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2024 Industry Pulse | We Persevere

Despite a predicted economic recession, residential fenestration companies predict stable sales and plan to invest in their businesses

promising outlook

Industry Pulse Sections

This year’s Industry Pulse report indicates that supply chain and material woes have largely abated. Labor has reclaimed its top spot as a primary business challenge. Many have responded by investing in automation to free up available labor for more value-added tasks. 

Products continue to evolve and get smarter, alongside the rest of the home. Whether through energy efficiency, smart features, customization options or more, manufacturers continue to deliver cutting-edge products that meet today’s demands.

In addition to the survey Window + Door conducts each year for this report, this year’s Industry Pulse also incorporates research data from the Window & Door Market Survey, the result of an exclusive partnership between Window + Door and John Burns Research and Consulting (JBRC).

The report examines each part of the window and door market from source to sale—its successes, its opportunities, where it’s been, where it’s going and more.

Opportunities & Challenges

Biggest Opportunities for 2024

  1. Remodeling market 
  2. Historical buildings 
  3. Sales relationships 
  4. Product innovation 
  5. Dealer partnerships 
  6. Productivity improvements 
  7. Improved training and employee retention 
  8. Gaining market share 
  9. Software implementation 
  10. Energy efficiency 
  11. Labor growth 

Biggest Challenges for 2024

  1. Interest rates 
  2. Mortgage rates 
  3. Hiring and retaining employees 
  4. Production space 
  5. Production efficiency 
  6. Installers 
  7. Competition 
  8. Pricing  
  9. Adding innovation 
  10. Retirement 
  11. Inflation and the economy 
  12. Training 
  13. New sales channels and leads 
  14. Business partners 

Investments, initiatives, innovation

Where do you plan to focus your investments in 2024?

  1. Expand production capacity 49% 
  2. Marketing 49% 
  3. Training and education 47%
  4. Employee recruiting and retention 47%
  5. Machinery purchases/upgrades 41%
  6. Business management software 28%
  7. R&D and testing 27%
  8. Software integration 25%
  9. Expand locations 23%
  10. Lean manufacturing 1%

Today’s corporate culture encompasses more than the business itself. Many companies prioritize being good stewards of the environment and the communities in which they operate. “It’s very critical; it’s part of our mission and values commitment,” reports one survey respondent. Another notes, “We try to support things our employees believe in. It’s actually a retention tool.”

Dan Gray, director of sales, North America, Roto Frank of America Inc., shares that Roto is working on a five-year growth plan spanning through 2028. He anticipates it will “significantly” enhance the company’s footprint in North America and that “all eyes are open on all different directions where we can purchase other companies or create partnerships to enhance the overall footprint.”

The fenestration market is filled with merger and acquisition news, most recently the news about Miter Brands entering an agreement to acquire PGT Innovations for $3.1 billion. Other news of the past year includes Pella’s acquisition of Lawson Industries, AmesburyTruth acquiring Lawrence Industries, ProVia acquiring Premier Profile Lamination, and more. 

Quanex acquired LMI Custom Mixing in November 2022, which Jim Nixon, VP of innovation new markets, Quanex, says helped further the company’s goal to further diversity itself as a manufacturing company and enter new markets. “Innovation is a key theme to become a larger organization,” he explains.

Acquisitions present a two-way street for both companies to learn from each other. For example, Nixon shares that strategic discussions demonstrate Quanex’s willingness to grow, reinvest, and add capacity and technology to stay ahead of the competition. Organic and inorganic growth opportunities are all on the table moving forward.

The LMI acquisition had existing synergies with Quanex, but also introduced the company to new markets. “They [LMI], now Quanex Custom Mixing (QCM), do different things with the same raw materials,” says Sean Hummel, director of research and development at Quanex. “I get to analyze QCM, what they’re doing and why, and Jim gets to analyze Quanex R&D, understand what we’re doing and why. It helps us broaden our footprint and understanding with the fundamental goal of going out there and finding new things that fit into the core competencies we already have.

“For our future, we also found it necessary to understand what we do at the heart of Quanex and what else we could be doing,” he says. 

Another way to grow is to look inward. Hummel says the company has examined itself over the past couple of years and had a revelation that Quanex is not a window and door company, but rather a manufacturing company that does a lot in the window and door space. Technologies that define their core competencies include extruding, roll forming, formulating and others. “It became clear that to expand, you can’t keep growing as a window and door company,” he says. “We’ve been strengthening our core competencies, broadening our footprint and thus developing more core competencies. It opens up thoughts you didn’t have before; it’s a vision.”

