Lots of Good News for Home Remodeling

Phil Wengerd is Vice President of Market Strategies for ProVia

Phil Wengerd is Vice President of Market Strategies for ProVia

By Phil Wengerd

Recently we learned that four of ProVia’s key product lines – entry doors, replacement windows, vinyl siding and insulated siding – are named “best remodeling projects for maximum return on investment” in the 2014 Cost vs. Value Report released by Hanley Wood’s REMODELING magazine. In this report they measure the percentage of the cost of home remodeling projects (“Cost”) that is recouped in resale value (“Value”). The numbers shown in this report are averages from 101 markets across the U.S.

Of course we’re always glad to know we’re right in the middle of a sweet spot in the market. But I’m not here to bore you with the details of why this is good for ProVia. However, I do want to share just a few of the headlines, because there’s a whole lot of good news in here for everyone – including homeowners, contractors and dealers.

Here are the key takeaways I see from the report. There may be some “news you can use” in here!

  • The Trend is Continuing in the Right Direction.  For the second year in a row, all product categories have gone up. By “gone up” we mean that a higher percentage of the money that is invested in a home remodeling project is recouped in the home’s resale value (in comparison to the prior year). From a big-picture economics standpoint, this is very encouraging news.
  • What Does This Mean for the Homeowner?  Buyer’s confidence is continuing to grow. This means that people can have more confidence that if they invest in their home, and put some money in to upgrade it, this is a safer move because the market is increasingly valuing home remodeling projects.
  • Survey Says…Put a New 20-Gauge Steel Entry Door On Your House!  If you look at the data it tells you – the first and foremost thing you should do if you want to invest in your home is put in a new 20-gauge steel entry door. Steel entry doors actually came in #1 in the survey (with a whopping 96.6% Cost-Value, as you can see in Figure 1). What this says to me is there’s a high value for curb appeal. And since doors rank so high overall in the survey (fiberglass entry doors were a top performer too, with a 70.8% Cost-Value) this speaks to me about the connection that homeowners have with their front entryway. People really want to have an entry with an inviting look, and this shows up in resale value. And when you compare the cost of an entry door with the other projects on this list, it’s a relatively low dollar amount to put back into your house, while gaining significant resale value.

Figure 1: The #1 performer out of 35 categories is Entry Door Replacement (Steel), at 96.6% Cost-Value.

2014 Cost vs. Value Report (from Hanley Wood’s REMODELING magazine)
CvV

  • Fiberglass Entry Doors Are Coming On Strong  While steel entry doors have consistently topped the list, fiberglass entry doors have actually been growing at a faster pace. This tells me that people are valuing the features and benefits of a fiberglass door more than they used to. We also see this trajectory of growth in an increase in sales for ProVia’s fiberglass doors. Steel is remaining strong and steady, but fiberglass is expanding faster.
  • Vinyl Siding and Insulated Vinyl Siding Continue Their Steady Climb  While historically fiber cement has been a strong market contender, I think awareness is growing that there’s maintenance that needs to be done with this product. So I think we’ll continue to see a shift toward truly maintenance-free products ­ vinyl siding and insulated vinyl siding. Our lives are too busy, we don’t want to hassle with taking care of something year after year. We want to put something on our house that’s going to last.
  • Replacement Windows Are a Bellwether Product  Replacement windows have also experienced a nice rise over the past couple of years. I attribute that to economic conditions – the overall market seems to be strengthening.
  • High-ROI  Leading the list of High-ROI projects is entry door replacement (steel), which topped 100% in 38 cities. Because there are 101 cities in this survey, this means that in 38% of locations nationwide, you get every dollar back on a steel entry door replacement.
  • Mid-Range vs. Upscale Projects  Home remodeling projects priced in the Mid-Range improved 10.6% versus 8.8% for those that are priced in the Upscale category. This was somewhat surprising to me, but it’s probably an indicator that more people with mid-range budgets are getting back into the market. This could be telling us something about how the market is recovering. I find this to be a very healthy indicator, because if only the very wealthy are putting money back into their homes, that would not be good. But the real power of the market is when there are more mid-range projects happening, because there’s a higher quantity of mid-range folks.

Even Better News Than You May Think
For the second consecutive year, all home remodeling projects have gone up in Cost-Value. But for the first time in four years, improved resale value of residential housing has more of an influence on the Cost vs. Value than the project cost itself. The 2.2% increase in project costs were more than offset by the 11.5% improvement in average national resale value. (This means that costs have only increased by 2.2% but the resale value has jumped by 11.5%.) That’s a significant spread. I don’t think most people are aware that the market is growing this strongly. We tend to have a general feel that the market is getting better, but most people don’t realize that it’s really this good. This further supports the idea that people can invest with confidence.

Great news and lots of upside here for all of us! What do you think? What are you seeing in your market? Please comment below and share your thoughts.

