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Volume 7   Issue 3               March 2006

FMA: Not Just Another Association

by Tara Taffera

If you’re a member of the fenestration industry it’s a good bet you are familiar with the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) and the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA). But what about the Fenestration Manufacturers Association (FMA)? Chances are you’re not as knowledgeable about this organization, if at all. But the FMA plays an important role in the fenestration industry, specifically in the Gulf Coast states. So here’s your chance to learn more about the FMA, why there is a need for it, how it differs from WDMA and AAMA and what role it plays in the industry.

To find the answers to these questions, I interviewed Dick Wilhelm, FMA executive director, and Jon Hill, vice president for Keystone Certification Inc. (Keystone administers the FMA/Keystone Certification Program). But first, following is a bit of background on the association.

Mission

The FMA’s mission is as follows: “To advocate the position for fenestration manufacturers marketing in the southeast United States and Caribbean through interaction with building code promulgators, consensus standard bodies, the design professional team, the building inspection community and policy makers. This interaction allows for the FMA to provide real-time solutions to members’ daily problems.”

Background/Evolution

The FMA evolved from the Architectural Manufacturers Association of Florida. FMA, headquartered in Tallahassee, Fla., was formed in 1989 to give a voice to manufacturers of doors, windows, skylights, shutters, component suppliers and dealers by providing them a “place at the table” when regulatory decisions affecting their businesses are being promulgated.

The association currently has approximately 60 members that include fenestration manufacturers and industry suppliers.

The FMA maintains a proactive stance in the development of the International Family of Codes, the Florida Building Code, the Florida Product Approval process and representation before the Florida Legislature and the Florida Building Commission.

The association is divided into six standing committees, each chaired by a board member, who report to the executive committee.  These include: Thermal, Fenestration, Education and Testing, Vinyl Fabrication, Fenestration Installation Committee, Codes and Technical and Membership. Their main function is to review member issues and determine a course of action to solve problems on a real-time basis. These committees meet as needed via teleconference and report back to the executive director with the resolution.  Response time for executive board decisions is generally two days.

DWM: What makes the FMA different than the WDMA or AAMA?

Wilhelm: We are based in Florida and that is the number one state for impact-resistant products. The bubble will not break here. We offer real-time solutions to problems as we are located ten minutes from the state legislature. It’s nothing for me to walk over to the state legislature to gain answers to problems affecting our industry.

If you compare us to Southeast AAMA that organization is more technical as we are more of an advocacy group that offers a certification program.

Hill: There are very unique needs in Florida and the Gulf Coast states that were not being met. Our focus is on the hurricane market. We started in Florida and we are well-connected here … What happens in Florida is a good indicator of what will happen in other states. For example, Louisiana is in the process of upgrading its building codes so it is more like Florida.

DWM: Do you work together with the other associations?

Hill: We do work with Southeast AAMA frequently on joint efforts. But our focus is to do things better. For example, we need to do a better job at representing the code bodies.

And as the Gulf Coast states respond to the new reality of hurricane codes and enforcement we’re here to respond to the needs of manufacturers regarding questions about enforcement of the codes, etc.

DWM: What efforts are in place for your expansion outside of Florida?

Wilhlem: As an advocacy group for members conducting business in the Southeast and Gulf Coast states, while also providing direct support and educational components, the association has committed to, and is actively expanding, it's sphere of influence outside of Florida as the International Family of Building Codes are expanded north and west along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

DWM: The FMA offers a third-party certification and quality assurance program through Keystone Certifications. Tell me more about this partnership.

Hill: The FMA is the advocacy, marketing and education side of the house and Keystone is the third-party inspection and certification side. The programs operate in accordance with the International Standards Organization Guide 65, is accredited by the American National Standards Institute and is officially recognized by the Florida Building Commission.

The FMA/Keystone Certification Program enables licensees to demonstrate compliance with the International Code Council’s requirements in 45 states as well as the Florida Building Code/Florida State Product Approval.

The vision of this affiliation is the team approach. FMA/Keystone will offer manufacturers one-stop shopping to bring fenestration products to the marketplace in a timely and efficient manner amongst the myriad of standards and regulations affecting the industry.

DWM: Are there manufacturers in the Gulf Coast states who may not be aware of the FMA?

Wilhelm: Definitely--there is a lot of education that needs to be done. We get inquiries daily on our website. There are manufacturers that have never even heard of us so we will be working on some promotional efforts in the coming months.

But let me add that our membership has been growing. One of the reasons is that we are committed to offering improved conferences. (The FMA hosts two each year. In 2005 they will be held in March and October. Go to www.fmausaonline.com for more information.) To that end, we hired a professional meeting planner recently.

DWM: What are some of the future plans for the FMA?

Wilhelm: To expand its functions beyond codes and standards. We have the inside scoop on manufacturers in Florida as most of the major manufacturers own plants here or conduct business in the state. We want to keep these companies apprised of tax issues, etc., thus adding another dimension to the association. As another example, we are currently working with the best minds in the industry on test protocols. We’re taking the association in another direction than our competitors.

Further, during 2006 the association will produce and publish the Installation Guide for Windows and Doors into Masonry Construction, and is working on an educational course addressing compliance with testing and labeling of fenestration products to meet the revised Florida energy code. These courses will be offered to members, building officials, architects, builders and code bodies as part of the FMA education mission.

Whatever they want [FMA members], we’re here.

The FMA’s spring conference will be held April 12-14 in Tampa, Fla. For more information visit www.fmausaonline.org.

Tara Taffera is the publisher and editor of DWM magazine.


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