Roto acquired Ultrafab in 2022, and there are five North American manufacturing facilities between the two companies. Gray says this is especially important as one of COVID’s legacies is companies sharing their business with multiple suppliers and seeking locally made products. “That presents a huge upside for us to acquire some new business, especially given the local manufacturing of our products,” he says. “It seems like the false gains over the pandemic have brought us back to about 2019 volume levels,” he estimates. “That’s why we focus so heavily on new business acquisition; that’s what will sustain us if the market does fall off where we currently are.”

Sales and the Market

Expect sales to increase in 2024

Year-over-year volumes grew in Q3-2023 (Source: JBRC)

Year-over-year revenue growth in Q3-2023 (Source: JBRC)

“Things are starting to settle down post-COVID,” says Greg Koch, vice president of sales and marketing, 

Deceuninck North America. “Customers are once again focusing on lead times, prices, services and quality. During the peak of COVID, the industry was dealing with such over-demand that the fundamentals took a back seat. But now, it is back to the basics. We are back to competition.”

Koch further explains that when businesses invested in the capacity to manage the over-demand during the COVID period, those companies are now managing and optimizing those investments. “It is likely that the market in 2024 will be strongly influenced by the price of materials, housing trends and interest rates,” he projects. “If those factors remain the same as 2023, we see 2024 being very challenging for manufacturers.”

Roto’s Gray reports a “mixed bag” in 2023, which ended down about 10% to 14%; a figure he says that was “below expectations but not unexpected.” Despite a down year, Gray notes it allowed the company to bring its delivery service performance back to peak levels, which had been a struggle during COVID. 

Gray also anticipates a bumpy 2024, especially the first half. As such, he says Roto is focused on new business development that will help bolster the company, especially as some of its existing customers may experience a downside. 

As affordability and high interest rates continue to challenge the new home market, some manufacturers anticipate a high interest in remodeling. “It is proven that homeowners typically will opt to remodel and maintain when the new home construction market tightens, which is the case today,” says Michael Sugrue, president, Winchester Industries. “Therefore, we expect to experience continued strong sales in 2024.” 

Data supports this; based on figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, John Burns Research and Consulting estimates that 24 million homes will reach their prime remodeling years by 2027. Approximately 80% of homeowners are locked in at rates below 5%, and the average homeowner has a near all-time high of $365,000 of equity in their home. Both factors combined mean many don’t want to leave their homes and low rates behind, so they are choosing to remodel instead.

Some business areas are more optimistic, such as machinery and software. Morgan Donohue, president, Erdman Automation Corp., says Erdman is coming off its largest sale year ever, in which it was up more than 15%. Although its insulating glass lines continue to lead the way for sales and volume, he says, special projects and FlexScreen, with which Erdman entered a partnership in 2022, “are not far behind.”

“We will react to a slowdown or recession if that comes, by continuing to invent and develop technologies,” says Donohue.

Machinery manufacturers see the continued benefits of modernizing manufacturing plants. Mike Biffl, vice president of sales and marketing, Sturtz Machinery, says the company maintained solid business in 2023, which he attributes to companies modernizing their plants. “We do not see as much capital investment for companies trying to increase production as much as see them moving to update machinery that is nearing its end of life,” he says. “We have focused on educating customers about the advantages of newer equipment with updated controls, better accuracy and consistency, and the most modern safety enhancements.”

A+W anticipates sales to continue their upward trend. “Sales come from companies that have homegrown software, which can’t keep up with changes in the industry, or don’t have a current software solution,” explains Chris Kammer, marketing coordinator, A+W Software North America. Although recession talk has slowed smaller companies from committing to software solutions, he says it “hasn’t stopped the enterprise companies.”

Product trends

Offered new products in 2023

Plan to offer new products in 2024

Updated some Energy Star-certified products to the new standards in 2023

Vinyl windows remain the dominant product in demand—more than twice as much as the next most-requested product of multi-panel doors—according to this year’s survey. 

Which products were most in demand in 2023?

  • Vinyl windows: 69% 
  • Multi-panel doors: 27% 
  • Aluminum windows: 24% 
  • Energy Star-rated products: 23%  
  • Hybrid/clad windows: 21%  
  • Wood windows: 20% 
  • Fiberglass windows: 20%  
  • Traditional patio doors: 20% 
  • Fiberglass entry doors: 19% 
  • Pivot doors: 9% 
  • Automated windows and/or doors: 8% 
  • Steel entry doors: 8% 
  • Composite entry doors: 5% 
  • Interior doors: 4% 
  • Wood entry doors: 3%

How it looks, how it works

Aesthetics, including color, remain in the top two most-requested product features, and manufacturers continue to innovate and deliver. Deceuninck launched its Eclipse black through-color PVC extrusion for windows and doors at GlassBuild America in October. Koch shares that the company will implement this technology in its window and door systems in 2024. “We’ve cracked the color matrix code and we’re excited about it.”

