Volume 8, Issue 9 - October 2007

What's News

AAMA Donates to Hurricane Research Effort
The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) is supporting the efforts of wind engineering researchers at the University of Florida (UF), who are examining wind-driven rain at structural height during hurricane landfall. Rich Walker, president and chief executive officer of AAMA, announced a donation of $60,000 to purchase a precipitation imaging probe (PIP), manufactured by Droplet Measurement Technologies during the association’s National Summer Conference.

The probe is designed to capture high-resolution measurements of rainfall intensity. Dr. Forrest Masters, assistant professor of civil and coastal engineering, will deploy the instrument on a specially designed, rugged tower hours before a hurricane’s landfall to capture the storm’s worst conditions. Using real-time cellular and satellite uplinks, data from the PIP also will be available in real-time to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) meteorologists and state and federal emergency managers.

“Beyond the ability of a building to physically withstand hurricane winds, water intrusion through doors, windows and walls remain a recurring issue,” says John Lewis, AAMA technical director. “Although most residential and commercial buildings built to recent codes will survive structurally, rain penetration often causes significant interior damage, occupant displacement, business interruption and extensive restoration expenses. Code officials, architects and manufacturers of exterior building products are questioning the real-world effectiveness of water intrusion test standards under hurricane conditions as referenced by modern building codes.”

The AAMA Southeast Region currently is developing a Voluntary Specification for Rating the Severe Wind-Driven Rain Resistance of Windows, Doors and Unit Skylights.

“Instead of the usual pass/fail measurements, this AAMA specification applies a spectrum of pulsating pressure and rain loads and determines how well a product performs in severe wind-driven rain,” Lewis says. “The research, underway at the University of Florida, will further the value of the AAMA specification by quantifying hurricane-driven rain and its effects on residential and light commercial construction.”

Data from the PIP devices collected during this and upcoming Atlantic hurricane seasons will be used to establish a catalog of “wind-driven rain scenarios” for different storm intensities impacting various terrains. The information will be used to calibrate the rain field produced by UF’s mobile windstorm simulator to recreate hurricane-force winds and wind-driven rain at a sufficient scale to test low-rise components and cladding systems. Utilizing four 700-horsepower Detroit Diesel engines and hydraulic drive units to power eight 54-inch vane axial fans, this apparatus will produce hurricane force winds and wind-driven rain at its 10- by 10-foot exit.

Actual full-size structural mockups will be evaluated in realistic hurricane conditions, according to Lewis. All research will be coordinated with established program partners such as AAMA, as well as Florida building code officials.

In addition to its work with UF, AAMA has created a Wall Interface Materials Council. The new council will provide technical, regulatory, legislative, marketing and certification support to AAMA membership in connection with wall interface materials, components and systems. 

Leonard Dorin of Fortifiber Building Systems Group and Ron Gzell of Schnee-Morehead Inc. were named interim vice-presidents for the council, which will serve both the Architectural Product and Residential Product Groups. Reporting to the new Wall Interface Materials Council will be the AAMA Sealants and Adhesives Committee and its various sub-task groups, according to Walker. 

Snavely Forest Products Wins in Appellate Court
Pittsburgh-based Snavely Forest Products Inc., a national building materials manufacturer and distributor, has ended a lengthy patent infringement lawsuit involving its Kimberly Bay™ reinforced vinyl screen doors.

Guerry E. Green, president and owner of Screen Tight, which manufactures and sells solid-core vinyl screen doors and products related to screen doors, brought a patent infringement action against Snavely Forest Products Co. on October 16, 2002, alleging that Snavely’s screen doors directly infringe upon his patent-in-suit, U.S. Patent No. 6,250,040 (“the ‘040 patent”), according to court documents. 

On May 12, 2005, Snavely requested a summary judgment, asserting that the product did not literally infringe the ‘040 patent. On March 30, 2006, the court granted Snavely’s request for summary judgment in part, stating that it will “remain open as to the question of infringement under the doctrine of equivalents only.” The court amended its March 30, 2006, order on May 5, 2006. The second opinion and judgment, entered in favor of Snavely on July 24, 2006, was on the last remaining issue in the case, which was infringement under the doctrine of equivalents. After the second judgment in favor of Snavely, which ended the lawsuit in Snavely’s favor, Green appealed the case to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. Following legal briefing by the parties and an oral argument on March 6, 2007, the Federal Circuit Court entered an order on May 3, 2007, affirming the district court’s opinions and judgments in favor of Snavely.

