What’s News March 2020

July 21st, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

Manufacturers

ProVia and Western Window Systems Aim for More Remodeling

As the latest remodeling index and markets for energy retrofits show signs for picking up steam (see the related statistics on page 48), two door and window manufacturers are spreading their odds in hopes of tapping into new segments.

Heading into the new year, Western Window Systems (part of the PGT Innovations family of brands), announced a new remodeling division called Skye Walls. Chet Willis, vice president of production and sales, says the initiative includes energy-efficient moving glass walls aimed at remodeling projects for indoor-outdoor living.

Meanwhile, officials for ProVia started the year with an even bigger departure: After a brief test run, the company has officially entered the roofing sector with metal products designed to mimic the looks of slate and cedar shakes. According to the company, its new line is designed especially for replacement and can in some cases even be installed over existing shingles.

Officials for ProVia report that the company spent roughly 4-1/2 years developing its new roofing products. After making a “quiet launch” in June 2019, starting in 2020 the company entered an all-out launch, and plans to sell and provide installation through existing door and window dealers.

With a mission statement that calls for becoming a “premier building products manufacturer,” the company has always been focused on full residential exteriors, says Joe Klink, marketing director. “For a number of years, we have been thinking about adding to our portfolio of products to hopefully complete the exterior needs of homes,” he says. “Many of those additions have been about seizing opportunity. Roofing was a natural extension.”

Why did the company opt to go the route of metal roofing over more prominent asphalt shingles? The latter fails to represent ProVia’s existing niche, Klink suggests. “We aren’t looking to have our product in every new construction project across the U.S.,” he explains. “We’re looking to provide a more upscale option for remodeling applications.”

Meanwhile, the choice to replicate the look of other materials isn’t a far stretch from its Legacy Woodgrain Textured Steel entry doors, but it does require a different set of logistics, Klink says—both in how it’s installed and how it’s brought to market. For this reason, the company has installed a separate sales staff and distribution processes for roofing, as well as requires dealers to participate in onsite training to become certified in installation.

Palmer-Donavin: announced that, as of January 1, 2020, its Seal-Rite Door Division is now part of the overall Palmer-Donavin brand, relabeled as Palmer-Donavin Door Division. In 2013 the Midwest-based building materials distributor and door fabricator acquired Seal-Rite, a fabricator and distributor of custom Therma-Tru doors, but until recently maintained the 40-year-old company’s brand identity.

“Moving forward, we will operate as two divisions: Palmer-Donavin Building Materials Division and Palmer-Donavin Door Division,” explains Matt Kaufman, vice president of the door division. “With both divisions under one name, we can more effictively drive efficiencies and innovation with the goal of making it easier to do business.”

These changes have prompted the company to rebrand Palmer-Donavin corporation as well. Starting January 1, the company has a new logo, and both divisions will be represented on a unified website.

Acquisitions and Expansions

Powell Valley Millwork: recently announced the acquisition of Matrie Poplar manufacturing in Jeffersonville, Ky. The newly acquired 125,000-square-foot facility is located 30 minutes east of Lexington, Ken. The business will operate both facilities under the Powell Valley name.

Morrowstar Glass Machinery Inc.: the manufacturer of insulating glass equipment based in Beijing, China, announced that it now has a location in Arcadia, Calif.

Strybuc Industries: the distributor opened an additional warehouse to service its West Coast customers. With the addition of a new distribution center in Reno, Nev., officials say the company is now able to provide one- to two-day delivery to most locations across the U.S.

American Insulated Glass (AIG): the Atlanta-based glass fabricator and wholesale distributor for both commercial and residential markets, has acquired A.L. Smith Glass Company in Maryland. This marks the company’s fourth acquisition in less than two years. A.L. Smith Glass was founded by Alton and Joyce Smith, serving the glass and glazing industry for nearly 50 years.

Glass Guru: opened a new franchise location in Clarksville, Tenn. The new location is owned by Todd and Kristi King—a husband and wife team. Todd is currently the owner of a home inspection business, which he continues to operate. Kristi holds a degree in early childhood education and has spent her career as an educator. She will be the primary driver for the new franchise location going forward, the couple said.

Bankruptcies and Closings

Semco Windows and Doors: abruptly closed its doors in January, displacing 141 workers. But already there is hope for some of those jobs returning, as on February 18, Sierra Pacific Windows announced it has reached an agreement to acquire Semco’s assets.

Patrick L. Semling, Semco’s president, sent a letter to all employees, announcing that the company would permanently close its plant in Merrill, Wis., cancelling a plan to reopen January 6.