Alongside Eclipse, Deceuninck plans to dedicate R&D to serving the commercial market. “Most of this is focused on sustainability and energy savings, which are critical across residential, multifamily and commercial construction segments,” says Koch.

Andy Karr, senior product manager, Aperture Solutions–U.S., Cornerstone Building Brands, also notes the interest in sustainability. “Right now, there’s a lot of buzz and excitement in the market about the new Energy Star 7.0 requirements. People from all walks of the industry are really curious about what this new standard is all about, what it takes to meet it, and especially, how to sell it to consumers effectively.”

Material science is, in part, what can bolster efficiency and innovation in the industry. “Thinner sightlines and bigger windows are in demand, so our R&D team will have their hands full with that, plus the continual pursuit of top-tier material science for those products,” says Koch.

European products are also making their way to the U.S. “We are seeing an increase in demand for high-performance European platforms for commercial applications, such as our tilt-and-turn windows,” notes Koch. “In fact, European manufacturers are now importing to the U.S., focusing on the East Coast. These products are moving out of the niche category in the U.S. and becoming much more visible and sought after.”

The sheer size of windows and doors also influences hardware and other components. Beyond aesthetics, it’s critical to develop hardware that can accommodate these higher weights and larger sizes while maintaining a reasonable operating force. 

Michelle Nissen, vice president of product management, AmesburyTruth, agrees. Minimalist hardware that can handle heavy glass loads while supporting energy efficiency and impact-resistance goals is in demand. Other trends she notes are cost-effective components, window-opening control devices and black hardware.

Technology in the home

Sugrue shares that market demand ultimately dictates R&D. “In addition to energy efficiency, we’re always seeking to provide cutting-edge hardware for better operation and security,” he says. “Today’s homeowners are demanding unique color options for vinyl and hardware. Therefore, our R&D is continually evolving based on market demand.” These can include Wi-Fi locking features for entry doors, black vinyl products that won’t deteriorate and connected technology.

Roto signed a distribution agreement with AutoSlide last year, a company that brings touchless technology to sliding and hinged patio doors.

“Automation is one of the biggest trends in the marketplace today, without a doubt,” says Gray. Some of that trend relates to aging-in-place and making homes more accessible for all individuals. For example, automated windows and doors could enable a senior citizen or person with disabilities to operate the window when they otherwise couldn’t. Design can also help with this, in that a window could be placed at a lower height for operation and better views while seated.

Michael Lofty Gierges, EVP of home and distribution, Schneider Electric, anticipates automation and tech-enabled products to grow as home developers and smart home technology manufacturers work to improve overall interoperability and occupant safety, comfort and control over energy consumption.

“The world needs a common language for Internet of things devices to talk together, and AI will be a solution to make homes smarter and easier to operate. To make this happen, manufacturers will need to become more involved with connecting their specialties and areas of expertise to the overall home ecosystem, bringing intelligent home capabilities to the consumer,” Gierges says. 

“The U.S. has just begun implementing automation at the onset of construction, hinting at an evolution of residential building,” Gierges continues. “This transformation comes at a necessary time, when 61% of U.S. citizens expect any newly built home or apartment to be equipped with intelligent home products. Because of this, we are seeing more and more homebuilders go above and beyond basic codes and regulations, standardizing electrification and digitization throughout the entire building process. The advanced intelligence behind smart home solutions gives homeowners a leg up in utility savings and reducing carbon emissions. By understanding when and where energy is wasted, and acting upon the biggest energy guzzlers, up to 30% of home energy costs can be reduced without compromising on comfort.” 

What technologies have you implemented, or are considering, to enhance energy efficiency? 

  • Triple pane: 48% 
  • Fourth-surface low-E: 41% 
  • Gas fill: 33% 
  • Thermally broken aluminum: 20% 
  • None: 17%  
  • Skinny triples: 15% 
  • Dynamic glass: 8% 
  • Concealed hardware: 8% 
  • Aerogel: 1% 


Increase in direct labor costs in 2023 (Source: JBRC)

Plan to add staff in 2024

Added staff in 2023

The labor shortage has reclaimed the top challenge spot from the supply chain and material struggles that dominated the pandemic years. One survey respondent said a goal for the year is to keep pricing steady and down as much as possible, partly to offset the “dramatic” rise in labor costs. 

