Volume 16, Issue 5 - June/July 2015

What's News


Recent Deaths Highlight Importance of Workplace Safety

Two deaths and a series of fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in recent months are a sobering reminder of the importance of safe working conditions for the door and window industry.

In April, Quanex Building Products technical service manager Tim Harris died after a rack of vinyl window framing estimated to weigh more than 3,000 pounds fell off a forklift and struck him during his visit to the Avanti Industries plant in Glendale, Ariz., according to a police report about the incident obtained by DWM. He was 65.

Top 10 Workplace Hazards by OSHA Citations

1. Forklifts (71)

2. Failures of Hazard
Communications (38)

3. Respirators (29)

4. Wiring (28)

5. Guardrails/holes (22)

6. Electrical (20)

7. (tie) Fire Extinguishers (18)

7. (tie) Woodworking (18)

7. (tie) Exits (18)

10. Machinery (15)
Based on OSHA statistics from January 2011 to
March 2014.

Based on interviews with witnesses, Det. Roger Geisler of the Glendale Police Department said in his report that the forklift operator was unloading the vinyl window framing from a semi-trailer at the Avanti plant when the incident occurred. The driver had been certified to operate a forklift for just over a month and had five months of on-the-job experience with the vehicle, according to Geisler’s investigation.

DWM contacted Avanti Industries, but company officials wouldn’t discuss the incident.

“We are unable to comment other than our prayers and hearts go out to the Harris family,” Avanti Industries president Jerry Petty said via e-mail.

Rachel Brockway, a spokesperson for the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH), told DWM the state agency is looking into what happened at Avanti, but she said it might be six months before it issues a ruling.

In May, Extruders Inc., of Wylie, Texas, a division of Dallas-based door and window manufacturer Atrium Corp., learned that it’s facing $26,500 in citations from OSHA following a November incident in which a maintenance worker died.


Altus Capital Partners Acquires GED Integrated Solutions

Altus Capital Partners, an investment firm focused on middle-market manufacturing companies in the U.S., has acquired GED Integrated Solutions Inc.

According to a company statement, Altus, along with the company’s senior management team, made the investment “to support GED’s continued growth as the premier manufacturer of capital equipment solutions to the residential window and patio door industries.”

“We are very excited to now be partnering with Altus Capital Partners as we continue to grow,” says Bill Weaver, GED’s president and CEO. “GED has consistently built on its foundation of innovation, and we look forward to the strengths and resources that Altus can provide to help us achieve our strategic growth objectives.”

Russell Greenberg, managing partner of Altus, says it was the company’s technological advancements that made it an attractive option to the investment firm.

GED is a nearly 40-year-old company. Its headquarters and manufacturing operations are in Twinsburg, Ohio.
Financial terms of the investment were not disclosed. The sellers were comprised of an investment group and were advised by Brown Gibbons Lang & Company.

DWM reported in February that Steven Jeffrey Amdall, 51, died on November 22, 2014, following what Extruders Inc., plant manager Justin Ames called “an unfortunate and tragic event.” Robert Laughon, a field agent with the Collin County (Texas) Medical Examiner’s Office, told DWM that official records of the incident described Amdall’s death as an accident. “His cause of death was blunt force injuries to the chest in combination with traumatic asphyxia,” Laughon told DWM.

A recent search of OSHA’s website found a document, “FY15 Fatalities and Catastrophes to Date,” that lists the following incident on November 22, 2014, at Extruders Inc.: “Worker performing maintenance fatally crushed between saw motor machine and air duct.” (Amdall’s name is not mentioned in the entry.)

OSHA cited Extruders Inc. for four serious violations, including failure to inspect the energy control procedures for equipment, failure to instruct employees in the purpose and use of those energy control procedures, failure to remove employees from hazardous areas during maintenance, and exposing employees to moving machinery.

I n October 2013, DWM reported that OSHA had cited Extruders Inc. for 15 safety violations that totaled $166,000 in penalties, including failure to protect workers from the inadvertent start-up of machinery during maintenance.

Expansions, New Operations Crop Up Across U.S.

From an Italian company opening its first U.S. plant in Missouri to expanded operations in Georgia and Minnesota, it’s been a busy spring for door and window manufacturers.

In May, Piva Group announced that it will open its first U.S. facility in Ste. Genevieve, Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon announced that the expansion is expected to create 122 new jobs over time at the new 60,000-square-foot facility.

Nixon met with the Italian company in Milan to discuss expansion prospects while leading a trade mission to Italy, Germany and Spain in March.

