Volume 9, Issue 3 - March 2008

from the publisher

Do You Stand Out?
A Few Insights From IBS
by Tara Taffera

“One can walk from booth to booth and see that some manufacturers’ product lines are so similar that they could switch booths in the middle of the show and hardly miss a beat.” This is a statement made by Mike Collins in his column on page 14. I decided to put his premise to the test while at the International Builders’ Show (IBS) in February.

I laughed to myself as the first two booths I visited had nearly identical products. While continuing to walk the show, I saw the same products—dramatic entry doors with beautiful designs (for more on this, see page 30). That’s not to say companies shouldn’t offer these products—there obviously is a market and a desire for them from consumers. However, with all these options, manufacturers must differentiate themselves somehow. If company X is late on an order, the buyer can go to company, A, B, C or even D for a similar product. With all this competition, it doesn’t leave much room for error.

While the article on page 30 talks about a number of trends seen in Orlando, following are a few additional observations.

Moving Beyond Residential. 
When Pella purchased EFCO earlier this year, Collins wondered whether this was the start of a new trend: traditionally residential companies delving into the commercial realm. It seems that could be the case as Hurd announced at IBS that it will now serve the light-commercial market. 

In a bad news/good news scenario, a few companies reported that, as the market is down, manufacturers are now broadening their offerings as a point of differentiation. “Now that things are slower they [manufacturers] have time to take on new products/salespeople have time to learn how to sell the products, manufacturing people have time to put it into production,” said Dale Moses of W & F, a hardware supplier. 

Staying Afloat. 
In a down market, it was nice to hear that there are manufacturers and suppliers who are surviving. “Even in a down market this will be a great year for us,” said Lori LePera of Deceuninck. “We will stay flat this year, which we consider as an accomplishment,” said Wayne Gorell of Gorell Windows and Doors. 

Focusing on Installation.
 Lastly, a trend that I was particularly pleased to see is the fact that several door and window manufacturers are focusing on a problem-area: installation. Companies such as Pella made this a focus at their booths, which included installation demonstrations. And education is definitely needed as builders at the Pella booth told the company. “I didn’t know I was doing it wrong all these years,” said Dave Motdland, manager of Pella’s Installation Process.

Jim Horn of MW Windows and Doors, a Ply Gem company, said his company has people dedicated to installation training. “We go on site to customer locations and bring builders in to conduct training. The good ones are willing to be trained,” he said.

Here’s to the good ones and hoping more of them come along. 


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