Volume 8, Issue 9 - October 2007

from the publisher

Differentiation: How Unique Are You?
by Tara Taffera

There has been so much happening in the fenestration industry that there are several topics I could write about in my monthly columns. This issue is no exception. In fact, the column written several weeks ago has now been put away in favor of this new one.

I could write about Pella buying EFCO, but I won’t. Please read the news analysis on page 18 for industry reaction to that purchase.

I could also write about the push by many suppliers to help manufacturers make and promote energy-efficient products. But for that story, please read the box on page 56, and know that you’ll be hearing much more on this topic in the months to come, as this issue is finally beginning to get some attention in the window industry. Promoting energy-efficient products is just one way manufacturers can set themselves apart in this slowed housing market. And there are other ways as well (for more on this, read the story on page 32 to learn how some vinyl manufacturers are expanding into different market segments).

How does this all tie together? The bottom line is that, although the housing market isn’t where it was in years past, manufacturers can still thrive, but not by sitting idly waiting for customers to come to them.

Hopefully the articles in this issue of DWM get you thinking. 

  • Do you need to diversify your product offerings?
  • Do you offer energy-efficient products but aren’t aware of how to promote them to customers? If yes, talk to your suppliers. More and more suppliers are positioning themselves as full-service experts in everything from energy efficiency to lean manufacturing and are eager to share their expertise with you.
  • Do you need to change your distribution channels? (See sidebar at left).

Times are tough, but some companies are thriving—take time to find out how you can be one of these companies, if you aren’t already. y

Consumer View
Distribution Channels are Changing
Please read the feature article on page 44 regarding how some manufacturers have decided to sell direct to builders, contractors and end-consumers. The idea for this article came after a consumer called me earlier this year about a window purchase she was preparing to make. After researching nine window companies this retiree called me and said, “I am informed regarding these windows but as far as which one to use I am lost … We need to purchase a large amount of windows [20] and we are so confused [by all the options].”

This customer had wood windows and was considering new wood windows but was looking at vinyl as well.

We talked for quite some time and she told me about the website directbuy.com, of which I wasn’t aware until then. She explained that consumers pay $3,500 for a membership but the discounts are so huge that she said, “We saved that on our first purchase.” After researching this site and seeing their infomercial once in the wee hours of the morning, I learned this is most helpful, for say, those building a house as the website has everything from flooring to cabinets to, of course, doors and windows.

Wanting to do more research on the site, I quickly learned that to do so you have to make an appointment to visit a directbuy.com showroom in your area. The website also tells consumers who join not to share manufacturer names or prices with others as this would place pressure on other retailers to offer products at manufacturer prices.

However, I do know of two window companies who sell through directbuy.com as this consumer told me she was leaning toward making her window purchase through this method.

Knowing the secrecy of the site, I wasn’t too surprised when I contacted these manufacturers for more information, such as why they decided to sell windows through this method, and they said they couldn’t offer any details. 

This is just another example of manufacturers looking for ways to set themselves apart, to differentiate themselves. If you think about it, it’s not all that odd that they’re not eager to share their strategy with others.

But if your company has diversified or taken steps to survive in a slowed housing market and would like to share these with others, please e-mail me at ttaffera@glass.com.


© Copyright 2007 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.