Volume 9, Issue 7 - July-August 2008

What's News

event news
IGMA Overload: Argon, Visual Quality and Other Topics Were on Summer Agenda

When members of the Insulating Glass Manu-facturers Alliance (IGMA) met recently during their summer meeting they worked to address various industry issues related to insulating glass manufacturing. The meeting was held in mid-June at the Westin Resort & Spa in Whistler, B.C.

The gas permeability working group was very productive early in the meeting, having agreed to recommend to the IGMA board of directors to accept CAN-BEST’s request for proposal (RFP) to develop a test protocol for argon permeability through insulating glass (IG) units. In addition to choosing a test lab, the group also made decisions on which sealant and spacer types to study, as well as a decision to focus on 6-inch samples. Following the board’s approval and final “tweaking” of the request for proposal, the group expects to move forward on this research.

The glazing guidelines working group session chaired by Ken Shelbourn of Truseal Technologies looked at the early work of a joint task group between IGMA and the Glass Association of North America (GANA) for the development of guidelines and recommended practices for capillary tubes. The goal of the joint document is to address the “when and the why” of using these tubes, noted Tracy Rogers of Edgetech, who chairs the task group.

The group also added categories to consider on its preliminary chart on identification of the conditions for the use of capillary tubes.

“These are guidelines. The biggest focus right now is looking at all the info that’s out there and putting it under one umbrella … this isn’t a specification,” Rogers said.

In addition, the certification and education committee held a meeting during which it continued working on its IG manufacturing quality procedures educational seminar. The seminar is being developed to help companies focus on quality control. The group discussed how best to create a session that would be educational for both large and small IG manufacturers.

“I see something like this being a tool used across the industry,” commented Rogers.

The visual quality working group also met during the summer session.

In January, the group had resolved to keep the visual quality guidelines document as one document that would address differences in commercial and residential visual obstructions, rather than separating it into two separate documents addressing these variations. The document had been distributed for further review and, at this meeting, one negative and several “approved with comments” were reviewed.

Among other items, there was discussion on an appropriate definition of a “sightline,” and, specifically, whether the document’s definition referred to an installed insulating glass (IG) unit’s sightline or that of a standalone unit. Ultimately the question was resolved by adding a definition for “daylight opening” to refer to installed units. The language for the definition was drafted quickly during the meeting to help move the document along; this language and other editorial changes will be re-balloted.

The technical services committee met as well. During this meeting, committee members voted to form a task group addressing a proposal that had been resubmitted to evaluate the GasGlass device. According to IGMA executive director Margaret Webb, Bodycote Testing Group had submitted a proposal “that is on the dollar amount a lot more palpable.”

California Senate Committee Votes in Favor of Passing PVC Packaging Bill 

The California Senate’s Environmental Quality Committee recently voted to recommend that the Senate pass a bill that would ban PVC packaging in the state, but in the same motion, voted to re-refer the bill to the Senate Committee on Appropriations for its members’ review. Now, the Senate Committee on Appropriations will review the bill further, before deciding if the bill should proceed through the legislative process. 

The bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 2505, is based on claims that toxins from the PVC can be transferred from the packaging.

There were five votes in favor of the motion, two opposed. If passed, the bill would go into effect on January 1, 2010.

Webb reported that some initial data has been collected and has shown that “if you couldn’t control the light you couldn’t get a reading,” indicating that there would be some benefit to members in evaluating the tool and how best to use it. While the committee approved a task group to review this more closely, it was also noted that the proposal should be adapted in some part to tighten the research and better reflect IGMA’s needs.

The next IGMA meeting will be held February 2-6, 2009, in San Diego. 

Industry Update Now Available from Jordan, Knauff & Company

Jordan, Knauff & Company, a Chicago-based investment bank with a specialization in the door and window industry, has made available a free download of its Spring 2008 Window & Door Industry Update webinar, which the company hosted on May 15, 2008.

An overview of the door and window industry was discussed, including transactions, expansions and plant closings. Also included was a discussion of current industry trends, the state of the residential and commercial real estate markets, industry growth drivers and a review of the capital markets. The final section of the presentation covered an update of the firm’s ongoing research into the competitive threat posed by Chinese door and window companies. www.jordanknauff.com 

Technoform Realigns Market Teams
Technoform has announced that it has aligned its North American I-Spacer™ market teams into distinct commercial and residential sectors to better service the specific needs of customers in each area. 