“We are extremely pleased with the appellate court’s order affirming the trial court’s decision, which validates what we have argued for almost five years—that the design and production of Snavely’s reinforced vinyl screen doors did not infringe upon Green’s patent,” says Mark A. Grace, an attorney for Cohen and Grigsby, and director of the firm’s Litigation Practice Group. Green, however, says he still believes the patent is invalid.

“The door which Snavely has patented incorporates features that we believe the consumer will find to be dysfunctional and deceptive. Further legal action could be forthcoming if Snavely strays from the claims made by them to the court,” Green says. 

Fibertec Window and Door Mfg. Plans to Move
Fibertec Window and Door Mfg. in Concord, Ontario, is preparing to move to a new facility in Ontario. The company says it has outgrown its previous facility, which was just two blocks east of the new location. The company said the move was necessary due to the high demand for the company’s fiberglass doors and windows.

With the recent move to the new facility, Fibertec will be adding another side slider to complement its existing product lines. The added space also will allow the company to automate more and set up a high-speed sealed unit glass line.

New Labor Agreement for BiltBest
BiltBest Products Inc. in Ste. Genevieve, Mo., has a new long-term labor agreement with its manufacturing employees. On June 5, a five-year labor agreement was made among BiltBest and the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO/CLC, Local 400G.

In addition to the five-year term, the contract calls for wage and benefit enhancements, as well as a gain sharing provision for the manufacturing employees, that will be also provided to all regular, non-union, hourly employees. The new gain sharing program will cement a strong partnership between the company and its employees, and align all company resources in maintaining strong business relationships with its customers, meeting flexible production demands, improving quality and achieving 99-percent on-time and complete shipments. 

Jay Hoffer, president of BiltBest Products, says, “We are extremely pleased with the new union agreement. The negotiations were conducted in an environment of mutual respect, openness, and a desire on both sides to achieve an agreement that is a win for our company, our employees and our customers. BiltBest employees are hard-working, dedicated people and are our most valuable resource ...”

SAGE Electrochromics Secures Financing
SAGE Electrochromics Inc. in Faribault, Minn., announced that it has closed a $16 million Series B preferred round, with provisions for an additional investment of $13 million. Good Energies, a leading investor in renewable energy, led the funding, with additional investments from Applied Ventures, LLC and Bekaert.

SAGE’s patented technology, trademarked SageGlass®, is used to manufacture windows and skylights that can be darkly tinted to block sunlight and heat, or cleared, depending on the needs of the end user. U.S. Department of Energy studies have shown that approximately 5 percent of all the U.S. energy consumed is lost due to the inefficiencies of building windows.

Barber and Ross Temporarily Closed
Barber and Ross Co., a manufacturer of windows, pre-hung interior and exterior doors, mouldings and custom millwork products based in Winchester, Va., has closed “temporarily until further notice,” according to voicemail messages posted on all of the company’s phone numbers in its Winchester, Richmond, Va., and Mebane, N.C., locations in mid-July. The company was established in 1876 as a comprehensive building materials and tools supplier, and in 1971, it was acquired by David Joffe, who changed the company’s focus to supplying new homebuilders. According to the company’s website, it most recently had four regional manufacturing facilities serving nine states and employed more than 1,200 people.

BSI-Balance Systems Expands into New N.C. Facility
Amesbury Group has announced the opening of a new manufacturing facility for BSI-Balance Systems in Statesville, N.C. The 112,500-square-foot window hardware facility will accommodate the BSI, Block and Tackle and Omega, Constant Force window balance manufacturing, as well as provide Amesbury Group with a main point of distribution to service the East Coast market. 

“The opportunity to consolidate our BSI block and tackle and Omega constant force window balance manufacturing into a new facility will result in operating efficiencies, as well as allow for additional space for distribution and improved service of our window hardware customers throughout the East Coast,” says Peter Lariviere, senior vice president of the window hardware division.

KeepSafe Maximum® Program Gets Enhancements
Saflex®, a business unit of Solutia® Inc., has announced significant enhancements to its KeepSafe Maximum® Glass Partner Program. This marketing support program was launched in 1999 to supply opening protection for residential hurricane mitigation to door and window manufacturers.

