What’s News March 2019July 14th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs
Legal Sparring Continues Between Steves & Sons and Jeld-Wen
A lengthy legal battle between door manufacturers Jeld-Wen and Steves and Sons Inc. looked to end in December 2018, yet sparring continued in recent months over the potential delays of a retrial. The initial trial-by-jury ruling, upheld by a federal judge, required Jeld-Wen to divest its Towanda, Pa.-based manufacturing plant, in order to restore competition to the market for door skins. But unless that process happens in a timely manner, officials for Steves and Sons now say their company could have the ultimate price to pay for it: closure. A memorandum of opposition was filed January 30, in which officials for Steves urged the court to move forward as quickly as possible with the actions required by judgment. In a separate filing, the company also objected to Jeld-Wen’s motion for a new trial.
“The Court has already found that, absent an equitable remedy, Steves will suffer irreparable injury in the form of the loss of its business once the long term supply agreement with Jeld-Wen expires in September 2021,” officials for Steves suggest. “Jeld-Wen’s ‘understanding’ that the final judgment is designed to allow Jeld-Wen, through its appeal, to run out the clock on Steves and thereby bring about the precise irreparable harm that the final judgment seeks to avoid is nonsensical,” they farther allege.
In a response filed January 30, 2019, officials for Steves and Sons urged the court to move forward with the actions required by its final judgment, appealing for prompt appointment of a Special Master to supervise Jeld-Wen’s management of its Towanda plant through appeal and until final divestiture. The Court did so February 11, appointing the Honorable Lawrence F. Stengel, retired Chief Judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Vista Employees Cry Foul Over Company’s Claims
You’re [darned] if you do and [darned] if you don’t. That’s more or less the argument officials for Vista Window Company made for why they left the company’s employees hanging like empty stockings over the holidays—without pay or prior notice of its closure. While keeping its employees in the dark took away any chances they had for getting an early jump on unemployment and job hunting, officials claim that revealing its status may have impacted any final hopes for securing new capital or business. That sentiment is now being challenged by a class action lawsuit.
“You don’t make a decision like this over the weekend,” alleges Michael Anderson, one of the company’s transport drivers. Over the course of his 10-½ years with Vista, Anderson says he’d deliver around 250 products per shipment, while averaging around 50 hours of work per week. In 2018, however, suddenly his hours were cut back to 25-30 per week, as his truck often left the plant with only 25-30 products in it. In September 2018, he left Vista to seek new employment. In November, it appeared that the company’s fate had made a U-turn, Anderson says, when he was called
back to work and informed that he’d be given 40 hours per week and a raise. Those changes, Anderson alleges, were a calculated message of false hope, and one that some of Anderson’s prior workmates are now challenging as unlawful.
Enacted in 1988, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) requires companies employing more than 100 workers to provide a minimum of 60 days advanced notice of any plant closing affecting 50 or more. But when DWM obtained a copy of the Employment and Training Administration’s guidelines for WARN, we found there are loopholes for those requirements, including, “When, before a plant closing, a company is actively seeking capital or business and reasonably in good faith believes that advance notice would preclude its ability to obtain such capital or business, and this new capital or business would allow the employer to avoid or postpone a shutdown for a reasonable period.” Verbiage in Vista’s statement to the Ohio Office of Workforce Development echoed those terms practically verbatim. According to local news sources, Columbus Attorney Ken Cookson is assisting prior Vista employees in challenging those claims, filing a lawsuit in late January that seeks 60 days’ pay and benefits for workers who became unemployed when the company closed its doors without warning on January 14.
IGMA/AAMA Say Combo Isn’t a Done Deal
After announcing a possible combination between the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) and the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) in August 2018, officials for IGMA announced in February the decision to move forward with such an arrangement is not yet settled.
Discussions resumed amid IGMA’s Winter Conference, at which IGMA executive director Margaret Webb and AAMA executive vice president Janice Yglesias went over the proposed structure of the groupings and task groups for a combined organization—both encouraging members to voice their opinions.
The two associations will hold a joint meeting in June, where they will allow members to experience how the other works, before holding a final vote in July. Meanwhile, “It’s not a done deal,” Webb said of the potential combo. “This is a membership decision by both organizations. If one votes for it but the other doesn’t, it’s over.”
Pella Expands Bonelli With East Coast Facility
Officials for Pella tell DWM that their company is closing in on plans to expand Bonelli Enterprises, a San Francisco-based subsidiary that produces high-end and impact-rated doors and windows, with a new East Coast-based facility that’s slated to launch in spring 2020.
In December 2018, Pella announced that it was expanding the operations for Bonelli from the West Coast to Jacksonville, Fla. In the past the brand’s focus has remained on the custom market in and around San Francisco. Through a $7 million expansion that includes a 72,000-plus-square-foot manufacturing facility, Pella aims to extend Bonelli’s reach to the southeast. Officials say there are currently no plans for the new Jacksonville-based facility to produce any Pella brand products.
Quanex Combines Three Units Into Newly-Formed Business
Officials for Quanex Building Products confirmed with DWM magazine in late January that the company has consolidated three of its business units, resulting in the elimination of “some positions.” According to an official statement, the company’s Mikron, Homeshield and IG Systems segments have now been combined into a single unit, dubbed North American Fenestration (NAF). Bob Daniels, former president of Quanex IG Systems, now serves as president of the newly-formed NAF. When asked about the status of former leadership for other consolidated units, company officials failed to comment.
MERGERS AND EXPANSIONS
2019 Begins with M&As
From diets to personal resolutions, New Years is a time of promise and renewal. In the first days of 2019, fenestration-related companies proved they aren’t afraid to fatten up with new product lines and acquisitions. On January 2, three door and window companies announced new partnerships and/or acquisitions, including American Insulated Glass, The Marvin Companies and OrePac Building Products. In each of those cases, company officials say there will be new product lines and/or some departure from current offerings.
American Insulated Glass (AIG) acquired fellow insulating glass company Great Lakes Glass Distributors (GLGD), marking its second acquisition since fourth-quarter 2018, including Innovative Glass of America (IGA) in November. IGA is a Dallas, N.C.-based glass fabricator and distributor. In August 2018, AIG also opened a new facility in Birmingham, Ala., giving it a total of five locations. With GLGD, AIG picks up not only distribution for products made by Southeastern Shower Doors, but also additional options in fire-rated glazing.
Also on January 2, Wilsonville, Ore.-based OrePac Building Products entered into a distribution partnership with Grants Pass, Ore.-based Rogue Valley Door. OrePac officials say the move adds “exceptional, handcrafted products,” to the company’s line up. Last, but not least, The Marvin Companies (parent to Marvin Windows and Doors) acquired the assets of Delray Beach, Fla.-based SIW Windows and Doors. While officials for Marvin tell DWM that the SIW brand will continue to operate as SIW Windows and Doors, and there will be no changes to the company’s current sales and distribution operations, in a subsequent press release, officials suggested that Marvin is using the acquisition to launch a “new business venture.”
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