DWM-logo.gif (6532 bytes)
Volume 6   Issue 9               October  2005

WDMA Meets in DC and Discusses Consolidation
As Well as a Host of Other Issues
by Tara Taffera

At the Window and Door Manufacturers Assoc-iation (WDMA) summer meeting held August 6-9 in Washington, D.C., the keynote speaker spoke extensively about adapting to change-a theme similar to the opening address given at the association’s annual meeting back in February. All this talk of change is a good thing—-particularly since the WDMA continues to work with members of the American Architectural Manufac-turers Association (AAMA) on a possible consolidation between the two groups. Should members of both association vote for the consolidation, a great deal of change will be involved.

But keynote speaker Robyn Waters, president of RW Trend, a trend consulting company based in Minneapolis, spoke about more than change. Waters, who served previously as vice president of trends, design and product development for Target, challenged members to think outside the box.

“Today, I don’t have any answers, I have ideas and possibilities,” she said.

Though she spoke of trends she encouraged attendees to remember that for every trend there is a countertrend. For example, “Families got smaller, homes got bigger.” 

Some other trends to remember, even in the fenestration industry: “Everything old is new again,” such as the sale of classic books and luxurious commodities, such as Song Airlines, an upscale, budget airline. 

She also encouraged executives of companies to put themselves in their customer’s shoes: “Ask yourself, why should I buy from you? What are you doing to help the environment, community, etc?”

Following her talk, WDMA chairperson Chris Simpson said, “Change is a good thing. That’s how you set the table for future success.”

Consolidation Update
With some in both organizations still deciding where they stand on this issue, Simpson again outlined the benefits of consolidation. 

“In an increasingly litigious environment, the fact that we have two individual organizations creates conflict-big conflict sometimes,” he said.

Simpson also mentioned the results of a survey AAMA conducted recently of its members to gauge their feelings on various topics related to the proposed consolidation (for the full results, see article page 20). 

“This membership wants this to happen at AAMA,” said Simpson. “That was good news. We weren’t sure how it would shake out.”

Following is some of the recent progress made by members of the consolidation team:
• A permanent board of 13-15 members will be formed. A transition board will consist of eight members from each association and a minimum of one supplier. This transition board may exist for a few years before the permanent board is put into place;
• Initial funding will consist of equal contributions from each association; and
• The new association will have three formal meetings per year.

Following are future action items:
• The consolidation team needs to develop a set of by-laws;
• A certification process is to be developed prior to the consolidation vote;
• Limited work has been completed regarding a budget. This will be the key focus over next few months. The team has to consider what this will mean in regards to dues and certification costs;
• The team still needs to discuss a proposed new name for the association and branding. 

The consolidation team’s goal is to develop a comprehensive proposal by year-end to be reviewed by members of both associations at their annual meetings in February, which will then be followed by a vote, according to Simpson. He adds that the goal is to get the proposal to both memberships in advance of the meeting. 

“We’ve got to get on with this,” said Simpson. “AAMA feels the same way.”

When it was time for questions from the membership one member asked what are the advantages of a consolidation from an architectural door standpoint. (A similar question was asked at the association’s annual meeting.)

“We will be a smaller part of a large organization,” said Jerry Mannigel of Marshfield Door Systems. “We have to make sure we don’t become quiet, but we will have more resources.” 

The WDMA’s Rick Perry pointed out that while the WDMA is strong in the wood area, AAMA is strong in the areas of architectural, vinyl and curtainwall, thus each group can draw on the other’s strengths.

“I definitely don’t think they [door segment] will get lost in the shuffle,” said Perry. 
Rick Liddell of VT Industries pointed out that code issues are a big benefit of joining together. 

“If the new organization can put more emphasis on codes that would be good. We are the minority now and will be more of one [should the consolidation occur],” he said. “I think more can be done on the codes side. We will have more staff, etc., so that will work very well for us.”

Simpson summed up the discussion best saying, “The transition will be key.”

Building Green Structures 
The discussion turned from consolidation to green building. Nigel Howard, vice president for LEED and international programs for the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), spoke to WDMA members about the importance of learning to live within our resources.

While many may believe that specifying a lean building may add cost to a project, Howard stressed that this is not the case. 

“The conclusion we’ve reached is that green building adds nothing to the cost of the building,” he said. 

Although the program is growing, Howard acknowledged that it is still in the early stages and people don’t know how to build green buildings. 

“But they are learning,” he said. “The client who specifies a green building specifies a quality building.”

Howard said the USGBC has also developed a LEED program for homes recently.

“Green building is no longer a luxury-our very future depends on its success,” he said. “It costs no more and the benefits are immeasurable.”

Outsourcing and Economics
Howard was followed by another green discussion-the financial kind. Clyde Prestowitz of the Economic Strategy Institute spoke of many economic trends, including outsourcing to countries such as China. He told a story of an electrical engineer whose job was outsourced to China to drive home to attendees the effects this trend is having on U.S. companies. That individual then became a plumber, as that is one of the few jobs that cannot be outsourced outside the United States. 

