Door and Window Musings
by Tara Taffera
March 28th, 2014

Highlights and Insights from Fensterbau

When I attend North American trade shows or events it is my tradition to compile my best of list. Or maybe it’s not really a best of. It’s a compilation of the people I met, the products I saw and the takeaways received at various events. Though this is my first time at fensterbau/frontale, being held this week in Nuremberg, Germany, there are quite a lot of bests and firsts so here are some notables. For all the coverage from the event check out our daily video newscasts, slideshows and stories which can all be found at

At the Deceuninck booth (pictured above)Tom Debusschere, Deceuninck CEO said Europeans are more focused on energy-efficient windows.

At the Deceuninck booth (pictured above)Tom Debusschere, Deceuninck CEO said Europeans are more focused on energy-efficient windows.

Best quote: Tom Debusschere, Deceuninck CEO. When comparing European window shopping behaviors to those in the U.S. ones he pointed out that Europeans are much more focused on staying in a home so they look for a quality energy-efficient window. “What kind of car would you buy if you knew you were going to be in it for 30 years?” Great analogy, Tom.

Interesting international difference among fabricators: “In the U.S. companies primarily are residential or commercial,” said Deceuninck president Filip Geeraert. “In Europe it is more of a blend that they are in both markets.”

Best way to sum up the European vinyl market: “PVC is at a different level here,” said Chris Dimou, president and CEO, Roto Frank of America.

Best confirmation of a recent story: DWM published an article recently (see March DWM, page 12) regarding the fact that window companies are investing in software again. “People are now investing in optimization again,” said Peter Dixen, vice president of sales and marketing, A+W Software.

Some notes on global growth: At Deceuninck, Geeraert said the following areas are huge growth engines: Italy, United Kingdom, Turkey and Istanbul, among others. At Profine, Robert Thiroff mentioned India (now has a window manufacturer in every state there), Australia, China, North and South America and Asia as all fast-growing markets. “These are all PVC countries of the future,” he said.

Good news from a machinery supplier: “We have more work in the books than ever [globally],” said Joe Sigmund, vice president, Rotox USA.

The Roto Frank of America booth, seen above was packed, and Chris Dimou, president and CEO, said "PVC is at a different level" in the European market.

The Roto Frank of America booth (seen above) was packed, and Chris Dimou, president and CEO, said, “PVC is at a different level,” in the European market.

Most notes taken: When I spoke with Profine’s Thiroff, I couldn’t stop writing. Even my colleague, video producer Chris Bunn, said to me later, “You took eight pages of notes.” I couldn’t help it. Thiroff is one of those passionate leaders who is excited about his company, ecstatic about its growth and loves to tell the company’s story. I was pleased to have the time to spend with him to take all those notes and am sorry all of them couldn’t end up in our pages.

A great leader: You know that passion that Thiroff possesses (see above)? Well he must have received it from somewhere. That somewhere (or someone) is likely Profine CEO Dr. Peter Mrosiak. I spoke to Mrosiak briefly and he is another passionate leader who talked about “setting new standards for the market. This is what it’s all about.”

U.S bump-ins: When at an international show, it is less common to run into U.S. attendees but I was fortunate enough to bump into Lance Premeau, product and market manager at Kolbe and Kolbe, who was at fensterbau for the first time “soaking it all in.”

Best example of a manufacturer seeking innovation: I met Peter Folsom, president, Panorama Windows in the Bronx, N.Y., who was attending fensterbau for the umpteenth time. He has also traveled to industry events in China and other areas. He told me he is always looking for innovation, and anywhere, even at the smallest booth, the smallest nugget can be an idea. Kudos to Folson for seeking out those nuggets and continually working to improve.

Least prepared for a conversation with: Renolit CEO Michael Kundel. The show was over; I was tired and was shooting the breeze with one of my industry friends at the Renolit booth when I was introduced to Kundel. My notebook was nowhere to be found, but his passionate talk about energy efficiency stuck with me. Yes, Europe is way ahead, but U.S. companies “will get there.”

The use of color is exploding and he is clearly thrilled to be an integral part of this explosive growth.

Best quote regarding cultural differences: “The Eastern Europeans don’t have this mindset of always doing it a certain way. They are more open-minded.”

Interesting comment regarding testing differences: In the U.S. it is all about hurricane testing, which is not as prevalent in Europe. Here it’s more about air, water and security testing, according to Marcel van der Hoeven, technical sales representative with GU Hardware.

Trend on the rise: Several companies talked about the fact that tilt-and-turn windows are on the rise in North America.

Trend heard over and over: Over the past several years I have heard various companies talk about how architects need to be educated regarding the viability of vinyl in various applications and I heard it again here. “We are competing with the aluminum door and we have to educate the architects,” said Tony Pauly, vice president and general manager Ventana USA. “The vinyl industry has to do a better job at that, which would also include how to trim out the opening. In Germany, that is second nature here.”

Most Interesting Political Quote (even though it was the only political quote): A French employee of one exhibiting company told me he loves our president and that if there is ever a global president it should be President Obama.

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