Events & Shows
20 years of Windoor
By Jack Kohane
By Jack Kohane
Windoor, the premier window and door show in Canada, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. A long way from its humble beginnings as a casual conversation over a few cocktails, Windoor continues to generate excitement for all those attending the annual event. This year spotlights the exhibitors who have maintained a presence at the show year after year. Here they explain why it’s important to be a part of the past, present and the future of Windoor.
“As a long-standing member of the CWDMA (Canadian Window and Door Manufacturers Association), we felt that it was important to support this new venture called Windoor from the get-go,” says Ron VandenBrink, manager of distribution and sales for Trimlite, a Vancouver-based manufacturer and distributor of exterior and interior doors. “We also saw this as a strategic business decision. As a company based in the west, we wanted to expand into the Ontario and Eastern Canadian market. We felt that Windoor would be a great vehicle in helping us achieve this goal. It has helped us build our business across the country.”
Opening its doors in 1983, Trimlite began as a manufacturer of decorative glass inserts for local steel door fabricators, and has since evolved into a manufacturer and distributor of doors, decorative door glass, and related millwork products for the building materials industry. An early embracer of the concept of the global economy, Trimlite established a glass manufacturing location in Vietnam in the mid-1990s and a stile-and-rail wood door manufacturing facility in China in 2004. Combined with distribution locations in Surrey, B.C., Burlington, Ont., Renton, Wash., and Ashtabula, Ohio, Trimlite provides door and glass products to such industry leaders as Simpson Door, Plastpro, and Cardinal IG, to name a few. “Owning our own manufacturing facilities allows us to maintain control over our product, from production to distribution,” notes VandenBrink. “Trimlite can create designs that are simple to intricate, clear to obscure. This is where solid metals, textured and bevelled glass come together to create works of art.”
At the inaugural Windoor show, Trimlite showcased its original line-up of doorlites, as well as fiberglass doors and composite jambs. “We’ve greatly expanded the product offering over the years,” continues VandenBrink. “Beyond our 25 decorative families, we now can present Windoor attendees with a full line of raise/lower mini-blind and commodity products. Maintaining the traditions of handcrafted products, like decorative glass, is still very important to us. Combining these age-old traditions with modern advancements in design, materials, sealing, hot melts and plastics, you now get a product today that’s far superior to the products of just five years ago, let alone 20.”
VandenBrink, who has been with the company since 1986, believes that Windoor has helped put Trimlite on the map as a credible vendor to the door fabricators in Canada. “The show allows us the opportunity to meet with all of our customers and showcase new products and programs for the coming year. We will be featuring some new doorlite designs, and will encourage our customers to give us feedback right on the show floor. As a Windoor exhibitor, you are meeting with qualified buyers and decision makers from all over Canada, the U.S. and some from overseas. The value proposition is excellent…it is very cost effective.”
The new kid at this year’s Windoor is among the show’s oldest companies, but one sporting a new look, new logo and some new faces. “Windoor is the single most important marketing event we do in Canada,” says Mike McCann, vice-president of sales and marketing for Amesbury Truth, based in the southern Minnesota city of Owatonna. “This year, it’s the ideal venue to unveil our new brand in Canada.”
With more than 2,000 employees located across 12 facilities in eight U.S. states and four countries, and facilities covering nearly 1.5 million square feet all together, Amesbury Truth is the North American division of Tyman PLC, headquartered in London, England. Tyman is an international supplier of building products to the door and window industry with manufacturing sites across Europe, Asia, Australia and North and South America.
Before becoming one company in July of 2013, Amesbury was a leader in the fenestration market supplying hardware, sealing, and extruded products to residential and commercial markets. Amesbury was founded as the S.R. Bailey Carriage Company in 1856, producing carriages, poles and sleighs, and was the first to introduce the bicycle wheel. In the 1880s, Amesbury began producing automotive door and window seals. U.S.-based Truth Hardware, which has been exhibiting at Windoor for the past 20 years, is celebrating its own milestone this year: 100 years in the business of crafting window and door hardware for the North American residential and commercial fenestration market. “The two businesses were very complementary and bringing them together as Amesbury Truth created an organization with extensive engineering resources as well as a global reach,” says McCann. Its new tag line, “Engineered Solutions. Trusted Results,” conveys the company’s history of innovation and engineering expertise.
McCann says having a presence at this annual premier event is a win-win opportunity to stay connected with his customers, showcase new products, collaborate with key industry leaders and learn about the latest in codes and standards that change from year to year. “Windoor draws a quality audience where we can meet in one place at one time,” he says. “As our company has evolved and grown, so have our exhibits. Our booth size fluctuates year to year based on the products we spotlight and the overall health of the market. We’ll have our entire combined portfolio in a brand new, 40-by-40-foot foot booth, the best yet.” On hand to help demonstrate Amesbury Truth’s key lines of hinged windows, hinged and sliding patio doors and balanced systems for sliding windows, will be Mathieu Hebert, the company’s new national sales director.
