DOE Volume Purchase Program Heads into Phase TwoApril 12th, 2011 by DWM Magazine
The mood during the panel discussion on the Department of Energy’s High-Performance Windows Volume Purchase Program was much different than other recent industry events, perhaps signaling that the industry has had time to digest the program, and the fact that prices will be listed on the website in phase two.
Panelists at the Fenestration Day event included Graham Parker of Pacific Northwest National Lab, Terry Rex of B.F. Rich and Gary Delman of Sunrise Windows. Rex and Delman both represented manufacturers that are part of the program.
Parker started the discussion by informing attendees that 2,976 windows were sold in phase one, translating to $742,000 in window sales. But he admits that the amount of windows purchased in phase one shows that the original intent of the program (to encourage “volume purchases”) hasn’t been fulfilled to date, and that changes will occur in phase two.
“The quantity of windows being requested is less than 50 so that is really not the volume buyer,” said Parker. “The program was never set up for a homeowner to come into.”
In phase two, the minimum order is 20 windows per purchase. Other changes in phase two include the inclusion of commercial products, and the fact that manufacturers can raise prices after six months.
Publicity of the program also will be increased greatly in the next phase, and an updated website, with easier access for vendors to update, will be launched May 3.
“We could have done better regarding publicity and we will do a lot more in phase two,” said Parker.
Rex and Delman expressed similar attitudes in that both companies had initial reservations about program participation but both decided to enter and “see what happened.”
“We thought it made sense to be on the inside rather than the outside,” said Delman.
Both companies did have products that qualified for the program when the criteria was announced.
Like Parker, Rex and Delman conceded that they too could have done a better job of promotion and they will increase those efforts as well.
“In the beginning we failed,” said Rex. “We have 500 dealers who could be selling this product so we have now embarked on education.”
Rex also was candid in the fact that B.F. Rich was unhappy with the DOE’s decision to list price on the program’s website but said that in the past few months his feelings on the issue have changed somewhat.
“I spent a lot of negative energy talking about price but I’ve changed my perspective,” he added. “We are going to get wet under the armpits and move this program forward.”
Delman agreed on the pricing issue, adding, “People are going to learn prices of the windows whether we want them to or not … We will be a more active participant.”
He added that the program also influenced his company’s thinking in terms of new product development.
Interestingly enough, with all the talk of price, Parker pointed out that when looking at program purchases, “It’s not always the lowest priced product that is selling.”