Volume 8, Issue 1 - January 2007

What's New

Andersen Corp. Announces Layoffs
Due to an economic downturn in the housing industry, evidenced by lower housing starts and a cooling demand for residential building products, some businesses are making cutbacks of various sorts, unfortunately including the area of personnel. While the indication is that the record-breaking market is simply returning to “normal,” many companies now find themselves staffed to higher levels than product demand can support and most are attempting to adjust in other ways with mixed success.

As evidenced by recent cut-backs by door and window giant Andersen Corp., larger companies are equally susceptible to market fluctuations. At press time, the company was expected to layoff 440 employees in January 2007—400 at its Bayport, Minn., location and 40 at its Menomonie, Wis., assembly facility.

“As many of you know, after a long period of expansion, there has been a dramatic downturn in all segments of the housing market across the country,” said Maureen McDonough, Andersen’s director of corporate communications. “Because our business is so closely aligned with housing, that downturn, especially in the new construction segment, has created less volume opportunity for Andersen,” she added.

Like many, its workforce was aligned with the demands of the housing market, but now the company finds itself over staffed as McDonough explained, “Because we don’t expect a quick rebound, it’s clear that we have more capacity than we need to meet demand. Unfortunately, we’ve reached the point where we need to reduce the size of our workforce to align with the forecast.”

Deceuninck to Consolidate North American Plants
The Deceuninck Group, a producer of PVC window systems and building profiles, will cease extrusion operations at its Oakland, N.J. plant over the next couple of months. The company says the move is part of the integration of the Vinyl Building Products and Dayton Technologies acquisitions completed earlier by Deceuninck Group. The Pompton Plains, N.J. distribution center will remain operational. 

The Oakland manufacturing plant became one of the Deceuninck North America production sites after the acquisition of Vinyl Building Products, part of Thyssen Polymer in July 2003.

The company says its production capacity will remain unchanged, but will be consolidated into its Monroe, Ohio and Little Rock, Ark. facilities.

The transition is scheduled for completion by the end of March 2007. Approximately 70 people will be affected by this consolidation and the company says that it will make every attempt to identify further employment opportunities for those employees.

“The decision to close down production at the Oakland site is part of our worldwide platform and streamlining projects that were started after the acquisition of Thyssen Polymer in 2003,” said Clement De Meersman, chief executive officer of the Deceuninck Group.
Contact Lumber Changes Name to “Contact Industries”
Contact Lumber announced that the Clackamas, Ore.-based company has changed its name to Contact Industries beginning on the first day in 2007. The new name reflects the company’s transition from the traditional millwork manufacturing organization to what it say has become known as an innovative manufacturer of customized products, a number of which no longer utilize lumber in their composition.
“We are a different company today and need be identified by the new products, services, and technologies we provide to existing and potential new customers,” said Frank Pearson, president.
The company will offer a new architectural prefinish line with ultraviolet curing capabilities that will be fully operational during the first quarter 2007. The new line will enable Contact to provide both high quality paint and high quality stain and topcoat to many manufacturers.
Dynamic Glazing Gets a Label All Its Own
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) says that dynamic glazing (DG) products will soon have their own certification.

DG products include any fenestration system that has the ability to change its performance properties. Currently, there are two types of DG systems –“switchable” glazing technologies and internal shading systems, according to NFRC.

These products will be tested and rated using the same reliable methods that NFRC currently requires, allowing for the multiple states of performance that dynamic glazing offers.
The label allows consumers to compare the energy performance of a fenestration product on a fair and equal basis and contains additional identifiers to help consumers and code officials understand the product’s contrast in energy performance ratings, according to NFRC. The label indicates the endpoints of the product’s performance. For switchable glazing products, the label’s endpoints are the full ‘on’ and full ‘off’ states. 

Minnesota Legislature to Look at “Laela’s Law”
State Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, is scheduled to introduce a new window screen safety bill in January for the 2007 legislative session, and if the bill becomes law Minnesota would be the first state in the country to require safety screens in new residential buildings.

The bill has six sections. It includes a definition of a safety screen and sets two standards. One standard requires the screens to be able to be opened from the inside without special training or knowledge. The other standard requires the screen to be able to prevent child falls when ‘as yet specified amount of force’ is applied to the screen.

