Volume 46, Issue 9 - November/December 2007

Intense Issues
The AMD Annual Convention 
Covered More than Just Products

by Samantha Carpenter, editor of  Shelter magazine.

Exhibitors and attendees alike agreed that the 43rd Annual Association of Millwork Distributors’ (AMD) 2007 convention was good. But the event, held at the Adam’s Mark Hotel and the Colorado Convention Center in Denver was not without controversy. It was overshadowed by talk of the side-hinged exterior door standard and how an adoption of such a standard into the international codes would be detrimental to many distributors who pre-hang and the companies that supply products and services to them. (Please see more on the side-hinged exterior door standard in this feature below and the AMD Headlines column on page 50). 

A number of other issues, besides the exterior door standard, were addressed in the educational sessions, and some of these issues seemed just as crucial to the supply chain.

What’s on the Horizon
D. Jeffrey Dietrich, Ph.D., a senior analyst and consultant for the Institute of Trend Research, provided information to help attendees tame the often-conflicting maze of economic information and news sound bites, by providing a clear view of the current U.S. economy. Dietrich said that the housing market will be the same in 2008 as in 2007.

Following Dietrich, Julie Ruth, P.E., a leading expert in the analysis and presentation of construction code, provided an introduction to energy conservation codes in the United States. with special emphasis on codes and requirements for exterior sliding and swinging doors.

Changing Markets
Greg Brooks, an analyst who covers trends and strategies in North American building product distribution, provided an overview of consolidations and how they have transformed the supply chain. In his speech, Brooks said that he believes mortgage repayment periods will begin to reach 40- or 50-years in length. He also believes that production builders (and the distributors that supply to them) can start tapping a bigger market, such as aging in place and Generations X and Y (who, he says, value energy efficient, trendy products). He also says distributors and builders need to look at remodeling, custom products and green products.

Michael Collins, senior analyst with Jordan, Knauff & Co. and a columnist for Shelter ’s sister publication Door and Window Manufacturer magazine, discussed the coming wave of competition from door and window companies based in China.

Collins said that, in the housing market downturn, companies need to keep up their research and development. He also said that one advantage U.S. companies have over Chinese companies is that they can beat them on brand. He says that Chinese companies are all about price.

An Association on Fire
One of the hottest topics of the show was AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440-05. Both AMD’s Industry Standards and Code committee, as well as its Testing and Certification Task Group, have been working with AAMA to come up with a solution to change the standard to allow components to be tested individually, so they would be interchangeable and pass standard requirements. Right now, the verbiage of the standard pushes for a door and components to be tested as a system. The WDMA recently made a push to get the standard adopted into the 2009 international codes, and asked AAMA to support this action, which the association decided to do.

Such a standard, if adopted, would prevent pre-hangers from pre-hanging doors as they currently do. They would have to test each and every door configuration and relating components in order to sell them. Big distributors who pre-hang might be able to do a lot of testing, but smaller distributors who pre-hang would be put out of business, attendees said. Such a standard could also affect the machinery and the component manufacturers that supply pre-hangers with products.

For more on this topic, see column on page 50

A Political Solution
Liberal pundit Bob Beckel and conservative Cal Thomas served as keynote speakers during the opening session. Both author the syndicated USA Today column, “Common Ground,” and shared their differences and the commonalities that unite all members.

In their speech, Beckel and Thomas said, “There’s far too much contentiousness in politics. We are Americans first ... and there are forces that want to divide us. The other side is the Taliban—the people that want to destroy us.” Though they differ politically, Beckel and Thomas believe that Americans should stop the polarization in politics and start talking with each other (and not in raised voices). They believe that we should forget our differences and unite against forces that feed on our division.

