Problem Resolution Material Supplier — Windows and Sliding Glass Doors

An HOA was undergoing an exterior repair project which involved replacement of 5,000 windows and sliding glass doors. The chosen manufacturer offered both quality and energy efficiency at a competitive price due to the volume of windows within the purchase. Windows started to arrive in large shipments and were stored in tractor trailers from the factory, where workers would pull windows as needed. Lead time was approximately 10 weeks. Windows installation went well for the first several weeks, emptying several trailers as more arrived in a choreographed sequence due to the limited storage area available onsite. Because the residences were inhabited, it was essential that the windows be onsite and ready for install before the old windows were removed so that we could ensure new windows were in place and working the same day.

During a normal inspection of the process we noticed a strange tint on several of the windows at one section of the project. At that time approximately 30% (1,500) windows had been installed. The tint problem was initially visible from the exterior only when the windows were not in direct sun. We initiated a discovery process involving the manufacturer and soon found that there appeared to be a problem with the UV coatings applied to the glass at some of the units inspected in the initial test. We immediately broadened the scope of the investigation inspecting for the UV coating problem and any other window quality issues at all installed units. We insisted the inspection process be expedited  as the more flawed units that were installed the more windows would have to be removed and reinstalled which would disrupt residents again and add additional long lead times and project delays that were potentially substantial and damaging to the HOA.  Work crews of more than 70 were onsite daily and an understanding of the scale of the problem and a reliable resolution was needed quickly.

Within days we had inspected several hundred units and found the problem widespread.

We shifted the team to the stored units. This involved a huge effort; unpacking the full trailers, inspecting and recording the findings and repacking the trailers so the custom sized windows remained organized. We insisted the manufacturer solve production problems at the factory, confirm in writing to our client that production issues had been resolved and that special production runs be made in order to provide delivery of new windows within 10 days rather than 10 weeks for the yet to be installed windows with a similar parallel process established for the already installed windows.

We also insisted that the manufacturer cover all costs and extend the warranty conditions as well. The manufacturer agreed, the project was reorganized accordingly and the process to resolve began. Meanwhile, we advised the entire membership of the issues and organized a town hall type meeting to explain the details for those that already had windows installed and those who were yet to receive the new windows. It was important to communicate the details clearly to all owners so that confidence in the materials and the process were maintained without lingering concerns. Technical, practical and financial issues were communicated to all and ultimately the process of resolution went smoothly through completion. Occasionally, there are problems with production. In this case, thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars were at risk to correct the issues. Expertise, diligence and dedication are required to sort these issues out and resolve them quickly and efficiently.

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