Written by Al Dueck, DUXTON Windows & Doors
We have all probably attended events and conferences in distant places, some of which have proven to be challenging in travel time and energy. And, in today’s digital world, people want to promote the idea that personally attending conferences is unnecessary. We’d like to posit the theory that Winnipeg is in fact the ideal location for a serious conference focused on window and door manufacturing considering several key factors!
First, geographically, Winnipeg is dead center in the middle of the continent – specifically recognized by a sign on the TCH (Trans Canada Highway) just east of Winnipeg. The beauty of the location is that Winnipeg is accessible by way of its beautiful new airport through direct flights from many cities in North America including Chicago, Minneapolis and Denver. It is no doubt a factor in many people’s lives that they consider the impact of travel on personal and professional plans.
Winnipeg can also be described as being largely in the middle of Fenestration Valley in a North American context. It may not be a well known fact outside the industry but a very large part of the US window and door manufacturing industry is located due south of Manitoba, concentrated in states including Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin. It should also come as no surprise then that a sizeable portion of the industry’s suppliers also have a presence within the region.
While there are some “Hollywood” locations with more flash and dash than Winnipeg, the city does offer some excellent value. The residents tend to refer to our city as somewhat of a “wholesale pricing environment” and that reflects directly on conference costs. Its clear that some events including large, complex exhibits become VERY expensive “operations” in more exotic locations. Conference costs in Winnipeg in a relatively short event can be managed with a relatively limited budget. Consequently, an event with a high educational content can be created with a reasonable price for exhibitors, speakers and attendees. Furthermore, accommodation and related costs also tend to be reasonable while still offering the varied range of downtown, Exchange and Forks area restaurants.
A unique perspective on FenCon is its positioning as somewhat of a “cross roads point” between American and European technology, both in terms of product type and production approaches and technology. It would seem to be generally recognized that Canada has a lot of similarities to the USA. However, it would also be generally recognized that there are definite distinctive differences including some of the characteristics and details of manufacturing operations. As a consequence, FenCon may well be a welcoming addition- bringing some synergies – in allowing a quicker, closer assessment into the adaptation of various technologies and window types. History has demonstrated this characteristic in fact as some elements including European extrusions arrived early on in Canada and Winnipeg specifically.
Winnipeg or more broadly Manitoba brings several other unique components “to the party”. It has been noted that the more extreme highs and lows of temperatures (some say widest range of temperature extremes of any major city!) have forced the Manitoba companies to design and produce more robust systems capable of dealing with extremes. In fact, Manitoba has been the home of the largest Canadian window and door manufacturer several times in recent history – perhaps directly related?!
Weather – a big factor in the judgement of windows – also has a direct impact on some of the innovations that have been developed in Manitoba. Triple pane insulating glass would seem to have been first introduced in Manitoba and has certainly gained greater popularity over time. Additionally, the impact of “cold climate” has also been instrumental in the on-going push for “warm edge” technology to minimize condensation and enhance performance/durability. More recently, thin wall pultrusion applications for fenestration was also launched in Manitoba. And on a related note, educational facilities such as Red River College (RRC) have developed cutting edge testing facilities which can be instrumental in pushing forward. RRC in fact has some unusual cold climate lab capabilities which are essential to testing and proving some of the challenges faced due to ever tighter building envelopes.
Lastly, it should be emphasized that Winnipeg is sometimes described as big enough (just under 1 million people) to deliver a wide range of food and entertainment and yet small enough to remain keep an open, friendly environment. As one visitor during Winter Cities ’96 commented, “It may be cold outside in the winter . . BUT its always warm in their homes!” We truly welcome the opportunity to create an exceptional conference which offers outstanding value for those who wish to remain or become a part of those forward leaning window and door manufacturers to wish to succeed for the long term! After all, ‘knowledge grows, as knowledge is shared’ and one of the key reasons for travelling to FenCon19 is to meet, discuss and grow!