Woodworking Equipment Suppliers Target Wood Window and Door Manufacturers
Atlanta—Are window and door manufacturers starting to invest more in woodworking equipment again? At least one of the 1,400 exhibitors at the International Woodworking Fair, held here at the end of August, suggested that could be the case.
Demand for machines that combine high production speeds with quick changeover times is particularly strong, reported Jeffrey Davidson, president of Weinig North America. The German company, with North American operations in Mooresville, NC, is a big supplier of moulders to the industry.
The wood window companies have spent the past five-to-10 years gearing up to make vinyl windows, he noted. “Now that they’re done with that, we see them taking another look at their wood production. At least that’s what we’re hoping.”
That hope is shared by Stiles Machinery Inc., a large importer of European equipment for panel processing, finishing and numerous other applications, and perhaps the largest exhibitor in Atlanta. Previously, the company was not too active in the window and door arena, except for profile wrapping machinery, but Stiles used IWF to launch its new Solid Wood Technologies division.
The new division is definitely targeting window and door makers, according to the company’s Amanda Domcek, and its initial offerings include the Kentwood line of wood moulders, along with Wadkin profile grinders. Additionally, the new division is partnering with System TM, a Danish manufacturer of saws, optimizing and grading systems, and handling equipment. The equipment offered by the new division incorporates all the latest technology and will exceed window and door makers demands for quality and efficiency, Domcek stated.
More important may be the accompanying service and support. “That’s what really sets Stiles apart,” she noted, pointing to other segments of the woodworking business where the company has a long history. “From what we’ve seen and heard, there’s a real opportunity for a company that can bring this market a higher level of service.”
Another relatively new player in the window and door field making its IWF debut was Dötul Inc. Started by door manufacturing veterans a few years ago, Dötul has been primarily targeting custom woodwork and cabinet shops interested in adding their own door lines, explained Mark Coffman, VP of marketing. Its line covers both the manufacturing and pre-hanging ends of the business, and includes a horizontal assembly press for stile-and-rail doors, stile-boring machines, and a variety of other units.
Most of the door equipment on display in Atlanta was targeted at cabinet doors, but a couple of other suppliers to the prehanging business exhibited at IWF. Both Wise Corp. and Builders’ Automation report that demand remains fairly strong for door equipment, despite recent declines in new construction.
Labor is still a problem, explained Robert Mitvalsky, Builders’ Automation CEO. “Even where door demand may be down, prehangers are looking at machines because they can’t find people.”
Equipment designed specifically for window production was more difficult to find at the show, but there were a number of machines there focusing on grilles. Dakota Automation was featuring a new unit designed to automatically apply tape to cut and notched and grille parts.
The company primarily focuses on custom machines, and has supplied a number of the big wood window and door companies, reported Jason Wobbema. It has developed a few standalone units, such as the tape applicator for grilles, and it was seeing interest from all types of window manufacturers for the machine.
Stegherr Maschinenbau, a German equipment manufacturer that has long targeted the wood window market was featuring its latest generation of grille equipment at the show. The new machine not only handles notching for cross-joints, but also end coping and cutting of grille perimeter parts. All cuts can be performed automatically based on order entry data.
Also showing a new joint cutter for window grilles was Newport Machinery. Like Stegherr cutters, the unit could accommodate wood, PVC and aluminum grille components.
Filling much of the Georgia World Congress Center, IWF is North America’s largest exhibition of woodworking equipment and technology. Attracting over 40,000, the event serves a wide audience involved in everything from cutting down forest trees to manufacturing furniture to custom woodworking.
Equipment for the production of cabinets seemed to dominate much of the show, but many exhibitors were also clearly targeting the growing closet business. In a presentation on equipment for manufacturing custom closet systems, it was reported demand is growing 30 percent a year.
Sponsored by the American Home Furnishings Alliance, Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America, and the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association, IWF returns to Atlanta in August 2008.
In the meantime, the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers has established the AWFS Fair as the West Coast alternative on opposite years. Information about that event, scheduled for July 18-21, 2007, in Las Vegas, is available at www.awfsfair.org.