“As we continue working with a growing base of IG manufacturers in North America, we found that the commercial and residential IG segments are distinct enough to justify separate sales and service structures to meet specific customer and market needs,” says Mark Silverberg, president of Technoform North America. “This evolution perfectly complements our customer and market-centric strategy; it enables us to offer highly customized service and support to each segment.”

Each sector will continue to operate from Technoform’s Twinsburg, Ohio, headquarters. As part of the alignment, Technoform promoted Milind Jhaveri to the position of residential market manager. Silverberg will retain the position of I-Spacer commercial market manager in addition to serving as president. 

Jhaveri has been with the company since 2005. As residential market manager, he is responsible for sales, marketing and strategic planning functions within Technoform’s I-Spacer residential scope of operations. He also will spearhead personnel development initiatives throughout the year. Jhaveri previously served as a sales engineer and interim marketing manager for Technoform’s I-Strut thermal insulating strut. 

FeneTech Brings Competitors Together to Share Ideas
Competitors mingle together at various events, whether it’s at a trade show, or through working together in one of the industry’s associations, but it is rare when they gather at an event and truly share information. But this sighting does happen ever year when FeneTech, supplier of the FeneVision ERP system, gathers its customers together for its annual users’ conference. The recent one, its sixth annual event, took place at the end of June, and 54 attendees from 28 companies gathered to share information. 

“This was the biggest surprise to me,” says Thelma Hyer, a first-time attendee from Wincore Windows, based in Parkersburg, W.Va. “Even though we are competitors, we are not in a way, as attendees are willing to share information. They know you’re not there to steal customers or secrets. I was blown away.”

One of the main benefits of the conference, according to FeneTech customers, is this sharing of information as one manufacturer may learn from another of functions of the program that they didn’t know existed.

“I learned how other manufacturers handle returns,” says Hyer. “Anyone who attends will come away with a ton of information.”

Lisa Thompson, director of administration for Magnolia Windows in Baldwin, Ga., attended her first conference when she started with the company six years ago to get familiar with the system, and says at that time the company wasn’t utilizing the entire system. 

“Now we are utilizing it more and we gained a great deal from the group discussions during the conference related to the different features.”

Another important item to Thompson was being able to meet the FeneVision staff in person, which she says makes it even easier to work together. 

According to FeneTech, the companies in attendance represented the spectrum of the market. Some, like Joe Shoots from sunroom and window and door maker Vinyl Design Corporation in Toledo, report significant growth and are investing in new facilities and capabilities. Sound Solutions in Chicago has made two recent acquisitions and managers are exploring potential new niche markets. 

Others, especially those in new construction, have reduced employment heading into the expected summer slowdown. One recently laid off about half its employees. 

But, at Wincore, a new company that started in January 2007, Hyer says they’ve posted growth each month. Magnolia also reports that sales are staying the same, as they’ve been able to earn new customers to make up for current customers that aren’t able to place the same amount of sales as they have in recent years. 

Ply Gem Reports First-Quarter 2008 Results

Ply Gem Holdings Inc., a door and window manufacturer based in Cary, N.C., recently announced that the company achieved first-quarter net sales of $256.4 million, a 10.1-percent decrease from the $285.3 million for the same period in 2007 (see chart for full results).

“Ply Gem’s first-quarter sales and EBITDA performance reflects the challenging market conditions that exist in the housing markets today,” says Gary E. Robinette, president and chief executive officer.

Robinette adds, “As a result of continued declines in both the residential new construction and repair/remodeling markets, as well as, market wide increases in raw material prices and fuel costs, the anticipates that our adjusted EBITDA will be negatively impacted and as a result we expect it to be below the level necessary to be in compliance with the leverage ratio required by our credit agreement for the fiscal quarters in 2008 following the first fiscal quarter. As a result and as previously announced on May 8, 2008, Ply Gem has entered into discussions with the agent bank under its Senior Term Loan Credit Agreement in order to seek amendments to the Leverage Ratio financial covenant contained in the credit agreement. Although the company cannot comment further on discussions at this time, we will continue to provide updates on this issue as appropriate.”


