Volume 9, Issue 5 - October 2007

3 Trends in Mouldings 
Overseas, Underside and Universal
by Charles Cumpston 

China has influenced many segments of the American economy over the past five years. So, it’s no surprise to see the world’s largest country wield influence on auto glass mouldings.

And that’s just one trend moulding industry executives see. More mouldings are being used on the underside of the glass and the product mix is changing as the industry continues to evolve. 

“Like anyone in the automotive industry, moulding suppliers must balance increased costs of doing business with competitive pressures to maintain prices,” says James Jordan, sales for Precision Replacement Parts in Monroe, Wash. “By observing the glass industry over the past seven to ten years, we understand that, as global competition increases, we must increase productivity and reduce costs through innovations in design and processes.”

Foreign Effects
In some cases, outside influence on the American moulding market is nothing new. Take, for example, mouldings designed for specific applications and also used by technicians in the field. “This sector traditionally has been dominated by overseas manufacturers due to the high labor costs associated with part-specific mouldings,” says Joseph Gold, vice president/owner of Gold Glass Group in Bohemia, N.Y. “While these parts have been sold under U.S. brand names, the country of origin has and will most likely continue to be somewhere in Asia. Part-specific moulding prices have also decreased [over time] although there has been an attempt to add value with the introduction of variable extrusion or rain channel mouldings.”     

While Brad Gross, senior account and product development manager at Creative Extruded Products of Tipp City, Ohio, thinks foreign mouldings may be of lower quality, he still sees them influencing the market. “In the aftermarket, a lot of mouldings are coming in from overseas, mainly China,” says Gross.

But foreign manufacturers aren’t tapping into every aspect of the mouldings business. Universal mouldings, which are packaged in bulk rolls and used by technicians in the field, are one area in which foreign manufacturers seek growth.

“While overseas manufacturers are diligently trying to enter this sector, a majority of universal mouldings in the U.S. are still made in America,” Gold says. “This is because making universal mouldings is not very labor-intensive.”

But even when overseas producers aren’t securing the business they’d like, they still have influence. 

“While overseas manufactures have had limited success with respect to market penetration, they have been quite successful in bringing universal moulding prices down,” Gold says.

However, despite claims by many that universal mouldings are made primarily in the United States, Edwards Lin, general manager of Taiwan-based Yih-Tair Industrial Inc., says universal mouldings currently are its number-one product offering.

“We call it an innovation,” says Lin, who is based in San Antonio at the company’s United States branch.

Underside Applications
While international competitors can influence the moulding industry, auto manufacturers still may have the biggest effect. Their designs can determine which mouldings are popular. Case in point: The rise of underside applications.

“On the OE side, the market is going in the direction of underside applications,” Gross says. “We’re seeing a lot of underside application from the vehicle manufacturers and it’s in three forms: There [are] PAAS (pre-applied adhesive systems), which we are seeing less, the moulding extruded on the glass, which is like PAAS, and the underside application where the tape is on the #4 surface.” 

For the latter, Gross says, you need a universal moulding to repair this type of glass. In general, Gross says the universal segment of the market has stabilized. “Universal is not growing or shrinking at a rapid rate. It is stable,” Gross says.

“It is unclear how big the market will be for underside mouldings,” Gross says.

Gross calls it a very competitive marketplace. “Prices are stable if not coming down slightly,” he says, citing foreign competition as the biggest factor in the pricing situation. “We have to do what we can to be competitive.”

Lin adds that Yih-Tair has also branched into underside mouldings.

“A lot of customers use that type of moulding,” adds Lin. The underside moulding that he finds is most popular is made of chrome.

“It’s more flexible and weather-resistant,” Lin says.

The Product Mix
While the product mix from moulding manufacturers has not necessarily changed, the breadth of offerings continues to grow. “Although there has been consolidation, most existing suppliers have broadened their product lines so the free market economy in the mouldings industry continues to thrive,” Jordan says.

Jordan has definitely seen this trend. “For example, due to our merger with Auto Glass Components, Precision now offers sideview mirrors to our customers,” Jordan says. “We continue to look for ways to be more valuable to our customers with a broad range of products and innovative solutions to make their businesses more efficient and profitable.” 

Gross points out that Creative is putting significant emphasis on its universal moulding line. “We have done new packaging and have streamlined our distribution,” he says.

Gold points out that for years his company focused on the universal moulding segment of the market and a few years ago entered the industrial moulding market.

“This year,” he says, “Gold Glass entered the part-specific moulding sector with a bang.”

Gold recently introduced more than 500 new mouldings.  

For Yih-Tair, in addition to expanding the company’s product line, expanding its packaging options has also been a successful move. The company just added a universal moulding package to its line that allows customers to dispense the mouldings from a small box, as opposed to its previous bulkier packaging.

“It’s easy for the customer to carry around and to put on the truck,” Lin says. 

Charles Cumpston is a contributing editor for AGRR magazine/ glassBYTEs.com™.

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