Summer in the Desert
The WDMA Headed to New Mexico for its Summer
Meeting and the Sessions Were as Hot as the Climate
The Window and Door Manufacturers Association made a slight change to its annual summer meeting, held August 8-11 at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa in New Mexico. It was a slight change but one the members said they enjoyed. Instead of opening the general session with WDMA business, the keynote speaker welcomed attendees. This year’s guest was Cristine Corelli, author of “Wake Up and Smell the New Competition.” Her rousing speech had WDMA members attentive even in the morning hours.
She asked attendees several questions during her speech, one of which was, “Why Should I do business with you?” When words like fair price, quality and reputation were mentioned she answered, “These are all a given. If you have a problem with quality you better fix it quick.”
She also warned attendees against getting too comfortable regarding their position in the market.
“There’s always a competitor lurking in the reef to swallow your ship,” she said.
To truly differentiate your company from the competition Corelli said you have to rethink, reinvent and break the rules.
“Innovation is in,” she said.
But she reminded attendees that this doesn’t always have to take the form of a new product. It could be a twist on an existing product or an innovative challenge to employees such as how each one can come up with ways to save the company money.
Corelli asked attendees, “What can hold back innovation?
“Resistance to change,” she answered. “People who are stuck in their old ways.”
She then asked members, “How do you get people excited about change? But she answered for them.
“It boils down to leadership. It’s what you get the people to do.”
Though it may sound easy Corelli says keeping people motivated and sustaining momentum is a difficult part of being a leader. But she added that even harder is making a decision and sticking with it, and hiring qualified employees.
“You are only as good as the people that you keep,” she said. “Manufacturers don’t sell to architects and other groups. People do.”
Corelli told the story of American Airline employees who cut the grass following the September 11th attacks. Due to the effect these events had on the airline industry employees had to pitch in. She asked, “Would your employees cut the grass?”
“Handle underperformers as these people won’t carry you into the future,” she said. “They pull people down.”
She also reminded owners and managers of the importance of asking employees for ideas.
“Some people may not be willing to share because you didn’t ask,” she said.
Another question she asked may have been the hardest for attendees to answer. “Would you work for you?”
She added that owners must get employees to believe in the company then make the customer believe and to constantly ask, “Do you and your team have the drive to win?”
Following her presentation, Chris Simpson, WDMA chairperson, acknowledged to members that these are all things they have heard before but he hoped that they really listened and took it to heart.
“This gives all of us a chance to step back and reflect on how we’re doing on this matter,” he said.
After Corelli roused members enthusiasm it was time for Alan Campbell, WDMA president, to report on the state of the association. He stated that the marketing and promotions committee are working together and will survey the members soon regarding the market studies performed by Ducker Research. The WDMA wants to ascertain if it is providing members with useful and timely data.
“We want to make sure you get results,” he said.
Regarding membership he said the association continues to drive for new regular members with focus on non-wood products.
“I am confident that we will meet and exceed our targets,” said Campbell.
The association also continues its education efforts throughout the window and door industry. WDMA representatives will give a presentation at the upcoming Door and Hardware Institute convention regarding the new ISA standard and similar proposals have been submitted to the Construction Specifications Institute and the American Institute of Architects.
But not all is positive. The WDMA did acknowledge that while its 2004 technical conference featured an expanded list of seminars, attendance was static.
“We missed our target of increasing attendance by 10 percent,” Campbell said.
David Huether, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers, spoke regarding “Economic Activity and the State of Manufacturing in the United States.”
He stated that production is growing as fast as output.
“Going forward the manufacturing sector won’t contribute to job growth,” he said.
He added that manufacturing employment is getting better but it’s very slow.
“Many people blame outsourcing but this really isn’t a significant factor,” he said.
Huether’s comments regarding China were not as dire as most other economic and industry experts have made it out to be.
“There is a rising import penetration,” he said. It is a lot but not as significant as the press has made it out to be. Let’s not just blame foreign competition.
