Window lead times have finally dropped!
The window and door industry has been on an unprecedented ride for the past two years. Manufacturing lead times have risen and fallen like the Florida tide. At Karoly Windows & Doors, they have gracefully surfed the waves! Finally there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Window lead times and door manufacturing times have plummeted to an average of 4 to 6 months! Remember, this is coming from a 9 to 12 month lead time just weeks ago.
Brandon Shannon, the Vice President of Karoly Windows & Doors had this to say: “Lead times are the shortest they have been in the last 8 months. Peak lead times were around October and I have seen an average of about 50% improvement since then across the major window and door manufacturers. It seems like we’re beginning to see some of the effects of the various shortages start to subside with how long we are waiting for windows and doors. I am very optimistic moving forward in 2022.”
Window Lead Times Begin to Rise in 2020
Many factors have contributed to the ebb and flow of lead times. Obviously the big bang is from COVID 19 pandemic. COVID has sailed around the world and left a devastating wake on the window & door industry. Manufacturing was suspended multiple times during that first lockdown. Warehouses had to shut down because of outbreaks or government demand. Window lead times were also high because of labor shortages as well as material shortage.
Logistics Posed Its Own Issues
Most people don’t take into consideration the commercial driver shortage when thinking about replacement window lead times. The replacement window and door industry had to compete with Amazon and Walmart shipping. Because of the lack of drivers, that process took much longer than usual. Every industry suffered from this issue in one way or another.
Business Is Still Good
Karoly Windows & Doors did not close their doors during the pandemic. Because of their unique business structure and their stability in the market, they were able to grow rather than contract. Their company took on an exceptional amount of new business. While spending more time at home, people realized their windows and doors needed to be replaced. Karoly went from having around 40 estimates a month in 2019 to 40 estimates a week in 2020. That more than tripled the amount of orders being placed.
Some Ships Were Sinking
With this influx of orders, the manufacturer’s suppliers couldn’t keep up with overwhelming demand. It caused delays in getting parts to produce windows and doors. Even Simonton, who directly makes all of their parts in their own manufacturing plant, felt the undertow. Window and door installation companies got sucked under the water and had to tread hard just to survive.
Delays Were Inevitable
At that point, many customers’ orders went on backorder and window lead times were stretched indefinitely (yes, there was a time for the word indefinite). No one liked the indefinite lead time, but it didn’t deter many people from signing contracts. Once production started back up, and new orders were placed with the manufacturer, the window lead times went to 9 to 12 months. Twelve months was pretty much on target. No one actually saw their products by the 9th month.
Window Lead Times Start Cresting
Those customers who stayed steady in the boat during the storm were eventually rewarded with window lead times dropping to 7 to 9 months. While the drop in lead time helped new customers, the current customers were still seeing back orders for certain products. Black replacement windows were next to impossible to get. PGT impact sliding glass doors were the same way. That wave lasted through the end of 2021.
Window and Door Manufacturing Solutions
Despite the continued threat of another national shutdown with the rise of COVID 19 cases, the manufacturing companies have created various solutions to bring down their lead times. They prioritized domestic sourcing and began staying within our borders to get supplies. Manufacturers began giving employees higher wages and more competitive benefits packages which enticed both production employees and drivers back into the workplace. Also, they created new policies to optimize their operation systems and get more organized. All of these combined to make a super strategy for bringing down window lead times to the lowest we have seen in years.
The Current Tide
Finally there is relief for all new replacement windows and doors orders. While production times are still a little long, they are at the lowest they have been in over 2 years. New customers are looking at on average a 4 to 6 month lead time for windows and doors. That is the start to finish time for production and installation of products into residential homes around the Tampa Bay area. However, this time frame is specifically for replacement windows and doors through Karoly Windows & Doors. As a result of their relationship with their manufacturers, no other company in the Tampa Bay area can get Simonton StormBreaker Plus, PGT impact windows or Masonite exterior doors as fast as they can.