Shifting regulations could force fabricators underground.
I came across a recent online editorial discussing how well recent fenestration labeling is being received by manufacturers, which begged the question “What manufacturers exactly is she referring to and what is she smoking in her e-cigarette?” Almost without exception, the small shop fabricator makes like a deer in the headlights when the topic of NAFS and fenestration labeling comes up. With small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) accounting for over 75 per cent of all private jobs over the last decade, and representing almost 70 per cent of the private-sector labour force in Canada, one might think it would be in the best interest of the economy to cater to this segment of the industry. With the limited financial and human resources available to SMEs, especially after a couple of belt-tightening years, the scope of work involved in initiating and maintaining a fenestration labeling program is daunting to say the least.
I came across another recent article on the Dot-Bong boom. It discussed how the medical marijuana industry is the next big thing and there has been no shortage of investors rushing to cash in on a grow op – the only problem being Health Canada’s continued changes to how the game is to be played. This has left only the largest of companies – in some cases, publicly traded companies – as the only ones able to weather the storm of knee-jerk regulatory changes. “They keep moving the goal posts,” one West Coast-based applicant said of Health Canada’s evolving review process. I could not help but think of how the fenestration industry is faced with the same challenges.
On the surface, it is easy to see the value in fenestration labeling. It’s all about offering the consumer the most energy-efficient products available for the application. In theory, not a bad idea, however what is lost is how the product performs after it has been installed. No mention is given to how the product is made. No mention of the materials used and how they actually perform in the long run. How they might hold up in our harsh climates. It’s all about energy modeling and how one product is slightly better than the next, using a rather narrow criteria. Yes, fenestration labeling has brought some value to industry but any of the men and women I have had the pleasure of associating with over the years made great products long before labeling came into effect. In fact, the argument can be made that labeling has the potential to decrease how the product performs in the field. Take steel reinforcing out of the window and earn energy points. Narrow down a profile, more points. Use a non-structural spacer and you’re on an energy roll. Yes, it all looks good on paper but the windows I would make for my own home will work for generations, and the same cannot always be said for energy-efficient windows.
Unlike our American counterparts, we’re a fragmented industry here in Canada with a lot of small players working hard to make a good product. The cost entry of the labeling requirements puts the small and medium-sized fabricators on the same playing field as the big guys. This effectively shuts out a lot of good companies from playing the game and sometimes forces good companies underground just to survive – a problem faced not only by window fabricators, but with Health Canada and pot growers alike.
Chris Meiorin is the owner of Euro Vinyl Windows and Doors in Woodbridge, Ont.
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