VKR Holding Acquires Loewen
Canadian-based manufacturer Loewen of Steinbach, Manitoba, has been acquired
by VKR Holding of Denmark.
“Through much consideration, the Loewen family shareholders have come
to the collective decision that the needs of the company and those of
the Loewen shareholders would be best served through a transition of ownership
to a new ownership group,” says Clyde Loewen, leader of the Loewen family
shareholder group. “The Loewen shareholders believe that VKR will bring
the resources, capabilities and character to ensure the future success
of Loewen in the marketplace while maintaining respect for all of its
stakeholders as well as for the culture of the staff and the community.”
VKR is no stranger to the window business, says VKR CEO Leif Jensen.
“We already own several vertical window companies and now we extend those
activities in Canada and the [United States] where the population growth
is larger than in Europe,” he says.
He does admit, however, that the Canadian and American markets have been
affected by severe decline in the last three years but he still sees great
The fact that [VKR is] in
the window and door industry overall in Europe is a good synergistic
—Al Babiuk, Loewen
“The markets are slowly stabilizing and we see great potential in Loewen,
not least because the company holds a strong niche position in the high-end
segment of the market and engages in extensive product development,” adds
The existing Loewen executive team will remain in place. Al Babiuk, previously
chief operating officer, will assume the chief executive officer role,
and Clyde Loewen will remain as the executive responsible for products.
Charles Loewen will sit as a member of the board of directors. Claes Warnander,
a member of VKR’s team, will act as chairman of the board.
Babiuk and Warnander also point out that there are no intentions to move
Loewen’s head office and main manufacturing out of Steinbach. In an exclusive
interview with DWM magazine, Babiuk advised he thinks the acquisition
by VKR is a good fit for Loewen.
“The fact that [VKR is] in the window and door industry overall in Europe
is a good synergistic fit,” he says. “They are just now moving further
into North America [they are the parent company of Velux], and less than
a year ago they purchased Gienow in Canada—none of those brands were competitive
with Loewen. We had the opportunity to be at the forefront for VKR to
grow in the North American market—that puts us in a good position. The
goal was not to seek a buyer arrangement in which Loewen would have to
be integrated with other brands. This acquisition allows us to continue
to operate the company using our current brand strategy and stand-alone
model. These were all considerations for our shareholders, and VKR brings
substantial resources to help us do that.”
FeneTech Opens European Operation
FeneTech has announced the start of a European operation, FeneTech Europe
SARL, based in Strassen, Luxemburg. From this office the company will
handle all sales, implementation, support and training services for its
European customer base. Local engineering staff has been hired and additional
positions will be added on an ongoing basis.
“FeneVision has rapidly gained acceptance in Europe as being a modern,
innovative, flexible and complete ERP software solution for the glass
processing industry,” says Ron Crowl, president of FeneTech Inc., who
also serves as a manager for FeneTech Europe.
“FeneVision is truly exceptional software, but to do even more business
in Europe, to offer the best customer service, the implementation teams
must speak the local languages, understand the different manufacturing
methods in order to provide excellent support to our customers. This is
the reason the company was formed,” says Horst Mertes, who is the managing
partner of FeneTech Europe SARL.
WDMA and Other Industry Groups Sue EPA Over Removal of Opt-Out Provision
Contractors can no longer offer homeowners the opt-out clause as part
of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting
Rule (LRRP), effective July 6. But some industry associations still are
working to retain the opt-out clause. On July 8, the Window and Door Manufacturers
Association (WDMA), along with a coalition of housing industry associations,
filed suit in federal appeals court against the EPA for removing the opt-out
The opt-out provision, which was in the original final LRRP rule, let
homeowners grant permission to contractors to forgo extra preparation,
clean-up and recordkeeping requirements in pre-1978 homes if there are
no children under 6 or pregnant women present.
“It’s clear that EPA’s removal of the opt-out provision will significantly
impact the window, door and skylight retrofit market,” says WDMA chair
Steve Sisson, general manager of Karona Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich. “Millions
of additional homeowners will be subject to substantial unnecessary costs
as a result of the LRRP, which will only discourage them from making energy-efficient
improvements or cause them to seek out uncertified contractors.”
At least one industry representative says he was pleased with the news.