Serious Materials Acquires Alpen Windows
Serious Materials announced recently that it has acquired Alpen Windows.  

“Adding Alpen to our family of companies lets us offer highly energy-efficient windows and glass immediately,” says Kevin Surace, chief executive officer of Serious Materials. 

“Serious Materials and Alpen together will finally make high-performance windows mainstream,” adds Robert Clarke, founder of Alpen.  “Our visions match, and we’re looking forward to rapid growth in the United States and abroad.”

Luxury Windows Closes China Manufacturing Plant
Luxury Windows president Karl Krumme has announced that the company closed its manufacturing facility in Shenzen, China, on May 15. Production will now take place at another vinyl door and window manufacturer’s facility in southern California.

According to Krumme, the company’s plant manager in China died unexpectedly last year of kidney failure, and since then, the company has experienced longer lead times and has received scratched glass in its products from the Chinese facility.

At press time, production at the new facility was scheduled to resume on July 4.

Dow Building Solutions Announces Price Increases
Due to continuing increases in energy, feedstocks, raw materials and transportation costs, Dow Building Solutions recently announced will increase prices in the United States and Canada by up to an additional 10 percent for all product lines. The price increases are effective July 1 and July 15, depending on the product in question.

“The price of oil has risen drastically over the past year—80 percent—and natural gas prices have increased by 40 percent,” says Torsten Kraef, president and general manager for Dow Building Solutions. “The building materials industry, like many other Dow businesses, is feeling the pain of this phenomenon at many levels.”

Associations Take Sides on Side-Hinged Issue

The public comment period for the International Code Council® (ICC) Final Action Hearings concluded on June 9, and many industry associations and their members sent in comments on the S141 code change proposal. Now that the public comment period has come to an end, what actions do these industry associations plan to take? The Association of Millwork Distributors (AMD), the American Pre-Hung Door Association (APHDA) and the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) all gave their feedback on S141 after the conclusion of the public comment period but, as of press time, the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) and the Canadian Window and Door Manufacturers Association had not responded.

AMD will wait for the ICC to announce if any S141 comments have been filed that are not in favor of the AMD’s position (which is to disapprove the code change proposal), according to Rosalie Leone, chief executive officer of AMD.

Jeff Burton, director of codes and standards for AMD, concurs. “If there are no opposition comments, AMD will assemble a retraction for all public comments filed in favor of AMD’s position and have them removed from ICC’s record,” Burton says. “This action would move the S141 to the ICC Final Action Hearing consent agency and would remove it from debate on the floor and virtually guarantee its disapproval.”

Georgia Smith, executive director of the APHDA, says that her organization stands firm that the exemption of side-hinged exterior doors from the code should be upheld. “We find no value added for the dollars spent on the new procedures being put forth.”

Rich Walker, president and chief executive officer of AAMA, says this matter (the S141 code change proposal) is of critical importance to his association’s membership. 

AAMA is hosting an all-day closed meeting for specially pre-approved attendees to complete the component certification work that the AAMA Door council has begun.

AMD also looks for a long-term component interchangeability standard, according to Leone. “AMD is co-funding door component interchangeability testing with AAMA. We are also in attendance at both AAMA and WDMA technical and code-related meetings, and we are researching and developing our own solutions,” Leone says. Burton says that he doesn’t see a consensus on the S141 code change proposal because “it simply asks to un-strike the words ‘and side-hinged doors’ from the International Residential Code and the International Building Code.”

“The true consensus solution lays within the reference to the standard that S141 asks that side-hinged doors be tested, certified and labeled to AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.A440-08 or a yet-to-be-written standard specifically for exterior side-hinged doors,” he says. 

“The earliest any solution to the existing standard would be included into the ICC national model building codes would practically be for the 2012 editions,” Burton explains. “Any changes to the AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.A440-08 will require a vote of approval from the Joint Document Management Committee (JDMC) which is made up of four votes from AAMA, WDMA and the Canadian Standards Association. In order for AMD to protect its members’ interests, it will work for an AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.A440-08 solution with the other associations, but since it has no voting authority on the JDMC, it will develop an alternative solution.”

Industry associations such as AMD and the American Pre-Hung Door Association are encouraging their members and interested parties to attend the Final Action Hearings September 14-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis.


© Copyright 2008 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.