With COVID-19 subsiding and in what could be described as a controlled remission, door and window companies report that they’re approaching a full return to business as usual.

“I would say that we are 75% of the way going back to pre-pandemic procedures,” says Jay Andreas, CEO of ASI Construction in Burr Ridge, Ill.

But when it comes to returning to pre-pandemic norms, some companies will never make it 100% of the way—not because they can’t, but because they don’t want to.

Mike Troutman, vice president of EHS Excellence at MI Windows and Doors says the pandemic forced his company to become more “agile and adaptable.”

Jon Hill of Keystone Certifications Inc., says, “We plan to work from home much more than [we] previously [did] because employees value it and have demonstrated they can deliver.”

Jeff Weaver, president of Clarkston Window and Door in Pontiac, Mich., says, “We significantly improved our inventory control and work-from-home capabilities. Now, all of our staff can see the status of all items on every order from any mobile device.”

Phone calls can be answered and transferred from anywhere, Weaver says. The end result includes better customer service, he adds.

More than half of door and window companies surveyed by [DWM] say the pandemic altered how they operate. Now, those measures help to define the industry’s “new normal.”

On the retail side, changes could be minimal. Most say that while they had to shift to remote selling, robust demand and designation as providers of essential products and services kept their businesses operating as usual.

“The restrictions haven’t affected us at all,” Andreas says. “We’ve been thriving during COVID-19.” But there is one area that Andreas and other dealers say has slowed significantly amid the pandemic: sourcing. There’s always been a wait for doors and windows, but never like this, he and other dealers tell [DWM].

As shutdowns began in early 2020, door and window manufacturers were forced to pause operations and cut back on staffing, creating slack in the supply chain. Over a year later, most are still behind. But with the roll-out of vaccinations and loosening of the requirements around social distancing across most states, they now have the ability to fit more people back into the workplace—if they can get them to return and become vaccinated. In the meantime, most companies, it seems, are caught in a sort of limbo.

“Right now, we are still required to wear masks unless seated and socially distant at our desks,” says Gina Lorenzetti, marketing communications specialist for Roto North America.

On May 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that fully vaccinated individuals no longer have to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors and out (except under certain circumstances).

Meanwhile, among the companies surveyed by [DWM]’s editors, the vast majority say they aren’t requiring employees to get vaccinated, but around half say they’re tracking who is and isn’t, so they can ensure that those who aren’t protected continue to take the recommended precautions.

For more insights into how companies are navigating a return to normal, watch for an article in [DWM]’s September issue.

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