Editorial: Connecting dots
Your editor needs to get a life.
May 4, 2023 By Patrick Flannery
A fun game I like to play is to look through the content in the magazine and think about what it says about the state of the industry. I realize this would not be considered a fun game by most other people. Or any other people. I guess that’s why I’m the editor.
I couldn’t have been more thrilled to encounter Brian Wareham at Fenestra’s excellent Advantage event in Montreal and invite his company, Northerm Windows and Doors, to be our cover profile this spring. We’ve never profiled a fenestration manufacturer from the Far North before and it was on my bucket list to get someone from up there before I keel over dead on my keyboard (this is known as The Editor Retirement Plan). Well, mission accomplished. Carroll McCormick’s article is full of fascinating details about getting this business done in a place where you have to barge in your supplies and drive your product out over frozen lakes.
There’s two things about Northerm that connect to some broader industry topics. The first is that building highly insulating windows – a thing many southern companies don’t feel they can do – is old hat for them. They’ve been making quad-pane windows for decades. Interestingly, they also have to build windows that are more resilient in the heat because summer days in their market are 19 hours long. “Resilience” is something of a buzz word in the building engineering community right now, so we could probably all learn something from a company that has been shipping windows in the Arctic.
The other neat thing about Northerm is that it is First Nations-owned. Are there any other window fabricators in Canada owned by First Nations groups? Drop me a line if there are, because I’m not aware of any. We’re at a time in history where we’re becoming more conscious of the injustices faced by our First Nations people, and it’s great to see a flourishing enterprise like Northerm benefiting its community with jobs and economic development.
In this issue we welcome Anton Van Dyk, vice-president of product development and innovation for Centra Windows, as our newest regular columnist. We are all now smarter. Anton brings the deep thinking to the window business, so pour a coffee and read The Window Geek slowly. You’ll find some useful insights there to help you grapple with one of the biggest challenges facing us all right now: how to specify windows in an environment of shifting, overlapping and even contradictory standards.
I think my short report on last November’s WinDoor (see it online at fenestrationreview.com) touches another big topic: the end of the anti-COVID measures and a return to business as usual following the bizarre circumstances of the last three years. I’ve had a normal, pre-pandemic schedule of events this spring and I can report that people are still visibly thrilled to be back together in person, shaking hands and hugging. You can see a photo in the article of the lineup to get into WinDoor…not what we always saw in the Before Times. If I were to look back and assess the impact of the pandemic, I’d say it hit us in ways we didn’t expect. Following the initial layoffs, it’s proven harder to get our workforce back than we thought it would be. I know I thought our supply chains were more resilient than they turned out to be, and the resulting inflation (and consequent interest rate hikes) has come as a surprise. The surge in market demand during the pandemic was equally surprising. I think that and the fact that everyone who wants a job has one will carry us through a fairly soft landing from the little slowdown happening now. People at WinDoor were smiling.
I hope you had as much fun with this column as I did, but I doubt it.
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