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Finding the Right Solution

When it comes to automation, fenestration manufacturers aren’t just choosing software, they’re finding a partner in their operations

FeneTech’s FeneVision ERP software solution
An enterprise resource planning software system like FeneVision reduces operating costs, shortens factory lead times, increases production output, gets the most out of labor, enhances tracking abilities, allows for better planning and represents an amazing return on investment.

For those of us in the fenestration software business, it can be easy to overlook the enormity of a manufacturer’s decision to incorporate our solutions into their business.

From the software developer’s perspective, we’ve built an engine that will deliver faster and better performance for our clients. To us, the benefits are apparent: An enterprise resource planning system reduces operating costs, shortens factory lead times, increases production output, gets the most out of labor, enhances tracking abilities, allows for better planning and represents an amazing return on investment.

From the manufacturer’s perspective, however, we’re asking them to insert a new engine into a car they’ve built by themselves over several years or even decades. Forget merely “handing over the keys” to someone else, this represents a critical choice for the future of a business because a new engine will alter how their vehicle (or company) moves forward.

Making that kind of change takes courage and ambition. But it doesn’t have to take faith.

When choosing to automate operations or incorporate new software into a manufacturing business, there are several areas to research. While many considerations will seem obvious—cost/benefit analysis, compatibility with equipment, alignment with your specific needs, ability to scale, etc.—there are other areas to explore that might not be front of mind.

Mission and vision

Vinylmax Windows President Laura Doerger-Roberts with her brothers
Vinylmax Windows President Laura Doerger-Roberts with her brothers, vice presidents Craig and Dave Doerger, turned to the FeneVision ERP solution to serve Vinylmax’s 500-plus customers with four-day lead times and 99 percent on-time delivery percentages.

It’s essential to think of a software provider as a partner in operations. When choosing a partner, ensuring their values match your own is critical.

An excellent example is the partnership between software provider FeneTech and window and door manufacturer Vinylmax. A family-owned business serving 30 states with an annual production of more than 500,000 units, Vinylmax largely owes its success to a people-first approach.

Before expanding into a new, highly competitive market, Vinylmax President Laura Doerger-Roberts knew the company needed to change software to run production more efficiently and continue creating the best possible customer experience. FeneTech’s software made it possible for Vinylmax to deliver a best-in-class lead time, not to mention an on-time delivery percentage that would make any company jealous. “Part of the customer experience is getting the product to the customer as quickly and efficiently as possible,” says Doerger-Roberts. “[It] guides us through that process.”

No limits on aspirations

In addition to finding alignment in terms of values, a software provider must be able to match a manufacturer’s ambitions. A good software partnership will never leave a manufacturer feeling limited. A great one will create even more advanced aspirations.

FEN-TECH President Pat Heytens
Fen-Tech President Pat Heytens went live with FeneTech’s FeneVision ERP solution in January 2020.

Fen-Tech, a company specializing in bending, welding and processing PVC-based extrusions for the fenestration industry since 1992, began using an ERP system in 2020 that can handle unique practices and processes. “We’re a highly specialized company, and we need highly customizable software,” says Fen-Tech President Pat Heytens.

Heytens quickly learned that the specialized software wasn’t just meeting the company’s needs in terms of customizations but that it had the potential to significantly alter the way Fen-Tech did business. “[It] can help us do everything we want to do,” he explains. “It opens up a lot of opportunities for us to do some things we didn’t even realize we wanted to do.”

The software’s adaptability led Heytens to utilize it in managing Fen-Tech’s high-volume ordering, tracking production and providing reporting beyond the software’s already substantial out-of-the-box capabilities. After the successful implementation, Heytens transitioned over Fen-Tech’s glass software, increasing its yields by 15 percent compared to its previous glass optimization software.

“Everything we do is geometric shapes, and the increase in optimization was one of the better decisions we made. Having all that information in one spot is instrumental,” says Heytens.

It takes guts

In both cases written about here, the successful manufacturer didn’t just find software, they discovered a software partner that values what their company values and has the flexibility to grow with them. It’s easy from the perspective of hindsight for Heytens to recognize that implementing software solutions represents one of the better decisions his business has made. Still, at the time, it would’ve taken a lot of consideration and courage to move forward with what worked out to be a better solution.

For Vinylmax, Doerger-Roberts remembers the time it took to go with the new software. “Naturally, the fear of the unknown was our biggest obstacle,” she says. “We also had made so many customizations with that software, and we were afraid we wouldn’t have that same flexibility.”

Now Doerger-Roberts says, “We have that flexibility. We absolutely do.”

In conclusion, manufacturers looking to start or switch ERP software will do well to consider factors beyond the obvious when making their choice, like what the software company values and whether it will match your company’s aspirations. But perhaps even more so, finding a software company that respects your decision is a great indicator you’re choosing correctly.

It proves that a leap forward doesn’t have to be a leap of faith.


Ron Crowl

Ron Crowl

Ron Crowl is general manager of windows, doors and glass at Cyncly. Contact him at