Last year was good. This year has been the same or better. And more than a few believe the growth will continue for a few years.
That’s the word from the 83 attendees at the annual FeneVision ERP User Conference, which concluded noon Wednesday in Cleveland, Ohio. The number of participants is also a record, and they came from 26 states and provinces and five countries, including Estonia and Finland.
Of the 42 companies represented, 21 were glass fabricators and 21 window and door manufacturers. Six vendors co-sponsored the event, including featured sponsor IG fabricator INTIGRAL, Inc., which has attended all 13 years.
While everyone is optimistic, Brian Dougherty believes enough in the economy that he is ramping up a new IG fabrication company, Reliable Insulated Glass, in nearby Akron. He expects to begin delivering to customers this summer.
“Two years ago, there’s no way I’d be doing this,” said Dougherty, who has worked in the industry for nearly three decades as a sales representative. “I see the overall growth in the market continuing.”
“We have customers ready to order,” he said, “but our first priority is implementing FeneVision with our equipment. You can’t succeed in this business unless you can efficiently take orders and plan, manage and track production. And while we might never be the biggest, we plan to be the best.”
Ron Crowl, president of FeneVision developer FeneTech, said while few companies are back to pre-2008 levels, most are seeing 10 to 20 percent increases in sales. That growth range was reported by others in attendance and that growth is creating production challenges.
“Some companies are at maximum capacity and even turning away orders, so a big focus for the attendees this year is optimization, getting more from materials and more throughput,” said Crowl. “Also popular were sessions on making ordering and customer service more effective and efficient with our Web Order Entry module and also Computer Assisted Production Management (CAPM).”
Participants attended 72 seminars on four different tracks over two-and-one-half days, from the basics of the software to free-form “ask the expert” breakout sessions. FeneTech also uses the event to gather input from users and develop the software enhancements and improvements list for the next 12 months.
“The always amazing part of the user conference is how much even people from competing companies share with and help each other to improve their operations,” Crowl said.
But a FeneVision User Conference is never just all work. Evening entertainment Monday was a dinner cruise on the Cuyahoga River through downtown Cleveland and along the Lake Erie Shoreline while Tuesday evening the attendees participated in a bowling competition at a local multi-media complex.
Founded in 1996, FeneTech develops, markets and supports FeneVision ERP and related quality products worldwide. The ERP solution provides one point of data entry, optimization, remote web order entry and complete integration of operations and is currently available in seven languages.