What benefits do you offer employees? 

  • Medical insurance: 88% 
  • 401(k): 77% 
  • Bonuses: 76% 
  • Dental insurance: 74%  
  • Vision insurance: 68% 
  • Maternity leave: 47% 
  • Tuition reimbursement/other training: 35% 
  • Paternity leave: 31% 
  • Profit sharing: 30% 

Soliciting employee feedback, and taking action on that feedback, is one way to create a desirable working environment. Colleen Pritchett, president, Aperture Solutions – U.S., Cornerstone Building Brands, said the company conducted employee net promoter survey scores twice in 2023. “These surveys played a pivotal role in shaping our employee-centric approach, with a heightened focus on enhancing communication and active listening throughout our company,” she says. 

Donohue says Erdman offers a higher wage than others in the area, but beyond that lies a solid company culture. “We care for each other and want to be together,” he says. “Our team atmosphere and center focus all contribute to a culture that is kind, considerate, fair and rewarding to all.”

Koch, meanwhile, says Deceuninck focuses on finding the right people to begin with. “When we are searching for production workers, it is important to find the right skillset in someone with the right mindset and an eye on growth,” he says.

Connecting with schools and local organizations is also critical to many companies’ recruitment efforts, as is fostering a spirit for manufacturing. “Right now, a lot of younger people entering manufacturing do so because of the necessity for a job. In turn, they don’t always stick with it. Collectively, we need to make manufacturing jobs more attractive.” Deceuninck uses tools like training and mentoring programs to create a culture where employees can grow and advance, he says.

Labor is also a challenge for machinery manufacturers, both internally and for their customers. Because today’s machinery is more complex, engineers and technicians need a broader skillset, says Sturtz’s Biffl. “Keeping an eye out for talent and hiring before the need is immediate helps us to have the right people in place as our needs increase.”

Because Sturtz’s customers struggle to find operator and maintenance technicians with the appropriate skill set, he says part of their job selling machinery is to help them understand the “level of expertise required to maintain our equipment at optimal performance levels. This was not the case in years past, but we need to help our customers find the right talent to help them be successful with their capital projects.”

Sturtz’s employee referral program encourages current employees to recommend candidates for recruitment, which has “worked very well,” according to Biffl. “We rarely have a referral for someone that our team would not want to work with, so we have a level of confidence that the referred candidates will be good fits for our internal culture. We have also enhanced our benefits package over the past couple of years,” he says.

Recruiting and retention strategies

By Chris Kammer,  marketing coordinator, A+W Software

  • Training: Constructive training helps new employees grow and feel trusted.
  • Trust: Build and maintain trust between employees and upper management because trust enables better problem-solving by employees, teamwork, increased productivity, willingness to work harder, allows employees to think outside the box, etc.
  • Feedback: Encourage input and feedback.
  • Growth: Offer opportunities for career growth.
  • Work-life balance: Encourage a healthy work-life balance.
  • Communication: Communicate regularly with your team and encourage an open-door policy.
  • Surveys: Conduct employee retention surveys and act on the feedback, whether it is good or bad.
  • Employee referral programs: Allow employees to bring in people they trust, which can build a stronger team.

Materials and the Supply Chain

Report material price increases in 2023

Anticipate material price increases in 2024

Reduced backlogs vs. last year (Source: JBRC)

The supply chain complications and material shortages of the pandemic years appear to have largely abated, leaving a shift in purchasing behavior in its wake. “Contractors and builders adapted with a forward-thinking approach, incorporating buffer time into their production schedules to ensure product availability,” says Matt Gibson, director of marketing, Aperture Solutions – U.S. Cornerstone Building Brands. 

He anticipates that “meticulous” planning may fade as lead times normalize. As such, some may see service-related challenges. “Distribution centers and lumber yards addressed availability issues by diversifying their product offerings to encompass a broader spectrum of manufacturers. While this diversification enhanced their ability to cater to customer needs, it also introduced heightened technological and service demands in managing such an extensive product portfolio. Balancing expertise across multiple distinct product lines will inevitably present a challenge at the service counter,” he predicts. 

Housing affordability is at a 20-year low, which may encourage some manufacturers to rethink products. “Whether it be through innovation, sustainable solutions or more economical materials like composites, the market will expect support from window and door components manufacturers,” says AmesburyTruth’s Nissen. “Developing materials solutions that support customers in gaining efficiency in their fabrication processes is increasingly important as customers continue to deal with challenging labor markets.”

