Are there really reasons to be merry this holiday season? If you’re a worker at certain Pella, Milgard, Schield Family Brands, Andersen, Jeld-Wen, or Champion Window plants, to name a few, you may not be in the holiday spirit. All of these companies have closed plants in the last three months, putting many employees out of work. Is it the fault of these companies, though? Not according to the experts, who say there is excess capacity that must be shed and leaders at these organizations are making some hard decisions.

If you’re a worker at Marvin Windows and Doors you may be thankful you have a job as the window manufacturer is one of the few who has refused to lay off workers. Instead they have stopped bonuses and other perks for workers—but employees here are likely thankful to still be employed.

 So the bright spots may not be large, and they by no means offset these job losses, but at a time when the industry at large may need some positive factors to hang their holiday hats on here are a few—many of these stories are highlighted in today’s newsletter or in recent weeks. You may look at them and, at first, scoff, but a positive is a positive, and at a time when these are sorely needed, here’s hoping this helps lift some spirits.

North Dakota is building. Look to a future newsletter for an interview with a window company in North Dakota who is expanding with much success. If you sell in this area, or can expand here, take a look at the opportunities.

Some window retailers are expanding. The November-December issue of DWM highlights the expansion of Power Home Remodeling Group based in Delaware and today’s newsletter highlights a New Jersey-based retailer who is expanding its reach along the East Coast.

Housing stats are moving up. Granted they aren’t moving up by much but they are going in the right direction. October numbers showed an increase in builder confidence and single-family housing starts and permits. The Multifamily Production Index (MPI) showed continued improvement for the fifth consecutive quarter for the apartment and condominium housing market.

Some struggling markets may be improving; for example, building permits are up in Florida. The Florida Building Material Association reports that through October 2011 Florida building permits totals exceed those of 2010.

SFI is on the road to recognition. If you are in the wood industry, you may pleased to learn that Maine’s governor just issued an executive order to recognize Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification for green programs in Maine. Will this be the beginning of SFI recognition in other programs such as LEED? Only time will tell.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. Peruse the DWM magazine website and our print issues and you will find more nuggets of new store openings among the closings. If you look hard enough you will find opportunities, but it is up to you what you do and how you act on these.

On that note I had just finished this blog when I received an email from a supplier who detailed its zero failures wood education seminar for its customers. It occurred to me—it doesn’t matter what product you sell, a window sealant, a piece of hardware, or if you are a manufacturer who supplies product to a retailer—it is imperative to provide meaningful information to that customer. Kudos to this supplier, which does just that. Who wouldn’t want to learn how to “achieve zero failures?” The seminar tells participants “how to increase their revenue and credibility as they decrease failures in the field.” Again, what a great way to provide value to the customer.

So on that note I will say Merry Christmas—yes, Merry Christmas. If you wonder why I use those words today, check out this interesting article I stumbled upon yesterday. The editor of one of our sister publications, AGRR™, which covers the auto glass industry, sent it to me. As you’ll see, the article profiles one auto glass installer who has opted to buck the trend and go back to the meaning of Christmas.

Merry Christmas—and a Happy New Year to all of our readers.

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