Archive for the ‘WINDOWS & DOORS’ Category

The Ebb & Flow of The Window & Door Business

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

An interesting fact I’ve noticed over time at Martin Industries is what I like to call the ebb & flow of business. Basically, business isn’t constant. Sales & people’s expectations come & go depending on the season and several other factors.

Here in Montreal, the seasons play a large role in determining our busiest times of the year. It seems obvious that mid-winter is a slow time, while spring, summer & fall are generally busier. This seasonal pattern is also influenced by production times, which can make delivery at the times desired by clients vary.

The slowest time of year in terms of customer interest and sales is normally from January until early April. This is results in faster production times from the factories. Since they are not overloaded, products can be produced and shipped out as quickly as 3-5 weeks, leaving us with installation times as soon as 4-6 weeks. We are also able to do rush jobs easily since our schedules tend to be more open. February/March is therefore the ideal time to buy, as windows/doors will be produced quickly & factories often have promotions available at this time. In March, the weather has begun to improve and installation less problematic by the time the materials are ready. Most of our business at this time comes from General Contractors or Architects who are aware of these factors & are planning their large summer projects.

The spring and summer (Late April until End of July) are busier than the winter for both sales & installations. By now factories are running at full steam and production times tend to be in the 4-6 week range. Installation times become longer as the factories take longer and installations start to back up from an overload of work. Rush jobs are still a possibility, but they require special arrangements from the start and may still require more time than a standard delivery in the winter. There are also fewer promotions available since the factories are not lacking work.

Late Summer & Fall (August until the end of November) are by far the busiest times of the year. Production times for factories are at their longest (5-10 weeks, depending on the product) & installation times begin to back up under the volume. Later in the fall, weather factors can even begin to delay installation with the beginning of snowstorms & low temperatures. During these months it is difficult to arrange a rush job, requiring arrangements from the start with both the factories & our installers. Jobs sold as of mid-October may even have to be installed after the winter holidays (January). This is not a problem as installations are possible during the winter, weather permitting. There are very few promotions available at this time of year from the factories.

Sales of new jobs slow considerably in early December as they will need to be done in the new year. Factory production continues strongly at this time with the last sales from November. Installations are at their busiest as we try to get as many done before the winter.

The only other factors affecting sales & delivery times are the imponderables of the general economy, the government and social factors. When the economy is strong, sales go well & everyone is busy. Delivery times are usually not affected. If additional labour is necessary to preserve delivery & installation times, it is hired. The government can also play a role. A couple of years ago, with the Tax credits on renovations, during a recession, the window renovation industry had an excellent year. At the end of this governmental promotion, we had an unusually busy January as people tried to take advantage of it before the credit’s expiry. Social factors, like the end or beginning of the school year, summer camps or even holiday seasons (Passover/Easter) can lead to short 2-week lulls where business can slow down and earlier installation dates may be available. These events usually don’t affect projects on the whole but may still have a minor effect delivery or installation time.

It is important to take into account delivery times when planning a project, particularly if there is coordination necessary involving more than one contractor. Remember to ask your sales person about the delivery times at the time of contract signing. They may have changed since your initial meeting because of the above factors and the addition/subtraction of options or even permit requirements. Only at the time of ordering can delivery times be properly estmated.

What Are The Best Windows To Buy?

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Often people ask me, “Marty, what are the best windows to buy? Aluminum, Wood, PVC or Hybrid?”

When it comes to the environment, most windows and doors today are energy efficient especially if you buy ones that are Energy Star Rated with thermal glass, low E coating and argon gas. When it comes to decor, cost and durability, however, differences become more apparent.

The first question I ask my clients is, what do you want to look at?

Let me give you a few things to think about.

Windows made of aluminum inside and out are the least popular today. Aluminum has become more costly and is much colder to the touch in the winter and seems to radiate cold off the aluminum.  Decorating options are limited with aluminum, mostly bright white inside and a few more colours for the outside. Again – what do you want to look at?

Which brings us to why PVC windows have become more popular. They are very energy efficient. Although they are mostly bright white plastic inside and out, they are the least expensive, are warmer to the touch and don’t give off that feeling of cold that aluminum does.

Wood windows are often the preferred choice. They are warm to the touch, are highly energy efficient and create a much richer look.  Wood windows give you unlimited decorating options as they can be painted or stained any colour to suit any interior decor.

The outside of the house is another matter. What goes best with the colour of your brick or stone ? Here is where the term “Hybrid” comes in. What that means is combining two materials – aluminum outside, wood or PVC  on the inside. For the outside of a house aluminum is very durable and is factory painted in many available colours with a finish that is guaranteed for many years. In addition, it makes the exterior of wood windows maintenance free, protecting the wood from the elements.

When shopping for windows, you may become confused by terminology that doesn’t really mean much to you. You see your friends‘ windows and they tell you how happy they are. My advice: Drive around and look and see what white plastic looks like on a dark brick or a rich stone house and ask yourself, “what do I want to look at?” then call in a professional to get a real assessment of your needs.

Buying Canadian Windows & Doors

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

We are lucky here in Canada, because we happen to manufacture some of the highest quality wood windows and doors in North America.
Here is my question, though: Why are Canadian architects’ specifications and general contractors’ recommendations so frequently for American window manufacturers?

Are American windows and doors cheaper? NO.
We can match their prices, or even do better.

Is American quality better? NO.
Our windows are built with extreme Quebec weather in mind.

With the world in a financial crisis,  jobs are being lost in almost all sectors. I believe that we have lost around 30 to 50 million dollars in business to American window and door companies. That’s a lot of windows and doors that could have been made right here in our own country, employing our own people.

Let’s not forget the many other Canadian businesses that supply materials to the Canadian window and door manufacturers: ie: the forestry industry, wood, hardware, aluminum, glass, thermo and screen distributors and manufacturers, they too, have lost jobs and workers.

Why should we support small towns in the United States? Shouldn’t we be keeping the money right here in Canada, and keep our people working?

In these difficult economic times, I think we have a responsibility to consider the consequences of our actions. Before you buy your windows and doors, think, as a Canadian, about how your purchase affects other Canadians and what you are losing by buying American.

Even if you don’t buy from my company, Martin Industries, at the very least, do your best to buy a Canadian product.

~Marty Cooper