Virtual meetings. Online marketing. Masks on job sites.
Like everyone in the construction industry, window and door dealers have had to adjust during the coronavirus pandemic. But despite challenges like keeping workers safe and addressing ongoing labor and materials shortages, many dealers say they ended 2020 with record sales and are optimistic about 2021.
“March and April 2020 showed us what it’s like when everything comes to a stop,” says Rick Salter, owner of Las Vegas-based Custom Home Window & Door. “The good news is, before and after that, it was a banner year. We closed out the year with our largest sales year to date.”
On the east coast, where Northeast Building Supply is based, president and CEO Jason Cohen has seen a surge in people leaving New York City for the suburbs, which has led to an uptick in new builds. “The construction market dropped off when the pandemic was at its height last year,” Cohen says. “And now, we’re on a very fast rebound.”
Doug Saunders, president of Roadrunner Glass Company, says his business has been busy throughout the pandemic, though not without some stumbles. “Our residential service division slowed down for a couple weeks because homeowners were unsure about letting people in their homes, but once the mask protection was required, most were okay,” Saunders says. “The custom home division has not slowed down at all.”
Saunders has been dealing with installation delays because of the pandemic. “Trying to keep everyone safe and having employees stay home, get tested, and quarantine because they were feeling sick has made it challenging to schedule installs,” he says. “Several manufacturers and suppliers have had personnel out due to COVID, so product deliveries have also been delayed.”
Supply shortages and delays also impacted Custom Home Window & Door. “Supplier delays and project restrictions did require some additional planning, but for the most part, we were able to work through these,” Salter says.
Cohen had to take the unfortunate measure of furloughing some of the Northeast Building Supply staff during the height of the pandemic, but says they have all returned to work for the company and he is now short-staffed relative to the company’s project pipeline.
Scott Thurber, president of Associated Building Supply in California, says his company did a complete top-down analysis of how it does business during the pandemic. “We made directional changes to accommodate COVID-19,” Thurber says. “At the same time, we have leaned on our vendor partners for leads and opportunities.”
Like many companies, Associated Building Supply explored new avenues in the virtual world. “Virtual initiatives aimed at architects and builders is a new focal point for us,” Thurber says. “We’re getting better and better at it with proprietary tools designed to help architects make decisions quicker. We are also in the midst of a website redesign.”
Looking ahead into 2021, dealers are optimistic, even if some still have concerns about stability. Salter says the stock market and politics “can and will play a role in what the future holds here,” but adds that Custom Home Window & Door rolled over $1.6 million in sales into 2021 from 2020. “This new year is looking like it will be very strong.”
Thurber says Associated Building Supply grew by 5 percent last year and is poised for significant growth in 2021. “Our motto has been ‘work smarter, not harder,’ with a laser focus on new customers,” he says. “We are very optimistic 2021 will be a banner year for us.”