Piva Group currently distributes its products to the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Africa, Australia and Latin America. The company expects to be operational in August.

The $6.47 million expansion will provide jobs to residents in the region in the manufacturing and distribution fields as well as IT, accounting, and customer service specialists. Piva Group’s only other production facilities are located in Italy and Spain, where the company employs a combined 400 workers.

Also in May, Minnkota Windows Inc. celebrated the ceremonial grand opening of its new facility in West Fargo, N.D.  The 78,000-square-foot plant has been operational since early March.

The event was geared toward dealers, vendors and distributors to allow them to see the new factory in action.  Minnkota Windows offered plant tours, a ribbon-cutting, lunch and other activities during the day-long event.

Minnkota Windows has been producing vinyl windows in the Fargo-Moorhead area since 1980 and distributes products to 13 states and Canada.

In March, Vista Window Company expanded its operations in Swainsboro, Ga., with plans to create 50 jobs and invest $2 million in the project during 2015.

The 57,000-square-foot facility produces the company’s primary line of vinyl replacement windows. Vista Window is also moving its insulating glass line to the plant.

“We are excited and appreciate Vista Window Company’s confidence in choosing Swainsboro for its new window and insulated glass manufacturing operations here in the Southeast,” said Ken Warnock, CEO of the Swainsboro-Emanuel County Chamber of Commerce and Joint Development Authority, in a statement. “Swainsboro’s geographic location to the Southeastern U.S. transportation infrastructure, local workforce and its low costs of doing business make it and Emanuel County one of the most attractive industrial and business climates for companies.”

“With sales continuing to grow, we needed to expand our manufacturing capacity,” said Vista Window CEO Justin Best in a statement. “Our previous experience with the workforce in southern Georgia, along with an ideal location for logistics and delivery, made Swainsboro the perfect fit. We’re happy to expand our business, to embrace the community, and to create jobs for great people.”

Vista Window Company of Warren, Ohio, is facing $79,200 in proposed penalties after OSHA cited the company for 16 serious and three other-than-serious violations on April 30.

OSHA’s investigation began with an inspection of the Vista Window facility on Oct. 22, 2014. The agency’s Cleveland office began the probe after receiving a complaint alleging unsafe working conditions.

This was the first OSHA inspection at the company.

Investigators found Vista Window failed to use guards to protect workers from operating machinery. The company also failed to develop procedures for applying locking devices to prevent the unintentional operation of machinery during service and maintenance. Both of these violations exposed workers to amputation hazards.

Additionally, OSHA found that the company failed to provide hearing and eye protection for workers wearing prescription lenses; electrical safety violations; a lack of audiograms for employees exposed to noise; and a lack of training on workplace hazards and procedures.

OSHA statistics from January 2011 to March 2014 show that forklifts accounted for the most safety citations in the building materials industry with 71, according to recent webinars conducted by the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association.

FeneVision Conference Brings Industry Together

In early June, FeneTech’s 13th FeneVision User Conference in Cleveland served up some impressive numbers for the software company that serves every aspect of the fenestration industry.

A total of 86 attendees—the most ever in the history of the conference—were on hand for three days of learning and networking at the Marriott Key Center. They came from 42 companies evenly divided between 21 door and window manufacturers and 21 glass firms.

Geographically, 26 states and Canadian provinces were represented, as well as five foreign countries, including Norway and Estonia.

Attendees took part in 72 sessions covering all things related to the door and window industry, from managing production, inventory and shipping to taking orders from customers.

BMC, Stock Building Supply Join Forces

Stock Building Supply Holdings Inc. and Building Materials Holding Corp. (BMC) signed a merger agreement under which the two companies will combine in an all-stock transaction.

The combined company is expected to have a value of $1.5 billion based on Stock Building Supply’s closing price on June 2.

The transaction will create a large provider of lumber, diversified building products and construction services with more than $2.7 billion in 2014 revenues and enhanced product and service offerings.

“We expect this compelling strategic merger will provide significant benefits for customers, shareholders, suppliers and associates of both companies,” says Jeff Rea, president and CEO of Stock Building Supply. “The continuing recovery of the U.S. housing market is expected to generate strong demand for building materials, services and solutions, and together we believe BMC and Stock Building Supply are better positioned to capitalize on this opportunity.”

Upon the closing of the transaction, BMC shareholders will own approximately 60 percent of the merged entity, with Stock Building Supply shareholders owning approximately 40 percent.

Copyright 2015 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.