Volume 48, Issue 4 - June/July/August 2009

In the News

Dealers Find Success in Current Economy

Two door and window manufacturers and their dealers are reporting positive results even during this down economic period.

Crystal Window & Door Systems reported recently that it has achieved an increase in sales for the fiscal year ending April 30, 2009, despite the economic slowdown the country is feeling. Crystal’s annual revenues from aluminum and vinyl doors and windows and high-end fenestration systems for the period May 1, 2008, through April 30, 2009, while not the double-digit growth rates seen in most years, increased a very respectable 3½-percent over the previous year.

Annual sales are approaching $60 million for the American manufacturer and have increased in 18 of the company’s 19 years of existence, according to the company.

“That we were able to succeed in such a bleak economy, with the construction and remodeling industries severely depressed and at a time when other window manufacturers are shutting down plants or going out of business, is truly remarkable,” says Steve Chen, executive vice president. “I think we have weathered the worst of the recessionary storm, and with our new energy-efficient products and our new strategies in place we are positioned for greater growth in the coming year.”

Company representatives even met with Vice President Joe Biden in June.

Biden hosted a roundtable discussion with business leaders to highlight how the Recovery Act is creating new business opportunities, and one of those business leaders included Chen.

“Because of the Recovery Act’s emphasis on Energy Star®-rated products and our ability to promote our products as energy-efficient, our business has improved,” says Chen.

“The Recovery Act is not just an injection of cash into the economy; it goes a long way in educating the public and changing perceptions about Energy Star®.”

Gorell Windows & Doors in Indiana, Pa., recalled the last of its furloughed employees recently. The company is even currently accepting applications to fill additional positions. Company officials say the callback comes in response to rising demand, due to the company’s active promotion of the new federal tax credits for windows and doors and the upturn in business that occurs each spring.

The company claims to have more than 78 percent of its replacement windows meet the requirements for the $1,500 federal tax credit that homeowners can take advantage of in 2009 and 2010.

Gorell has various combinations available to dealers to sell to their customers, including grids and SolarShine™ low-maintenance glass; this amounts to more than 500 possible model/option choices to homeowners. Numerous Gorell product models—including double-hungs, sliders, casements, awning and picture windows, as well as sliding and hinged patio doors—meet the 0.30 U-value and solar heat gain ratings required to qualify for the tax credits.

“We are committed to offering homeowners a wide array of premium windows and doors that qualify for the federal tax credits,” says Wayne Gorell, president and chief executive officer of Gorell Windows & Doors. “In fact, we recently introduced a new high-performance double-pane glass option that allows even more of our windows to meet the tax credit criteria.”

Similar Success
Shelter spoke with representatives from one of Crystal’s retailer partners, Unified Windows in Hempstead Village, N.Y., recently to see if its success was similar to its supplier.

“Crystal makes top quality products, and they make those products at a lower cost because of the way they handle their operations and the way that they cut costs in their operations,” says Steve DiMare, chief executive officer. “So basically by being able to offer top-quality products to us at a lower price than other people in the industry, we are able to take that product and offer the best prices to our customers. Because of that, we’ve been able to put items on sale that quite honestly blow our competition out of the water. We’ve sustained an amazing sales record through the tough times that we’ve had in the last year, and a lot of that is due to the product lines that we sell.”

Asked how his company’s sales compare to last year, DiMare said, “We sell a lot of different products. In the product lines that we have, we are are down less than our competitors, which is an amazing feat. And there are other product lines that we are ahead in sales.”

DiMare says his company sells to the public about 30 to 35 different products. “Not all of these products are up, and not all of those products are down. We are down in sales such a small amount that it really puts us ahead of the game quite a bit,” he says.

Stimulated Sales
DiMare believes that the stimulus package has helped sales.

“It’s helped everybody in my industry quite a bit. Honestly, the companies that are suffering the most are the companies that didn’t have a good business plan to begin with,” he says. “They flourished in the years when you could overcharge the public and you could get away with it because people were just spending frivolously on home improvement products.

He says companies similar to his, a retailer which also does installation, are now seeing a return in this area.

Tru Tech Re-Opens Former Therma-Tru Plant

When Canada’s Tru Tech Doors held a grand opening event on July 8 at its new facility in Fredericksburg, Va. (formerly owned by Therma-Tru), its first in the United States, the company’s message to the pre-hanger was clear.

“We’re the one stop shop for the pre-hanger and what he needs,” said Sam Collister , general manager for Tru Tech. “That’s a big difference from our competitors. We’re millwork people selling to millwork people.”

Officials at this millwork company say they can’t figure out why the plant closed in the first place and cite the company’s seasoned employees and ideal East Coast location as its keys to success.

“It didn’t make sense why this facility was closing,” said Tru Tech president John Careri.

And of course the employees who work there are thrilled to be back to work.

Patty Hayes, a 12-year employee said, “We were hoping someone would buy it. It’s a great facility.”

The purchase did, however, come at almost the eleventh hour.

Collister came to the facility four days before it was set to close looking to buy the equipment. But when he saw the dedicated employees and impressive facility he changed his mind and thought the company should purchase the plant instead.

Collister was so impressed that he convinced Careri to travel to Fredericksburg to see the plant first hand and Careri was convinced as well.

“John said, ‘In two days they’re closing this? Why?,’” recalled Collister.

That’s exactly what Therma-Tru plant manager Ernie Hinegardner thought so he was happy with the news.

But he was so confident in his facility and the employees that when he heard Collister was coming, he said, “This could be our chance.”

According to Hinegardner, the average seniority at the facility is 19 years.

“Not many companies can say that,” he said.

“We were able to hire an experienced team,” added Collister.

Not all employees have come back to work but the company, and Spotsylvania County, where the plant is located, is hoping for much more.

“We hope you reach that 200-some job plateau as quickly as possible,” said Jerry Logan, a member of the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors.

The Fredericksburg location is a great one, but Collister admits that Tru Tech officials were looking in the New England area as a possible location for the first U.S. plant.

“It wasn’t the exact area we were looking for, but when you are able to hire an experienced management team and factory employees, it’s a great opportunity,” Collister said.

Also working in the company’s favor was the type of doors produced at Therma-Tru—steel-edged doors.

“Initially we were looking for machines to produce a steel-edged product in Canada,” said Careri. “The steel-edged door market was a niche we were looking to fill … So that [the fact that these were produced here] was the icing on the cake.”

The Virginia facility also will distribute Tru Tech’s wood-edged doors. Collister added that Tru Tech “is going to be very aggressive in the market.”

“For the pre-hangers we bring something to market that doesn’t exist right now,” said Collister. This steel-edged product complements our wood-edge. It hurt us in the market going after large distributors and pre-hangers because they didn’t want to split their business.”

Careri also said that the company caters to the customer which makes the company different than others in the market.

“We listen to the customer. We cater the program that works for them. We’ve spent a lot of time developing new niche products that will fit into their marketplace,” he said.

And, again it comes back to the employees.

“The people here have something to prove,” he added. “I trust in them and they trust in me and we will be successful.”

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