“The good news is that the situation is improving rather rapidly. Oil prices continue to rise. If they come down a little it won’t impede growth but this is in question.
“There is a pick up in exports and this is very important to manufacturing. This grew by 12 percent and we expect this to continue through the first half of next year,” Huether said.
One of the challenges to manufacturers is structural costs. He pointed out that the United States is competitive when it comes to wages against its major trading partners.
“But our cost of litigation is 250 percent higher,” he said. “All these things make us tied with Germany in being the most expensive place to manufacture. This is proof that you can’t blame foreign manufacturing for everything.”
Other challenges Huether cited include an increase in natural gas prices and international competition.
Who we are competing with is changing, said Huether. “Asia will be our biggest competitor,” he said. “They’re not exporting toys and clothes anymore.”
Other challenges include trade barriers abroad. There is a lot to be gained by developing trade agreements, he said.
“We are challenged as never before—here and abroad.”
Robert Cassidy, editor in chief of Building Design and Construction magazine reported on the magazine’s award winning work, “White Paper on Sustainability: A Report on the Green Building Movement.”
He reported that this is the fastest growing environmental movement in the United States. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDÔ) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, has 8,000 accredited professionals while it was almost zero in 2000, according to Cassidy. The purpose of the report was to ask the magazine’s readers what their interest was in the green building movement. Following are the results:
· No experience 12%
· Little to no experience 7%
· Very experienced 9%
· Somewhat experienced 33%
· Not much experience but interested 39%
While the majority of those studied expressed interest, the respondents were also asked what the perceived barriers are. Following are those results:
· Adds to costs 44%
· Market not interested or not willing to pay premium 22%
· Hard to justify 35%
· Not comfortable with new ideas 19%
· Too much paperwork 16%
· Don’t know 24%
· No barriers 5%
A variety of recommendations were offered as a result of the white paper. They include:
1. Conduct peer review studies of the benefits of green buildings with regard to human performance, health and well-being;
2. Enlist the real-estate community, financial, property insurance and appraisal community to champion a peer-reviewed study of the economic and business case aspects of sustainable design;
3. Establish a senior interagency green building council at the federal level;
4. Establish an Institute for Sustainable Development Research to create a unified center for research and development to collect and analyze data on sustainable design and development;
5. Review current state and local government incentive and regulatory programs related to sustainable development;
6. Conduct a pilot program in ten large school districts to measure the impact of green schools on student achievement and health;
7. Manufacturers of building products should cooperate with efforts to create green products tools and databases using life cycle assessment; and
8. Upgrade LEED toward LEED 2.2 and 3.0.
Window manufacturers interested in possibly merging with another company or passing down the family business learned a great deal from Scott Hardy, senior consultant at FMI Corp. in Denver, Col. He specializes in financial and transactional services for manufacturers and distributors of construction products, equipment and materials.
He talked about such issues as trends in ownership transition and obstacles to transition/succession planning, while outlining ownership transfer options.
He mentioned one of the growing trends is that manufacturers are offering a variety of material choices, and that companies are more broadly held. He also mentioned there aren’t as many family-owned companies as in the past.
“With second and third generation companies, and when companies get larger, it makes it harder to keep it in the family,” Hardy said.
Looking to sell your business? Hardy put it simply.
“The climate could not be better for exit.”
He mentioned some value drivers as: business size, trailing and forward growth rate, earnings and cash flow, market size and market share (Hardy’s presentation, along with others from the summer meeting, can be found on the WDMA’s website at www.wdma.com).
On the second day of the meeting, it was time for the door and window divisions to separate into their own sessions.
The first, the Window Safety Task Force Panel, included the following panelists: Jim Krahn, Marvin Windows and Doors, John Woestman, Pella Corp., Robert Verhalen, Verhalen and Associates, Andrea Nordaune, Andersen Windows and Mike Fischer, WDMA.
Woestman, who is also a volunteer firefighter, talked about minimum size egress requirements and how difficult they are to get through in times of emergency.
