Volume 6 Issue 3 April 2005
Merger Talks Continue
Associations Say a Proposal will be Presented
to Both Memberships by Year-End
by Tara Taffera
Both the Window and Door Manufacturers Association and the American Architectural Manufac-turers Association (AAMA) held their annual meetings recently and talk of a possible merger between the two associations were the topic of much discussion.
WDMA Merger Talks
The WDMA set aside several sessions during the meeting to talk about the proposed merger. At the general session, Pella’s Chris Simpson, WDMA chair and member of the consolidation team, suggested that merging would give the industry a stronger unified voice and more effective utilization of resources.
Consolidation talks began in the third quarter of 2003, and the original goal was to present a proposal in Pasadena.
“We wanted to present a model at this meeting but it wasn’t ready,” said Alan Campbell, WDMA president. (Campbell resigned in the weeks following the meeting. See box on page 127). “We would rather do it right.
“We want to wrap this up by the end of this year,” he added. “No one wants to continue this longer than needed.”
When it goes to a vote, both organizations would need two thirds of its members to agree to the merger.
Following are some key points agreed on by both parties, should a consolidation occur:
1. The new association would be restricted to the window, door and skylight industry;
2. The new association would be material-neutral; and not favor wood, vinyl or aluminum.
3. Technical activities of the organization would be driven by a technical process;
4. The organization would be structured by market families that drive the membership; and
5. The organization would not include a product installation certification program.
Jeld-Wen’s Ray Garries, a member of both AAMA and the consolidation team, was also in attendance and stressed that the merger “is not a done deal.”
“The planning team has been putting this together for you … the members will vote.”
“Both associations will have to change but the changes will be fairly minor,” said Garries.
Realizing that many people are resistant to change, he challenged members to think about how much their businesses have changed in the last ten years.
“In my opinion the trade association must represent the businesses and members they represent. The only way to do that is to put the association together,” he said.
“We are making good progress,” said Simpson. “There are a lot of other issues to address. More importantly, we have to address the issues members are bringing up in open discussion.”
One member asked for a sense of the membership consensus regarding consolidation.
Simpson said that for the most part, members of the windows segment believes it makes sense while the door members have some concerns that the technical process won’t be diminished. Regarding the technical process, it is proposed that eight standing committees would report to a technical process committee.
While few questions were asked in the general session, members were much more vocal in breakout sessions. In the meeting of door division members, one attendee put it bluntly when he asked, “What benefits do you really see to the door division?”
“We will be part of a better funded, stronger organization,” said Campbell. “By having greater resources we can fund more research activities. Also, we will have a greater voice before code bodies and a stronger position regarding public advocacy.”
The WDMA’s Mike Fischer pointed out that 80 percent of code efforts undertaken by both organizations overlap.
“Are those 20 percent significant issues?” he asked. “After this codes cycle that answer will be evident.”
In the breakout session of the window division, the talk turned to cultural differences and Architectural Testing’s Henry Taylor, who was representing AAMA, attempted to explain some of these differences which include:
• Average manufacturer size (WDMA average is big, AAMA average is small);
• Technical expectations are different;
• In AAMA, manufacturers and suppliers have an equal vote, while this is not the case at WDMA.
• The value of AAMA to the architectural/commercial area;
• Concerns about installation programs;
• The meetings of the two organizations are different; and
• AAMA includes some decorative ornamental hardware members who will be left out, should the merger occur.
AAMA Members Discuss Merger
At AAMA’s annual meeting, members of the consolidation team offered the same presentation as was given at WDMA. However, AAMA members seemed to ask more questions in the general session that dealt with a few key issues.
When Chris Fuldner, AAMA president, opened up the discussion for questions, one came from Wasco’s Chris Magnuson who wondered if commercial skylights would be part of the new organization.
It was noted that while most AAMA members represent commercial skylights and most WDMA members represent residential, both will be part of the new organization.
One point of contention was the fact that should the two organizations consolidate the railing and decking companies now part of AAMA would be excluded from the new association. However, it was pointed out that AAMA will set up a new organization for the members that are not part of fenestration products which will be supported by AAMA staff.
Some of the companies present who represent railing and decking questioned why they were approached three years ago to join only to be excluded now.
“It’s about focus and a strategic plan with the input of extruders,” said Garries.
He pointed out that the testing and durability are the same for windows and doors as railing and fencing thus it was a natural occurrence for these members to be part of AAMA.
“We didn’t understand that it would get that large,” said Garries. “AAMA came to that realization when the strategic plan was being developed. They don’t have the resources to cover products outside of fenestration. They determined the need to focus dollars and resources.”
Voicing support for the railing and decking companies, Taylor claims these groups were assured their needs would be heard during the consolidation discussions.
“The team has decided there will be nothing outside of window and door products. With the exception of Henry Taylor, that’s the agreement of the group,” said Fuldner.
Another point of contention was the role of suppliers in the new organization, should the merger occur.
Fuldner said the new board would consist of eight members from each organization, including supplier members though the number of supplier members has not yet been decided.
A discussion then ensued surrounding supplier and manufacturer members when John Lewis of TRACO asked if the new board will be split equally between residential and commercial.
“You’ve just stumbled onto one of our roadblocks,” replied Fuldner, who said there are more residential members in both organizations.
The consolidation team is considering a super majority process to keep such a diverse group together.
Suppliers would work alongside manufacturer members on the whole unit standards but won’t get to vote on the final standard, a point with which many suppliers voiced concern.
According to Simpson, the board can review any standard and vote it down, though the majority of board members will be manufacturers.
“Why is WDMA pushing so hard to keep suppliers off the board that they’re jeopardizing this consolidation?,” asked Scott Warner of Architectural Testing.
“Our whole association is based on windows, doors and skylights,’ said Garries. “The suppliers’ best interest is to support the manufacturers.”
Next steps? The consolidation team was scheduled to meet in April and will present a proposal to the membership later in 2005.
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