempel did say that callbacks were reduced since Gorell first started participating in the program five years ago so I asked him more about this.
“I really can’t put a figure to the actual benefits of the program [how much callbacks have reduced] but I am confident that the more installers understand the direct affect of their methods to the end performance of the product, one fact becomes very apparent to the business owners,” says Rempel. “This is that the more satisfied the homeowner, and the fewer callbacks they have, all result in more referrals and ultimately more sales, and a better bottom line. That benefits all of us.”
So since there definitely is a benefit to the training, as shown at Gorell, does the company insist that dealers participate in the program? Rempel says no.
“We’ve had dealers who have come from all over our territory participate in the program, and we cover most of the country east of the Rockies. We do not mandate they participate, but regularly encourage that they do.”
Kolbe and Kolbe
Roger Stremer, general manager, vinyl division for Kolbe and Kolbe Manufacturing, started in the door and window industry in 1965, and says that 41 years later, poor installation is still a major problem.
However, he offers a view different than Rempel when it comes to InstallationMasters. “With the introduction of the Installation Masters program, I eagerly signed on and went to the Certification Trainers class,” says Stremer. “In my opinion it was redundant and many others who attended agreed. Few contractors were going to sit through a two-day course to review techniques.”
Thus, Stremer says Kolbe and Kolbe never held a training program utilizing InstallationMasters.
“It gave me the impression that there was a lot of ‘fluff’ added to justify the costs. I also had some issues where the course had to be presented as written.”
But he may have a solution. “I think the only answer is to install fixed windows.”
But if that doesn’t work, he also has another idea.
“I have thought that there could be an online certification program that would basically force someone to review printed data that is available and complete an online form—ideally some verification should accompany the form showing that installation followed the guidelines,” he says.
“Certificates and cards issued would simply certify that holder passed a test that verified that he followed installation practices as specified in ASTM E 2112-01.”
There will always be differing opinions on any issue, but when it comes to installations many manufacturers agree that “something” has to be done. “What” that is has yet to be discovered.
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