Volume 12, Issue 9 - November/December 2011


For Doors, AMD is the Place to Be
by Tara Taffera

Yes, members of the door, moulding and millwork industries face significant challenges—but companies who attended the recent convention of the Association of Millwork Distributors (AMD) found a great deal of innovative products that can help set them apart from the pack.

If you missed this annual event, held in October in Nashville, Tenn., find out what companies had to offer the distributors, pre-hangers and other audiences in attendance.

One thing is for certain, fiberglass continues on its growth curve as many companies displayed fiberglass options. Tecton’s David Skaare said fiberglass has caught on with windows and now is moving to sills, doors, etc., and showing growth.

The company offers a fiberglass exterior door product that has been on the market for five years. “But we are rolling it out nationwide now,” he said.

He reported that the product offers fantastic thermal performance and longevity and can test up to DP-90.

Tecton is selling the product to pre-hangers and the company has been picking up distributors across the nation and by 2012, the product should be in most states, Skaare said.

Some door companies report that attendees are hard-pressed to discover the differences among fiberglass and wood doors.

“We are trying to take what we know in wood and bring it to fiberglass,” said Matthew O’Shea, director of marketing with Glasscraft. “We are getting pretty high interest from people. They are coming to knock on it and touch it to figure out what material it is.”

“Fiberglass is a big market and there is a lot of room for someone like us who has a lot to offer,” he added.

Companies are also offering a variety of options in their fiberglass doors, including simulated divided lite (SDL) options. Mastergrain’s Ken Kussen said the company recently introduced the Craftsman line and offers the fiberglass SDLs in almost any configuration.

“Customers really appreciate the strength of our integrated Craftsman shelf design. It is not taped on like many competitive designs,” he said.

The company is only four years old and Kussen said sales are up 20 percent from last September, further showing the growth of the fiberglass category.

Introducing Concept Doors
Companies looking for a variety of door types could find them at the Tru Tech Doors booth, which featured a variety of door lines including wood-edge, steel-edge and fiberglass.

The company also took advantage of the AMD event to show some concept products including one temporarily named “Steelwood.” The door is steel on one side and wood laminate on the other. “It has all the beauty of wood on the inside with the durability of steel on the outside,” said Tru Tech’s John Laurendi.

The company also unveiled other innovations such as adjustable hinges for steel doors, a new SDL program for its Harbourcraft doors, and a new mechanism to operate its blinds.

“If the mechanism comes off it goes back on easily with the magnet strike,” said Laurendi.

“Attendees were impressed with the Belmont’s construction, including its 2-inch laminated strand lumber (LSL) or optional 4-inch stiles, polyurethane foam core, square edge design and more,” he added.

ODL also took advantage of the trade fair to showcase some new designs. While ODL exhibited on the show floor, it was after show hours that it really created some buzz as the company invited distributors to look at some possible new designs. One of these was the Array door design which utilizes steel.

“This is for people who desire a unique approach for their exterior door,” said Barbara Herman, part of the ODL new product development team. “This goes after a segment we don’t even touch. It’s definitely a different design aesthetic.”

The door is designed for urban lofts, mid-century homes and modern homes, and can control light and privacy. While it was shown in silver the design could be available in different colors and materials.

“It offers complete privacy, but can also let in the light,” said Herman. “We know people want that control.”

Krosswood Doors unveiled its new Krosscore, in what the company describes as a new innovation in interior doors. The doors offer the appearance of real wood, with a 100-percent recycled core without stile and rail separation. The company says its KrossWeave technology permanently bonds real hardwood to the engineered door surface for improved strength and quality.

“The product is made from recycled materials and comes at a great price point,” said Jason Olding. “We’ve gotten the distributors excited and the lumberyards excited. And they are paying to put it in their showrooms.”

All companies are concerned with saving money and Front Line Building Products’.

Larry Kerscher said the company’s new pre-clad wood frame offers a huge shop labor savings for pre-hangers. The product will be available in the first quarter of next year.

“This will save pre-hangers 10-minute-per-door in shop labor savings,” said Kerscher.

Front Line also added the manufacturing of specialty transoms to its selection and Kerscher said that overall business has been good.

“We have had a lot of new business in the remodeling market,” said Kerscher. “The door shops haven’t been hit as hard. People are replacing their doors.”

Many companies are making it easier than ever to do just that. For example, the Combination Door Co. offers its Easy Change wood combination storm and screen doors.

“It’s easy to pop the sash out and put the screen in,” said president Dan Schmidt.

Masonite also had a variety of door options on display—in fact, most of the items in the booth were new, according to the company’s Jack Thornton.