Affirming his commitment to the past, present and future with Windoor, McCann says, “It’s been a pleasure to see the founders acknowledged in recent years, a tribute to the people that have helped us as an industry grow to where we are today. It has provided opportunities for us to understand our customers, suppliers and peers at a personal level. Windoor remains integral to our annual marketing plan. Year after year we leave the show with a renewed enthusiasm for our customers, our products and the overall market.”
Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance
Margaret Webb is adamant that Windoor offers exceptional value to anyone in the business of glass. As executive director of the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA), she recognizes the importance to see and be seen at the annual show. “It’s a great opportunity to meet with members and network with other organizations,” she says from her Ottawa headquarters. “The educational component, bringing together a multitude of industry experts to highlight new ideas and technologies providing the latest updates on industry happenings such as codes and standards, is crucial for window and door manufacturers in attendance.”
Among the world’s leading organizations concerned with the engineering and manufacturing of insulating glass, IGMA is a long-time supporter of Windoor, exhibiting at the show for the past 20 years. “Both IGMA and CWDMA (now Fenestration Canada) were both managed by the same management firm,” she notes. “This was a good opportunity for IGMA to show support to CWDMA and also connect with our members’ customers.”
Creating alliances with other organizations is an IGMA trademark. Its current incarnation as a premier North American trade association representing the insulating glass industry in North America and also in the international marketplace, was created at the turn of this century as a result of the merger between the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Association of Canada (IGMAC) and the Chicago-based Sealed Insulating Glass Manufacturers Association (SIGMA).
A not-for-profit organization, IGMA continues to draw on the positive synergies of the former associations and has evolved as one of the top technical authorities across the spectrum of insulating glass manufacturing. “Our focus is on developing new technologies in the manufacturing of insulating glass units supported by new research, best practices and the development of codes and standards,” explains Webb. “IGMA’s industry publications, education programs, product certification programs and leading edge research provide valuable support to the industry.”
Webb lauds IGMA’s track record. “Over the years, we have expanded to include a strong international membership, and that membership keeps growing. We have accomplished much since the merger of IGMAC and SIGMA.”
Describing the show as being focused, Webb says, “It may not have the size of the other trade shows but the contacts are better because people come to this show with a purpose in mind, looking to purchase new equipment, find the latest information, gather the publications they need and seek expert advice on standards and codes. They are serious about what’s being offered at Windoor, and come determined to network with as many key industry contacts as possible. They know they can do some real business at Windoor.”
Anticipation mounts for this year’s Windoor. Webb has been attending the show for the past 14 years. “This show has been a good one for IGMA,” she says. “It has helped increase our membership each year. Every show brings us one or two new members. Windoor gives us the most concrete results, while offering a most complete fenestration industry package.”
Among the group of dedicated visionaries who worked long and hard to launch the first Windoor, Raymond Ouellette calls this premier trade show a winner from the start. “Windoor caught on right away. Why? Because there was a need for it,” says the founder of The Novatech Group, producer of custom door glass and steel and fibreglass doors, among other product lines, headquartered in Sainte-Julie, Que. He recalls the decision to create Windoor as an easy one. “Our industry needed a show like Windoor. I was president of CWDMA at the time and Jim Parker was on our board of directors. Jim was the first promoter of the idea of the show and his suggestion to have such an activity for our industry was unanimously approved by the board.” It would take the founders a further year to prepare and do the complex planning and promotion campaigns. “It had to be done right, as new trade shows are always hard to get started,” Ouellette emphasizes. But with a kick-off attendance of 1,582 and 65 exhibitors at the inaugural event, it even generated a bit of a profit for the association from the get-go. Everyone was pleased by the results, predicting that a good start would lead to a great future.”
From a single plant operation in 1982 producing door glass and decorative V-groove glass, to its current ultra-modern facilities covering a combined total area of more than 495,000 square feet with a global presence in more than 15 countries, Novatech comprises half a dozen subsidiaries with more than 500 employees. The company also boasts an innovation centre dedicated to the research and development of new products.
The company has garnered some prestige awards, including recipient of the Tribute Certificate for business practices abroad awarded by the Association des Manufacturiers et Exportateurs du Quebec and Business Development Canada, as well as the Certificate of Performance (Gold) for its environmentally friendly manufacturing plant awarded by Recyc-Québec. “The management and employees of Novatech believe strongly that environmental and social responsibility and success go hand in hand,” Ouellette points out.
Windoor has been a big reason behind his company’s growth, according to Ouellette. “Our first exhibit in 1995 was a 20-by-20 booth, and we continued with that size for several years. But as the show has grown, so have we. Windoor has contributed greatly to Novatech’s expansion by providing us with quality opportunities to strengthen relationships with our Canadian and North American customers. We at Novatech are very proud to have been one of Windoor’s first collaborators at the founding of this great industry gathering 20 years ago. We have grown tremendously over that time, planting solid foundations in Canada and on four continents.”