Volume 12, Issue 3 - May/June 2008

Newsworthy           THE LATEST INDUSTRY NEWS

Competition Gets Tighter in Northeast

Presidential campaigns might not be the only thing heating up regions of the country this year. The Northeast has the potential to become a heated battleground among window film distributors.

In January, Martinsville, Va.-based CPFilms announced it was cutting out the middleman in order to take a dealer-direct approach (see related article on page 8 of Window Film’s January-February 2008 edition). CPFilms’ president, Kent Davies, said the move would give his company greater intimacy with its dealers and allow it to increase market share in what he views as an under-penetrated region. “We want [our dealers] to feel greater intimacy with us and we’ve told them already that direct contact with the factory, as some in the industry look at this, is a benefit obviously,” Davies said. The company cut ties with SAGR Products International in Gettysburg, Pa., its Northeast distributor, effective January 7. At the time, SAGR’s general manager, Terri Fair, said her company planned to remain in the window film business. She said there was still a place for SAGR’s personalized service and customer base in the region. It seems she was right. And the place ended up being with SunTek and Hüper Optik.

In early March, Houston-based Hüper Optik USA announced it had signed SAGR to service its existing dealers in the Northeast. Huper says it expects SAGR will add an additional 30 to 40 new dealers—a number that represents approximately 50 to 60 percent of SAGR’s old CPFilms customer base, according to Fair.

“[The 30 to 40] dealers would come from those in our existing customer base who are interested,” Fair says. She says her company made a concerted effort not to pressure its dealers into switching product lines, but encouraged them to make independent decisions. After deciding on two new providers, SAGR invited its dealers to attend the company’s annual conference, where they could meet the manufacturers and get acquainted with their products.

“It was a non-pressure, non-sales type of thing,” Fair assures. “They’ve had to make some decisions that they probably shouldn’t have been required to make.” Fair says the transition has been difficult on everyone involved, but her staff is excited and looking forward to getting back to business as usual.

“Our whole future lies with freedom—the freedom to have choices and the freedom to do business with whomever you choose,” she says.

Fair’s philosophy should sit well with one of her new providers.

“Telling our customers who they can and can’t buy from or what they can and can’t do is not the best way to support them,” says Steve Phillips, chief executive officer for Commonwealth Laminating and Coating, the Martinsville, Va.-based producer of SunTek brand films. “We place less emphasis on exclusive programs. Those types of programs are clearly good for factories, but they’re not always necessarily good for the trade.” (See related article on page 18 of Window Film’s March-April edition.)

Fair says her company selected both Huper Optik and SunTek because she believes the providers’ products complement one another. She also continues to acknowledge the quality of her old product line and says she has no doubt CPFilms will continue to be a formidable competitor in the region. But she views competition as a good thing and believes it ultimately will boost sales for every provider in the region.

“CPFilms is going to do its job,” she says. “The more film that’s advertised, both to the dealer and to the consumer, creates a trickledown effect. That trickledown effect adds awareness and awareness adds installation jobs.”

Fair says Davies is right; the Northeast offers a great deal of opportunity.

“There’s thousands and thousands, if not millions, of square feet of glass out there that doesn’t have film on it,” she says. “I think the trickledown effect is going to increase the market place for us and the fact that CPFilms is out there selling along side of us, and any other manufacturer for that matter, really makes no difference, except that it’s going to increase awareness and the need for product at the end of the day.” –DV 

Do Customer Referral Programs Work?
Company officials for V-Kool Inc. report that its new customer referral program has proven a success. In December the Houston-based film provider announced it was launching a program designed to complement the green movement.

“Talking about going green is good. Paying to go green is better,” says Marty Watts, V-Kool’s president and chief executive officer. “We know the fastest, most effective way to save energy, slow down global warming and reduce dependence on foreign oil is to make doing so profitable.”

The program offers recent customers 5 percent of the installed price of actual sales they refer to the company.

“Most of the referral activity has occurred in Kansas City, Phoenix and San Antonio,” says John Miller, a spokesperson for the company. “Typical referrals are ranging from $75 to $125 on jobs ranging from 150 to 250 square feet. So far, all referrals have been for residential installations.”

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