Ron Saxton, executive vice president of Jeld-Wen, an Oregon-based manufacturer of windows and doors, attended the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth Thursday. The Nightly Business Report’s Suzanne Pratt conducted a good interview last evening with Ron, who’s also a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Manufacturers.
PRATT: I understand you were one of the lucky ones today. The president sat in on your session. What did you tell him?
SAXTON: Well, I told him that I thought we had some ideas that could accomplish multiple, many of his goals. We, you know, the window and door industry part of construction has really been hurt the last number of years. There were over two million housing starts in America two or three years ago and we’re down to less than a half million. So I said if we focus on replacing inefficient windows and doors, especially windows, we get energy savings out of it. We create American jobs for manufacturing, American jobs for the construction to put them in place and we can do it immediately. The manufacturing infrastructure is already in place.
Tax credits for energy-efficient windows are already available, now there should be help for financing, he argues: It might be in the form of a low-interest loan, part of the mortgage or in a utility package.
The windows business is driven by new home construction, so the focus on retrofitting helps expand industry activity, he explained. As for hiring:
PRATT: One last question we just have a little time left. What would you need to see before you would feel comfortable to start hiring again?
SAXTON: Well, we need to see orders coming up. The economy generally is showing some positive signs, but we’re not seeing it much in housing or construction. So you know, we produce when somebody wants to buy. And we need to see people buying.
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