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Fenestration Industry Responds to COVID-19 Pandemic

The impact on companies, the supply chain and a look at quickly changing realities

In response to the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., businesses—including those in the fenestration industry—have been tasked with changing the way they operate to ensure safety and health of employees and customers. 

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“Our industry came into this year with many uncertainties, with the ongoing labor shortage as well as the upcoming presidential election. The COVID-19 virus is another factor that has the potential to impact our industry,” says Oliver Stepe, president, YKK AP America. “Every day we glean more information into the virus as well as the safest, most effective ways to move forward. The industry has a responsibility to seek out and understand the facts in an effort to keep employees and their families, customers and communities across the country healthy and safe.”

Within the previous week, companies in all segments of the industry have announced adjustments to their work policies, schedules and more, as they strive to continue operations while preventing spread of coronavirus.

“YKK AP has put a COVID-19 task force in place and it is working diligently to assure continual service. We are taking proactive measures to strengthen our supply chains and operational backup systems to minimize any impact to the industry as a whole,” Stepe says. At this time, YKK AP reports no service disruptions. “All customer service, manufacturing, and shipping are operating as normal,” he says.

FeneTech issued a policy March 15 regarding telework for all employees. According to the policy, “teleworking is: offered to all employees; highly encouraged for employees at risk or living with people at risk; highly encouraged for employees using public transportation; mandatory for any employee currently sick or feeling sick or exposed to someone that may have been in contact with the coronavirus.”

Click here for more news from companies on their response to COVID-19.

Impact on Supply Chain and Revenues

Although the effect on the fenestration supply chain and general economic health of the industry will take years to fully unfold, a number of companies have offered their experiences thus far.

On March 13, Brian Miller, president and CEO of ProVia, issued an email to customers, stating that the company has not experienced widespread delays or backorders of raw materials. “There have been a few instances of extended lead times from our suppliers,” he reports. “However, in most cases, our stateside inventories will ensure uninterrupted service to our customers.” He says that customer experience teams are fully staffed and stand ready to assist customers with day-to-day needs, as well as any exceptional situations that may arise.

In a March 11 interview—where Marcus Sander, chairman of the board of directors for Roto Frank Window and Door Technology, addressed the company’s decision not to attend the rescheduled Fensterbau trade show this June—he shared that “production seems to be slowly getting back to normal” after problems associated with coronavirus led to loss of revenue in China. He says that, "Fortunately, FTT business did well overall in the first two months of the year" and “more than compensated for the revenue losses in China due to strong figures in other areas of the business.”

Click here for more insights and projections on economic impacts.

Quickly Changing Realities

As local governments increasingly announce varying degrees of public health orders that impose restrictions on businesses, one of the questions that keeps coming up is what defines essential versus non-essential services, aside from the obvious grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, etc. In one instance, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf included “industrial manufacturing” as an essential service, allowing manufacturers such as Veka Inc. to continue operations and keep the supply chain intact. As of press time, Veka’s plants remain open while following guidelines from the Center for Disease Control, including social distancing.  

In more limiting actions such as “shelter in place” restrictions in effect for several California counties in the Bay Area, the Office of the Mayor included essential Infrastructure, including construction of housing, in its exemptions.

As of press time, realities and restrictions vary across states and even at the county level. Among many relevant resources on its website, the National Association of Manufacturers offers a COVID-19 State Resources tool to help keep manufacturers across the country informed. Actions at the state level have many impacts, including eligibility for different programs such as the Small Business Administration’s disaster assistance loan program.

Many dealers in our industry are turning to the SBA for this and other loan options to mitigate inevitable cash flow interruptions. While companies are still receiving and delivering products, dealers report in-bound business is slow, and customers are putting projects on hold in both the short- and long- term. Multiple dealers reported increased efforts to collect on past due contracts. Business owners are looking as far ahead as possible, finding available resources to keep staff employed.

Window + Door is committed to providing all relevant coverage on COVID-19 to the industry. This page provides a home for all news, event updates and original reporting on the subject, as links in the Information & Analysis box. Links will automatically be updated under each category as we add content.  

Author

Emily Katy Thompson

Emily Kay Thompson

Emily Kay Thompson is editor in chief of Window + Door, WindowandDoor.com, and W+Dweekly. Contact her at ethompson@glass.org