Industry Reacts to Trump’s Chinese Windows Purchase
September 28, 2010

Some members of the commercial glazing industry reacted strongly to yesterday’s news story on Donald Trump’s purchase of Chinese windows. Trump claimed he had to make such a purchase because it was too hard to purchase the windows anywhere else. Those in the glass industry, however, disagree.

“We did not have the opportunity to review the specifications for Mr. Trump’s recent large Chinese window purchase. However, I find it impossible to believe that American manufacturers could not have produced equal products better, quicker and more cost effectively,” Ray VanNess, president of Shreveport, La.-based Seal Craft, told USGNN.com™. “I have grown weary of this kind of news while having to lay-off good employees while struggling to outlast this recession. Buy American!”

Tom Harris, executive vice president of United States Aluminum in Waxahachie, Texas, had a similar take. “All suppliers I know are desperate and have seen the dip coming for a while so I believe they would have pursued aggressively,” he said.

“What is so special about these windows?” asked Ted Wantuck with Statre Corp. in Rochester Hills, Mich. “Having represented window manufacturers for years and being aware of the great variety of window manufacturers in this country, I am skeptical about the inability of Mr. Trump to find his product in the United States.”

Chuck Knickerbocker, curtainwall manager with Technical Glass Products in Snoqualmie, Wash., wonders if Trump is only telling part of the story, noting there are possibly several scenarios in play.

“One, he couldn’t find a U.S. producer who would do it as cheaply as the Chinese were willing to do it. Two, he wasn’t willing to pay for the quality he’ll get in a U.S. product over the money he thinks he’s saving in buying from the Chinese. And three, in the long run, he’ll pay for it through the nose, as he has no guarantees that he’ll get anything close to the warranty coverage he’d get if it were from a U.S. manufacturer. Also the Chinese, as of this date won’t provide the quality of goods and services he’d get with a U.S. manufacture. Granted, it’s changing, but is not there yet. The Chinese have not been doing it that long and don’t have the depth and breadth of experience the U.S. manufacturers have. And short turn around on replacements that don’t involve air shipments for any broken glass that may occur over the life of the building.”

Knickerbocker adds, “like all things, you get what you paid for. In the end, you’re probably getting top-end, Class A prices while providing a Class C space and amenities.”

Courtney N. Little, president and general counsel of Ace Glass in Little Rock, Ark., says perhaps it comes back to the industry needing to do more to educate potential buyers.

“Maybe the truth is that we are not doing enough as an industry to promote all that we have to offer. Maybe Trump doesn’t know that you can’t throw a rock in Wisconsin without hitting a window company. We need to make sure that we do our part to educate potential buyers that we have the products they need.”

And as another in glass industry who asked to remain anonymous says, “Let Trump have the Chinese make his windows. Like his domestic vendors, he won’t pay his Chinese suppliers, either.”

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