What’s News July/August 2020

July 22nd, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

Leading News

Closings and Openings Balance Across May and June

As three companies announced they were closing their doors in recent months due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, announcements for an equal number of expansions and openings remind the industry that business conditions are subjective—especially amid a pandemic.

In late May, officials for Weather King Windows and Doors in Farmington, Mich., said that following a temporary closing from March 24 through May 15, 2020, the company would close its doors permanently. After returning with a limited number of employees to fill final orders, “I don’t believe the market will come back through summer and fall for us to make it through the end of the year,” said Matthew Ball, general manager, adding that the company “had a few rough years recently.” A temporary shutdown amid COVID-19 “was the final nail in the coffin,” he said.

In late May, Poma Glass and Specialty Windows Inc. announced that it would begin to lay off a total of 57 employees starting July 25, 2020, as the company closes its operations in Boardman, Ohio. The affected location is one of seven plants operated by AGC Glass North America.

Finally, in mid-June, Monarch Windows and Doors closed its location in Anniston, Ala., displacing 64 employees.

While no measure of good news can temper closings for the businesses and individuals affected, expansions by three additional companies wave a flag for others that, amid fallout from COVID-19, there is positive movement elsewhere in the industry.

In late May, officials for Quaker Windows and Doors announced that the company opened its new plant in Eldon, Mo., expanding the commercial door and window division’s manufacturing capacity. Training for new employees took place ahead of the opening at the company’s Freeburg, Mo., location. In mid-June, two other companies, 84 Lumber and Glass Guru, both announced new operations. Officials at 84 Lumber reported that after following through on a new door shop in March, the Greenville, S.C.-based location is now serving customers. The new 58,000-square-foot facility currently operates an interior door line, with plans to open an exterior door line in July, as well as a second interior line in the future. The location currently has 10 employees but aims to make additional hires.

Lastly, in mid-June officials for The Glass Guru franchise announced a new location in Tyler, Texas. Owners Gary and LeeAnn Kirkindoll mark the state’s eleventh location.

Kudos

Crystal Windows Celebrates 30 Years

On May 15, Crystal Window and Door Systems marked its 30th anniversary. The company was founded by Thomas Chen, who immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan. It now employs more than 725 workers and expanded from its original small commercial space in Queens, New York City, to five major production facilities across the country. With factories in New York, California, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Illinois, Crystal’s manufacturing footprint totals almost 1 million square feet.

In recognition of the company’s growth and its contribution to the regional economy, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio presented certificates marking the occasion.

[DWM] Wins Editorial Awards

Door and Window Market [DWM] magazine was honored with several awards this year by the Association of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) for its AZBEE Awards, recognizing editorial excellence across a variety of media categories—including two bronze and one gold award for design and videos.

[DWM] editor Drew Vass and video producer Chris Bunn received Gold regional and national awards in the category of webcast series for the magazine’s coverage of the 2019 International Builders’ Show.

The magazine also won design awards for two of its 2019 covers. For the category of front cover, photo illustration, art director Saundra Hutchison received the Bronze award for “Left Standing,” displayed on the December-February 2019 edition. The magazine also won a Bronze award for “Machine Learning,” the front cover photo on the September 2019 edition, designed by managing editor/art director Dawn Campbell. Editor Drew Vass collaborated on both cover concepts.

Key Media & Research (KMR), parent company to [DWM], received four additional awards for its publications, USGlass magazine, WINDOW FILM magazine and Auto Glass Repair and Replacement magazine, while assistant editor Jordan Scott, was honored as an outstanding young leader.

“I am so proud of all of our awards, which recognize all of our editors and publications,” said Tara Taffera, [DWM] publisher. “I am especially proud to receive a record number of design awards and a Gold for our video.”

Woodcraft Industries’ Ohio Locations Earn Safety Awards

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation recently recognized Woodcraft Industries, a Quanex Building Products company, for safety records at the company’s Middlefield and Orwell, Ohio, locations.

In total, the locations and their employees earned four awards:
• Multi-Award – consisting of 100% and Achievement awards;
• 100% Award – for going an entire year without a workplace injury or illness resulting in a day away from work;
• Achievement Award – given to employers that decrease incident rates by at least 25% from the previous year; and
• Special Award – for employers that accumulate at least 500,000 hours and at least six months without a workplace injury or illness resulting in a day away from work.

The awards were presented by the Geauga County Safety Council. The St. Cloud, Minn.- based company was opened in 1945 and acquired by Quanex in 2015.

COVID-19

OSHA Adopts Revised Enforcement Policies

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revised its policies for enforcing COVID-19 requirements, including an Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan. Effective May 26, 2020, the administration increased in-person inspections at all workplaces. New enforcement guidance reflects changing circumstances in which many non-critical businesses have begun to reopen in areas of lower community spread, officials said.