“This is a critical step in saying enough to the government’s intrusion
into matters of personal responsibility,” says David Steele, chief executive
officer for The Window Gallery in Augusta, Ga. “Their science is flawed
and their approach to regulation is arrogant.”
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the Hearth, Patio &
Barbeque Association, and the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers
Association joined WDMA in the suit, which was filed in the U.S. Court
of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
The coalition is challenging the removal of the opt-out provision on the
grounds that EPA substantially amended the LRRP rule without any new scientific
data before the regulation was put into place on April 22.
“Removing the opt-out provision more than doubles the number of homes
subject to the regulation,” says NAHB chairperson Bob Jones, a home builder
and developer in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. “About 79 million homes are affected,
even though EPA estimates that only 38 million homes contain lead-based
paint. Removing the opt-out provision extends the rule to consumers who
need no protection.”
Steele was pleased with the NAHB’s involvement in this important issue.
“Go, NAHB—I’m glad all my years of dues paying will go for something I
believe in,” he says.
Formaldehyde Bill Signed into Law
Landmark formaldehyde legislation urged by the Composite Panel Association
(CPA) and others passed the U.S. House of Representatives by voice vote
on June 23, after being approved by the unanimous consent of the U.S.
Senate a week earlier. President Obama signed the bill into law on July
The Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, S. 1660, will
establish the first comprehensive national standard for formaldehyde emissions
from composite wood products, and directs the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) to promulgate implementing regulations by January 1, 2013. These
regulations will be effective 180 days after promulgation.
“This is a historic moment for the North American composite panel industry,
which has always been at the forefront of environmental stewardship,”
says Tom Julia, CPA president. “The legislation represents a responsible,
bi-partisan approach to advancing consumer protection, fair trade and
The emission limitations called for in the legislation are modeled on
a regulation adopted by California in 2008.
“The result will be the toughest production standard in the world, including
provisions to ensure that products made with composite wood panels meet
the standard,” Julia adds. “The legislation also will encourage the development
of lower-emitting adhesive technologies and establish a transparent chain
of custody for purposes of enforcement. Manufacturer quality assurance
requirements and third party testing and certification of panel products
will give consumers the highest confidence in the composite wood products
they purchase, regardless of where in the world they are manufactured.”
The legislation, introduced last fall by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), quickly garnered strong bi-partisan support
in the Senate. A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives
by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) earlier
LEAD PAINT REGULATIONS
EPA Delays Enforcement of Lead Rules Until Later this Year
In response to industry concerns that not enough contractors were trained
to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Lead: Renovation,
Repair and Painting rule, the EPA recently announced that it is delaying
enforcement for those contractors not yet certified, giving contractors
more time to receive the lead certification training.
According to an EPA memo, the agency will not take enforcement action
for violations of the RRP Rule’s firm certification requirement until
October 1, 2010. Additionally, EPA will not enforce the rule against individual
renovation workers if the person has applied to enroll in, or has enrolled
in a certified renovator class to train contractors in practices necessary
for compliance with the final rules, before or on September 30, 2010.
Renovators must complete the training by December 31, 2010. However, for
those contractors who are certified, EPA will continue to enforce the
work practice requirements of the rule.
Ultra Hardware Products Partners with Fapim Products
Ultra Hardware Products LLC recently announced that it has partnered with
Fapim products as its new U.S. distributor.
As the new U.S. distributor, Ultra Hardware currently stocks Fapim’s full
line of European Style door and window products including the following
product categories: tilt and turn window hardware; Lora+ Hinges: three-way
independent adjustability for doors; in-swing casement hardware; and rollers
for commercial sliding windows and sliding doors.
Ultra Hardware says Fapim will provide full engineering support to help
window manufacturers design door and window systems around Fapim’s European
Hardware utilizing the EuroGrove profiles.
Frontline Building Products Purchases Assets of B&B Engineering
FrontLine Building Products Inc. has purchased the assets and property
of B&B Engineering of Medford, Wis. As of June 14, B&B began operating
as FrontLine Building Products Inc., Medford Division. Product development
and sales will continue from both locations, utilizing all existing and
“I am very confident that this acquisition will enhance the product offerings
of FrontLine Building Products, Green Bay and Medford Divisions,” says
Paul Buntin, FrontLine division manager. “We look forward to a mutually
beneficial growth in both locations and feel we now an offer a complete
line of transoms, architectural windows and grilles to our existing customer
bases and potential new accounts.”
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