Just “DER” It: An Eco-Friendly Makeover

Jeff Wilson is a construction industry veteran with over 25 years as a carpenter, remodeler, and TV host on nearly 200 episodes for HGTV and the diy network.

Jeff Wilson is a construction industry veteran with over 25 years as a carpenter, remodeler, and TV host on nearly 200 episodes for HGTV and the diy network.

By Jeff Wilson

[Intro by ProVia]
Over the past several months ProVia has been honored to participate in a project called the Deep Energy Retrofit (DER), where Jeff Wilson and his family transformed their drafty 70-year-old home by installing ProVia energy-efficient entry doors, replacement windows and a variety of other eco-friendly products. As a result, they reduced their energy bills by a stunning 85%. Jeff believes you can make your older home a more comfortable and healthier place to live while also “having a positive effect on the wider problems of our economy, environment, and energy security.” We agree! And we thought you’d enjoy his story about creating a DER home.

When my family moved to this small college town, we had a plan: move to town, fix up the curb appeal of an old home, and then flip it and build an eco-friendly house in the country. Problem was, we liked the convenience of town life and even though we’d bought that farm in the country, the prospect of driving to and from town for work, school, shopping, and everything else, didn’t sound too appealing or “green.” If we decided to stay, however, we’d have to do something with our leaky, moldy, 70 year-old house. What could we do?

Check out Jeff's DER project in this video featuring ProVia's own Conrad Mast

Check out Jeff’s DER project in this video featuring ProVia’s own Conrad Mast

The answer: a deep energy retrofit to drastically reduce our home’s energy footprint and dramatically improve my family’s comfort and health. Since the house needed a new roof, siding, replacement windows and doors anyway, we began to search for the most energy-efficient products available to transform our home. We wanted this eco-friendly renovation to last at least fifty years, so we wanted to get it right.

ProVia's Integra replacement windows maximize energy efficiency while retaining the home’s architectural charm

ProVia’s Integra replacement windows maximize energy efficiency while retaining the home’s architectural charm

We chose spray foam insulation to completely air seal our roof, walls, and basement. High efficiency HVAC equipment and an energy recovery ventilator also improved our comfort and health. LED lighting and high-efficiency appliances cut costs further. But with such high-performing insulation, air sealing, and systems, where would we find replacement windows and energy-efficient doors that had the same high-performance? ProVia.

Turned out that my friends at ProVia didn’t just make windows and doors, but manufactured just the kind of high-performance windows and doors I was looking for. For starters, we chose the triple-pane, krypton gas filled, low-e ComforTech TLK panes in the Integra replacement window series to replace all of the old single-pane windows. The Integra windows weren’t just a major step up from our old, single-pane windows, but also a major step up from the double-pane, wood-framed windows I’d been considering. ProVia was even able to tackle the technically challenging arched dormer windows and big bays out front – their careful attention to measuring and design meant a trouble-free installation when the time came.

The Signet fiberglass entry door makes a statement

The Signet fiberglass entry door makes a statement

ProVia’s insulated Signet fiberglass entry doors fit the bill, too, giving us not only superior insulating power, but also a tight air seal through excellent hardware and door jamb seals. The beautiful cherry Signet door caused one of my neighbors to stop and stare:  “That door,” she remarked to me, awestruck, while I was working out front one day, “that door just sets this house…it’s just unreal what that door does…it’s astounding!”

We took advantage of ProVia’s Inspirations Art Glass to add accents to our home that really pulled the aesthetics together. To the cherry Signet entry door, we added a Harmony-style oval, which is beautiful, of course, but also lets light into the entryway and offers privacy. To complement the door, we added Harmony glass to the wing-windows on the big front bays on either side. On the addition, we chose the same designs on the entry door and awning windows, with a “glue-chip” effect for added privacy in what is now the master suite above the garage.

Inspirations Art Glass adds custom design detail to the front bay windows

Inspirations Art Glass adds custom design detail to the front bay windows

All in all, we added 350 square feet to our home and now set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature year round in our deep energy retrofitted home. Despite that, thanks to high-performance products like ProVia’s Integra replacement windows and Signet fiberglass entry door, our energy bills have dropped by over 85%. At the same time, ProVia helped us realize our aesthetic vision so that on all fronts, we’re proud to call this house “home.”

Our “DER” Home!

Our “DER” Home!

Jeff’s recently published book (The Greened House Effect, published by Chelsea Green) follows the deep energy retrofit (DER) of his family’s 70 year old home and is available wherever books are sold. Learn more about Jeff Wilson and his DER project at www.thegreenedhouseeffect.com and www.jeffwilsonregularguy.com. Jeff lives with his wife and two daughters in that perpetually half-renovated home in a small college town in Ohio.

 - Photography by Sherri James -

Door and Window Marketing: What Matters Most?

