Plavecsky's Ponderings By Jim Plavecsky
by Jim Plavecsky
January 6th, 2009

New Year, New Products

What do you do when the market is flat and profit margins on existing products are eroding due to stiffening price competition? Well, you could cut corners and drop prices to maintain share while trying to maintain some degree of profitability. But, why not choose a different approach? Why not invest in product development and bring something new and innovative to the market. Indeed, innovation is worth something extra. While many window manufacturers and suppliers have been merely sitting out the rough economy, I know of quite a few that have been busy developing new products. New products are the key to growing sales and maintaining profitability in a stagnant market. Indeed, new product launches produce new revenue streams!This year look for both window manufacturers and suppliers to start introducing new products. This represents yet another opportunity to grow both revenue and profits in a shrinking economy. Assuming that the proper degree of market research was conducted up front in the process, these new products will offer new features and benefits that the market will embrace.

Perhaps it is enhanced energy performance to help maintain ENERGY STAR status, or better yet, maybe even something that exceeds the minimum standards. Or what about enhanced sound control that helps homeowners block out unwanted noise from nearby highways, airports or congested neighborhoods? Sound control represents a marketing opportunity that is largely untapped. Ask any homeowner if he or she would like to have windows that help block out unwanted sounds, and you will surely grab their ear! And don’t forget aesthetics. Look for window and door systems to come out that enable homeowners to achieve a unique look with new color options and new designs. Perhaps the most dramatic thing to look for in aesthetics, however, is the opportunity to offer increased vision area. As thermal performance numbers get better and better, this allows architects to design plans with a higher percentage of vision area while still maintaining overall thermal performance for the building envelope.

I was recently in a home with a family room adorned with windows offering an expansive 180 degree view of the countryside, and I must say, I could hang out there all day long. It was a very cold windy day with snow on the ground. What this room offered its occupants was the opportunity to enjoy all of the beauty of this winter scene in total comfort as we were all cozy and warm feeling virtually zero draft. Now, that’s what windows are all about!

I am beginning this year with a high degree of optimism. Interest rates are at their lowest levels on over 30 years, and Washington is buzzing about upcoming tax breaks to help stimulate the economy. There is also discussion of tax incentives to help stimulate corporate investment in capital equipment. Oil prices are low, at least for now, and gasoline is once again affordable, which helps consumers maintain discretionary income. So, there are a lot of positive things happening that could form the foundation for an economic recovery.

Yes, there have been quite a few window and door manufacturers that have fallen victim to the tough times. But, there are many other dynamic manufacturers that have been quietly reassessing and transforming their organizations to aggressively take on the challenge of growing sales and profits in this changing economy. So, look for them in 2009. They will most likely be the companies that you see announcing new product launches!

This blog is from Door and Window Market [DWM] magazine's free e-newsletter that covers the latest door and window industry news. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to [DWM] magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

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  1. Hi Jim, Great blog this week. I love your optimism! You are right, let’s not focus on the gloom and doom. There are great opportunities in a market like this. Let’s all look for them. Thanks!

  2. Jim,
    We indeed feel as strongly as you. That’s why our company is moving forward with a new look and new products. It’s not business as usual and we need to lead on! Keep printing the optimism. We can’t seem to find enough now days. Great work!

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