“As more states are taking steps to re-open their economies and workers are returning to their workplaces, OSHA is receiving complaints from affected workers in non-essential businesses,” a portion of OSHA’s statement reads.

The administration also revised its previous enforcement policy for recording COVID-19 cases. Under recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness and employers are responsible for recording cases if:
• An illness is confirmed as a COVID-19 case;
• A case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and
• Involves one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7.

Under the new policy and until further notice, OSHA will enforce the record-keeping requirements of 29 CFR 1904 for employee COVID-19 illnesses for all employers. OSHA’s guidance emphasizes employers must make reasonable efforts, based on the evidence available to the employer, to determine whether a particular COVID-19 case is work-related.

Recording a COVID-19 illness does not mean the employer violated any OSHA standard and, according to current regulations, employers with 10 or fewer employees and certain employers in low-hazard industries have no recording obligations; they need only report COVID-19 work-related illnesses that result in a fatality or an employee’s in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.

PPPFA Loosens Requirements for Businesses

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPPFA) became law on June 5. Geared toward small businesses that qualified for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the new law addresses several points in the original PPP, which was created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. First, borrowers now have more time to spend loan proceeds. Before the PPPFA, spending had to occur within eight weeks of receiving loan proceeds; now borrowers have 24 weeks after origination, or through December 31, 2020.

Under PPPFA, the amount of loan proceeds that must be spent on payroll costs in order to qualify for forgiveness has also been reduced from 75% to 60%, allowing more headroom for other expenses (such as rent, utility payments and mortgage interest).

At the same time, the new Act lengthens loan maturity dates from two to five years, while also creating a safe harbor for businesses that make a good-faith effort to hire or re-hire qualified employees.

Positive Notes

Quanex Foundation Makes $500,000 Donation

Quanex Foundation recently donated a total of $500,000 to aid in pandemic relief. The foundation has existed for nearly 50 years now, with a mission of giving back to communities in which Quanex operates. Individual donations, ranging from $7,500 to $15,000, were delivered by plant managers to 40 local charities in early May, including food pantries, shelters and first responders.

Lamatek Manufacturing Foam for Face Shields

Officials for Lamatek Inc. announced that their company now manufactures adhesive-backed foam strips for brow liners on personal protective equipment (PPE) face shields. The company began producing strips in March and by mid-April had already supplied enough foam to make more than 3,000,000 protective face shields. The company reports that its team of employees has worked to accommodate as many requests as possible as needs increase.

Legal

Masonite and Jeld-Wen Argue Against Big Boxes in Class Action Suit

In an ongoing lawsuit against them, door manufacturers Masonite Corp. and Jeld-Wen Inc. filed a Memorandum of Opposition recently, arguing that the case shouldn’t be allowed to achieve class certification with retail giants The Home Depot and Lowe’s listed as members. The suit was fi led in 2018, alleging that Jeld-Wen and Masonite conspired to fi x prices. In a court-provided copy of the memo, defendants argue that wholesale purchasers (plaintiffs) “cannot include two multi-billion-dollar retail enterprises,” on the grounds that plaintiffs “must prove that the entire class suffered the same injury.” The two big box retailers accounted for 41% of the defendants’ sales for interior molded doors between 2010 and 2018, the memo states. Meanwhile, the named plaintiffs are wholesalers, which defendants suggest are “smaller, regional resellers that primarily serve a different set of customers and have very different price negotiations.”

Ongoing Jeld-Wen Lawsuits Show Rare Signs of Agreement

As legal battles between Jeld-Wen Inc. (Jeld-Wen) and Steves and Sons Inc. (Steves) carry on, rare moves between the two companies show signs of agreement. Steves announced that it was withdrawing a motion that previously accused Jeld-Wen of continuing to impose overcharges, even after it was hit with ruling for $185 million in trebled damages from a prior antitrust ruling. Meanwhile, according to court documents, both parties advised the Court that they have settled and resolved the issues underlying a motion by Steves for further relief. Court documents called for a stipulation of dismissal by June 18, 2020.

A Court order also granted the unopposed motion to refund a $1 million cash bond posted by Steves. According to the order, the money will be refunded.

Associations Breathe a Sigh Following D.C. Circuit Court Decision Over OSHA/COVID-19

Officials for two industry associations chimed in with sharp approval recently, after a recent decision by D.C. Circuit Court affirmed that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) comprehensive response to COVID-19 eliminates the need for an emergency temporary standard for infectious diseases. The decision stems from a lawsuit issued by American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). In a joint statement issued by Associated Builders and Contractors vice president of Health, Safety, Environment and Workforce Development, Greg Sizemore, and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) CEO, Jerry Howard, both applauded the decision. “The government is learning new information about COVID-19 and how best to mitigate related hazards on an almost daily and sometimes even hourly basis, which is why a static, intransigent rule would not be an appropriate response,” the joint statement said.

Both organizations reported that they’re instead working to identify and implement new protocols on jobsites to protect construction employees amid the outbreak.

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