Wanda Angel is Door & Window Brand Manager for ProVia

Wanda Angel is Door & Window Brand Manager for ProVia

By Wanda Angel

For our door and window dealers, marketing is not necessarily your core business. But it sure is necessary FOR your business – if you want to thrive and grow. Marketing is as important as writing the utility check to your electric company every month. If you don’t pay your electric bill, you don’t get electricity. If you don’t market your company, you won’t see sales growth.

And things have gotten so much more complicated over the past few years with the profusion of potential marketing channels (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, email, etc.) you can use. Even just social media has quickly evolved into nearly a full time job for a marketing person (or business owner). For our purposes here, I won’t advocate one channel or the other – they all have their usefulness. But I do want to talk about one thing that matters more to your marketing effectiveness than which channel you choose – and that’s consistency. Here are some helpful tips to think about, and ask yourself: am I building momentum with my marketing investments, or am just I shooting stray bullets into the wilderness?

Your Core Message: The Foundation Upon Which All Else is Built
First things first: the foundation must be built, and your marketing foundation is your core message. Ideally your message will be based on research with your door and window audience and internal stakeholders. Find out what the needs are, and how your company uniquely fills those needs. Query your sales force, your installation departments, and your customers. Then, compile the information and bring it to key stakeholders in your company where you can distill it down. We did this exercise here at ProVia, so I’ll use this as an example.

We have a couple of core messages, but the main one is “The Professional Way.” This means that we’re a leading manufacturer of professional-class exterior home products (including doors and windows) and the “professional-class” part reflects our company’s high levels of quality, service and customization. That’s what we do, and that’s what our customers want. So we make sure we spotlight this in every possible marketing channel.
Professional Way uses
1 in 20,000

Why is a consistent message so important? As the dissemination of information has exploded in recent years, today we see estimates that a single individual can be exposed to anywhere from several hundred to 20,000 marketing messages per DAY. And, while your message may be very important to you, for your audience this gets mixed in with billboards along the highway, packaging labels in grocery stores, scores of daily emails, and sponsored ads on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. The only way to break through all this clutter is with…consistency.

Repetition Yields Repeat Sales
So we understand the importance of consistency in the branding of your company, but how does this translate into door and window sales for your business? Let’s say you’ve integrated your core message throughout your entire organization, not just your marketing. This could include things like:

  • Investing in samples and displays that depict your core message along with the product you sell.
  • Investing in your employees and helping them understand how to “walk and talk” your core message and be a brand ambassador for your company.
  • Investing in your customers: calling them to find out how the job was done, if they were satisfied, and if they would recommend you to others (if there were problems, this might be a golden opportunity to learn how you can improve your service AND solve their problem to create a happy customer). This all boils down to your customers experiencing your core message, not just seeing it.
  • Investing in advertising, updating your website, and using direct marketing tools.
  • Investing in your community by getting involved in charitable projects that shine a spotlight on your company. (ProVia’s Sammy the Star educational program provides an easy way for you to get involved, you can read more about this in our press release.)

What is your return on these investments? With consistency, you’ll achieve a snowball effect, and ultimately your reward is repeat business and referrals.

It might seem intimidating to think about getting your message out, but remember, ProVia is here to help you grow your business. We have several marketing tools that can be used as great vehicles to easily express your message consistently in your marketplace.

What matters most in your door and window marketing? Feel free to comment below and share your thoughts, we’d love to hear your ideas.

Never Fear – Choose Home Renovation Products With Confidence!

Joe Klink is Director of Corporate Relations for ProVia

Joe Klink is Director of Corporate Relations for ProVia

By Joe Klink

Whether you’re a homeowner searching for much-dreamed-about home renovation products or a dealer seeking to ensure that your customers are “beyond satisfied,” you share a common dilemma – making decisions about product selection can be nerve-wracking. With all the research, comparisons, and guesswork (Will it look great? Will it perform reliably? Will it add to the value of the home?), the selection process can feel like a big overwhelming task. At ProVia we’re rolling out our latest website technology that takes some of the guesswork out of the home renovation process and helps you choose products with confidence.

SEE Your Home’s Future – For FREE!
Of course, picking out new entry doors, replacement windows, vinyl siding and manufactured stone can be very exciting. But we figured it’d be a lot more exciting if you could actually see what these products look like on an actual home. So recently we unveiled the new ProVia Visualizer. This free online tool can be used to preview ProVia home renovation products on sample images…or on your own house photos.

In addition to trying on our entry doors, siding and stone products, the new Visualizer offers additional product choices for home windows: double hung windows, slider windows, casement windows, picture windows, and storm doors. Some highlights of the Visualizer include:

  • Open access and free to use, without annoying barriers like forms or registrations
  • ProVia products can be viewed either on sample images or on uploaded photos of your actual home
  • You can “try out” various products and create your own aesthetic, with a wide variety of styles, colors and hardware to choose from
  • The improved user interface makes it easy to select and view product choices

Go to the Visualizer now and play – but first run out and snap a photo of your own home if you really want some fun. (Fair warning: you might fall in love.)

