Buying when the market is down

Q&A with Gary Jones, Manko Window Systems
Katy Devlin
October 26, 2009
COMMERCIAL, RETAIL, FABRICATION : BUSINESS

Exhibitors on the floor at GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window & Door Expo expressed optimism and touted new products and services in Atlanta, Sept. 30-Oct. 2. And the attendees, while fewer in number than last year, were buyers and decision makers checking out the new offerings. During the show, I sat down with one such buyer, Gary Jones, president, Manko Window Systems, Manhattan, Kan.

Manko bought a fully automated insulating glass line from Lisec, Austria, that uses the TriSeal spacer from Edgetech IG, Cambridge, Ohio.

View a photo gallery of the line in action during GlassBuild America.

Tell me about the line.
This is our second Lisec line. We got one about 10 or 12 years ago for an aluminum box spacer, which was the most current tech back in those days. Today’s technology is the warm-edge spacer, and we selected the TriSeal SuperSpacer. We saw the robot last year at this trade show for the first time, and it was the first time [we saw] TriSeal, an architectural version of the warm-edge SuperSpacer.

Why is the investment worth it?
If you’re not going to stay up with technology, you’re not going to have anything to sell, eventually.

Why did you decide to go with a warm-edge line?
Energy Star and the stimulus package have changed the U-value requirements for windows, and all products are affected: vinyl windows, aluminum windows, storefront and curtain wall. This change has made most manufacturers scramble to get caught up. Warm edge has been prominent in residential, and it is heading that way in commercial as well. Domestically, we are at the forefront of bringing warm edge technology into the commercial market. It has been overseas for years, but domestically I think there is just one other automated line that does the TriSeal. But, we are going to see more warm edge in the commercial market. TriSeal is one method of probably three or four ways of doing warm edge.

This line also provides us with labor savings. It basically cuts our labor in half. We’re going from five to six people operating our other Lisec line to three to operate this new line. Plus, it will produce more glass in an 8-hour shift than the other line.

What are you hearing from the market?
Building owners and architects are looking for green, [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design]. They want the most energy-efficient thing they can get. Architects love [this technology]. We did too good of a job selling it for some projects before we got the line. We’ve been using their manual application for three or four months.

Katy Devlin is senior editor for Glass Magazine. E-mail Katy at kdevlin@glass.org.