Software Suppliers Report Growth: Does This Trickle Down to their Customers?January 23rd, 2012 by DWM Magazine
In a time when the industry faces a tough market, a sampling of door and window software suppliers say they are reporting growth. Some have done this through adapting to best meet their customers’ needs, while others attribute it to global growth and new product introductions.
WTS Paradigm, based in Middleton, Wis., focuses solely on North America, and Nathan Herbst, CEO, says the company has achieved growth by thoroughly understanding its customers’ new challenges and needs for software innovation during the economic downturn. Based on customer feedback, the company has focused on the end-user experience – driving sales through ease-of-use, enhanced visualization and upselling components, among other factors.
“The positive increase of our R&D investment continues to be in the front-end selling system and meeting the needs of dealers and retailers,” says Herbst. “It’s important we tie the sales channels closer together and use one catalog to increase our customers’ market share effectively at less cost than the competition during a challenging economy.”
Some suppliers serve companies outside of North America and say this has been a factor in their increased sales.
Ron Crowl, president, FeneTech, says the company experienced 30 percent growth in 2011.
“We attribute it to, number one, new products,” says Crowl. “Second, we are diversifying geographically in Europe. Diversification has really helped weather the storm here in North America.”
Windowmaker Software Ltd., worldwide software provider, has reported a 31-percent increase in sales in 2011.
“We manage sales in seven different regions across the globe, and there has been growth in every one,” says Goronwy Jones, managing director. “We forecast continued strong growth … We are poised to grow dramatically over the next three to five years.”
Jones attributes this to a strong sales team and a massive R&D effort that led to the addition of new products with new product line extensions planned.
The growth is not just globally, however. Back in the United States, Crowl is seeing upticks as well and says the leading indicator is website inquiries and “we are seeing some more inquiry activity which ultimately leads to sales. But we all know that process can take anywhere from three months to three years.”
If software suppliers are growing is this a hint that the industry is turning around? Crowl says he wouldn’t make that jump. In the Unites States, much of the sales increase for suppliers is due to the fact that companies who once used their own software are now turning to vendors such as theirs. The second is due to the fact that some software suppliers closed their doors so companies like his are replacing that business.
Additionally, Crowl, along with Nick Carter, WoodWare Systems, say some customers are upgrading to systems within their lines of existing products.
“We are seeing more activity this year in both some new prospects and customers who are upgrading into new platforms,” says Carter.
Challenges still remain, however.
“I can’t say manufacturers are out of the woods yet,” says Crowl.
“Compared to last year it is more positive but still nowhere near where we would like to be,” says Carter, “but it appears to be trending in a better direction than a year ago.
Some window companies, however, may be gaining a larger slice of the pie.
“Our growth has been achieved through helping our customers gain market share in this economy,” adds Herbst.