Volume 16, Issue 6 - November/December 2012


Mostly Sunny
Industry Insiders Forecast 2013 Window Film Conditions
by Casey Neeley

Overall, industry insiders anticipate 2013 will be a strong year for window film. Dealers and manufacturers agree that changing energy regulations, combined with the current economic climate, have created a more involved and educated consumer who will purchase more window film than in years past.

Energetic Growth
“Growth will be fueled by the continued need to reduce energy consumption and the ever increasing awareness that window film is receiving in the energy savings arena,” predicts Jim Black, president of HanitaTek Window Films. “As the focus continues to be on energy savings, I believe we will see more and more products launched that are designed to give maximum energy efficiency both in summer and winter climates. This focus is driven not only by increasing energy costs, but also the desire to do the right thing for our planet.”

Hann Kim is the CEO of STM (Solar Transmission Management) in Los Angeles and the winner of the gold medal at this year’s International Window Film Tint-Off Architectural Division™. He agrees educating consumers about the ever-changing energy regulations and solutions offered by window film will strengthen the industry market.

“The trouble we’re all having is the state of the economy, but we are trying to bring awareness to energy savings,” says Kim. “Window film is such an incredible medium for energy savings. It is by far the most efficient for saving energy as well as the most cost-effective based on return on investment. There are all kinds of new films that are coming up.”

Architectural Expansion
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) anticipates growth in the coming year in both the residential and remodeling markets. According to figures released by the NAHB, sales for new and existing homes should increase over the next two years from fewer than two million units sold in 2012 to nearly three million in 2013.

In a separate Housing and Interest Rate Forecast, the NAHB predicts a 20 percent increase in the total housing starts from 2012 to 2013. Projected numbers show the total number of starts returning to numbers not seen since the housing market crashed in 2008. How much business this will mean for window film companies is still a guess.

“I am not sure how quickly the residential market will come back, as the continuing housing crisis, combined with less discretionary income per family, may not allow for robust sales even though many homeowners are also concerned with saving energy,” says Black.

The improving remodeling market offers a positive outlook for the industry. As consumers try to get the most value out of older homes, remodeling will flourish in the coming year. The NAHB predicts a residential remodeling boom of 12 percent in 2012 and is expected to grow another 7.9 percent in 2013. As an industry that offers retrofit solutions, this spike offers not only an increased chance for business, but an excellent opportunity to cross-market products.

In its Consensus Construction Forecast, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), based on figures from the Associated Builders and Contracters (ABC), projects an average 4.2 percent growth in the non-residential sector overall. Retail expansion is estimated to grow at a rate of 4.9 percent. Average industry growth is anticipated at 5.5 percent, with health-based industries expected to increase at rate of 5.8 percent.

The AIA also analyzed and created a forecast based on McGraw-Hill Construction data. In this forecast, total non-residential growth is projected to increase at a rate of 5.7 percent. The highest non-residential growth is most likely to occur in commercial buildings at a rate of 17.3 percent. The AIA predicts industrial growth to occur at a 3.1 percent increase; health-based industries are again cited as having the highest growth prospect at 1.2 percent.

The McGraw-Hill numbers do project some declines, however. Though all non-residential categories see increases in 2013, industrial growth is lacking and the education-, religious- and public safety-based markets will likely decline. The anticipated industrial total will decline 0.6 percent overall.

Though the market is unsteady, Black contends that company success is based on outlook and preparedness.

“Window film companies and companies in general can be successful in good and bad economies,” says Black. “It truly comes down to how much effort they are willing to invest and how open they are to learning new ways to approach the market.”

Consumer Response
Despite an economy in which consumers are more careful in their purchases, sales are beginning to increase. Having consumers who are more educated in both economic and environmental matters also bodes well for the window film industry’s continued growth in the coming year.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau “average annual expenditures per consumer unit (1) rose 3.3 percent in 2011 following a decrease of 2.0 percent in 2010.”

Darrell Smith, executive director of the International Window Film Association says, “In 2013, as a unified industry body of window film dealers, distributors and manufacturers that facilitates the growth of the industry by providing unbiased research, influencing policy and promoting awareness of window film, we see wider adoption of window film for energy-saving retrofits. Once you explain to people what window film is, the next question you get is where can I buy it.”

Looking Ahead
In response to the changing economy and regulations facing window film, some commented on what changes they hope will be made in the near future.

“What I hope to see, if we could bring more awareness, is maybe an independent company that could test these [new film] products for sustainability,” says Kim. “It will give the consumer more tools to appropriately select what products will be best for their application.”

As market trends, energy codes and industry standards continue to change over the next year, Window Film magazine will be there to cover the latest updates.

Casey Neeley is the editor of Window Film magazine. She can be reached at cneeley@glass.com. Follow her on Twitter at @windowfilmmag and on Facebook by searching Window Film Magazine.

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