On the machinery side, most manufacturers note parts shortages are no longer an issue. The one exception is control components, says Erdman’s Donohue. 

Relationships between companies further strengthened during the pandemic, which carries through to today. “I am grateful for all of our partners; none of us does anything without partners,” Donohue says. “I welcome any relationship that makes us better. The only way that happens is if it improves the other person, group or organization. If that happens, we help each other be better. Focus on others’ needs and watch yours be taken care of.”

More attention to material optimization is another COVID legacy, which current advanced machinery and software help develop. “Software systems can help optimize PVC bar usage as the material is cut and fabricated,” explains Sturtz’s Biffl. “The bigger opportunity comes in reducing errors that result in scrap and remakes. A small decrease in scrap, achieved by eliminating opportunities for human error, significantly impacts material usage and labor efficiency.”

Which materials are most difficult to acquire?

Most companies (62%) said they have not had to re-engineer products or change product offerings due to material availability; 26% have.

  • Hardware: 35% 
  • Components: 35% 
  • Glass: 28% 
  • Aluminum: 25% 
  • Laminate: 12% 
  • Vinyl: 11% 
  • Wood: 11% 
  • Chemicals: 11% 
  • Sealers/spacers: 9% 
  • Paint: 5% 

Machinery and automation

Added production capacity in 2023

Plan to add capacity in 2024

Use AI in their business

Machinery manufacturers have a positive outlook. Erdman’s Donohue reports customers have not indicated a coming slowdown, nor does he see one. Biffl reports strong current demand and predicts it will continue and experience “moderate growth” through 2024.

Opportunities abound for machinery, especially as products continue to evolve. “Triple-glazed windows will continue to be a discussion point and focus for future growth,” predicts Donohue. “[There will be] constant improvement for product performance on the window side.”

Biffl speaks about the opportunity for earlier collaboration with their customers. “Historically, our customers have done a lot of their product development before approaching us,” he says. “We see more openness in the earlier stages with the idea of improving product manufacturability. This has enabled us to develop new products that meet specific needs.”

Automation and retirement of old equipment are the two main growth areas in 2024, according to Biffl. Labor shortages have led to more interest in automation, he says. “Companies are interested in finding ways to automate repetitive tasks to allow their employees to perform more value-added functions.” 

“In addition,” he continues, “there are companies running antiquated equipment that is no longer as reliable and does not meet today’s safety standards. Companies are coming to us to discuss plans to retire the old equipment and modernize their operations while improving overall employee safety.” He notes the increased workplace safety culture in recent years and how customers now expect the latest enhancements to keep employees safe without sacrificing usability and maintainability. 

A+W Software’s Kammer shares that helping companies without software solutions understand the importance and capabilities of correctly implemented software, and helping customers upgrade current solutions to be more efficient, are among the biggest opportunities in 2024.

Kammer summarizes the benefits of software and machinery working together: “When software and machinery work together (aka automation), companies can streamline maintenance tasks, improve preventative maintenance tasks, better manage their current equipment to enable it to work longer, increase efficiency, monitor their production throughput and yield (optimization), and anticipate upcoming machinery needs and buy equipment before the current machine(s) needs replacing.” 

Software and machinery companies alike are homing in on solutions to increase productivity and automate repetitive tasks. Kammer notes that A+W is doing more on handheld devices and tablets to improve worker mobility on the shop floor. The company is also further exploring AI’s potential.

Improving financials and helping companies gain insight into their finances is another area where software is powerful. “Smart devices that save time and money for customers are top of mind,” says Kammer. “Software can help workers save time when scanning on the shop floor, at shipping and at delivery. This allows our customers to invoice and move products faster.”

Barcodes and CIM/production terminals help reduce or eliminate paper on the shop floor. This is all part of a larger trend Kammer sees toward customers targeting the financial aspects of business and focusing on more accurate costing data.

This Year’s Respondents

  • Supplier 22%
  • Manufacturer 39%
  • Dealer 39%

Replacement vs. new construction in 2022 

  • 100 percent replacement: 17% 
  • 80/20 (replacement/new construction): 17%  
  • 60/40: 10% 
  • 50/50: 13% 
  • 40/60: 12% 
  • 20/80: 29% 
  • 100 percent new construction: 2% 


Laurie Cowin headshot

Laurie Cowin

Laurie Cowin is editor of Window + Door. Contact her at