Subdivision three requires the safety screens over operable windows in the three classes of residential buildings: multiple dwellings that proposed rules would require installation of sprinklers for fire protection for new construction commencing after January 1, 2008; multiple dwellings that receive funding from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency for remodeling or reconstruction to commence after January 1, 2008; and all new residential dwellings constructed after January 1, 2008.

Subdivision four and five require inclusion of the safety screen requirement or a tougher standard in the next revisions of the state building code and the uniform fire code.

Subdivision six provides for the enforcement by both the state and local units of the government.
If passed, the legislation could become known as “Laela’s Law,” in honor of Laela Shaugobay, who survived a four-story fall in Minneapolis on June 16. 

The proposed law would require that the safety screen be able to be opened from the inside “without special training or knowledge,” according to the draft of the bill’s language. 

Wood Window Replacement Proves Best Value for Dollar 
Results from the 19th annual Cost vs. Value Report, produced by Remodeling magazine, suggest a narrow difference in return on the top-five remodeling projects based on percent of cost recouped. According to the national averages, fifth place went to midrange bathroom remodels, but they only fell 3.1-percent behind upscale siding replacement projects that used fiber-cement products and came in first.

Specpan, an Indianapolis-based market research company, created and hosted a web-based survey that was linked to National Association of Realtors and broadcasted in an email to more than 100,000 of its members. Hometech Information Systems, an estimating software developer based in Bethesda, Md., provided cost-to-construct estimates for 25 remodeling projects, including modifiers for the 60 metro cities that were surveyed.

According to the magazine, the report shows that prices continue to increase for most remodeling projects, but the value of improvements at the time of resale has returned to levels similar to 2002. It says that this year’s data confirms a housing slowdown for many areas of the country, but further advises that, since new construction and remodeling have been at record levels in recent years, some adjustment is simply inevitable and the current downturn indicates a return to “normal” levels.

Returns varied for window replacement projects between upscale and midrange, even when both categories used wood products. The highest return was in the midrange for wood, coming in third overall and recouping 85.3 percent of cost according to the national averages, but vinyl showed a better return in upscale projects, recouping 84.7 percent, though midrange projects were just a percent behind on average. On average, all window replacement scenarios recouped between 83.7 percent and 85.3 percent of job cost at the time of resale.

Among the 25 projects listed, none fell below a 63.4 percent return, but a closer look at the results shows significant variances according to region. On average, an upscale window replacement project using vinyl only recouped 74.8 percent on average in the West North Central region, while the same type of project recouped 96.6 percent on average in the Pacific region. In the article, the publication warns that local conditions often cause averages to appear high or low, even when neighborhoods from the same city are compared. It also urges readers to bear in mind that, when comparing cost estimates for actual projects, averaging tends to have a leveling effect on data and small differences in size, scope or finish quality can affect final costs.

Standards Updated for Cellular 
PVC Profiles and Laminated Finishes

AAMA 308-05, Voluntary Specification for Cellular Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) Exterior Profiles and AAMA 307-05, Voluntary Performance Requirements and Test Procedures for Laminates Intended for Use in AAMA Certified Plastic Profiles are recently released updated performance standards for cellular PVC profiles and laminates for use on plastic profiles. AAMA 308-05 serves as the basis for the AAMA Profile Certification Program for cellular PVC profiles. The certification, as explained by the AAMA Vinyl Material Council (VMC) is a pre-requisite for conformance of plastic-framed doors, windows and skylights with the newly issued and I-Code referenced AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S. 2/A440-05 and its predecessors issued in 1997 and 2002.

The VMC says it is based on years of research and development and experience validating the key factors in the performance of cellular PVC profiles: dimensional stability, weatherability, heat resistance, hardness, density tolerance and lead content.

Cellular PVC profiles, and all plastic profiles, may include decorative finishes such as laminates, paint or co-extrusions applied to their surface. AAMA 308-05, therefore, also includes in-process quality control guidelines for the production of laminated and organically coated cellular PVC profiles. These specifically set forth requirements for in-process quality control sampling and testing of laminated profiles per AAMA 303-05, Voluntary Specification for Rigid Poly (Vinyl Chloride) (PVC) Exterior Profiles.


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