“I would encourage you to try to get through the windows in your house that you have designated for your emergency escape plan,” he said.
Krahn reiterated the need for forced-entry standards and installation instructions, while Nordaune talked about the importance of education.
“Education in regards to windows safety has been underestimated and undervalued,” she said.
Fischer who serves as WDMA’s director of codes and regulatory compliance, talked about the WDMA’s continuing fight regarding window sill heights.
“Setting a minimum sill height may be dangerous due to the adverse effect in emergency escape and rescue,” he said.
He agreed with Woestman in that meeting minimum egress requirements are not optimal as it is very hard to get through a window of this size in emergency situations.
“The best way to reduce child window falls is through education—a proven method,” he said.
Fischer mentioned that setting a minimum still height increases the likelihood that furniture is placed beneath windows, and that as it excludes many windows sizes it has the potential to start a trend toward sliding windows.
“If we change one thing we change everything,” he said. “You cannot effect a change in sill heights without thinking of its impact on emergency escape.”
Verhalen spoke again later regarding “The Truth About Mold.”
“You cannot escape mold. It’s all over the place,” he said. “There is no real way to keep it out.”
He joked that they even had mold in Bible Times,
“They weren’t able to do anything about it other than pray,” he said.
He echoed the thoughts of others in the building industry that the mold fever pitch is starting to weaken.
“Ultimately this will die down,” he said.
The last session of the day focused on “Preventing Childhood Lead Poisoning through Window Replacement.”
Dr. Mary Jean Brown of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the organization has a goal to reduce lead poisoning by 2010.
“More homes have window sill dust hazard than floor dust hazard,” she said.
This is a major problem in public and low income housing areas.
Anne Evens of the Chicago Department of Public Health, pointed out that Chicago has the largest number of lead poisoning cases.
She mentioned that Chicago residents who have their windows replaced cut their property taxes by 50 percent for two years.
“We expect property owners to take advantage of this,” she said.
Panelists mentioned that the window industry can help get the word out regarding the risks and encourage window replacements.
The meeting of the door division began with an environmental standards update and given by Peter Walker, J.M. Huber Corp. He reported that the association’s environmental task group has been moved outside the door division to cover all products, has been upgraded to a standing committee and has been upgraded to an “A” priority.
The new standing committee will be responsible for the following:
· A gap analysis of WDMA’s program;
· The incorporation of environmental stewardship as part of WDMA specifications and standards; and
· The definition of metrics; and
· Collaboration with key organizations.
Harry Reichwald of Eggers Industries reported that now that the new standard is complete the committee is working on technical bulletins to explain the new standard and is working with the WDMA promotion and education committee to promote the standards. The group is also considering whether the ANSI approval process will add market value and will make a decision on seeking ANSI approval over the next few months. It is also considering a Hallmark Certification program I.S. 1A.
Reichwald also discussed a detailed comparison between I.S. 1A and AWI Section 1300 (available on www.wdma.com).
IDSC Update and Fire Door Inspection
David San Paolo of The Mainman Co. presented an update on the interior door standard committee. The I.S. 6A committee will reconvene soon to incorporate I.S. 1A changes, now that I.S. 1A is finished.
San Paolo noted that the NFPA 80 installation document for fire doors allows field installation of glazing which can lead to improper glazing. A WDMA proposal calls for glazing done under labeling certification.
San Paolo also discussed the fire door inspection program and said that positive pressure testing kicked such programs into high gear. Questions remain on who will do the inspections. Most issues are egress issues (i.e. doors were locked) rather than product issues. It is possible that the swinging side hinged fire door inspection program could expand to cover all doors of egress, not just fire doors.
Hallmark Door Certification
John McFee, WDMA
director of certification programs, reported that the association wants to
expand the Hallmark program to include entry doors, and that there is a new
flush door program under development. Also, a new door procedural guide for side
hinged exterior door systems is in final development.
The WDMA’s annual meeting will be held February 12-16, 2005, at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, Calif.
Taffera is the editor/publisher of DWM
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