What’s News July/August 2019

July 15th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

Events

FeneTech Asks Users for Improvements, Suggestions at Annual Conference

When customers of FeneTech Inc. arrive to its Annual User Conference, they show up with plenty of suggestions. And that’s just the way that president and CEO Ron Crowl planned it. Crowl says his aim was to create an open community around FeneTech’s software—one from which his employees draw ideas for improvement. Clearly, he’s onto something, as the conference began in 2003 with 17 attendees, but now has that many or more packed into individual break-out sessions.

“Is it possible to do grid alignment between line items?” asked one attendee in a session about grid configuration within window systems.

“We’ve had that request a lot as well,” echoed another, before the room entered into a collaborative conversation.

“Not currently,” answered an employee. “But I’ll tell you what, I’m making a note about this,” he concluded, reaching for a pen.

The company is transparent about its info-gathering processes amid the conference and attendees told [DWM] that they attend to do a bit of their own investigating.

“You can ask [other] users how to solve specific problems,” said James Harrowitz, of Interstate Windows and Doors. “In fact, I just did this in the last session.”

One of the event’s key announcements included the winners of a Corn Hole tournament, with first place going to Crowl (the company’s CEO) and his teammate, Brandon Crea of 310 Tempering in Jeffersontown, Ky. Crowl’s victory over his customers and employees might have aroused suspicion, had he not proven his skills the night before in a very convincing fashion.

Associations Find Progress in Collaboration

In June, two of the industry’s biggest associations— the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) and Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA)— sought to further collaboration among their members, while testing the notion for a combined organization. IGMA and AAMA’s Joint Summer Conference struck a hard-working tone that centered on regulatory affairs and codes in both the U.S. and Canada—a topic that’s culminated in increased collaboration recently, including with another association: the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA).

AAMA codes and regulatory affairs manager Kathy Krafka Harkema led an update at the event, including a joint code report with insights into the recent International Code Council (ICC) committee action hearings in Albuquerque, N.M.

“We made an effort to work together as an industry to make sure we were on the same page and that our votes weren’t canceled out,” Krafka Harkema said. That sentiment was echoed by officials for WDMA, who describe the hearings as a “year of alignment.”

Manufacturers

Masonite: president and CEO Fred Lynch suggested during the company’s first-quarter earnings call in May that a downward trend in the size of new homes is impacting his company. A recent survey conducted by Home Innovation Research Labs, an independent subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders, suggests Lynch might be onto something, showing that the average size of American homes is decreasing. Masonite’s research places the average number of interior doors per home at around 19, Lynch said, while his company assumed 21 doors in the past for midsize homes. As a result, the company will continue to shift its mix toward higher average unit prices (AUP), he explained.

In April, the company suffered another setback when a fire occurred at its cut-stock components facility in Stockton, Calif. As a result, the company has closed operations with no plans to reopen. Masonite officials previously reported that the company is aiming for a 10% cutback to manufacturing.

Sierra Pacific Windows: named Fargo Glass and Paint Co. of Fargo, N.D., a distributor-of-record. Under the terms of the agreement, Fargo Glass and Paint will represent Sierra Pacific’s full line of residential and light commercial products and services to dealers, builders, remodelers, architects and homeowners throughout the Dakotas and surrounding areas.

Marvin: made a move in April that company officials said was designed to simplify the product discovery and exploration process for consumers. The company, formerly known as Marvin Windows and Doors, announced that it would simply be known as Marvin going forward—including its Integrity Windows and Doors brand. Changes did not affect manufacturing, distribution or any other matters of business, company officials told [DWM], but a consolidation and reorganization of product portfolios resulted. Going forward, the company’s products will be sorted into three collections: Signature (including products previously known as Marvin Contemporary Studio, as well as the existing Marvin Ultimate and Marvin Modern lines), Elevate (products previously known as Integrity Wood-Ultrex) and Essential (products previously known as Integrity All-Ultrex).

Milestones

Technoform: Is celebrating its 50th year in business. Founded in 1969 and based in Kassel, Germany, the company now has more than 1,400 associates in 45 production and distribution centers across five continents.

Wallside Windows: is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The Taylor, Mich.-based manufacturer and dealer is also celebrating the addition of Adam Blanck, son of Stanford Blanck, co-owner, and a third-generation worker. In 2014, Adam joined his family’s company after careers in politics and law, now serving as chief of staff. His background in business and law has allowed him to think strategically about how to “become the best window company not only now, but for the next generation,” he said.

Roto Frank of America: celebrated its 40th anniversary in May by hosting state and national leaders for a luncheon. The event was held in Chester, Conn., where the door and window hardware manufacturer was founded in in 1979. Roto Frank of America is a subsidiary of Germany-owned Roto Frank AG, which has 18 production plants and more than 40 subsidiaries globally. “Endurance isn’t easy and meaningful endurance is even harder,” Roto Frank of America president and CEO, Chris Dimou said during his keynote speech. “For an organization to endure for 40 years, and to be as relevant today as it was at the founding, is quite an accomplishment. But what matters most now is what we do next. We have to, and will continue to, relentlessly pursue what has made us successful in the first place: To create superior customer value.

Acquisitions

In May: Great Day Improvements LLC announced the acquisition of Hartshorn Custom Contracting Inc., a custom manufacturer and installer of screen enclosures. Hartshorn custom designs and manufactures its products in Tampa, Fla. Officials for Great Day said it will continue to custom manufacture patio enclosures and windows at its existing facility in Macedonia, Ohio.

