Door and Window Musings
by Tara Taffera
October 10th, 2012

Roundtable Discussions Yield Results

I have attended door and window industry trade shows and meetings for almost 15 years now, and it’s nice to see when associations that have been hosting trade shows for decades (48 in the case of the Association of Millwork Distributors—AMD), mix it up so to speak.

Roundtable discussions have been a great marketing tool in various formats for years but I was excited to see AMD add it to its line-up for this year’s trade show being held this week in Louisville, Ky.

Participants registered in advance and were pre-assigned to a table number and held discussions in groups of approximately eight. Participants were given discussion topics such as transportation costs, warranties, technology in the millwork industry, and code and labeling issues. The participants then had about 20 minutes to discuss whatever industry topic was on their mind.

I was excited that one industry group allowed me to join them and I wanted to share just a few of their insights. I am sure all the others in attendance (and I was delighted at the great attendance), had discussions just as thought provoking as mine. But because I can’t be everywhere at once, here are some of the items on the minds of AMD attendees:

Customers want it quick. Many at the table said their customers want quick ship programs—and they don’t’ want to pay extra for them.

Technologically speaking. One distributor said he has at least five customers who don’t own a computer and still operate by fax.

When it comes to online ordering, some think the window suppliers have done a better job at embracing this than their door counterparts.

Labeling. Those at my table agreed that when it comes to doors, obviously there has to be requirements, but in general, anytime there are new code requirements, it places a particular burden on the smaller-sized companies.

Speaking of labeling, a representative of one smaller door company in attendance said they don’t label their doors but they do choose components from high-quality suppliers. “But their customers don’t ask for it so why incur the cost?”

Running the gamut. When it came to the open discussion, one individual brought up the government’s quest to achieve net zero energy homes which prompted him to ask, “This makes me wonder what a door will look like five or ten years from now.”

Another asked the group, “How is the dealer’s role changing?” and one attendee noted that lumberyards don’t carry as much as they used to.

Another answered that dealers aren’t as knowledgeable as they were in the past. One attendee thought this may have to do with the fact that there are now so many more options than existed in years past.

The discussions were definitely thought provoking and I know the conversations proved valuable for those who engaged in them. If you have thoughts on these or any other issues email me at or post a comment here.

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