Volume 15, Issue 2 - March 2014

What's News

Software Purchasing Comes Back into Play

While the economy suffered the past few years, no segments of the door and window industry was hit harder than software and machinery—not a huge surprise due to the high investment necessary. Reports from machinery suppliers that sales are on the rise (see article, page 18), are being echoed by software suppliers. Further bolstering the case for growth is a study from the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) which says that U.S. businesses will spend in excess of $1.5 trillion in capital goods or fixed business investment (including software) this year.

Ron Crowl, president FeneTech, says “if you were selling software to just window manufacturers in the past few years it would have been very difficult.”

Thankfully, FeneTech serves not only the door and window market but also the glass fabrication market which remained steady. Thankfully, the door and window software segment is now picking up.

“In recent years the glass fabrication market segment has been very strong in terms of continued investment in software that will make their business more efficient while the window, door and sunroom market segments have been very quiet,” he adds. “The activity we have seen in the window segment has been primarily around sales and quoting tools. However, the last 6 months have shown a renewed interest in efficiency gains on the manufacturing floor. We are currently very busy supplying upgrades to our existing customers and are actively meeting with new prospects who have an interest in our FeneVision software to run their entire business.” 

Nick Carter, president at WoodWare Systems, agrees that inquiries are increasing.

“Most were sitting on cash and capital not wanting to buy, and being very cautious,” he says. “But over the last year we are wearing our implementation team out. We have a backlog of customers waiting who want to upgrade to new technology.”

Carter adds that companies were waiting to see what would happen with economy. “There was a pent up demand.”

Jim McCooey, president of Computer Associates/Ponderosa ERP Software, also says things are on the upswing.

“In my conversations with CEOs, most are saying very positive things about the state of their businesses,” he says. “In fact, we’ve had a number of clients who recently purchased additional user licenses, a clear indication that business is good and they are hiring.”

And like machinery, those who put things on hold during the economic crisis of the past two years are now interested in moving forward.

“Some clients signed deals several years ago, then subsequently them put on hold. These clients have recently contacted us about finishing their installation and getting training,” adds McCooey.

Additional good news is the fact that these purchases sometime mean hiring additional employees.

“With the business from 2013, and the anticipated new clients coming on board this year, we’re actively seeking to fill several management consulting positions within our LBM software practice,” says McCooey.

Carter reports that he just finished visiting a California customer who is adding personnel which he attributes to the help of technology.

The reverse, however, may also be true for those window companies that may not be able to hire additional employees just yet—software can be a time saver, according to Richard Schilke, president, SureFire Systems Inc.

“We’re seeing the most growth in our new product for window and door manufacturers and their customers who are now experiencing growth and want to hold off hiring for that growth as long as possible,” he says.

He says his company is also taking advantage of a change in the software industry—a move toward web-based systems running in the cloud.

“What we’re seeing is that this is a change the industry is getting more comfortable with,” he adds. “I think the entire value equation is going to change, with manufacturers looking for less complexity instead of more.”

CGI Expands into Vinyl Impact Market
It’s no doubt the vinyl window market continues to grow. Further evidence of this fact comes from the recent news that Miami-based CGI Windows and Doors has added vinyl impact windows into its line of aluminum impact products with its new Targa line. Steve Dawson, executive vice president sales for CGI, says the company added vinyl to fill out its product line and quite simply because “there is a demand for it.”

“Our market is primarily Florida and the Caribbean,” explains Dawson. “But there a lot of homeowners from the Northern states coming down here and they are used to vinyl so there is demand for it. We see the market growing.”

CGI has been planning for this new line for two years and it seems the market is ready.

“The window dealers in Florida are well aware of vinyl,” says Dawson. “Everyone thought it was the right move. What is unique about this product is it very attractive which is unique in the impact world. People are surprised that is a good looking window.”

The product line is available for use in both residential and light commercial applications.

“In Florida you are seeing vinyl being used in condos, etc.,” says Dawson. “It hasn’t taken over aluminum yet but the demand is coming.”

He adds that where the product is used in Florida will vary based on the state’s different regions. For example, Dawson says in the Southeast part of the state such as Miami-Dade, etc. there will be slower growth.

He adds that the product was designed specifically for the Florida market. “A lot of products are for retrofit applications but this was exclusively designed for the needs of this market.”


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