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November - December 2002

Vinyl Doesn’t Belong in the Desert
Editor’s Note: The following letter was written to Rand Baldwin, president of the Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC), in response to his article “Red Alert!” which was published in the September/October 2002 issue of DWM/BCM on page 38. Baldwin’s response is also printed below.

Dear AEC,
I am writing in response to the article written by Rand Baldwin. I live in Las Vegas (it was 113° yesterday). I own a small window distributorship, Legend Windows for the West, and have been in business since April 1996. We average $3 million in sales a year.

Notice that the windows are more yellow on the top.My window career started in 1983 in Vegas. The Department of Energy (DOE) adjustment posed a threat to me and my business, for you see, I will not sell vinyl windows that have discolored to a lovely “nicotine” brown. They don’t work here!

Most of my business is housing tracts, and if a builder asks for a vinyl option, I pass on the bid. Case in point, my best customer is Real Homes, bought by Centex. The company had people come up from Texas, wondering why Real doesn’t use vinyl.

Real’s purchasing agent called me and asked me to bid, and I said, “I’ll pass.” He wondered why I would “give up” business and I did two things:

1) I explained that as soon as all the vinyl windows start fading, someone is going to call me and say, “You have a problem; go fix it.” So I told him I’d rather not get that eventual call.

2) I showed him a picture of vinyl fencing they are using on their current job. Results? They are specifying aluminum with low-E on all Vegas jobs. Vinyl doesn’t belong in Reno, Nev., or Las Vegas. I really don’t know what the DOE was thinking when they wanted to categorize our market with the folks in Indiana, Ohio, etc.

Anyway, I enjoyed the article in DWM/BCM, and I am available for the cause if you need me.
I joke around sometimes and say the same guy who thought it was a good idea to put vinyl tops on cars said it was okay to put vinyl windows in the desert.

Thanks for letting me vent (no pun intended).
Mark Reasbeck
Legend Windows
Las Vegas

AEC Responds
Dear Mark,
Thank you very much for taking the time to write us. I’m glad to know there are others out there who agree with our “Keep Aluminum Windows” cause. I am leaving tomorrow for Washington, D.C., and some meetings at the Department of Energy with the ENERGY STAR® folks. I am bringing along a copy of your message so they can see first-hand how decisions made in Washington affect people.

The AEC has its annual meeting next March in Las Vegas at the Hyatt Lake Las Vegas, March 13-15, 2003. I would very much like to have you stop by one morning for a visit. If you are so inclined, please let me know. I will see to it that you receive the conference information when it becomes available in December.

Thanks again.
Rand A. Baldwin, CAE
Aluminum Extruders Council
Wauconda, Ill.

Keep Up the Good Work
Congratulations on being presented with the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) regional award for the “Best New Publication.”

All the hard work and commitment to excellence is paying off!
Kevin McDaniel
Managing Director
G-U Hardware Inc.
Newport News, Va.

There Are Three Sides to the Story Says Window Company
I am writing this in response to the “Timber!” article (see July/August, DWM/BCM, page 50).
First, I will give you a small background on myself and the company for which I work. I am the purchasing manager for a family-run company in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It is a medium-sized company composed of about 75 back-shop employees and 15 sales and management staff. Our biggest product line is a wood-aluminum-clad window which integrates a Douglas fir frame for stability and an Eastern pine sash for aesthetics. 

I went to school in Vancouver, Canada, for two years where I studied wood products manufacturing at BCIT. The course teaches students the whole mill to finished product activity of a log. Once I graduated, I came back to Winnipeg to help out with the family company, and now I do all the purchasing, including lumber. In school we actually took a whole-semester course on the Soft Wood Lumber Agreement. This by no means makes me an expert, but I do understand a lot about it. Unfortunately, my knowledge is only as good as those who taught me.

Weyerhaeuser wants cedar taken out of the tariff because they own about 75 to 85 percent of the cedar stands in British Columbia. They basically own Vancouver Island where most of the cedar is prominent. If you discriminate against one species of fiber, then you might as well not have a tariff at all. You cannot say that because the United States does not grow much cedar that it should not be included in the tariff.

In regards to the amount of mills being shut down in the U.S., you forgot to mention the dozens that have been shut down in Canada because nobody wants to buy fiber with that high of a tariff. Also there is not 20 to 30 percent profit in selling fiber, probably 5 percent at maximum.

In both of your articles, you only mention that Canadians are “dumping” and that our government is subsidizing the industry. You forgot to mention that each timber company gets charged a “stumpage” fee based on what is brought out of the forest. If we are being subsidized, why, in the past ten years, have there been so many mills shut down?

Unfortunately, we Canadians do not have rich enough lobbyists who can stand up for our country, and that is what this whole tariff is really about. The rich landowners realized they were not making enough money, so with the addition of tariffs they could control the amount of fiber that comes into the United States. In turn, this means that one day they will be able to depict the prices that will be charged per thousand FBM of fiber.

You are probably asking yourself how this tariff impacts us. We develop our wood profiles on certain sizes and cuts of lumber that many mills used to cut. As the tariffs came into action, many of the mills that regularly cut these sizes and species have shied away from it. Many mills have actually shut down, and those still running are not cutting Doug fir any more. Instead, they are cutting fiber for offshore sales which is actually paying the bills right now. With this in mind, we have to use different sizes, and more waste has come out of each board. Our actual price increase because of all of this fighting is 42 percent. We are trying to redesign our windows and doors at present, but this will take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I am sure that I am not the only Canadian who has written to you about the problems that we face day in and day out. Nobody really knows the whole story of this Soft Wood Lumber Agreement because there are three sides to this story: the Canadian, the American and the truth.
Ryan Dudeck
Winnipeg, Manitoba 

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