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Volume 6   Issue 10               November  2005

Normally Quiet Company Opens up to DWM
Cardinal Glass Representative Talks About the Company's Recent Expansion
by Tara Taffera

Although Cardinal Glass often stays under the radar when it comes to press, etc., its vice president for Cardinal IG, Tom Kaiser, talked candidly to DWM about the company’s recent expansion efforts. This includes the opening or construction of several new plants such as:
• A tempering facility that opened in Salt Lake City approximately two years ago;
• An IG tempering facility that opened in Arizona in February 2005;
• A tempering/laminating operation in Ocala, Fla., to open in June 2006;
• Construction of a new float plant in Winlock, Wash., to open in 2006;
• Construction of a high volume tempering operation in Chehalis, Wash., to open in August 2006; and 
• Construction of a new tempering facility in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to open in the first quarter of 2006.

Kaiser says this growth and expansion was spawned by the fact that most national window companies have multiple locations.

“We had to expand to gain access to opportunities where we were not positioned,” he says.

“The Florida plant is a great example. We weren’t anywhere near that market.”

He pointed out that Florida is number one in terms of housing starts and condominium sales. 

“We had nothing in the central part of the East Coast so Florida was a natural progression.

When you strike a business relationship you have the opportunity to service those multiple locations,” he adds. 

At Cardinal, speed of delivery is key, especially when it comes to vinyl and aluminum. 

“In that world, order and delivery in five days is the mantra,” says Kaiser. “You can’t do that with a day-an-a-half of transportation.”

He adds that delivery consistency is crucial.

“The customer expects the product to show up on time,” he says. “If it doesn’t we have impacted their business negatively.”

He noted that the difficulty is not getting customers multiple units of standard products, but the challenge is delivering custom products on time as the degree of difficulty with these is higher.

A Glimpse of a Cardinal Plant
In addition to the new facilities mentioned earlier, Cardinal opened a new IG plant in Roanoke, Va., in September 2004. In fact, DWM editors toured this location in December of that year.

The 240,000-square-foot plant currently has three lines in production. The Cardinal plant is only a few miles from Marvin Windows’ Integrity window plant. The two companies modeled this new set-up from one that already exists in Fargo, N.D., where a Marvin and Cardinal plant are located next to each other. According to Kaiser, the Roanoke metropolitan area has the same features as Fargo—a good size, not too large.

Additionally, the Roanoke location makes this the company’s Eastern most IG plant (Indiana is the next closest). Its float plant in Mooresville, N.C., and coating facility in Buford, Ga., supplies the Roanoke factory. 

By the end of 2005 the company expects to produce an average of 8,000 units per day here. The plant currently runs three shifts, five days per week.

One of the factors that make all Cardinal IG plants unique is that the company produces most of its machinery itself. In fact, it has its own machinery division called Cardinal AG.

“The fact that we design and build our own machines has a significant impact on Cardinal’s position in the marketplace,” says Kaiser. 

When it comes to its products, Kaiser puts it simply. 

“You name it, we do it,” he says. 

As an example, the Roanoke plant offers 100 different varieties of muntin bars and contours while offering special shapes on the bigger lines. 

While product innovation is important, there is also a great deal of emphasis put on quality control at the company. One of the biggest emphases is on the way Cardinal double-, triple- and even quadruple-checks the glass through the production process. One of the newest ways to do this at Roanoke is via a camera inspection system.

“We’re inspecting glass yet again looking for flaws, scratches, etc.,” says Kaiser. “To some extent we’re raising the bar on reducing imperfections. It’s hard on us, but good in the long run.” 

And above all, good for the customer. 

Tara Taffera is the editor and publisher of DWM magazine. 

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