2Fold® Doors is my company, but there are TWOFOLD reasons you should enter into Strategic Partnerships. The two reasons are the same reason in two directions. Both sides win. That’s right it is a win-win.
Strategic partnerships exist to join companies that have something that in common without market overlap. If this analysis passes the mirror test where the “fit” looks the same from the other side, then you have a strategic partnership in the making.
In my case, 2Fold® that manufactures and sells narrow profile custom steel doors that have extremely thin frames to maximize the amount of glass. This satisfies the desire to create minimalist architecture which is currently very popular. The steel and glass are joined by Accoya® on the inside which outperforms teak in durability and surpasses other woods in thermal insulation while enhancing the green friendliness of 2Fold®. Once painted, you can’t tell which is steel and which is wood mainly because you are focusing on the incredible view outside that is virtually unobstructed . . . you are the outdoors.
My Strategic Partnerships
OK, we’re clicking along with slow, methodical growth because we are a guerrilla operation that is self-funded. The original plan was to sell nationwide directly to consumers, contractors and architects. Unfortunately, not effectively being able to offer single-source responsibility for the whole window and door package has slowed us down.
Enter my friend of 35 years, Peter Warren. He left his job as vice-president of the biggest window company in New York City and formed Warren Windows. Warren Windows needed a product to sell and my 2Fold® product needed more sales. We scratched each other’s itches, so a created a strategic partnership.
Warren Windows would focus on sales within a 150-mile radius of NYC and offer full installation services in that area.
Because 2Fold® doors and windows are quite expensive and are best suited for feature areas where large expanses of glass are most effective, we needed a less expensive metal-clad wood product to fill the gap. Peter needed to be able to provide a complete package which covered both ends of the luxury home market. Combined we have become the coveted single-source, window and door provider. Enter his strategic partnership with LEPAGE Millwork who makes incredible wood and aluminum-clad wood windows and doors.
Warren’s union with both 2Fold® and LEPAGE expands their product range and adds technical and installation services. 2Fold® has a sales outlet that can better engage a local market. A strategically selected companion product line presents a solid value proposition to the client. Let’s not leave out LEPAGE which has a new sales outlet who is also not a typical “dealer.” This symbiotic relationship at its core demonstrates the propriety of multi-integrated businesses and strategic partnerships.
How Windows and Doors are Bought and Sold
In the window and door industry there are two primary sales models for product line manufactures: sell direct or sell through a dealer network. The problem with this for the manufacturers is that dealers almost always carry a multitude of products. Some of these products are direct competitors to one another. Dealers want to be able to sell whatever their clients want without any loyalty to one brand.
Dealers and their salesmen gravitate to the easiest sell, and price is always an obstacle. If the customer comes in looking for an expensive product and presents price resistance, the dealer and his salespeople will too often trade down to a less expensive and not quite as well-suited alternative product. The easy sell is preferred to the hard sell. Human nature makes cowards out of well-meaning dealers . . . what’s in it for me, and I mean now. Sell more jobs, fast and easy.
Vendor/Dealer of Strategic Partner
Why Warren Windows is an ideal dealer is because they consider themselves strategic partners. They don’t sell competitive products within a material category. One steel-based product; one wood-based product. They work hard to represent their strategic partners as a team, not flip the sale down to cheap alternatives. Offer better products, offer full technical support, offer color coordination of mixed manufacture packages, and let the chips fall where they may. No compromise . . . win or lose, we’re all in this together.
This strategic partnership with Warren Windows led us to fill another hole we had in our product offerings, a “frameless” or minimalist sliding door. 2Fold® has a design for a sliding door but panel sizes are limited. The growth market is for HUGE sliding glass panels weighing up to 2,000 pounds each, with frames that are as small as ¾” in face dimension and can reach up to 20 feet in height.
Opportunity yields Trifecta of Strategic Partnerships
A project was presented that needed steel windows like 2Fold®’s and these super-sized sliding doors. Together we approached SKY-FRAME and Vitrosca who are the most famous brands of these minimalist sliding doors in the U.S. One already had five dealers in the NYC area and didn’t want to add more and the other sold nationally on a direct basis with no room for intermediary dealers.
Fortunately, a quick alternatives search lead us to the best manufacturer of these behemoth sliding doors in the world, HYLINE. Within two weeks Peter and I connected with the owner of HYLINE, jumped on a plane, and spent 3 days at the factory in Portugal to study the manufacture and installation of HYLINE products. They are the fastest growing company in this arena because of the outstanding attention they pay to design, presentation, manufacturing, and customer service.
HYLINE needed more and better representation in the Greater NYC area, and Warren Windows could provide it. 2Fold® needed a mega/minimal sliding door to fill out the product offering and HYLINE needed national U.S. sales with professional technical and installation support. Two more strategic partnerships were formed. Each partner got the best of what the other had to offer.
Everyone wins in these strategic partnerships which is the way it should be. In these partnerships there are no contracts, only handshakes. They will be self-sustaining because for one partner to overlook the other in making additional partnership decisions would be foolish. Win-win rules . . . until it doesn’t. If a time comes when it is no longer a “strategic” partnership, it will simply melt away.