Enhancing the User Experience
Just as in the products we make, it’s the details that make the difference in the usefulness of our website. With that in mind, we added lots of upgrades throughout the site that make it easier to find and compare products. Here are just a few:

  • The Products menu in the top navigation is now organized by generic terms such as “Entry Doors” instead of branded terms like “Signet,” making the viewing process much more intuitive
  • The Heartland Siding section offers easy-to-browse selections for siding colors and accessories
  • New landing pages for vinyl siding and manufactured stone are streamlined and offer many product highlights for visitors to discover

Supporting Professionals
We’ve added more value for professionals with upgrades to the Professionals section of the ProVia website:

  • Tons of new content and reference materials like Specifications, Installation Instructions, Insulation Guides, Certifications, Warranty Info, and more
  • Any dealer’s “Where To Buy” listing can now include a Google 360-Degree Showroom Tour (if you don’t currently have this, you can learn more in my previous blog post “Bring Eyeballs Into Your Showroom – Virtually!”)
  • The “Where To Buy” listing can also include a “Connect Me” link that homeowners can use to directly contact you by email

You can activate the new “Where To Buy” features by logging into your account via entryLINK and adjusting your “Location Settings.” There you can paste in the URL to your Virtual Showroom Tour and add email addresses for receiving leads. If you need help, feel free to contact our Customer Service team.

Choose With Confidence
Our goal is to help make the process of choosing home renovation products easier, less stressful, and a whole lot more fun. Even better, we hope these new website tools will inspire you with choices that surprise and delight. Combine these tools with your imagination and create (or help your customers create) the home renovations of your dreams.

What do you think of these new website features? What would you add? Comment below or email me to share your thoughts. We have more enhancements to come – they could be yours.

The Transformative Power of Caring

At ProVia, business is a part of life and life skills are an important part of our business. ProVia President Brian Miller recently shared some soul-searching thoughts about life skills with our team, featured here in this video. He focuses on two key ingredients needed to transform a skill we all use every day.

Brian’s insights spotlight ProVia’s mission of “serving by caring” – in ways you may not expect. Check out this quick presentation to learn:

  • Two simple skills that provide immediate beneficial impact in every aspect of your life
  • Two simple action steps that ignite professional and personal transformation

This presentation gave us an a-ha moment, how about you? Feel free to share your thoughts below. We’re listening.

Enjoy this thought-provoking video featuring Brian Miller, President of ProVia

Enjoy this thought-provoking video featuring Brian Miller, President of ProVia

Installation Tips that Prevent Callbacks on Doors (Part 2)

Conrad Mast is Field Service Technician for ProVia

Conrad Mast is Field Service Technician for ProVia

By Conrad Mast

In the first of this two-part series on door installation, we covered a lot of technical tips that can help ensure that doors work properly, and prevent callbacks from homeowners. (If you missed it, you can check out Part 1 here.) Here in Part 2, we asked Conrad Mast, one of ProVia’s Field Service experts for doors, to share some insights about the education process with customers, and why being proactive is so important to ensuring homeowner satisfaction.

How can we proactively make sure homeowners are delighted with their door installations?
This really begins with the sales process. The best way to ensure customer satisfaction is to specify the right door solution in the first place. When you arrive to provide an estimate, take a look at the entire landscape of the homeowner’s situation. Of course you’ll listen to their needs and desires, but also analyze things like environmental exposures. For example, you may have a particular house that sits on top of a high hill, it’s facing southwest, and its exposure is extreme. In a situation like this, with the best interests of the customer in mind, the salesperson should tell the homeowner they might want to consider adding a storm door. By bringing this into the conversation early, what happens is the homeowner is usually impressed that you’re taking their individual needs into account. That’s a level of expertise they don’t have, and they value it. That’s why you’re there – to be the experienced expert! Being proactive early in the process ensures that the best door solution is in place that will perform to the customer’s expectations.

How does it impact referrals when homeowners aren’t happy with their door installation?
If a callback occurs, it can turn into a downward spiral. Not only does it make the installer’s company look bad, it makes ProVia look bad too, because people always tell their friends about the positive and negative experiences they’ve had.

On one recent occasion, I had a homeowner who was upset when I had to tell her – after the installation – that a storm door would really help her situation too. She said, “This looks really bad on your company.” I said, “You’re right, but that’s why I’m here, because I want you to be able to tell your friends and family that we took care of you.” When I left she was happy, and thanked me for coming out and taking care of it. But again, if the salesperson and installer handle everything proactively from the beginning, none of us are put into an awkward position.

Do you suggest that these proactive measures become a part of standard sales procedures?
The first thing I’d do is get my sales team together and say, “When you go out to the home, yes we want to make the sale – we do want to sell this door. But most importantly we want to give the customer the product that they need.” And if this means adding a storm door to an entry door because of where it’s situated, tell them that up front. And don’t overpromise. Sometimes I think it’s best to undersell so that the product ends up being more than what the customer expected.

