The Department of Energy (DOE) hosted a strategy session yesterday which attracted many door and window manufacturers, as well as other interested parties, and served as a candid sharing of input regarding the DOE’s Volume Purchase Program (VPP) for Windows.

The intent of the session was to hear from vendors and manufacturers as to how the VPP could be improved. Participants were asked to “raise their hand” when they had a comment but the moderator also “called on” the manufacturers in attendance so all companies could offer their input.

Sean McDonald, Pacific Northwest National Labs (PNNL), served as the facilitator, and started with an overview of the program and stated that when phase two of the program listed pricing this definitely made an impact.

By exposing pricing we eclipsed some of those inquires, said Terry Mapes, PNNL, who reported that as a result there was a reduction in the number of inquiries.

When the group moved to discussion topics these included suggestions on how to improve the program and mechanisms to improve sales.

Participants in the session included both those who participate in the program and those who do not.

Eva Blanchard, Marvin Windows and Doors, stated that her company did not join phase one or phase two but is “looking into the program for the future.”

Another potential participant included Sneh Kumar, Traco, who, although his company does not participate, gave some input regarding future changes.

“I know you have been focusing on residential but we are wondering if you can expand this into commercial?”

The moderator put Mike Reed, Wincore Windows, on the spot and asked him, “what would cause you to jump in?”

“It’s a good program,” responded Reed , “But I don’t’ know if there is enough volume to create the need to bring our product in.”

Scott Channell, National Vinyl LLC, has participated since phase one and stated that although his company did not receive a lot of inquires he has experienced some indirect benefits.

“Even though there has not been direct sales, there have been indirect sales. Our customers now know what R-5 is and they are asking for it. They didn’t come from the website but we are still selling it and that I like.”

He suggested to the other manufacturers that they ask themselves a serious question: We all have to ask ourselves if we are selling more product? If we want to truly sell it then we will sell it and the vehicle of the R5 program is just one of the tools we use to do that.”

When the discussion turned to advancing sales, Steve Hart, Matthews Brothers, suggested working with the big box stores to promote R-5 windows, and the program.

Eric Holm, Windsor Windows and Doors, pointed out that when selling an R-5 window “you need to explain the benefit over a similar product in the market today.”

McDonald also asked participants, “What is the one thing that would make a difference for you in selling more of these windows?” Ray Garries, Jeld-Wen, requested that the DOE change the minimum order from 20 to 10.

The sessions served as a forum so there weren’t a lot of answers given out but now the DOE has some valuable feedback upon which to improve upon for future changes to the program.

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