“Because of lack of orders, the inability to obtain further financing, insufficient cash, and the inability to sell the company as a going concern, we are unable to continue the operation of the business,” said Semling, adding that the company had been unsuccessful in its pursuit of additional financing.

“We in the office knew cash flow was an issue, but nothing this drastic,” said former customer service representative Amy Rajek, who had been with the company for over three years.

A docket of financial annual report filings by Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions reveals that Semco was on a financial rollercoaster since the 1980s.

Sierra Pacific, which already has operations in Merrill, agreed to acquire Semco’s 275,000-square-foot, main manufacturing facility, along with all production equipment.

While Semco was known for its wood and wood clad windows, officials for Sierra Pacific say it won’t be manufacturing those products.

Roland Boulanger and Cie ltee: a Canadian wood mouldings and components manufacturer, has filed for bankruptcy. According to a filing posted to the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy for Canada’s website the total number of assets and the total number of liabilities of the company both amount to $0. While the company’s website is still functional and operates as though business is normal, several phone calls from [DWM] went straight to voicemail and officials failed to provide comment after numerous requests.

84 Lumber: has made numerous closings over the past few months, some with barely any notice, according to local news sources. WBOY reported the closure of a Fairmont, W.Va.-based location, explaining that a sign had been left on its doors. Another closure in Baldwinsville, N.Y., was reported by Syracuse.com. The company also consolidated several locations in Richmond, Va., into one 92,000-square-foot facility.

“We are always evaluating our stores and in order to increase efficiency, we have decided to consolidate a few locations into existing stores in the market,” Amy Smiley, vice president of marketing, told [DWM].

Legal

Pella Corp. Slapped With $9 Million Lawsuit

Pella Corp. was recently pulled into a lawsuit by one of its previous dealers, alleging that the manufacturer “coerced” the company into selling its Maryland-based stores, resulting in a sale that officials allege was for less than market value.

Independent Pella dealer and showroom K.C. Company (K.C.) filed a complaint January 24, alleging that the manufacturer, “decided that it wanted to replace [K.C.]… but rather than leave a highly successful competitor distribution system in place, Pella wanted to coerce [K.C.] to the system.”

The background, as presented by the plaintiff, states that Pella approached the company in or around 2016 informing officials that they would have to choose between splitting its operations in the Washington, D.C. area, in order to create a new independent dealer, or sell the location to a qualified recipient. Pella threatened to terminate K.C. if it refused either option, alleges the complaint.

After discussing Pella’s requirements for a “qualified purchaser” and several months of seeking a candidate, K.C. submitted its top choice, which was a company offering $29 million, the complaint says. Pella dismissed that candidate within one day of submission, the complaint says.

In early 2018, Pella presented its own candidate, Pella Mid-Atlantic, the plaintiff claims—a corporation formed with the specific purpose of purchasing K.C. The selected candidate offered $20 million and was unable to fund the purchase price without financial assistance from Pella, alleges the plaintiff. K.C. further alleges that when officials attempted to negotiate for higher prices among other buyers, Pella, once again, threatened termination.

K.C. is suing for $9 million in damages, which officials claim it lost when Pella allegedly breached its contract, committing what the plaintiff labels “fraudulent inducement.”

By press time, neither side had responded to [DWM]’s requests for comment.

Dismissal Opposed in Lawsuit Against Jeld-Wen and Masonite

In the most recent development of a class action lawsuit between door manufacturers Jeld-Wen and Masonite (defendants) and interior door buyers (plaintiffs), plaintiffs voluntarily dropped two state law claims previously added against the defendants, while arguing that a recent partial motion to dismiss should be denied entirely.

In a memorandum response to Jeld-Wen and Masonite’s motion to dismiss several of the indirect purchaser plaintiff’s (IPP) claims against them, plaintiffs urged federal Virginia Judge John A. Gibney Jr. to deny the dismissal entirely, but backed off of two previous claims invoking laws in Virginia and Kansas.

On December 16, 2019, Jeld-Wen and Masonite filed a motion to dismiss state law claims in New Hampshire, Utah, Virginia, Maine, several consumer protection claims brought by corporate plaintiffs, and “damages claims of newly added plaintiffs outside the relevant limitations periods…,” the defendants suggested.

Complaints against Jeld-Wen and Masonite for conspiracy to price-fix were first filed in 2018 by several direct and indirect purchasers.

Representatives for both Masonite and Jeld-Wen failed to respond to [DWM]’s requests for comment.

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