In June: president of Novatech Group, Harold Savard, and Ron Lewkowitz, president of RSL, announced that RSL has joined Novatech as a subsidiary. RSL will retain its name, while offering entry doors, an expanded selection of doorglass, and sliding patio doors. Lewkowitz will manage the new company in New Jersey and remain one of its shareholders.

Also in June: Homewood Holdings LLC, a portfolio company of Building Industry Partners LLC, announced the acquisition of The Door Mill Inc. and Valley View Window and Door LLC—collectively known as TDM. Officials for TDM say it is one of Phoenix’s largest distributors of residential doors, molding, trim, hardware and windows. Previous owners Kelly Slade and Joel Lacy will remain as president and vice president of TDM, respectively.

Expansions

Inline Fiberglass: will expand its product line up to include fiberglass doors. (The Ontario, Canada-based company has focused primarily on fiberglass windows since its founding in the 1970s.) chief operating officer Bernard Rokicki says its new doors will be manufactured out of the company’s primary facility, while production of some existing products will transfer to a secondary facility. An official launch took place June 15.

Renewal by Andersen (a subsidiary of Andersen Corp.): announced in June an expansion to add more than 350,000 square feet and 125 new jobs to its existing manufacturing operation in Cottage Grove, Minn. The three-year plan includes the potential for yet another expansion in the near future, officials said. According to city documents, the investment will total more than an estimated $25 million.

Pella Corp.: selected Reidsville, N.C., to house a new vinyl door and window manufacturing operation. The company is expected to invest $20 million into the project, which will create around 124 jobs. Over the next 12 years, the operation is projected to grow the state’s economy by $247 million.

Technoform: doubled the size of its warehouse operations in Twinsburg, Ohio, while also adding new equipment to increase the capacity of its finishing and customization services. The additional square footage includes a new shipping dock and a new, larger staging area for more efficient shipment operations, officials said. The expansion also houses a new semi-automatic wrapping station and provides new space for returnable rack storage, according to an announcement in April.

Legal

Okna Windows Corp.: was recently ordered to pay $10,000 in punitive damages to former employee Jana Ratzenbeck, following a civil discrimination trial held in Pennsylvania this past April. Ratzenback says damages stem from violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1991, as well as the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. According to a complaint filed October 2017 by the plaintiff’s counsel, Ratzenbeck alleges she underwent demotion and termination based on her sex and pregnancy, and/or those actions “were retaliatory based on her need for maternity leave and/or complaints of sex/pregnancy discrimination.” Officials from Okna failed to respond to a request for comment.

Safety

Window Designs Ltd. Fined Over Death of Worker

Nearly two years after the death of a worker at Window Designs Ltd.’s North York, Toronto-based location, the Ministry of Labour for Ontario, Canada, issued a $165,000 CAN ($122,619 U.S.) fi ne to the company in April. The penalty comes after an investigation and a guilty plea for “failing as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by section 24 of Regulation 851 were carried out in a workplace, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.”

The event occurred on July 18, 2017, when a worker was killed after entering a barrier enclosure to troubleshoot machinery. The machine had not been properly locked down and disabled a Ministry of Labour report said. According to the report, when problems arose with a machine used for welding, fabricating and corner cleaning, the worker was summoned. As the machine sat idle, the worker entered a fenced enclosure through an access gate, then asked the machine’s operator to place it into operation in order to advance a window unit through the unit’s feed, the report explained. As the worker applied oil to parts of the machine, the machine’s transfer arms cycled, crushing the worker against its frame, resulting in the fatal injury.

Among the related issues discovered by Ministry of Labour investigators were disconnected interlocks, designed to shut down the operation of the involved machine upon the opening of access gates for entry. The gate that was used at the time of the incident was “always open,” the report said, and, at the time of the accident, was “tied back with plastic.” Section 24 of Regulation 851, the Industrial Establishments Regulation, states that “where a machine or prime mover or transmission equipment has an exposed moving part that may endanger the safety of any worker, the machine or prime mover or transmission equipment
shall be equipped with and guarded by a guard or other device that prevents access to the moving part.” Under the circumstances, regulations also require that a machine’s power source be disengaged and locked out, but the machine’s power was left engaged.

In a statement provided to [DWM], Philip Spatafora, owner and president of Vinyl Window Designs, said, “Our number one priority is to provide a safe workplace. The tragic loss of one of our employees as a result of a workplace accident has saddened the company. Our thoughts and prayers have been with the family, friends and co-workers of the employee.” For over 25 years, his company has maintained an excellent health and safety record, Spatafora suggested.
“This accident brings to the forefront the importance of constant and diligent training, and enforcement of safety protocols. At no time can a company take this responsibility for granted.”

Kudos

84 Lumber: was named to Forbes’ list of America’s Best Large Employers of 2019. This is the third time the company has received such a designation, after being listed on Forbes’ Best Midsize Employers list in 2016 and 2017.

Newpro Home Improvement Solutions and Thompson Creek Window Company: both made Inc. magazine’s list of companies deemed “Best Workplaces” in the U.S. The list is based on the results from employee surveys about work environments. The publication asks employees to provide insights across 30 areas.

Centennial Windows and Doors: was the recipient of the Energy Star Canada 2019 Manufacturer of the Year award, given in recognition of companies that display market transformation and the ongoing advancement of the “Five A’s”: availability, awareness, accessibility, affordability and acceptability of energy-efficient products.

Window World Inc.: announced that for the 12th consecutive year its products earned Good Housekeeping Institute’s Good Housekeeping Seal. The recognition marks the second consecutive year its vinyl siding and Therma-Tru doors have received the designation.

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