Early in the development of the residential hurricane mitigation market, Saflex recognized that residential door and window manufacturers would benefit from partnering with them to develop, test and market systems to meet new stringent building codes. To address this, Saflex started the KeepSafe Maximum Partner Program. As a result, a majority of Program Partners are experiencing substantial growth in the residential hurricane window and door market. 

“As this market becomes more competitive, it’s very important that window manufacturers understand builder and consumer preferences,” says Stephany Davenport, residential programs manager. “To facilitate this understanding, Saflex provides situational analysis and strategic planning support to help partners better understand the channel and identify and develop stronger marketing and promotional plans.” 

Gorell Expands Manufacturing Operations
Gorell Windows and Doors recently expanded the manufacturing operations at its Indiana, Pa., facility by adding 50,000 square feet of space. To help meet the increased demand for its new line of hurricane impact products, Gorell also added a fully-automated specialty-glass cutting machine.

In recent months, the company also has introduced a variety of new product options, including InterBlinds™ for windows, a cherry wood interior finish, retractable roller screens on patio doors and coated EZ-Glass™, which helps keep doors and windows clean. 

HT Troplast for Sale
HT Troplast, the German PVC window profile company that owns the trademarks Kommerling, KBE and Trocal, has been put up for sale by its private equity owners Carlyle Group in Dallas and Advent International in Boston.

The two companies bought HT Troplast early in 2005 for a reported 300 million euros (approximately $413.6 million today).

Sources in Europe, who wished to remain anonymous because the company is in play, explained to DWM that some years ago when HT Troplast was being prepared to be sold by Ruttgers AG, the company implemented the PVC window brand Profine as the parent for its KBE, Kommerling and Trocal brands. 

“Profine, or maybe more accurately Profine Group, was created just to be a company to be bought by investors,” a source says. “I guess if HT is going to be sold, there is a good chance that the PVC window activities, Profine, will be sold again.”

Speculation is that the Profine companies will be kept together, as they are the biggest PVC window fabricator and seller in Europe. Dismantling the company to sell the different brands does not seem likely because that would take away the market advantage of the biggest European producer as well as the synergy of the different elements.

The source did tell DWM that, with different PVC window brands in the market in Eastern Europe, it might make sense to buy some parts of Profine if the buyer had interests in a particular country where those brands could be used.

TruSeal Technologies Earns ISO 9001:2000 Recertification
Truseal Technologies recently completed its ISO 9001:2000 triennial audit at its Barbourville, Ky., facility. 

Truseal manufactures its Dura platform of warm-edge spacer products in Barbourville, including Duralite™, a new no-metal spacer that the company says is highly efficient.

The globally recognized International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) 9001 registration serves as the international reference for quality requirements in business-to-business dealings. Truseal says that it continues to fulfill all requirements of the ISO 9001:2000 standard, demonstrating its ability to consistently provide warm-edge spacer products that aim to enhance customer satisfaction. 

Pella Corp. Named to Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” List 
For the eighth consecutive year, Pella Corp. has been named to Fortune magazine’s annual “100 Best Companies to Work For” listing. Pella Corp. ranked 59 overall in the ratings of companies of all sizes.

A total of 446 companies sought to be included on the 2007 Fortune list in which 100,000 workers evaluated their employers.

NWDA Holds Summer Meeting in Pennsylvania
The Northeast Window and Door Association (NWDA) recently held its summer meeting and golf tournament at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pa.

Attendees played golf the first day with Mike Valentine of TBP Converting finishing with the lowest gross score of 80 and John Thompson of Guardian Industries with the lowest net score of 77. In the scramble, a team made up of Chuck Anderson and Rick Keup of Simonton and Bob Moyers and Ernie Foltz of Bob Moyers Sales took first place with a score of 60. The second-place team was made up of Terry Rex of BF Rich, Kim Fondrk of Amesbury, Eric Mount and Erin Borowicz of Regenex. 

Erik Katchur of the 3M Co. took the award for the longest drive for men, and Erin Borowicz of Regenex took the award for the longest drive for women. Dan Rozelman of Sturtz Machinery won the “closest to the pin” award.

A sunset barbecue followed.