Our product is not the lowest price out there. How much do you hear about that when you’re called back?
Often in the field, I hear something like “I paid X-amount of money for that door, and it’s doing this” or “I could have bought a door from the big box down the street, paid less, and it would have done the same thing.” What I tell homeowners is that when they buy from a big box or discount store, they’re not going to send someone out who will make sure the door is performing properly, and stick with it until it’s right. However, when you buy from a local ProVia dealer, their qualified service personnel will take care of any issues to your satisfaction. The “lowest price” can involve shortcuts that cause more headaches (and cost more) in the long run.

What about proactive measures during the actual door installation process?
When your installers go out to the job, make sure they have all of the right products. Sounds simple, but take a minute to make sure you have the right door, needed materials, etc. And when they go to install it, first get the floor taken care of, get it covered to avoid scratches and dents. Then check for items hanging or standing nearby that could fall if bumped during installation and have them removed. Lastly, check around to see if there’s a crack in the drywall or a cracked floor tile. Note this and talk with the homeowner about it so you’re both on the same page. If you miss this important step, you could get the door done and it looks great…but then the homeowner calls and says, “you caused a crack here or there.” Now it’s too late and becomes a he-said-she-said situation. But if you note it ahead of time, everyone will be on the same page and you’ll avoid a misunderstanding down the road.

Take that extra half hour to do it right the first time because, in the long run, taking shortcuts will end up reflecting on you, and might end up costing your company money.

You have a lot to say on this subject! Anything else you’d like to add?
What I truly believe is, everyone wants to do a good job. It’s about personal pride and satisfaction from a job well done, and creating a happy family of referring customers. People can only do what they know how to do, so equipping your team with knowledge is critical. ProVia is here to help, and our Installer Certification Program is a great way to ensure you can deliver the best door installations in the business. Who doesn’t want to be the best?

Tell us what you think! Comment below and share your thoughts or any tips you can add to the list we’ve started here.


Installation Tips that Prevent Callbacks on Doors (Part 1)

Conrad Mast is Field Service Technician for ProVia

Conrad Mast is Field Service Technician for ProVia

By Conrad Mast

Recently we chatted with Conrad Mast, one of ProVia’s Field Service experts for doors. We asked him “what kinds of things would make a big difference in homeowners’ satisfaction with their doors, and also make things easier for dealers?” His answer: “Prevent callbacks due to door installation issues.” Well, he had a lot more to say about that, and here we share his door installation tips in this, the first of a two part series.

What are the most common reasons for callbacks on doors?
Number one is installation issues. Doors not sealing up properly and getting air leaks because the frames are not installed correctly, or at times, the sweep is really tight due to a crowned threshold and you have to try and make adjustments. Sometimes we can make adjustments in the field, but other times I have to note that in order to fix it correctly, the installer will have to come back out to re-install the door.

What do you mean, re-install the door?
Well, at least loosen it enough so you can make major adjustments to it. If your reveal across the top of the door is considerably wider on the strike side than it is at the hinge side, you may have to raise the hinge side of the door frame a little bit so the reveal is even across the top. This also takes the door up and relieves the sweep stress a on the threshold. If this isn’t fixed, the sweep will eventually tear, and then you’re going to get water leaking in. You also need to look for the door being on the same plane as the jamb. When you close the door, is it contacting the frame weather strip at the bottom before the top, or vice versa? These are all issues that need to be addressed. You can correct some of these issues by making adjustments to the hinges, but you are limited due to engineering limitations. But you can fine tune and tweak it a bit. These are probably the main door installation errors I see in the field.

Proper shimming techniques are taught in ProVia's Installer Certification Program

Proper shimming techniques are taught at ProVia’s Installer Certification Program

Do you see a lot of shimming issues?
Yes! A lot of times I see that shims aren’t installed at all. If you see that the door is sagging in the frame, there is a good possibility – it’s not shimmed.  If you pull the casing off, you’ll probably find that there are no shims in there, often because someone didn’t take the time. Without shims, it will hold for a period of time, but after a while the door frame starts to move because there’s nothing holding it securely in place.

Do installers not shim because they think it’ll take too long, or because they don’t think it really needs it?
There’s a common misperception out there: “The door is pre-hung, so all I need to do is throw it in the hole, run some screws through the brickmold and I’m done.” Wrong! There have been quite a few times I’ll go out on a job site and see that they never installed the long screws through the hinges into the wall studding. I’ve gone out on jobs and the screw installation sticker is still there over the holes where the screws are to be installed. They just didn’t put the long screws in to anchor it. So you know if they didn’t do that, they probably didn’t shim either. This means the door will work great for a short period of time, but then it’ll start failing. When that happens, the homeowner often thinks they have a product failure, when actually it was simply never installed correctly. It’s important to follow the steps. That’s why our Installer Certification Program is so important.