It’s a Wrap
Larry Winget, author of “It’s Called Work for a Reason!” served as the guest speaker at this year’s awards breakfast. Show attendees were impressed with Winget and his no-nonsense approach to business and life. Some of Winget’s thoughts include:

Attendees also enjoyed the Final Night Gala at which Brad Sherwood and Colin Mochrie, stars of “Whose Line is It Anyway?”, picked members of the audience to participate and imitate forklifts and hammers in a cave setting. During the show, most attendees were laughing until they were crying. 

Set the Date
Next year’s AMD Convention will be held in Kissimmee, Fla., at the Gaylord Palms. For more information, call 727/372-3665 or e-mail mail@amdweb.com.

Two Companies with “Green” in Mind

Masisa USA Inc., a leading supplier of value-added wood products for the building industry, awarded Alexandria Moulding with its first annual MasisaGREEN™ Award during the Association of Millwork Distributors (AMD) Convention in Denver.

Both companies have a legacy of being green.

Because of Masisa’s philosophy on being environmentally and socially responsible, it reports a triple bottom line (financial, environmental and social information).

“For example, quarterly, you report financial information. Every other year, you report your environmental [and social] responsibilities,” explains Dan Schmidt, president of Masisa USA Inc., about the company’s triple bottom line. “We joined the Chicago Climate Exchange, and we have made a commitment to reduce our carbon monoxide levels …” Schmidt says reporting environmental and social responsibility is a lot like an annual report, but are reported separately and every other year. “[The reports] are direct and unbiased,” says Dean Charles, director of sales for Masisa’s medium-density fiberboard. “It tells areas that need to be improved.”

“When we build new plants, there is quite an extensive report on how we are dealing with the lakes nearby, our waste, our carbon dioxide and emissions for that plant will be reported in this annual report,” Charles says.

Masisa has a special department at its headquarters in Santiago that deals solely with environmental and social sustainability. “It’s really built into the culture of the company,” Charles says. “It has been since Stephan Schmidheiny started it. It’s more of doing the right thing, instead of thinking what can we gain.” 

A Mirror Image
Alexandria also has a department that focuses on environmental and social sustainability, and that’s a big reason it received the MasisaGREEN™ Award. Jerry Chabot, MDF product line manager and director of innovations for Alexandria Mouldings, explains why Alexandria Moulding began caring about environmental and social sustainability. “Alexandria Moulding is so big in the town that people automatically start to say, ‘Well, you guys are cutting down trees and that’s why we have such big problems,’” Chabot says. “So we made sure that as early on as possible with influence from our customer base, Home Depot for one, that we aren’t just these slashers of environment. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) became the initial springboard for us. We went through the whole process of paperwork to show the community that we are doing what we can to be sustainable and environmentally conscientious.”

You’ve Been Selected
Selecting the winner of the MasisaGREEN award was quite a process.

“We nominated five big customers, and sent the announcement to those customers, and we asked them to answer three questions: In your selection process of customers, do you think about sustainability, FSC? What do you do in your community? What are your vision and mission statements and values?” Schmidt explains.

“We sent that out, and after we got the responses, we spent many meetings going through to make sure that we picked the right customer,” Schmidt says. “We know we did that in Alexandria.”

“When we started doing this, you like to think in sales that you know your customers pretty well, but there is only so much that you really know about them,” Charles says. “When we nominated companies, we had to come up with a brief summary on why they were being nominated. So we weren’t just throwing companies out there, and that’s really how we whittled it down to the top five … It was interesting to see what companies were doing in the markets that they serve and for their employees and for the cities that they live in.”

Chabot wrapped Alexandria’s green philosophy in the following statement.

“When we bring in products that are certified, we have to make sure that they are cost competitive. We can’t impact the environment over the long term if we put products in our customers’ hands that are double the price than what they can get from the competition,” Chabot says. “We had to work with our suppliers from South America, and we also buy from New Zealand and China, but we make sure that whatever we are bringing in is cost competitive. So we can put it in the retail atmosphere and sell it; therefore, it will have a positive impact on the environment.” www.masisa.com   www.alexmo.com 

   Click here for featured products seen at the AMD show

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