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The cycle of quality

... the window industry has seen a steady acceptance in the market...


May 11, 2008
By Chris Skalkos

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With component manufacturers constantly developing better products and window dealers promoting
their added value to consumers, the window industry has seen a steady acceptance in the market for quality products.

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With component manufacturers constantly developing better products and window dealers promoting
their added value to consumers, the window industry has seen a steady acceptance in the market for quality products.

Since the advent of coated glass and warm edge spacer bars, the windows being put into most residential homes today achieve incredible solar performance values, last longer and require less maintenance. However, industry specialist, Doug Beingessner of Beingessner Home Exteriors in St. Jacobs, Ontario, says it is up to the contract companies and individuals who install them to complete the cycle of quality.

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Beingessner is highly accredited with extensive involvement in several industry-related organizations that include being a member and past president for the Siding and Window Dealers Association of Canada (SAWDAC); chairman of Window Wise, a national certification program for the installation of energy efficient windows and a committee member of the CSA A440.4 Window Installation Standard. He says SAWDAC is a tremendous resource for installers to acquire the specialized training they need along with the association’s Window Wise certification to help them promote quality installation standards to customers.

His company is one of original members of SAWDAC, joining the association in 1988. “I saw a huge benefit for our own company to be a part of an organization that was working for the betterment of the industry and it has grown through the years,” he says, adding that it now has about 350 members that include siding and window dealers and associate members who are manufacturers and distributors.

“The Window Wise program advocates quality products and installations through qualified dealers who are members of the association and manufacturers who subscribe to the program to produce a product that qualifies. It also sets out quality standards criteria for installers. All of this adds credibility to the industry and gives customers the confidence that they are making the correct choice in product and company they choose to deal with,” he explains.

Beingessner is a trainer for the Window Wise program which organizes general training sessions for contractors who join the program. He says the training focusses on the house as a system and how everything fits together, as well as the individual window components such as inner gasses, air spacer, low-E glass products and weather proofing with actual installations being performed on a window wall mock-up.

“There is a tremendous need for training. I would say that everything we have ever experienced in the field, we bring to the course. Most of the people in the course are experienced installers who come to tweak what they already do or confirm that they are doing it correctly. It’s a reassurance of good installation practices,” he says, adding that he starts every class by making a bet to the participants that they will have learned at least two new things by the end of the day.

“I have never had a person say to me that they didn’t pick up at least one or two good tips. Much of the learning comes from this gathering of professionals, sharing amongst each other in a workshop atmosphere. Part of the course material has evolved from the feedback we have received from installers,” he says. “We review tips from contractors across Canada about different installation methods since they can vary quite a bit across the country. The basic set of criteria is the same no matter where you are, but some of the individual methods will vary from area to area depending on the climate.”

Beingessner says his concern and the main challenge for this industry is to overcome the black market in the
renovation industry, as too many contractors are capitalizing on the increased demand and offering window replacement services without first receiving proper installation training. A faulty installation can nullify the energy saving benefits and high-tech features of the window and create costly problems that may not be evident for months or years.

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A cut-away of a PVC window profile in the showroom at Beingessner Home Exteriors in St. Jacobs, Ontario. The company celebrated its 50th Anniversary in August.

“All it takes is a pickup truck and a few windows from a Big Box store and you’re a full fledged businessman. SAWDAC is trying to keep this industry professional and make window installers more desirable to deal with. There are hundreds of window dealers across Canada, but the industry is very fragmented. A lot of window companies avoid associations all together and it amazes me why companies would not want to be part of an organization designed to help increase the credibility of the industry that provides their livelihood.”

He says the companies that are part of the Window Wise program have a tremendous marketing edge because a main part of the program is designed to help consumers choose the right contractor and instill in them the confidence that they are hiring qualified people who only install qualified products. “The contractors who are part of the program love it and don’t want their competitors to have it. There are some very good companies who are not part of the program and as a contractor, it makes it easier to compete against them.”
Beingessner services the residential market, purchasing windows from three primary manufacturers. They are mostly vinyl window profiles which he estimates now make up about 98 percent of the market. “The industry has switched to PVC. Wood and aluminum windows have almost disappeared because it is more efficient to make vinyl windows.” He adds that the vinyl window industry has done a great job promoting itself, which is also being boosted by the natural tendency of consumers to want maintenance free but energy efficient window products.