Why does training make such a difference?
We have lots of really great dealers where we never see issues like this. But then there are others where the installers don’t have as much training. They simply install the door the best they know how. These are the types of installations that we get callbacks from because they didn’t shim or install the long screws.

As an example, I visited one installation of an entry door/storm door combination. The piano hinge of the storm door had absolutely no screws through the Z-bar. That obviously was causing operational issues, door slab sagging, thus causing the door to hit the strike side z-bar frame. The entry door had the same issue; the door was hitting the strike side frame at the top due to a lack of screw installation through the hinges. I’m guessing it was a new installer, and he just did the best he could and perhaps rushed through the job.

Be thorough. Spend the extra half hour during a door installation to make sure it’s done right.

If you had a roomful of installers in an auditorium with the chance to speak to them, what else would you tell them?
Let’s say you installed a Spectrum storm door. Before you leave the job site, show the homeowner how it works. Show them all the things the door does. This means you need to be educated yourself. You need to be familiar with the product, how it is designed to function. Some functions may seem simplistic to the installer, however, confusing to a homeowner who is unfamiliar with the product. Things such as making sure the upper sash is all the way up and the bottom one is all the way down before you try to latch it. Show them how to adjust a closer on a storm door. There’s a little screw that adjusts the closing speed. Show them how the deadbolt works. Some of those things are so simple if you work with it every day you think it’s no big deal. On an entry door, show them how the internal blind works. You pull the magnetic slide down. Now and then you’ll get one that disconnects, show them how to reconnect it. It’s pretty simple if you know how. Instead of calling back, the homeowner will say, “Oh yeah, he showed me how to do that”. We have an adjustable strike plate on our entry doors. Sometimes the adjustable plate will loosen due to not being secured properly, so the door becomes a bit loose. I tell a homeowner before I leave, “On this adjustable strike plate there are two plates, and the back one slides. All you do is loosen the screws a bit and slide it to the desired position and re-tighten the screws. Sometimes if the door becomes a little loose, check that.” And they say “Oh, that’s easy I can do that”. It saves a callback if they know that ahead of time. It’s the little things that are important. It’s important that the customer is educated about the product.

Compare the number of callbacks you’re receiving now compared to when you started 10 years ago.
From my perspective, as a percentage of sales they’re getting fewer. I attribute that to education. Our Installer Certification Program brings accountability on the part of the dealer and installer. However, as long as there are human beings installing doors there will always be some issues, but installers who are committed to their craft are getting better.

Do you see more or less people making a career of installing doors?
I recently met an installer in his late 20’s whose dad is an installer. He really enjoys installing doors and he’s very good at it too. It’s fun to watch him work because he has his own special way of setting up his job site. He brings a trash can and sets a board on it to create a platform for his tools, so he doesn’t need to bend over to get them all the time. So here’s a younger guy coming in and doing what his dad was doing. The world needs good, quality installers. We’re glad to see we have a lot of good ones working with us at ProVia. And we’re here to help anyone who wants to learn how to be the best in the business.

Do you have any favorite door installation tips? Comment below and share your thoughts. There’s more to come in part two of this series, so let us know if you have any installation or callback questions you’d like us to cover.

Insider Tips for Good Design

Lynn Angle is Graphic Design Manager for ProVia

Lynn Angle is Graphic Design Manager for ProVia

By Lynn Angle

When it comes to doors, windows, siding and stone, are you picky about design? We are too! At ProVia we care about every detail in the design of our products, and we carefully craft them to deliver lasting beauty for the home. In my corner of the ProVia world, I work with our team to make sure the graphic design we use – in everything from brochures to our website – not only looks good, but also communicates as effectively as possible. Again, it’s form AND function. We often get questions from our dealers about how to incorporate good design practices for their own businesses, so here I’ll share some of the insider tips we use every day.

1. Less is More
In the story of your company and its products, there’s soooo much to tell. So why not squeeze as much information as possible into a brochure or an ad? Remember, one of the most important jobs with your marketing is to help people find and learn information about you. And when the page is densely crammed with words and pictures, readers have to work hard to sort through all that stuff to find out what’s important to them.

Use White Space Wisely

Use White Space Wisely

Tip #1: Resist the temptation to crowd your pages. Allow for blank areas – what we designers call “white space.” This allows the eye to come to rest on the key messages on the page. You might think more is better, but actually less is more powerful.

2. Be Selective About Fonts
With all the fonts you can choose for your design, it’s easy to go a little crazy. I often see several fonts used on a single page. While this may seem more creative and is intended to jazz-up the design, too many fonts confuse the reader’s eye. With all that going on, the eye doesn’t know where to go first – and the result could be that readers simply go away. Font Example

Tip #2: Your design goal is to lead readers from the most important thing on the page down to the details. Select two fonts and stick with them. It’s best to use a sans serif font for headlines (this provides emphasis), and a serif font for body copy (for easy reading).

