You may have noticed the window and door industry is experiencing a period of significant consolidation, driven by private equity and individual business decisions. We have seen evidence of this trend most recently with the acquisition of Cornerstone Building Products Inc. by private investment firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, one example of many over the past several years.
Following any acquisition, the desire for consistency across businesses involves more than simply harmonizing the differing cultures and business philosophies. There is also a need to establish consistency across business practices and strategies for the existing and acquired entities, starting with fundamental, practical considerations.
One essential component involves assessing the acquisition’s impact on risk management. The affiliated companies must take early steps to identify the points of risk to ensure a cohesive response as issues inevitably arise. Wrapped up in this risk assessment are legal resolution strategies, insurance and financial decisions, and a general product defense philosophy requiring a critical evaluation across the entities and a strategic plan to bring the varying approaches together.
Certification is a factor that is relatively unique in this industry. While no window and door business is unfamiliar with the challenge of navigating standards and regulations, it is unlikely that newly combined companies fully align on how this is accomplished. Thorough attention must be given not only to how certification programs are implemented, but also generally to the role of certification as a business viewpoint. What level of importance is placed on participating in these programs? How is compliance documented and managed internally?
Service is another major consideration when joining different companies together. How are service requests and warranty claims managed? Which system is used for intake and completing service under the product warranties? And along those same lines, how is the applicable warranty interpreted and applied? When and by whom are exceptions to the warranty approved, if ever? These questions tie into all aspects of the strategic business decisions and should be addressed through working with the relevant departments as well as through the company leadership team.
Aligning the interconnected pieces of a business is a challenge all on its own, and bringing together previously stand-alone companies with the same goal presents an even greater challenge. However great, these and other important questions surrounding the business practices should be answered in order to set up the affiliated companies for even greater success once joined together.