Attendees were able to participate in three sessions on the second day: “Finding Leads in a Down Market” by Gale Brown of Lead Builders, “Window Warranties that Work” by DWM president Debra Levy, who briefed the group on DWM’s exclusive survey about warranties and Bradley P. Boone, senior account representative for PPG Industries, who spoke about “Glass Options That Sell Windows.”

The group will hold its winter meeting January 14-15, 2008, at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. 

China Lowers VAT Rebate Rates for Exports, Including Glass

In a sweeping move, China cut the value-added tax (VAT) rebate rates on 2,831 classifications of products, including glass. This represents 37 percent of the total number of classifications in the China customs tariff, point out officials at the consulting firm Ernst and Young, and is the third such change in refund rates since 2005. The company says it is another attempt to address overheating export growth and manage the ballooning trade surplus.

The VAT rebate rate for glass was lowered from 11 percent to 5 percent, a 6-percent drop.

This rate reduction results in additional export costs that must either be absorbed by the exporter or passed on to overseas customers.

Sources in China told DWM that for some glass producers the VAT rebate is the majority of their profit. Speculation is that glass export prices will increase.

Officials with Ernst and Young explain that the VAT refunds have played an important role in keeping export prices low. By changing the VAT refund rates, the government can, to a certain extent, encourage or discourage exportation of the affected products.

The new rebate rate went into effect July 1. Most of the products included in the change fall into the category of high polluting, high energy consumption or export of China’s natural resources. The production of glass fits most comfortably into the energy consumption slot.

NuAir and Pro-Build Partner on Installations
NuAir, a manufacturer of doors and windows, has formed a strategic partnership with Pro-Build, a building materials provider. Beginning in September, Pro-Build will handle all NuAir new construction installation, and NuAir will become a Pro-Build-preferred manufacturer in Florida.

"The decision to partner with Pro-Build was made with our valued customers in mind," says J. Scott Henderson, president of NuAir. "We strive for complete customer satisfaction with our products and services, and we believe the Pro-Build partnership will ensure that every installation of a NuAir product is done with care and craftmanship.

"Pro-Build is a building products supplier that also installs windows, exterior doors, siding and interior trim packages.

With Pro-Build handling installation, the NuAir team will focus on what we do best," adds Henderson. In the coming year, the company will introduce a new line of vinyl windows and other high-performance products. It will also work to ensure that all NuAir products meet the new Florida code.

All current NuAir installation customers will be transitioned to Pro-Build over the course of the coming months.

Simonton Windows® Honored with BICA™ Award
For the second consecutive time, Simonton Windows® in Parkersburg, W.Va., has won the BICA™ award for being ranked “Overall Top Rated Vinyl Window Brand” in a performance study conducted by Market Resource Associates Inc. (MRA) of Minneapolis. Almost 1,000 building industry representatives participated in the unaided survey that evaluated vinyl window manufacturers on various aspects of product quality, service, pricing and performance. 

“We developed the BICA (which stands for Best in Class Award) several years ago to recognize truly exemplary companies that stand out in our surveys,” says John Cashmore, president of MRA. 

“Our national survey is unique in that it is conducted using an unaided, out-bound telephone method. Only those individuals who have direct responsibility for purchasing windows were surveyed. This means the overall results show Simonton was freely mentioned as a top-of-mind quality company more than any other vinyl window manufacturer.”

PGT Recognized for Industry Contributions
PGT in Venice, Fla., received the Corporate Award at the 21st Annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference in April at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Broward County Convention Center. 

The company was honored for its contributions to advance hurricane preparedness and mitigation techniques. The company also recently received the Executive Director’s Award from the Fenestration Manufacturers Association (FMA) for its advisory role to various building code committees and work groups.

JELD-WEN Announces Winners of Student Door Design Contest
JELD-WEN in Klamath Falls, Ore., has unveiled the prototypes of this year’s winning door designs for its Student Door Design Contest. The designs, created by students Nathan Williams of Virginia Tech and Anna McCorvey of Howard University, earned each winner a $5,000 scholarship and a trip to the International Builders Show in Orlando, Fla., where they saw for the first time full-scale versions of their door designs. While very different in style, each door is a study in high design.

The winning door design created by Williams is based on the traditional Dutch door, a style that has a 400-year-old history. However, unlike the traditional Dutch door that is simply split in half, Williams’ design includes six individual hinged wood and glass panels that can be opened separately—giving it a very contemporary, modern flair. 


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