3. Create “Message Chunks”
While every word you craft for your marketing message is highly important to you, remember it’s not as important to your reader. The key here is not to push too much information at them right away. Many times, all a reader sees is the headline, pictures, and maybe some bullet information. If they like what they see, they’ll dig deeper. If not…goodbye reader!

Tip #3: Make sure your key messages are in the headlines, photos and captions, and bullet copy. Give readers bite-sized pieces of information that stimulate interest, so they spend more time with your information.

4. Logos Matter…a LOT
Your logo is the recognizable face of your company, so always make room to include it. It’s also a symbol of your organization’s credibility and professionalism, so handle your logo with great care.

Tip #4: Protect the quality of your logo at all times. Keep in mind that a logo copied from a website can’t be used for print, because the resolution isn’t high enough. Obtain a high-resolution logo file so it will be crisp and clean on printed materials.

Show People Interacting with Products

Show People Interacting with Products

5. Pictures Create Emotion
The power of pictures cannot be underestimated. They bring products to life and create emotional connections with your audience. That old saying “a picture’s worth a thousand words” is true, and very powerful.

Tip #5: Combine beauty shots of products with lifestyle shots that show the product in action in a setting with people.  It’s a proven fact that people respond more strongly to images with people in them. Use this to your advantage.

6. Keep It Together
Consistency is an important consideration that can make or break your marketing efforts. The image of your products and company should look the same across all your mediums, and should be kept up to date. Old or inconsistent materials project a confusing message, or even worse, an unprofessional image.

Tip #6: Take a look at your website and your printed materials. Do they look like they come from the same company? Also, make sure the logos you’re using are up to date.

And finally, remember…we’re here to help! Your ProVia account manager will be happy to assist with any questions you may have. You can also get easy access to ProVia’s high-resolution pictures and logos by logging in to entryLINK, then scroll down and click on “Graphic Download Center.”

Got design questions? Bring ‘em on! Comment below and share your thoughts – great design is one of our favorite topics.

Five (Unexpected) Life Lessons

Bill Mullet is Founder & CEO of ProVia

Bill Mullet is Founder & CEO of ProVia

By Bill Mullet

Today we’re sharing the recent journey of Bill Mullet, CEO of ProVia. The past several months have brought him unexpected challenges but also surprising rewards. Here he shares his insights that illuminate a path forward, and may bring inspiration to others as well.

An Abrupt Detour
Over the past several months I’ve experienced a journey I never expected. In December 2012, after months of feeling extremely tired and not myself, I literally passed out. My doctor ordered blood tests, which showed a very low blood count. Further tests revealed a growth in my colon that was causing blood loss, and this was confirmed as cancer. In January I had surgery to remove the growth, and the doctors tell me they were successful in removing 100% of the cancer. I’m grateful I did pass out, because it was a relief to know there was actually something physically wrong. But I also learned that when you go to a hospital to get treatment, and you think you’re rebounding, that’s not always the case. Soon after my initial procedure, I learned I had to have surgery again.

The second surgery was to fix a kink in my intestines. This one really brought me down physically; it was much harder to keep my spirits up. But after this double blow, today I feel really good about being home, eating well, and finally healing. Along the way I learned some valuable lessons that have helped shape the course of my life going forward.

Lesson 1: Gratitude for the ProVia Team
Though I received startling news, and had to come to grips with new realities very quickly, there was one thing that has given me great comfort throughout this journey. The leadership team at ProVia was already solidly in place and eminently qualified to carry things forward in my stead. Just knowing that the right people were in the right place, doing the right thing, is such a comfort. Though of course it’s always a good business practice to have a well-functioning team in place, I could not have imagined how important this became. The company has performed without me and without a hiccup – as it should be.

Lesson 2: The Light is Brighter After Darkness
During the last few weeks I’ve reflected on the story of Job from the Bible. I’m no comparison to what he went through, but I did experience a sense of darkness that hung over me. I saw bright spots – people who were sent by God to be a light and an encouragement. As an example, one of my nurses was a very caring individual. He would poke his head in at night and ask, “Mr. Mullet, are you OK?” There were bright spots in the midst of the darkness.

I just wanted to be myself, to have the strength to get up and meet each day. For a while, the darkness felt like defeat; I felt powerless. It played a mind game with me. Yet I think you almost have to go through that “darkness” to get to a point of being truly ready to serve again. On the other side of darkness, you can appreciate more fully the light that draws you forward.

Lesson 3: The Power of the Positive
One of the unexpected challenges was how hard it was to stay positive. A friend gave me a book that puts positive thoughts in your mind. For the healing process, and to create a productive, healthy path forward, it’s essential to focus on positive thoughts. It would’ve been very easy for me to dwell on the negative – in fact I did for a while. In the midst of regaining my health, the problem at the moment became such a negative experience that I forgot about the huge positive – that the doctor said they got all of the cancer, and I wouldn’t need any further treatment. That was VERY positive. That was huge. But my issues at the moment blinded me to my blessings. Learning to put focus on blessings can be difficult during times of pain and confusion. I’m thankful I was surrounded by loving people who helped me find the strength to remain positive.

