Industry Scrambles to Align with Energy Focus

February 17th, 2009 by Editor

A recent focus on renewable energy has made its effects on the window film industry. Manufacturers, distributors and dealers alike have been scrambling to organize and take advantage of current opportunities and a heightened consumer focus.

“We lean on business magazines, news shows and such, and we’re watching those mechanisms for information relative to energy conservation, relative to what’s important to the window film industry, that our dealers should know about,” explains Jim Hondroulis, president and owner of Energy Products Distribution (EPD) in Baltimore, Md. “I watch ‘Meet the Press’ religiously every Sunday,” he explains. “One Sunday, I see President Obama, before he was president actually, explaining how energy conservation in this country must enter its point-blank period. But he also suggested how energy inefficient our buildings and skyscrapers are.” Hondroulis says this represents opportunity staring the window film industry in its face. “We duplicated that clip, took it to our dealers and said, ‘Look, this is the president of the United States speaking. Energy conservation is getting greater awareness today than it’s ever gotten before. Let’s make sure we come up with strategies to capitalize on this.”

EPD assembles this information and distributes it to its dealers in various formats, including a newsletter, websites and even web-based meetings.

“The increased national media coverage of going green, energy costs, conservation and governmental reduction upgrade incentives are first and foremost on the talk waves,” explains Terri Fair, general manager for Sagr Products, a Gettysburg, Pa.-based distributor. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a home, storefront or building owner right now internal cost saving concepts are the only thing worth throwing money at. And if there’s a government rebate involved then it could be the single most profitable investment we have this year.”

Fair says many of her dealers are waking up to these opportunities.

“I believe those flat glass window film installers who are in good standing … are showing their clients how they can gain from product benefits and also teaching them how it may be possible to save additional costs on an upgrade,” she says.

Kent Davies, senior vice president and president of Solutia-owned CPFilms, says his company’s strategy has changed in recent times to match consumer interests and demands.

“I would say that we have placed a greater emphasis on the market place,” Davies says. “I believe, when I came into the business just over three years ago, there was a little bit of an internal focus [at CPFilms], and a lack of a fresh and up to date perspective on the market place.”

Davies says CPFilms has had to rethink its marketing materials and methods.

“We’ve really tried to place an emphasis on the market place, update the materials we provide our dealers and better train and educate our sales force and marketing teams,” Davies explains. “And our goal, ultimately, is to better enable our dealers by matching our efforts to the market place and potential customers.”

CPFilms isn’t alone in its thinking. In February of this year, 3M formed a Renewable Energy Division, announcing that a new organization will enable the company to maximize its technologies, products and responsiveness in the fast-changing renewable energy industry. The new division is divided into two business units: Energy Generation and Energy Management. Window film is part of the Energy Management unit and, according to the unit’s business director Ranjit Thakur, it serves as the backbone for this segment.

“Essentially when the Energy Management portion of the business was formed, the primary component of that was window films,” Thakur explains. He says that manufacturers will have to respond to an energy-driven marketplace with new products and offerings. “Consumers are much more energy-conscious [than in the past] and that is going to truly drive the sustainability of our product portfolio as it exists today,” he explains. Thakur says 3M’s new structure will help the company combine technologies and methods from various segments to create never-before-seen products that are consumer driven. (Watch for additional details and an exclusive interview with Thakur in the upcoming May-June issue of Window Film.)

As company’s scramble to create new strategies and align with a new energy-driven marketplace, one thing is for sure—this could turn out to be a window of historic opportunity for the window film industry.

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