Ones to Watch March/April 2021

August 18th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs


Palmer-Donavin Names Kaufman VP of Sales

Matt Kaufman was named vice president of sales for Palmer-Donavin. Officials for the building material supplier say Kaufman’s appointment is part of an internal restructuring. The company’s rebranding initiative, launched in early 2020, brought Seal-Rite Door to the Palmer-Donavin name, though the building materials division and door division continued to operate as separate businesses. In 2021, the company is restructuring internally to eliminate redundancies.

Kaufman leads all regional sales managers, as they oversee representatives from both the building materials and door sectors.

“His internal and external relationships will be a tremendous asset as we transition to one company,” said Matt Butzier, COO of Palmer-Donavin.


The Impacts of COVID-19

With: Scott Thurber, President of Associated Building Supply Inc

How much have your business practices had to change amid COVID-19?

Chris [Cole, owner and founder Associated Building Supply] and I are both old school. I’ve been in this industry for over 35 years now and started in sales— out in the field, basically dragging jobsites looking for opportunities. I would look for foundations that were in the ground. COVID-19 threw a monkey wrench into all of that.

Were you able to maintain business?

There were a lot of unknowns … We had a pretty good plan to blow our numbers out of the water, but we pulled the reins in and played it very safe. We didn’t know what to expect, so we didn’t make a lot of large investments. But we maintained what we have and grew by 5%, meeting one of our goals … and we did it with fewer people.

Did that require changing any sales strategies? Which ones continue to work despite the circumstances?

We teach our people to always sell to the decisionmakers. Architects are the ones who plant the seeds, so we aim to get involved with them very early on and help them through the whole design process—to the degree that we have so much time invested that they say, ‘I don’t want to go to another company. I’d have to start all over.’

What are architects looking for?

They’re looking for hard information. A lot of what we do in the luxury home segment is highly technical, from an installation standpoint to specifications and performance. When you can help an architect and save them time, money and embarrassment, you become part of their team.

How have you managed to maintain those relationships amid COVID-19?

Last year, we hired a full-time rep for architects. He knows how to call on them and his primary responsibility includes building our brand and the brands of our vendors. He then pulls those opportunities to salespeople who are best positioned to handle each type and level of job. He has Zoom meetings and presentations built around our brands.

Are the reins back out in 2021 for full-scale business and growth?

Yes. We’ve hit all of these different cycles where they’re shutting down markets and then opening them back up. I think consumers understand this more now and aren’t as concerned as they once were … I just think we’re in a better position now that we understand this pandemic a lot more.


Carl Wagus Passes at Age 75

Industry expert Carl Wagus passed away recently. Wagus served as technical director of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (a predecessor to the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance) from 1994-2005.

“Carl was the consummate expert on all things fenestration, retaining more knowledge about our industry products and standards than several of us combined,” said FGIA executive director Janice Yglesias.

Wagus passed away December 29, at his home.

President of Gateway Extrusions Dies at Age 65

Thomas Ziegler, president of operations at Gateway Extrusion Systems of Union, Mo., died on January 17. Ziegler was with the company since 2006, joining as general manager for the facility, then became president of operations in 2017. Earlier in his career, he held management positions with Alcoa at extrusion facilities in Georgia and Mississippi and had over 40 years of experience in the aluminum extrusion and fabrication industry.

Rehau Mourns the Loss of its Founder

Helmut Wagner, founder and honorary president of Rehau, passed away January 24. Wagner was involved in plastics since 1948, founding the company in the city of Rehau, Upper Franconia, Germany. Rehau officials say the company is still strongly characterized by Wagner’s pioneering spirit, which set the tone for a successful family-owned business. After five decades of success, he handed over management to his sons: Jobst, who became chair of the supervisory board, and Dr. Veit Wagner, who became vice chairman.

“The great sympathy for the passing of our father comes from many regions of the world. We are very touched by this as a family,” said Jobst Wagner. “We will honor the memory of Helmut Wagner by resolutely continuing his impressive work.”

Wagner was 95.


Rehau Appoints Troeger CEO of Americas Region

Rehau recently promoted Dr. Thomas Troeger from the position of chief marketing officer to CEO of the Americas region. Troeger has been with the company for 14 years, and joined the regional executive board in January 2019 as chief sales and marketing officer.® Names Snow VP® has named Daniel Snow its vice president of operations. Snow graduated from George Mason University in 2016 with a degree in business management. He joined® after a stint at Key Media & Research, [DWM]’s parent company.

“Daniel has been extremely instrumental in the development of our business and has been the driving force behind our incredible growth,” said Lyle R. Hill,® president.

Brecht Joins Soft Tech as Business Development Manager

Soft Tech named Bruce Brecht its new business development manager for the North American sales team. Brecht has more than four decades’ worth of experience in the building products industry, officials said, specializing in fenestration for the past 25 years—including with Weathershield Companies, Pella Commercial, Kawneer, Crystal Windows, Intus Windows and Rehau.


FeneTech Promotes Wilson to Quality Assurance Group Manager

FeneTech Inc. promoted Brett Wilson to Quality Assurance Group manager. Wilson joined the company in 2011 after earning a degree in applied mathematics from Kent State University. In 2019, he was promoted to quality assurance testing lead, where he led team testing, employee development and build planning.


FGIA Appoints Roberts

The Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) hired Amy Roberts as its new director of Canadian and technical glass operations. Officials say Roberts works from her home in British Columbia, Canada, while training with FGIA glass products and Canadian industry affairs director Marg Webb, prior to Webb’s retirement later in 2021. She has more than 20 years of industry experience in both residential and commercial window manufacturing as well as glass and insulating glass manufacturing.


Masonite Appoints Chuang to Board

Masonite International Corp. appointed John H. Chuang, co-founder and CEO of Aquent, to its board of directors. Chuang co-founded Aquent in his dorm room as an undergraduate at Harvard University in 1986. Over the course of his career, he has received recognition such as Boston Business Journal’s “40 Under 40,” Mass High Tech’s “High Tech All-Star,” and Ernst and Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year.”

Chuang previously served as president of the Massachusetts Staffing Association and as chairman of the board for Angie’s List, as well as on the board for the American Staffing Association and AIGA. He graduated cum laude from Harvard University and has an MBA with honors from Harvard Business School.

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