Lesson 4: Retirement Not So Tasty
Now that I’m in my 60’s, one of my dreams had been to have a life that’s a bit easier, where I’d have more leisure time. But this experience revealed that I’m not ready for that. I told my wife Ellen that now I want to recommit myself to a life of service. I want more than ever to further serve people. It may be small business owners who need a little encouragement and guidance. Or perhaps it’s a ministry with teaching – I have the opportunity to teach in a couple places.

The lesson that struck me is about the idea of doing less. Now I know I don’t want to go there. I’m more certain than ever that I want to channel my energies into helping people and serving mankind. When I had a taste of retirement – even though this particular downtime was due to health issues – I didn’t like what I tasted. I have less desire for a life of leisure. We all need life with a purpose.

Lesson 5: Embrace My New Future
The future for me is taking a step away and letting Brian Miller (ProVia’s President) build his team around him a bit more. I still want to be a part of it, but taking one further step away. I will still be in meetings, and have an influence, but not a dominating influence.

This fall, I’ll be stepping down from my role as Senior Pastor at my church. I’ve been in the leadership of that church for 15 years. Of course I’ll still be willing to help share when asked, but this will free me up to go to different places where I’m invited to speak. I’m really excited about that!

I’ve been asked to speak at a small college on the topic of “Christians in Business” – how Christians run businesses differently than non-Christians. It really comes down to how we treat our employees, our vendors, and our customers. Honesty, integrity and all those things.

As I stand at the threshold of this next phase of my life, I thank my family, friends and the ProVia team for surrounding me with love, talent and passion for our endeavors. For myself, I’m strengthened by my life lessons. I look forward to serving with renewed vigor and enthusiasm as I walk into the light of the years ahead.

Donut Holes, Coloring Books & Energy Efficient Door Manufacturing

Chris Nolt is Testing & Certification Engineer for ProVia

Chris Nolt is Testing & Certification Engineer for ProVia

By Chris Nolt

What do donut holes, foam-filled sliding glass patio doors and coloring books have to do with energy efficient door manufacturing? These are just some of ProVia’s innovations that have recently earned us a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2013 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year award.

ProVia’s ENERGY STAR® Checklist
For this award, the EPA looks for outstanding contributions in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by manufacturing energy-efficient doors and educating consumers about energy efficiency. Here are some of the achievements that demonstrate ProVia’s leadership in manufacturing ENERGY STAR entry doors and patio doors.

WX9600 Extrusion1. Product Qualification on the Rise

  • ProVia continues to expand our ENERGY STAR qualified product offering. We increased our number of ENERGY STAR qualified door packages in 2012 by 7.4%.
  • We added insulating foam-filling technology to our WX9600 series vinyl sliding glass patio doors, improving thermal performance. Rather than using traditional expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, ProVia uses BASF’s superior insulating Neopor® EPS foam with graphite to further lower the frame u-factor.

2. Taking Extra Care with Product Labeling

  • Typically, the NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) and ENERGY STAR information on the door matrix label is confusing, and is often misinterpreted by consumers. ProVia is the only major entry door manufacturer that prints a custom, color NFRC/ENERGY STAR label for every product. This label contains only one set of NFRC data, with the ENERGY STAR qualification clearly represented.

3. Training Numbers Skyrocketing

  • In 2012 we trained salespeople at 89% of our dealer locations, a 62% increase over 2011. This sales force helps homeowners to understand the value of superior energy efficient entry doors and patio doors.
  • ProVia also offers a two day Installer Certification Program to teach proper door installation and sealing. A quality installation and weathertight seal are critical to the performance of an energy efficient door. In 2012, we trained 59% more installers than in 2011.

Coloring Book4. Consumer Education: Coloring Books and Calculators

  • In 2012, ProVia launched a children’s educational campaign to show young consumers how to save energy and be environmentally responsible. ProVia accomplishes this through an in-school educational program and our Sammy the Star children’s educational coloring book, both a huge success. Dealers are finding this is a great way to keep children entertained in the showroom.
  • While the kids are coloring and learning about energy efficiency, parents can use our online Thermal Performance Calculator to find energy efficient products.

5. Those Donut Holes

  • Many entry doors have an opening cut into the slab to install insulated glass. Most manufacturers send this cutout to a landfill, but not ProVia. We send the larger steel cutouts to manufacturers that reuse them to build insulated sheds. Check out these photos of one of the manufacturer’s sheds. The remaining cutouts that can’t be reused are recycled into scrap steel. Donut holes should never go to waste, and neither should entry door cutouts!

What do you think about energy efficiency – is it more important than ever? Comment below and share your thoughts with us!