Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI) President & CEO Kate Offringa describes 2021 as another positive year for the industry with many watershed moments. She believes that vinyl siding manufacturers and suppliers can look forward to a promising 2022 based not only on this year’s successes but on the momentum gained by what the industry has had to overcome in the past two years.
The Pandemic Roller Coaster
“In fully understanding where we are as an industry, it’s important to look back on what we endured in 2020 when the pandemic started,” Offringa said.
The vinyl siding industry had a very promising start in 2020, ending the first quarter with double-digit growth. But, as Offringa describes, business “fell off a cliff” in the chaos of the early pandemic months with drastic declines in April and May. This adversity would soon be thwarted by an unbelievable comeback in Q3 and Q4, as the polymeric siding industry finished the year with positive growth overall.
“Remodeling exploded when people were stuck at home and not spending money on restaurants and vacations,” she noted. “Their nesting instincts took over.”
Offringa is grateful to represent an industry that grew during one of the most challenging times in modern history. She credits her team for doing so much to help their members and the industry adapt and move forward.
“We did a lot of work at the outset of the pandemic lobbying to make sure that our industry was deemed essential so that members’ plants could stay open,” she recalled. “We weighed in frequently with both federal and state governments on the importance of keeping manufacturing going.”
Pivoting Online with Education and Workforce Development
VSI also adapted early to delivering value in a virtual world over the last year.
“I’m proud of what we did on the education front in 2021. What we started in 2020 ‘because we had to’ became a winning formula for building out our online education programs. We had to flip the programs for architects, code officials and other influencers to a virtual format, and we were able to grow those programs and build even bigger audiences in 2021 (doubling last year’s registrations).”
“What this team was able to do to confront the COVID disruptions in 2020 laid the groundwork for a prosperous 2021 and a more promising future,” Offringa said. Demand for vinyl siding has continued with positive growth in 2021, despite headwinds from supply chain constraints and a serious labor shortage, she noted.
Offringa is pleased with VSI’s efforts to get out in front of the labor shortage with all the strides they continue to make in workforce development.
Kicking Advocacy & Sustainability Into High Gear
Offringa is extremely proud of VSI’s advocacy that has built so much momentum in getting laws passed in numerous states that prohibit local jurisdictions from banning products approved in the building code.
“We have had great success with our state advocacy program in the past couple of years. We’re opening markets for members with a small budget and a small team,” she said.
Offringa also saw the past year as a watershed year for VSI’s sustainability program. “Sustainability is a big focus for us. VSI – like many trade associations – was built on technical work and codes and standards development. It’s still a big part of what we do, but in my seven years with VSI, there has been a big shift over to advocacy, sustainability and workforce development as top priorities,” she explained.
“Lately, I’m most excited about the (Northeast Ohio Recycling) Coalition – it’s a learning experience for us; the last big thing on sustainability that we need to expand,” she said. “We’ve built a coalition of everybody we need to make this successful. We’re learning right now what works, what doesn’t work and what we need to do to develop an efficient process that’s also scalable. We can eventually take what we learn in Ohio to other locations and make recycling accessible for installers everywhere.”
Offringa also noted that the association’s latest round of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) work is nearly complete, so the VSI team is excited to publish new Environmental Product Declarations in 2022 with fresh LCA data showcasing the industry’s sustainability.
A Bright 2022
Offringa feels very fortunate to represent an industry that’s not only growing but committed to greater prosperity and sustainability through collaboration from member-manufacturers and strategic partners, like suppliers and other stakeholders.
But she “thanks her lucky stars” for her team at VSI who has made so much happen over the past couple of years.
“Everyone’s been great, staying positive, motivated and doing great things! I’ve been an association CEO for 12 years, and having a strong team is such a big factor for success.”
Don Browne is a writer, entrepreneur and local legislator who believes that the power of words can change the world. He provides unique writing services for clients in the construction, health care, IT and hospitality sectors. He has a passion for small business and start-ups, as well as writing about Irish history, family and corporate biographies. As a homeowner and father of four who is passionate about community development, Don looks forward to writing more about the exciting possibilities of creating traditional neighborhoods and more sustainable communities using modern materials.