The new items include a new cherry finish on the AvantGard line and new glass styles in the Barrington line. The company is also coming out with a new line of Craftsman doors. Masonite showed this new style in steel, but will also have it in fiberglass.

For interior doors, the company now offers a glazed version with various half glass options, as well as routed MDF interior doors.

With all the new options, what is getting the most attention?

“People are really taking notice of the new fir grain,” said Thornton.

At PrimeLine, it all came down to security. The company featured its Defender Security, premium security door and window screens. The product is new to North America, according to Lewis Kasner, director of product development and training.

The stainless steel mesh passes and exceeds knife shear testing, and all components have a chromatic primer with a powder coat finish. Additionally, the doors feature multi-point locks for swinging and sliding.

Door Components
In addition to complete door systems, companies offered components for doors as well. Imperial Products by Homeshield, a Quanex company, featured a variety of door components including its high-performance thresholds which utilize the company’s patented ImperiSeal™ continuous filament technology, providing optimal resistance to environmental stresses, moisture penetration and temperature changes.

Jim Meeks, engineering manager, said ImperiSeal also helps with doors that are not installed properly.

“You simply turn a screw to adjust it,” he said. “When you pull the old door out sometimes meeting up real world applications creates challenges … and this product can help with those challenges.”

At Generation 4 Sales Jay Lawrence pointed out that the company is known for its hinges, so attendees came by to see what the company has to offer in terms of this product line. But the company also unveiled the LockMaster last year and “it is definitely growing,” said Lawrence.

At the booth, the product was front and center to continue promotion of this multi-point door locking system.

Moulding, Millwork and More
It wasn’t all about doors at AMD. Companies, including Royal Building Products, showcased their mouldings, along with decking products.

“A lot of distributors also sell decking so we are focusing on that here at the show,” said Royal’s Tim Dykstra. “PVC decking is where the market is headed—this is the fastest growing segment.” The company also featured its Envelop Window Surround System including S4S.

“This is the fastest growing board so we will be promoting that part of the business more,” he said.

“We’re going to take share,” said Dykstra. “Conversions happen at the lumberyard level. We have the products but we have to work on getting our name out there more.”

Door companies weren’t the only ones looking for feedback on new products not yet available. Arauco representatives were talking to people about its TruChoice Arauco Marble prime.

“This is a high-end finish for commodity mouldings,” said the company’s Phillip Kleiss. “We are getting some good feedback.”

ECMD featured unique patterns “that you won’t see anywhere else,” according to Al Delbridge. “We have very unique patterns and are showing what we manufacture. The other part of the booth shows our 350 SKUs.”

The company had a unique display featuring all the new products it offers as a distributor, including Canadian spruce, inland red cedar, Southern yellow pine, white pine in different patterns, reversible patterns and more.

“We didn’t label the products as we wanted people to talk to us about it,” said Delbridge.

Software suppliers, such as Woodware, were on-hand to help companies build doors easily. “The goal of our new browser-based system was to provide a vehicle for millwork company’s employees who weren’t necessarily experts,” said Woodware’s Nick Carter. “And as products get more complicated this makes it easier to build a door. This also makes it easy to allow customers to enter orders and have access to their account information 24/7.”

To that end the company developed a browser-based system that can work on a computer or an iPad—but is not tied to the iPad. And with the new system, companies don’t have to know specific codes as they had to in the past.

“With it being browser-based we didn’t have to develop an app and it’s not limited to Apple’s browser. Some of the other browsers are more flexible,” said Carter.

“Eventually, use of tablet devices will start catching on … We are showing customers that we have a lot of options and they can use what works best for them,” he added.

Majure talked to attendees about its four add-on modules. Its event management system has received the most traction lately said Patrick Majure. One of these modules, Pulse, tells the status of orders and lets customers know where they stand.

A Positive Show
Overall, comments about the AMD show were positive and there was optimism in the air.

“I am pleasantly surprised because when I look at the list there are some names that I haven’t seen. That’s always a good sign,” said Combination Door’s Schmidt.

One company new to AMD was extremely pleased with the event.

“I never knew about AMD,” said Jonathan Chauvette, sales manager, EuGénie Technologies. “But this is exactly our market—pre-hanging companies—so I am glad we are here.”

Ron Safford, president of Parrett Manufacturing said he “was impressed with the traffic of the show this year.”

He added that some areas of the industry are doing better than others.

“We do a lot of historical work and that has been doing well,” said Safford. “High-end new home construction is still finding good demand.”

The 2012 AMD Convention will be held October 8-11 in Louisville, Ky.


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