by Leslie Shaver
USGlass assistant editor Leslie Shaver met with Bath Enclosure Manufacturing Association (BEMAź) president Dave Herbert of Coastal Industries recently to discuss the goals of his organization, status of the industry and other issues. The following is their conversation.
Herbert: To continue all of the programs that we currently have in effect. We have a five-year marketing program for BEMA and the primary goal is to inform the public about shower doors versus shower curtains. Another issue we need to resolve is the number of new cleaners on the market that are damaging plastic. Some mist spray cleaners allow dirt to roll off, but have a damaging effect on acrylic towel bar brackets and acrylic products. My goal is to establish a testing program for these cleaners.
Herbert: We are trying to determine the quantity and type of products being sold by all of our manufacturers. This is difficult due to their reluctance to disclose information on products. In some cases it may be difficult to obtain accurate information.
Herbert: The BEMA marketing program designed to inform the public of the advantages of shower doors over shower curtains. This is being done through trade shows, articles in magazines and other avenues of getting information to the consumer. Also there is a lot of support of the partnership with Procter & Gamble.
Herbert: I think it has been very successful. As the partnership goes further I see the BEMA label on the back of the spray. We tested numerous cleaners and Procter & Gamble was the top cleaner and the safest to the finish. I have not seen as much damage since we put the Procter & Gamble logo on doors.
Herbert: Everybody is quite busy. The biggest concern is what is happening in Asia and what effect it will have on the United States economy. I dont see any downturn of the economy. Interest rates are stable and business keeps getting better.
Herbert: We offer a cross-reference list for fiberglass and acrylic modules. In addition, we have a yearly awards program for shower door design, a quarterly newsletter outlining industry events and issues. A designers reference book is also available to architects and designers through member services. The BEMA cleaner study results are also available to members.
Herbert: Nine years ago I sat down in Holiday Inn in Jacksonville, FL, with John Wright from Southeastern Aluminum and Bob Wingfield from Alumax to work up a plan for an association to clear up some of the problems in the industry. We outlined what we thought the association would need, contacted a number of larger manufacturers and set up a dues structure. Its amazing how fast its grown and how accepted it has become. We now have people asking us to join. Were probably going to have to amend our bylaw because we want to keep it as a manufacturers association. We have an attorney at every meeting to make sure nothing is done in violation of any laws. He makes sure we dont discuss price issues or customers. It is strictly to help everyone equally. The thing that amazes me most is that everything is so competitive, yet everyone gets along well in the association.
Herbert: Ive been with Coastal for 19 years. I grew up as a supplier in the mobile home/RV industry and the product line I was selling was being represented by Coastal. I developed a relationship with Bill Cobb and eventually I decided it was time to move to Florida and sell shower doors. The company is 26 years old. Most of us have been in the industry for 15 or 20 years. It seems there are more long timers in the shower door industries than in most industries.
Herbert: No, not as much as I would like. The four officers in the company are all the same age as me. You really need the younger blood and the younger ideas. This year I went out of my way to hire people who had not been involved in BEMA to try to bring them in as directors.
Herbert: I would like to see every company in our association being involved in trying to make the association better, either by being an officer or director. Our industry is like every other industry, weve had companies go out of business and discontinue business and there have been a lot of buyouts in the last year. Thats common in almost every industry today. The industry is made up of small companies. I would say there are in excess of 75 shower door manufacturers and all but 10 are very small businesses. This gives companies a closer relationship and makes it easier to make decisions without going through a number of channels.
Herbert: We have accomplished all of the original goals. We have merged members information on problem areas, such as cleaners. We completed a cross-reference for fiberglass modules. We have also been able to bring manufacturers together to improve the image of shower doors.
Herbert: The core reason for the association is to enhance the value of BEMA. We need to establish BEMA as the authority on bath enclosure design, cleaning safety and codes. I see no change in this direction.
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