Fit & Finish – Keggers and housekeeping

Political uncertainty has made it even more difficult than usual to focus this spring.
Chris Meiorin
March 07, 2017
By Chris Meiorin
Historically, the winter months for Canadian fenestrators have been used for housekeeping. With good intentions, the projects that didn’t get the attention they deserve during the busy months get deferred to the winter.
But as we round the corner on the first quarter of 2017, my to-do list has only managed to grow. As I sat contemplating this over an espresso, I realized that at this same time last year my column focused on pretty much the same topic. “Time to hit reset” discussed the volatility of the supply chain as we entered 2016 and how it was impacting our respective businesses. This year, with the supply chain seemingly stabilized, the start of 2017 has been more “in like a lion,” the only problem being, the lion is running off its leash. So what’s up with start of each new year continually slipping away? Is the start of 2017 any different from those in previous years? Let’s take a closer look at this.

Much as I’ve suggested putting off a lot of housekeeping until the new year, I think a lot of other people are on this same page. Price increases often surface early in the year and it would seem that as one trickles in, there is usually a wave that follows. If you are going to lose a staff member, it’s in the new year (presumably following any potential year-end bonus). Significant supply chain announcements are rarely introduced in December – this kind of news usually surfaces “in the new year.” It’s like your housekeeping plans for the new year are eternally thwarted by your teenage son hosting a kegger in your newly renovated kitchen and half the beginning of the “new year” is spent cleaning up the mess. But this kegger is different from others. It’s as if your son has some new friends. Friends you don’t know a lot about. Friends that look as if they could be a significant distraction, and its keeping you up at night. To us fenestrators, this new friend is the new U.S. president.

The significance of Canada-U.S. trade is no secret to anyone on this side of the border. When North American free trade came into force some 23 years ago, it superseded a free trade agreement that we already shared with our neighbours to the south. As a result, the introduction of NAFTA may not have had as much significance to Canada-U.S. trade, as it did to trade between the U.S. and Mexico. None the less, with the promise of President Trump tearing up NAFTA and rejuvenating U.S. protectionism, this first-quarter kegger feels very different from those in the past.

As I prepared to write this column, I was fortunate enough to have an informal meeting with a couple of industry veterans whom opinion I respect very much. One of the things I value most about writing this column is it allows me to ask questions – both to myself and my peers. I ended this particular coffee chat with the question how might the proposed changes to NAFTA and Canada-U.S. trade affect our respective businesses. I asked the question under the guise of input for this column, but in reality, I really wanted some level of reassurance that the trade sky wasn’t falling. Interestingly enough, my question on the changing face of trade was met with the question, “What do you think about it?” and forced me to admit that I really had no idea and the end nor
did they.

In closing, I apologize for this column, as I swore I wouldn’t impose upon anyone more political commentary than they were already exposed to. I meant to discuss here the uncertainty that this time of year sometimes brings, but couldn’t help but discuss the added uncertainty that comes with this new era in politics.


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