MAUMEE, OHIO (April 18, 1 p.m. ET) — Innovation and a focus on the entire entranceway — not just the door — continue to serve Therma-Tru Doors Corp. well, even in a sluggish housing market.
“We had low-single-digit [sales] growth in 2011 and we're planning for 2012 to look a lot like 2011,” said Dave Randich, CEO of the fiberglass entry and patio door maker, in an interview earlier this year. “For the door industry, 2011 was more or less flat. But we saw growth due to new products, although there was a hangover effect from the elimination of the energy-efficiency tax credit.”
Randich said Therma-Tru got a boost in 2011 from its Vented Sidelites fiberglass entry doors with built-in, full-length, decorative-glass side vents and its Classic-Craft Canvas Collection paintable fiberglass doors in the premium market segment.
Maumee-based Therma-Tru also got a sales lift, said Randich, from the introduction in mid-2011 of the Stone & Timber collection from its now-integrated sister company, Fypon LLC. That line comprises more than 270 polyurethane products: window and door trim, decorative millwork, louvers, post wraps, trellis systems, stone surround systems, stone columns and stone balustrades.
The products feature either a realistic stone or wood-grain texture, according to the company, and resemble traditional cast concrete or timber accents.
Chris Klein, CEO of Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc., agreed. Fortune Brands is the $3.3 billion parent company of Therma-Tru, Simonton Windows, Master Lock, MasterBrand and Moen.
“The market has responded positively to our focus on home products, on innovation and the consumer,” Klein said. “We are driven by what we hear from consumers. In this whole time since the market turned down in 2009, we have been profitable, growing and taking market share.”
According to Klein, consumers are looking for a cleaner exterior look. This year, Therma-Tru has:
* Added door handles that have a simpler look.
* Introduced glass side panels for its Classic-Craft Craftsman doors.
* Simplified panel designs for its doors.
* Developed fiberglass doors with a hardwood-grain look with its new Fiber-Classic Mahogany Collection three-panel door that can be configured for either three-quarter rectangle or three-quarter oval panels in 16 decorative-glass options, plus four privacy-glass options.
* Developed four families of triple-paned, textured privacy glass that are easier to clean.
“We believe this trend of less-busy and more-simplistic glass designs will continue to accelerate in 2012,” Randich said, adding that homeowners are seeking darker stain and more privacy glass.
“The privacy glass has three pieces of glass instead of two, with the textured piece between two clear pieces so it is easier to clean,” said Heather Sonnenberg, vice president of product management at Therma-Tru. “That also reduces heat transfer and provides a better sound barrier.”
Likewise, said Randich, the addition of vented sidelights two years ago to its premium Classic-Craft Canvas Collection doors, provides light without sacrificing energy efficiency.
Fypon accessories add to the look that can be created around the door and the entire front of the home. “If you show millwork on its own, it is hard to get someone excited about it, but when they are displayed together, it's a different story,” Randich said.
“Their door surrounds allow us to put aesthetic tops on our doors” in a package and systems approach, said Randich. “We are seeing that builders repeatedly use our synthetic products — instead of more traditional options such as wood.”
Therma-Tru isn't neglecting the need to continually make improvements in its manufacturing and distribution to remain cost-competitive, according to Randich.
“We have been blessed to have a financially secure parent company,” said Randich of Fortune Brands Home & Security, which was spun off in October as a separate company by Fortune Brands. “They have been willing to invest capital in our manufacturing processes” at both the company's door manufacturing plant in Butler, Ind., and at the firm's plant in Matamoros, Mexico, where the glass panels for the doors and the sidelights are made.
“We have invested at Butler to automate and improve material handling, and invested in manufacturing processes both to improve quality and to improve our cost position of our products,” Randich said.
In the third quarter of last year, the company completed a 350,000-square-foot distribution center for Therma-Tru and Fypon products. The center, located right off Interstate 80 in Howe, Ind., replaces a Therma-Tru distribution center 30 miles east of Howe in Angola, Ind., and the Fypon distribution, service and light-fabrication site in Archbold, Ohio, another 40 miles east.
“It is a modern facility with modern technology that has 35 docks,” Randich said of the new site. “It also allows us to operate with lower inventory,” reducing lead times on deliveries. A case in point: Lead times have been reduced on glass items by 80 percent, he said.
The new distribution center also fabricates some of Fypon's trim products that are manufactured in Yantai, China.
Fortune Brands Home & Security, headquartered in Deerfield, Ill., had more than $3.3 billion in sales in 2011, up 3 percent from the prior year. Profit declined 17 percent in 2011 to $149.5 million, but cash flow improved by 26 percent to $175.4 million.