Evidence of Growth
The Top Manufacturers Report and List shows just how much the industry is growing in a tricky business landscape
Each year while compiling the Top Manufacturers List, I start with the previous year’s list and do some comparing. An active mergers and acquisitions landscape always condenses several entries as those companies merge together under one entry, such as Centra Windows’ acquisition of Supreme Windows and Cornerstone Building Brands acquiring Cascade Windows.
This year I noticed another big reason for shifts in the list compared to last year: revenue category jumps. It’s hardly surprising. After all, 87 percent reported higher gross sales in 2021 compared to 2020 and nearly every survey respondent indicated increased demand. What surprised me was just how much.
In deference to knowing many companies in the residential fenestration space prefer to keep specific revenues private, we ask for broad revenue ranges. The vast ranges often mean it’s unusual for companies to move revenue categories year-over-year. Nevertheless, at least a dozen companies on our list of approximately 100 indicated higher revenue categories than last year. This trend fits with market reports of burgeoning demand, a hot housing market and strong remodeling and replacement market.
Much of our readership, manufacturers and suppliers alike, report hectic business conditions from that demand. In fact, I can’t have a conversation now without talking about operating at what sometimes feels like breakneck speed to keep up with booming business, let alone welcome new business. The challenges are several-fold, none of which are new, but all of which seem to be increasing in pressure.
The majority of survey respondents ranked material cost and availability as among the greatest headwinds. Allocation makes it difficult to get enough material and in some cases where material can’t be obtained, companies are re-engineering their products to exclude what they can’t get and include alternative solutions.
One manufacturer shared the following example of how it adapted to material challenges to keep its production lines running:
“We have worked to adapt to this by constantly striving to be as flexible as possible, often thinking outside of the box. Interlayer, a critical component for impact product, remains in short supply across the market. Normally our company uses interlayer in roll form that is specifically optimized for our exact production lines and processes. Due to the various market shortages, we had to be flexible and switch to using various sizes of rolls and sheet just to keep the production lines running. We also have been striving to control more supplies internally and try to rely less on glass suppliers by utilizing our internal glass assets to supplement underperforming glass suppliers. We also spent significant time with our extruders to determine ways to change profiles in order to support them with efficiency gains during the extrusion process. This activity didn’t lead to cost savings, but allowed the supplier to push more metal for us throughout their production runs. Lastly, we have been placing a lot of focus and energy on single-sourced parts and digging deep into our suppliers’ supply chain to identify risk potential.”
Although from some angles this year’s survey paints a bleak picture of big challenges, from another angle the survey demonstrates just how innovative, adaptive and resilient this industry is. Despite significant and long-term headwinds that could dampen others’ spirits and lessen their bottom lines, the exact opposite holds true for residential fenestration.