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0 Comments | Jun 16, 2010

Interview with Greg Irving, VP at Soft-Lite, Part I

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing the VP of Sales & Marketing over at Soft-Lite Windows. With more than 30 years in the window & door industry, Mr. Irving spoke confidently about Soft-Lite Window Products and the direction that he sees making the most sense in days to come. This is the first part of the interview, and the second is to follow soon. We hope you enjoy the questions and answers and feel free to Contact Us with any questions you would like to have answered on the site.

Replacement Windows: Could you give us a sense of the locations your products are offered in? Given these locations, do you have any plans or ideas of possible places to expand to that would make sense in the overall market you aim to place your product in?

Greg Irving: Soft-Lite markets our extensive product line in 40 states; as far west as Colorado. We will be expanding our market penetration in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi in 2011 as the demand of our high performance products increase.

RW: What are your thoughts or feelings regarding the new lead paint remodeling certification, and how have they impacted Soft-Lite, and probably more directly, your dealers?

GI: Soft-Lite acted proactively in regard to the new regulations. We began a communication blitz which involved sending e-blasts and fax-blasts during the last quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010 to alert and inform our dealers of the impending RRP regulations.

Our dealers responded early and signed up for certification classes. They were able to certify their companies and their installation teams in advance of the requirement date, April 22nd 2010.

They have commented that they hope the EPA will re-evaluate keeping the “OPT-OUT” clause intact (current status is that the OPT-OUT will be eliminated on July 6th, 2010).  Dealers believe that it should be the homeowners’ decision whether they want lead containment practices utilized during their window replacement project.
Soft-Lite Windows
RW: In the wake of this most current economic downturn, what, if any, specific measures were taken at Soft-Lite to ensure sustained sales levels and market share?

GI: Over the past 3 years, Soft-Lite has undertaken many improvements to their business model.

In 2008, Soft-Lite made the decision to expand geographic coverage into 40 states which involved sales team development, logistics improvements, and more dealer/distributor customer coverage in more states while maintaining product quality and 1 week lead time on standard products.

In addition, Soft-Lite re-designed our product platforms, price point positioning and marketing support to align with 2 channels of distribution:  specialty retail/ dealer direct and one step/ short line distribution.

Soft-Lite’s reputation for manufacturing the highest performing window products in North America has been enhanced by our investment in high tech robotic manufacturing equipment and 3 state of the art paint lines. Now, Soft-Lite offers 14 Sure-Coat PVC Bond Exterior Vinyl Standard Colors, 23 glazing options, and 5 interior wood grains.

In summary, Soft-Lite’s product designs incorporating U values as low as 0.16, industry leading low infiltration rates at .01 CFM and 1/32’’ manufacturing tolerances, has positioned Soft-Lite to be the window manufacturer of choice for the future.

RW: Of your core window products (Bainbridge, Imperial, Barrington, and Elements), which has been the most popular? Why do you think this is the case?

GI: Soft-Lite’s sales growth has been driven by customer market acceptance of all of our product lines. Our price point positioning marketing concept has aligned our product value/ feature package with consumer project budgets and performance requirements.

We have experienced rapid growth in our Elements and Imperial LS products because the value/ cost equation is very attractive to the consumer. These are our flagship, option rich, and performance leaders in our product lines.

The Bainbridge and Barrington product lines were designed with exceptional options at affordable consumer prices; these product lines are perceived as “Great Windows at Great Prices”. For this reason, along with excellent service support, sales for these products have increased dramatically during the last year.