“The ‘green movement’ has changed the window industry for sure. It actually started with the Ontario Hydro Energy Efficiency Program in the early 1990s which was designed to promote energy efficiencies in windows. At the time there was an incentive for homeowners to put in low-E. This helped to kick start the movement,” he says. “About the same time, the Energy Rating Program gave us Energy Rating numbers derived from the A440 standard to include solar heat gain, solar heat loss, air infiltration and heat loss through frames,” he says, adding that the role of the window dealer is to translate that to the customer.

“This should be part of the presentation to the customer. They can’t see the low-E coating or the argon gas and they can’t tell the differences in frame materials, so contractors have to explain what these components do and how it can separate energy efficient windows from standard windows,” he says. “Sure they pay a premium but in the long-run, the benefit is there.”

Although consumers may not be familiar with the technology behind modern window products, Beingessner says they do understand value and it is this market trend that will continue to push window manufacturers and their suppliers to keep adding value to their products.

“All of the materials and components that go into a window are getting better and we are seeing better frames with higher R values. If we look at how far the technology has advanced, we can predict where the technology is going,” he says. “We may not see revolutionary changes in the industry, but the incremental benefits that manufacturers are making are ultimately creating better windows.”

Five decades ago
Beingessner Home Exteriors in St. Jacobs, Ontario, celebrated its 50th Anniversary in August. Doug Beingessner’s late father, Harry, started a small business in 1957 supplying aluminum sliding windows to the new construction market. Storm windows and aluminum doors were soon to follow.

“By today’s standards, they were quite basic but at the time, they were nothing short of new technology and a ‘must have’ for the most up-to-date homes. Windows with self storing screens for summer time ventilation and extra glazing for winter warmth put energy conservation and comfort on a firm footing early,” says Beingessner, who worked at his father’s business part-time before pursuing other goals. He returned to the company in 1972 after his father passed away to close down the business as he originally had no intention of keeping it going. “After two months, I asked what am I doing this for? The phone kept ringing and business kept pouring in. I soon realized that this was a good business to be in. It had great potential.”

The next generation took over. In 1976, the business was forced to move from its rented quarters in Waterloo, Ontario. Commercial space was at a premium and there was little to be found. With the office being run out of Doug’s home, all that was needed was a small warehouse for storage with a bit of shop space.

Later in 1976, Beingessner’s moved to St. Jacobs. The accommodations were not modern, but serviceable. A 900 square foot converted chicken barn with a sagging roof and four walls that all tilted in the same direction became home to H. Beingessner Products. The name has since been changed to better reflect the nature of the business, but the Beingessner name has been a constant. It has always been unique… “When people identify with a name, they always know who you are,” he says.

The new location needed a lot of work just to make it useable. Siding and a new roof made the place look better. Nothing could be done about the six foot high ceilings. “The previous owner was quite a short fellow, so it did not take too long before plans were in the works to replace the building,” he says. In the summer of 1986, the old building was ‘razed’ and a new 3000 square foot warehouse was built. The office moved out of Doug’s home and into the new accommodations. A showroom wa designed to display all the different products and there was a lot of warehouse space, so much that part of the building was rented out for the first few years to help pay the expenses.

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A member and past president of the Siding and Window Dealers Association of Canada (SAWDAC), Doug Beingessner is also a trainer for SAWDAC’s Window Wise program.

The three generation family business is now operated by himself, his wife Lynne, his daughter Jennifer and long-time employ, Barry Jantzi. “Over two thirds of our business is repeat and word of mouth. Our customers are looking for quality products professionally installed at a reasonable price,” says Beingessner, who is quick to credit the employees for the company’s longevity. “The people who work for us are the backbone of our customer service which is what we are known for, but the key is having the right people who take an active interest in the company, that’s very important.” -end-

Window Wise
Window Wise is a national window certification program designed to help consumers choose a high quality window protected by an industry-backed guarantee and installed by trained professionals.

Window Wise independently audits and certifies contractors and window manufacturers, and conducts comprehensive window installation training seminars for installers.

All approved Window Wise windows have been tested and exceed building code standards for air infiltration, water leakage and strength with high quality, thermally efficient frame and sash components manufactured under specified quality control.

Windows are tested according to CSA A440 specification and test results must meet or exceed Window Wise minimum requirements for air infiltration, water penetration and strength (wind load).

A Window Wise installation specifies more than 25 criteria for a quality, energy efficient installation. On every Window Wise installation, there must be at least one certified and experienced installer on site.
For more information visit www.windowwise.com -end-


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