Door
by Tara Taffera
September 20th, 2011

News and Notes from Atlanta (Part Two)

Last week I shared some observations from GlassBuild, and today I have more insights to share based on what I heard from both attendees and exhibitors. In the end does it really come to this: The market is what you make of it? You decide. As always I’m interested in your thoughts. Post a comment here or email me at ttaffera@glass.com.

When will a recovery come? This seems to be the question on the minds of many. While many used to say 2012 then 2013, that projection seems to keep moving farther out.

“It’s amazing that after the 32 years I’ve been in the industry and the ups and downs during that time I’ve never seen one [a downturn] last this long nor can I recall a time that the turnaround just keeps getting pushed out another year,” said one window manufacturer in attendance.

When executives from HB Fuller asked me what I’ve heard for the future of the industry I did admit that I’ve heard people have revised their predictions to a rebound in 2014 or even 2015. Michael Hagen, business director, door, floor and window, North America, reported, “We’re excited about 2013.”

Mark Hackbarth, business manager, window, added, “We’re staying ahead of the technology. Whether people buy more homes is out of our hands. I think this is normalcy. In 2013/2014 there should be an uptick to a certain degree.

“It’s all about confidence,” he added. The steady growth we are seeing is a good thing and shows we are coming back.”

Light Commercial Offers Opportunities. In last week’s blog, I talked about how some residential window companies have products that lend well to commercial so they are expanding into those applications. Filip Geeraert, president and chief executive officer of Deceunink North America, echoed those sentiments.

“If you look at the industry that is growing it is light commercial,” he said. “Younger people want to rent. This is the only segment that is growing today. We are starting to see the benefit of that.”

There is Optimism to be Found. You may have to do some digging: but if you do there are some good news stories out there. “We are very optimistic,” said Geeraert. “Our fabricators are doing well. Some are 20 percent up from last year.”

“We don’t see the big dip that the industry sees,” he added. “We have a lot of positive energy with our people.”

Speaking of positive energy they say company leaders set the tone and Geeraert exuded positivity.

“I have a great team who is energized and we have designs ready for 2012. We have to continue to innovate,” he said.

A Novel Approach to a Machinery Display. Speaking of innovation, I really loved a cost-effective display in the Mecal booth. Attendees could see the manufacturer’s equipment in action – via a Skype display in the booth that allowed attendees to talk with plant operators across the country. Mecal’s Amber Grayson told me it usually takes two 53-foot flat-bed trucks to transport the machines. The company already uses the technology as a way to talk to prospective customers and show machines so why not bring it to the show? Another advantage is that it helps reduce the wear and tear on the machines. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Triple Talk. R-5 was still the talk of the town, so to speak, at GlassBuild, but one word seemed to give the term R-5 a run for its money–triples. Hang around the booths of companies such as GED, THV Compozit Windows and Doors and OptiGas, just to name a few, and you’ll find that triples seem to be on the industry’s collective brain.

Machinery Purchases. In last week’s blog I talked about how there is still a glut of used machinery on the market so many machinery suppliers are still struggling to sell new equipment. But Joe Sigmund, president of machinery supplier Rotox, disagrees.

“This is a good show and I haven’t seen that in a while,” he said. “People are looking to buy again.”

Most Talked About Products. What were the products that gained the most attention during GBA? Well, I’ll let the manufacturers speak for themselves.

“The GED Triple Assembly Unit was the best piece of equipment I saw at the 2011 Glass Build Show in Atlanta, Ga.,” said Dean Tascarella, Serious Energy.

“I had already spoken with GED prior to the show and I knew that was going to be there and I have an Opti Gas system at our plant now,” said another. “Both are pretty interesting and possible game changers.”

The Rumor Mill. Trade shows are often a time to trade news and gossip and this one was no different. It’s our job to find the real story so here’s what I know. One show attendee told us they heard Milgard was closing its tempering plant located in Tacoma, Wash. Here’s the straight story: Kathleen Vokes, director of communications for Masco Corp, Milgard’s parent co., tells me that the facility has been consolidated and that all but five of the employees have been placed at Milgard’s Tacoma campus. The facility closed at the end of August.

The other rumblings at the show revolved around JELD-WEN and whether the news reports regarding a possible bankruptcy filing were true. JELD-WEN officials told us prior to the show that the company is not facing bankruptcy, “as it has more than adequate cash and liquidity to conduct business as usual.”

Additionally, the company sent a letter to its customers reiterating this message and saying, “Misinformation persists and we understand that this causes uncertainly among those who are concerned about their current and future JELD-WEN orders. We would like to assure you that you have every reason to continue with your steadfast endorsement of our brand, products and service as you sell JELD-WEN windows and doors to your customers,” wrote company officials in a September 8 letter to customers.

MECAL had a TV in their booth and attendees could view machinery running at its Illinois plant and talk with plant personnel.

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