The past five years have been a wild ride. Extreme demand, both waxing and waning, rocked the industry. Supply chain complications strained companies as they raced to acquire enough materials in a timely manner, for which they often paid premium prices. Labor shortages continue to challenge companies.
And yet, we persevere.
Window + Door’s annual Industry Pulse survey and report garners information from suppliers, dealers and manufacturers to gain a comprehensive understanding of where the industry is and where it is going in the year ahead. This year’s survey also incorporated data from the inaugural Window & Door Market Survey, a result of our exclusive partnership with John Burns Research and Consulting.
Following are some main takeaways from this year’s report. Stay tuned for the full report in February.
1. Companies are investing with an eye to growth.
Nearly half of companies indicated they’ll invest in expanding production capacity, marketing, training and education, and employee recruitment and retention. These all point to an ultimate goal of boosting business—whether through increased manufacturing capacity, increased sales or increased investment in employees.
Mergers and acquisitions also continue in the space, with the most recent news being Miter’s purchase of PGT Innovations, after PGT initially entered an agreement with Masonite. See all merger and acquisition news on WindowandDoor.com.
2. Products are getting smarter.
How products look and work are paramount to a successful business and new products are hitting the market; three-quarters of survey respondents plan to introduce new products in 2024 and nearly two-third introduced new products last year. Aesthetics, including color, remain in the top two most-requested product features, and manufacturers continue to innovate and deliver. Energy efficiency is the other most-requested product feature, further amplified by the Energy Star 7.0 requirements.
Technology continues to gain market share in fenestration. Automation is among the biggest trends in the marketplace. Touchless technology for window and door operation, for example, is part of the connected home and also makes the home accessible for anyone.
3. Labor is the biggest challenge. Again.
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. The JBREC survey indicated a 20% increase in direct labor costs in 2023.
Employee referral programs, competitive benefits, professional development and fostering an employee-centric work environment are among respondents’ top-cited recruitment and retention tactics.
4. COVID’s supply chain challenges have largely abated, and the relationships left behind are strong.
The 2021 and 2022 Industry Pulse reports largely focused on the supply chain and materials challenges. Last year’s report indicated a marked improvement in that sector, and this year even more so. More than three-quarters of companies indicate their projects are on schedule, according to JBREC’s research.
Through the worst of the supply chain challenges, companies reported communication with customers and suppliers was the way through it. Those strong relationships carry through to today and several survey respondents noted how these relationships continue to make both companies stronger and better.