“Time and distance have been negated. This totally changes the dynamics of competition that we are accustomed to,” said Prestowitz.

He warned attendees that while many may think of China as producers of commodity products (i.e., shoes). The Chinese are entering into more technical/manufacturing markets such as semi-conductors. He added that China is the location of choice for manufacturing-and that includes high-tech which means that country will be competitive across the board.

“Semi-conductor production isn’t something developing countries should be doing,” he said. “It’s cheap labor because it’s unskilled.”

Prestowitz offered several examples of U.S. companies that are moving operations abroad, including Motorola which moved its research and development offices to China and Morgan Stanley who moved some offices to India. Speaking of India, Prestowitz pointed out the rise in medical tourism in that country. He said people are going to India for surgery as it is 20 percent of the price in the United States. 

“Everyone is outsourcing,” he said. “The impact is enormous and will be enormous.”

Further compounding the problem, according to Prestowitz, is that this revolution is occurring while the structure of the economy is unbalanced.

“We consume more than we produce and live above our means,” Prestowitz said about Americans. “The United States has a national savings of about zero. In other counties it is very high. In other countries consumption is not made so easy.”

He reported that some analysts predict that the United States could be facing a global crisis in five years. 

“Americans don’t have a strategy and we’re going to need one in this new world,” he said.

“Economic growth could grind to a halt. It may not happen but it’s one of the risks.”

This outsourcing trend will obviously change the competitive landscape dramatically.

“Industries like yours will be facing very competitive times,” said Prestowitz. “Some of this is out of your hands. The only way to win in the long-term is to have no competition. If you can’t do that then your products and services must be a lot better.”

Windows Division
The next day, when the meetings broke out into the window and door divisions, the meeting topics ranged from housing outlooks (for an in-depth article on this and research into a potential housing bubble see the November issue of DWM magazine) to design trends. 

Speaking to the windows division, David Rodgers, senior advisor to the deputy assistant secretary for technology development within the office of energy efficiency and renewable energy at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), spoke about the DOE’s goal by 2025 for zero net energy homes.

“In order to get to zero energy it will take major technical advances,” he said, adding that the United States will need a solar energy supply.

He also talked about the Partnership for Home Energy Efficiency that was rolled out in July. Rodgers says the goal is to help homeowners save 10 percent on their energy bills in the next ten years. 

He reminded members that DOE has a strong partnership with the window industry on technology development such as dynamic windows, highly insulating windows, daylighting control and advance facades.

“Windows can become net energy producers,” he said. “As we move toward zero energy buildings, windows will play an important role and offer a large opportunity for energy savings.”

Talking about the design of homes in general was Steve Mickley of the American Institute of Building Design. He spoke of a consumer survey conducted recently by Whirlpool to find out what consumers value most when building a home. The answer—they want to customize and they want lots of involvement with the builder. 

Mickley told manufacturers that consumers are now spending more money on fenestration products whether it’s in a new home or in the restoration and renovation of an older home.

“People used to spend large amounts of money on kitchens and baths and then chose the cheapest windows and doors,” he said. “I’m here to tell you that I’m seeing that change.”

Door Division
Mark S. Hallgren, president, board of governors for the Door and Hardware Institute, gave some important updates and comparison of the various codes. 

• The drafting of the International Codes consisted of reviewing and combining provisions of the BOCA, ICBO and SBCCI model codes. The BOCA National Building Code (NBC) has emerged as the primary model for the ICC International Building Code (IBC);
• Of the three traditional model-building codes, the NBC features the most trade offs of fire ratings and other passive fire protection features. The other model codes have placed a greater reliance on a balance of active and passive fire protection;
• Perhaps the most significant element in ongoing ICC fire code discussions, according to Hallgren, is the concept of trading established passive fire containment code provisions for active protection such as fire sprinklers. Such code provision exchanges have come to be known as sprinkler trade-offs; and
• The IBC has less stringent fire safety requirements than the NBC, with many of these relaxations granted when sprinklers are installed. These include: increased allowable egress distances, reduced widths for egress corridors and reduced stairwell widths. 

The interior door committee ended the summer meeting with a working group session addressing a variety of topics including LEED. 

“The problem with LEED and other environmental programs is that it’s like changing a wheel on a moving car. It’s changing so fast that it’s hard to keep up,” said Perry. 

The environmental stewardship committee created a LEED bulletin (see DWM July, page 6). Members of the committee thought the bulletin could provide even more specific information related to windows and doors.

Future Meetings
Lowinski announced at the meeting that the association is considering replacing its technical conference with a technical symposium to attract a broader audience of architects and others related to the industry. While a vote was scheduled to take place at the board meeting following the summer meeting, Lowinski said the board has requested additional details from the symposium planning committee before making a final decision on the conference. 

The WDMA’s annual meting will be held February 18-22, 2006 in Indian Wells, Calif. AAMA’s meeting will be held at the same time in the same resort and Lowinski says the two associations are considering some combined social events. Additionally, the two groups could come together for the presentation from the consolidation team of the final proposal. 

Tara Taffera is the editor/publisher of DWM magazine.

© Copyright Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.