Volume 8, Issue 2 - February 2007

From the Publisher

A Fresh Perspective
Tara Taffera

We’ve all heard about the cutback measures put in place recently by some door and window manufacturers. Although I am very knowledgeable about the door and window industry, I don’t make products every day, so a somewhat “outsider’s” view may help put what is happening in this business into perspective. 

First, with some companies laying off employees or closing plants, other manufacturers may be looking at their business plans and sales figures and deciding whether or not they will have to make similar changes. 

One of the most high profile stories of recent months is that of Andersen Corp. which laid off 440 employees in January. In this issue you will read of more cutbacks/consolidations. On page 24 you’ll discover that Atrium Companies Inc. will close its Danvid Window facility in Carrollton, Texas, and consolidate it with the existing Atrium Windows and Doors and HR Windows’ facilities in Dallas. Regrettably, not all positions will transition, according to the company. Atrium also announced it will close its 79,000-square-foot facility in Shelton, Conn., which the company says will affect approximately 60 employees.

Some readers may be thinking, “If a company like Andersen or Atrium is taking these measures where does that leave me?” Well, we all know that each company is different. Though new construction has subsided and will dip further in 2007, it is up to each manufacturer to decide what measures, if any, need to be taken. In fact, it’s highly probable that companies that concentrate on streamlining will emerge more profitable than ever. And in Andersen’s case, remember that the company acquired Silver Line Building Products last year, so it was inevitable that some consolidation needed to occur. 

How does Lean Fit in?

It is important that companies don’t just assume that they need to decrease employees or close plants, due to housing or economic factors. It is crucial to remember that a big trend in the industry today is the quest to become lean. As is implied in “lean manufacturing” streamlining production may mean reducing the number of employees, plants, etc.

From my experience, plants that implement this process often require less workers and less space. The end result is increased efficiencies in the plant. Isn’t this what all companies should strive for?

And employees—don’t forget the stories about those who are expanding. For example, on page 25 of this issue you will find the story of JELD-WEN Windows and Doors, who has announced plans for an expansion in Vermont that is expected to bring 130 to 170 new jobs to the area in 2007.

Whether it’s cutbacks or additions, when operating your plants and businesses this year remember to take into consideration what is the best course of action for your particular company. 


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